Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fueling Issues Solved: Tailwind Nutrition Review

After 5+ years of racing and training I have tried and researched an extensive assortment of hydration products and have had a mixed bag of results. Some leave you puking, others leave you bonked, and few actually bring you successfully from start to finish all by themselves with energy to spare. After revisiting the hunt for the perfect race nutrition this winter, I was left with a list of products that I wanted to try. One of which happened to be Tailwind. With a couple weeks before a stretch of longer trail events I decided to give it a try. Here is what I think after 43 hours of training and some longer trial efforts...

Ordering & Customer Service: (Rating A)  After submitting my order on their customer friendly website, the antsy anticipation began. Things looked promising when a confirmation and tracking number came within 24-hours. Then, they blew my doors off. Customer service expectations these days are relatively low, but these guys & gals get it! My order was here within 72 hours, complete with a hand written thank you for purchasing and a trail size of their Organic Berry product to accompany my original purchase (note: I would never pick Organic Berry as my first choice but it is actually extremely good...maybe better than Orange). Job well done, lets move to the maiden voyage.

Packaging & Directions: (Rating A) It's not rocket science. The directions suggest mixing it based on length of activity and the amount of calories needed. After a touch of searching, I soon found the measuring scoop and I was off to the races. Bottom line is, if you follow the directions, you won't be disappointed by the results. After a couple times however, I also factored in taste which I will cover below. As far as packaging, I personally appreciate bags as they are easy to store and travel with, unlike a larger canister.

Taste: (Rating A-) It's not as mild as Hammer Heed, but it is not as sugary as Gatorade or Accelerade. Tailwind falls somewhere in the middle and is actually quite satisfying to the palate. Personally, I never think you can go wrong with Orange, but I also REALLY enjoy the Berry sample that they sent. After a couple 3 hour efforts and some intervals, the only thing I wonder is how the salty taste will go once I extend to a 6+ hour race situation. This is definitely the only drawback that I could foresee during a sweltering summer race. The good news about the high electrolyte content is that I am fairly certain I won't have to choke down 20+ salt tablets during longer races!

Performance: (Rating A) On multiple 3+ hour runs, I took anywhere from 2-4 servings of Tailwind in a 24oz bottle. Three servings seemed to be optimal for 24oz of water. The first thing I noticed during longer efforts was that my stomach was never uncomfortable with Tailwind. With a harder efforts, I have always had to be careful with which types of gels and/or solids I take down. Though everyone is different, Tailwind was easy on my stomach.

Next, I was a little suspect of the more simply sugar fuel that Tailwind provides (Dextrose and Sucrose). Although Dextrose absorbs quickly into the blood stream, I always worry about sustaining energy. So far, I would whole-heartedly say that Tailwind provides a very constant energy level that I do not have to support with anything on the side. As a test, I did a 24 mile run after work on 3 servings of Tailwind. My stomach had long been empty from lunch and I was able to power through an uptempo long run without starving or feeling flat near the end. Matter of fact, the last 7 miles were supposed to be at threshold effort and they felt great!

I am excited to further test Tailwind's high electrolyte content. Unfortunately it has been cold and snowing still in Minnesota. As an athlete that loses a lot of salt, cramping has always been a battle for me. Tailwind has the highest electrolyte content that I have been able to find in non-pill form. It is even a touch higher than EFS which is impressive. More to come on this once the sun arrives in MN!

Final Conclusion: A 50-serving bag of Tailwind is $34.99. If you do the math, that is $0.70 per serving! On a cost to performance ratio, I couldn't endorse a better product on the market for hydration to date. I am extremely impressed by the consistent energy level this product delivers at a variety of distances and efforts. Between the pleasing taste, performance, and customer service I hope this product continues to grow its niche within the endurance community!

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