Fueling for ultramarathons is one of the trickiest parts to a successful race or long training run. Tailwind Nutrition is a company is looking to simplify that with an all-in-one nutrition product for endurance athletes.
Personally, I have always loved the simplicity of fueling primary via fluids in theory. In practice, after sampling most of the various powder mixes on the market, I’ve always went back to plain water and used gels, chomps and other solid foods for calories.
The Tailwind Endurance product specifically set out to remedy the problems (overly sweet taste, stomach distress, insufficient calories and electrolytes) that some endurance athletes, myself included, have experienced with powdered drink mixes.
What I Tried
I’ve drank the Naked flavor and the Berry flavor on runs from 1-4 hours and at speeds from between eight minute miles and relaxed hiking, and at altitudes up to 10,000’. To more accurately assess Tailwind, I used Tailwind as my only fuel source during these runs. Regardless of elevation or speed, I experienced no “gut bomb” sensation or stomach sloshing from Tailwind. When I felt the beginnings of a bonk coming on, a few big gulps of Tailwind imparted the same pick-me-up sensation of eating a gel.
I realize that four hours isn’t a significant enough time frame to fully judge Tailwind’s performance as a sole or primary fuel source for an ultra distance race but does give some preliminary feel-good insight.
After a few hours of systematically eating gels or drinking Gu Brew, my stomach and my taste buds start to rebel against the overly sugary taste. Tailwind has a very mild flavor. It also mixes clear. On runs with two bottles, one with Tailwind Endurance and one without, I would get confused which one was which, sometimes even after drinking from the Tailwind bottle if I mixed it lightly that day. That is how mild the taste is of the “Naked” flavor.
Personally, after a few hours of running, my brain becomes incapable of keeping accurate track of how many calories I’m consuming. Tailwind is 100 calories per the scoop included in each package, making it easy to fill each bottle with a set number of calories. I tried it with up to 300 calories per 20 ounce bottle, still without any stomach problems or off-putting sweetness. There is also no powdery sediment left over in the bottles after a run, nor any lingering taste. I can easily see running a race with a few 5 oz. flasks of Tailwind powder in my pack and refilling my bottles at non-crew aid stations.
The stated goal of Tailwind is to be an all-in-one racing nutrition product. No more gels every twenty minutes, popping electrolyte tabs every half hour, etc. Just sip from a bottle of Tailwind throughout a race, no matter its time or distance. Having only taken Tailwind on runs up to four hours so far, I can’t personally attest to whether or not I would get sick of it in the same way I do gels and chomps after hours and hours of racing. I did however hear someone praising Tailwind after more than 20 hours into the Leadville 100, a race for which the creator of Tailwind specifically designed the product.
Tailwind is very allergen and diet compatible as it is gluten-free, dairy-free (and vegan) and soy-free.
Very slight caveat regarding the “all-in-one” aspect of the nutrition. I personally found the electrolyte levels to be a little low, even on relatively low temperature days in the 70s. For TALON athletes who regularly run in very warm temperatures a majority of the year, I would still recommend packing some emergency electrolyte tabs just in case.
Price, Challenge, and Where to Buy
Tailwind is currently $34.99 for a 50 serving size container. This breaks down to $.70 per 100 calorie serving.
Tailwind also is selling a Tailwind Challenge package for $125. If you buy any four of their flavors, try them at a race and aren’t satisfied, they will refund your race entry fee (up to $150).
Even in Albuquerque, which is overflowing with cycling and running stores, Tailwind is only available at one local retailer. It appears that there are only a handful of retailers throughout the TALON area, but it is available for online ordering as well.
I cannot wait to try out Tailwind during my 2015 ultra-marathon season. I am planning to use it as my main fuel source during a run, with a few solid food additions at aid stations as needed.
Every ultrarunner is an experiment of one, and there is no such thing as a perfect solution for all of us. Still, I recommend trying out Tailwind if you’ve ever had problems with insufficient fueling during long runs and endurance races.
– Brett Oblack
Talk Tailwind Endurance
- What has your experience been with the product?
- Favorite flavor?
- How have you used the Naked flavor?
Want to Give it a Try and receive a discount?
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Posted on 10 Nov 2014
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