Have you ever been a few miles into a trail with a heavy pack on, maybe you found a way to strap your snowshoes onto your pack without them smacking your spine bones with every step, completely dreading the moment you have to stop and remove your pack just to get a snack? Or, perhaps you found yourself running through a zig-zag of mountainous single track, leaping like a gazelle over roots and rocks, dipping and dodging like a trained boxer to avoid those pesky tree limbs. When you finally come to a halt at the side of the cliff to take in some water, sustenance, and of course – those epic views, a friend offers up a pouch of birthday cake flavored energy to try, “thanks for the maltodextrin bro!”
I too, was consumed by the “energy-on-the-go” fad that over took the outdoor enthusiast world several years ago,
aimed at runners, hikers, bikers, anyone that moved their body and needed an extra jolt of energy. To me, it was frustrating shelling out so much money for such a little packet of sugary goo. While it is simple to argue that all of this added fructose, leucine and potassium citrate is essentially ‘plant derived’, all of these ingredients are so highly refined and processed that they don’t function the same as their friendly plant based cousins.
I never enjoyed reading what was actually stuffed into my gel packets, and honestly I consumed them extremely sparingly for this reason (I still had one of my original packets of GU in my hiking emergency first aid kit that I recently gave to a friend, sorry friend – but thanks for helping me not waste! 🙂 ). Initially I purchased these energy gels for hiking before the thought of running further than 15 miles had ever occurred to me – I actually don’t recall ever consuming a GU energy gel while on a long run for fear that the bright, artificially colored, highly processed,
sticky goo would immediately send me into the bushes, urgently needing to tear away my running shorts.
Every weekend as I repacked my gear, I remember discussing with Ciara how grand the day would be when we finally commit to making and packaging our own “all natural” source of energy, if even only for ourselves. We (she, with me trying to help in the kitchen) would make our date balls (dates, chia seeds, chopped cashews, maple syrup, coconut, etc.) but we always wanted something that we could keep in place of these gel packets for backup/“emergency situations”.
Thanks in part to the myriad of Instagram advertisements and my life-long desire to know all things outdoors, the purple packet displaying two-tone mountains and the bold, all caps word “Muir” caught my attention (ironically, I was reading The Life of John Muir by Donald Worster at the time!).
I had to discover why they named themselves after the same fine fellow that I envied so dearly.
I have to admit, I was a little skeptical when I navigated over to their flavors and saw what they use for ingredients, thinking all the while “hey man, this is exactly what I would use had I been making my own ‘on-the-go’ energy!!”
Like most perishables out there (Muir claims 9mo shelf life), Muir Energy offers some excellent and unique seasonal flavors (until they enter their production lines full time!) with sustainable energy sourced from kale and sweet potato, combined with real nut butters made using almonds, hazelnuts, and the creamiest (if you can’t tell, also my favorite of nut butters!) of them all: cashews!!
The mad scientists tinkering away in the kitchens at Muir Energy use the most taste bud satisfying bananas and cacao, while other varieties feature the most mouth wateringly tart
(kind of like eating.. uhmm.. real fruit… because that’s what Muir specializes in!!)
red and black raspberries, pineapple and even a new addition to the year round menu: passion fruit! Even mixed in perfect harmony and delicacy are the essential oils of vanilla, peppermint, oregano and thyme (incredibly satiating when your mouth is dry and tasting like road dust at the 22mile mark of anything!!).
Every hand filled packet contains just the right amount of raw coconut nectar, which has a low glycemic index,
which is good news for us outdoorists and means that these ingredients will be absorbed and metabolized slower than other sugars out there, which may prevent that “shock” burst of energy we may be used to, also means that a crash later on may be avoided more easily! So not only does every packet make your taste buds tingle, performing a supercharged happy-dance, you can also sleep well (literally and figuratively!) knowing that you ate nothing but real ingredients while you busted out the best mileage yet!
With all these honest and raw ingredients in our hand, it is hard to say how our digestive tracts will react to such a delicious treat after being force-fed chemicals and being scolded to obey our commands with white-knuckled fists of ibuprofen. It is too easy to say “take one every hour and you will complete 100 miles, no worries”, I had to experiment with Muir before I trusted to take it on my first full marathon last October (I had never used anything while on a run in the past, swore for years that the only way I could run is in the morning, on an empty stomach after a bit of black coffee). My initial thought was “muscle it down and keep a slow, steady pace”, easier said than done; I was headed down a dirt road 10ish miles into my morning outing, so naturally my body wanted to jam out some effortless, free flowing miles! I had to slow way down, I wouldn’t say a full on cramp happened, but I felt the beginnings of doom brewing.
Next attempt was on the day I had trained for; race day.
Nervous for a repeat, I reminded myself to sip (literally a drop – increasing to a half mouthful) coconut water, priming my fuel tank slowly. Then, around mile 16 it became time for my first packet of Muir, I had stashed one of my savory favorites – Cacao Almond with Mate alongside one packet of Red Raspberry with Mate (more on this Mate deal soon!).
I had discovered during that first 26.2mi adventure just how to fuel myself with Muir, realizing all bodies are different, mine more accustomed to eating raw (<90% raw during the work week and more like 75% raw on weekends) and entirely plant based for quite some time now, I had to let the gooey Muir goodness dissolve in my mouth completely and consume it that way!! Easy enough for me now that I found the magic sequence of events – my body craves routine!
So… yes yes! Like I mentioned previously, Muir Energy offers several of their recipes with the addition of a Yerba Mate boost, 90mg to each packet indeed! Some folks reading this might interject with “what’s with this hippy trash – give me all the Monster energy!” Well, good news! Not only does mate give you a boost of plant based caffeine, the tea supplement is also jam-packed with antioxidants which promotes a bad-ass immune system (needed when we are constantly suppressing our immune systems through the rigors of distance running!), mate has also been scientifically proven to improve mental focus (perfect for those monotonous miles we all encounter).
If you feel like I left anything out here, please let me know – questions, comments, or concerns!! But you’ll definitely want to scope out the real deal Muir Energy website.
But I am super stoked that Muir helped me run my best race during the Mount Desert Island full marathon and then two weeks later – I had Muir on deck again for the Nor’Witch (Vermont) 50K Ultra – no upset stomach, no crampy nonsense, no regrets, nothing but real fuel in my belly!! I remember coming up to the course photographer at mile 33 (a 50K technically is 31.06 miles, but my GPS tracked me on this winding course at 33.5 miles) and yelling to me that the finish tent was just around the corner – to my delight, here I was thinking I had at least another 3 miles to go!
Muir Energy supplemented with coconut water in my hydration vest had given me more than enough sustainable energy to destroy my first 50K –
leaving me super stoked to run distance again soon (Runamuck 50K in Vermont with Ciara!!)
Muir Energy is a small nutrition company based out of California where their nutrient dense fuel is crafted and packaged all by hand, with love by a few rad folks!!
Keep your fuel tanks topped and keep doing what you love best!!
Much love and happy trails!