Sunday, June 15, 2008

NUUN Product Review

In my continuing quest to figure out hydration and electrolyte replacement strategies for trail running, I decided to try NUUN at the Sour Grapes Half Marathon. I've been having problems with muscle cramping and mild hand swelling at just about every trail race I've run where the mileage has been in the double digits. Never had a problem with road running, but trails have proven to be an entirely different endeavor!

So, what is NUUN? It is an electrolyte replacement drink - just electrolytes - no carbs. It comes as large tablets in a tube (very convenient for traveling), and you simply add 1 tablet to 16 oz of water. It's kinda fizzy and dissolves very quickly, leaving no residue in your water bottle. It does have a mild taste and comes in a few different flavors (I tried lemon lime).

Here's what's in 16 oz of lemon lime NUUNed water by the numbers:

Calories = 6
Na = 360 mg
K = 100 mg
Ca = 12.5 mg
Mg = 25 mg
Vitamin C = 37.5 mg
Riboflavin = 500 ug

Results: no cramping after running a half marathon on trails, but my stomach was feeling a little queasy by mile 12. I should also note that I also took 5 Endurolytes and 2 Clif Shot gels during the run, although those are things that I've already run with in the past with no problems. I still had some very mild finger swelling and wanted salty pepperoni pizza post race, so I don't think I overdid it on the electrolytes.

The good:

*Having the tablets in a tube is a very convenient way to carry them without having to measure dry powder or make a mess. I went through 2 tablets during the run, and refilling my water bottle and plunking a tablet in at the aid station was a breeze.
*The tablet also serves as a premeasured serving, so if you add it to 16 oz (500 ml) of water, you get the correct concentration to make a slightly hypotonic solution that will be absorbed into your body rapidly.
*It dissolves quickly (2 minutes of fizzing) and doesn't leave a residue in your bottle.
*Keeping electrolytes and carbs separate allows you to have more control over your dose of each.
*It worked!

The not so great:

*My stomach was feeling a little queasy after awhile, but it could be that I'm just not used to it yet. I may try the orange ginger flavor (ginger is a stomach settler).

Bottom line:
For the first time this year, I didn't have cramping during a trail run, so I am going to continue to use it and see if the stomach issues are really related to NUUN or something else. I will probably try a few other options too - for example, S caps with my tried and true Gookinaid.

Current pricing: 3 tubes of 12 tablets each for $19.50 + S/H from the NUUN site ($6.50/tube + shipping), or 8 tubes of 12 tablets of NUUN for $44.99 with free S/H from ($5.62/tube). You can also get it at REI or TC Running Co. in the Twin Cities.