The irony of being an endurance athlete is that you run to be healthy, but to stay healthy — and still get the calories you need to not endanger yourself — you end up eating the most calorie-filled foods possible. This normally occurs in a blind fashion: not really looking at what you’re eating and finishing it as quickly as possible because you’re late for practice. Often, I do my workout hungry and try to eat after.
This act of “eating” is incredibly important during a race, though triathletes refer to it as “fueling.” Food here now consists of condensed goops or gummies that are quick and easy to eat but taste like sugar-covered cardboard. Growing up in a household that worshiped food, every fiber of my being wants to reject this style of “eating.” I craved a new way to get my calories in without the caffeine, without the ultra processed sugar or the sticky goo. When I read Christopher McDougall’s claim in Born to Run (yes, the stereotypical runner’s book) about being able to climb a mountain in half the time due solely to a drink made from chia seeds, I was curious. I was also not convinced. It seemed like a pretty tall assertion.
I had seen drinks made with chia seeds before; they didn’t look too appealing once the chia seeds turned gelatinous. At first, I didn’t understand what all the hype was about. But as a triathlete who has to knock back three GU energy gels during each race, my curiosity got the better of me. I caved and bought the last bag of the little black seeds at my local Trader Joe’s. MORE