"Spira...what?" you may ask, as well you may.
I learned about Spiralina as a fuel source for endurance runners during one of the awesome #runchat sessions on Twitter. Spiralina algae is touted as superfood that can increase your performance due to the fact that its packed with protein, B-12, beta-carotine, iron, and a bunch of other essential nutrients. Samples of Energybits, which is made of 100% Spiralina algae, were being offered to bloggers interested in trying Spiralina, so I volunteered to give it a go.
The day I received my Energybits package was the day I read this little nugget in Scott Jurek's Eat & Run:
Spiralina is a green algae said to have been carried into battle by Aztec warriors. Used for centuries as a weight-loss aid and immune-booster, it has lately been studied and shown promising results as a performance enhancer for long-distance runners.
Sah-weet! Whats good enough for Scott Jurek is good enough for me! (yeah, 'cause Scott Jurek--Mr. Vegan Ultramarathon god--and I have so much in common).
I decided to try Energybits before my 18-mile run a few weeks ago. I was running on tired legs, having already run 24 miles that week, so I figured this would be a good week to try some spiralina. The instructions say to take 30 Energybits before exercise, and I decided to swallow the little pills whole after making the mistake of actually chewing one. It was disgusting. That said, Energybits are 100% algae so I would have been more alarmed if it tasted like, say, a creamsicle. The bits are super tiny so downing them like I was a pill-popping celebrity was no problem.
I have to say, I felt great the whole run. Like, surprisingly good. I've blogged that any run longer than 13.1 miles intimidates me, so I've been struggling with the longer distances. These 18 miles, though, felt like a piece of cake.
That said, I'm not so naive as to attribute this great run to 30 little algae tablets I took before I even left my house. There were a number of factors that contributed to my having had such a great run, the most likely being psychological. I was really pumped after our 12-mile anniversary run, and was really looking forward to another long run. I was also PB'ing in the "highest weekly mileage" category, and PBs are always exciting. I was feeling good from the start, and was lucky to sustain that runner's high throughout my run.
Wanting to try a spiralina boost again, I opted to take more Energybits before another run the next week. This was an 8-mile run in the middle of the day in the hot sun and muggy humidity. Again, I felt strong the whole run. Again, I think Engerybits helped, but I hesitate to attribute this good run to Energybits alone. I was also super pumped for this run, mostly because I was upset at myself for missing a run the night before. I wanted a good run because I felt I had something to prove to myself (or to punish myself, whatever).
I realize this isn't much of a review. If you are asking your computer screen, "C'mon, 'Ama. Have an opinion about Energybits. Did they help you on your run or not?" I don't blame you. To be honest, the answer is, I don't know. As with so many fueling options, you have to try them in training for a sustained period of time, and the sample size I received, as generous as it was, was not enough to make a concrete determination on the effects of spiralina as a fuel source for me.
I will say this though, I am interested in experimenting more with spiralina. And if you are too, I recommend checking out Energybits. Because the quality of spiralina is not currently monitored by the FDA, it is important to get it from reputable companies, otherwsie you run the risk of purchasing algae high in mercury. Energybits is a quality product and 100% organic!
Have you tried fueling with Spiralina algae?