Why we use Hammer Nutrition (and you should too)!

Post Race at Vineman and Barb’s Race 2013

Fresh of a race weekend in Sonoma County, California it’s time to get blogging again.  The last few months have been busy in terms of racing and life in general and we’re glad to be back sharing stories and information with you.  Mindy is working on a blog post about her adventures at Barb’s Race (part of the Vineman Triathlon weekend) and I’m sure I’ll pop up in her review, but here’s my race report in a nutshell…  I signed up for the full Vineman (ironman distance) four weeks prior to the race, set a new iron distance PR by four minutes, and came home with a finisher’s medal from my fourth iron distance triathlon.  I fueled with my usual Hammer Nutrition supplies- HEED and Hammer Gel pre-race, Perpetuem during the bike course, and Hammer Gel during the run.  Roughly every hour I took Endurolytes, Endurance Amino, and Anti-Fatigue Capsules to keep me going.  With more that a few gaps in training, I like to think Hammer filled those in for me.  I last raced the full Vineman in 2011 and PR’d the course by roughly 45 minutes!  What a difference a few years makes.  Next up on the race schedule is the Disneyland 1/2 Marathon Weekend and the Dumbo Double Dare where we hope to see many of you!  Now on with the blog….

Time for something new on our blog, a product giveaway!  We’re excited for two reasons; first of all, being able to give away some product to a reader and fellow athlete is really neat for us.  Secondly, we’re getting to share some products we’ve been using for quite some time and really believe in.  Although we’re currently Hammer sponsored athletes, we’ve been using their products for several years without any incentive.  The fact we were just regular folks using their products and are now able to produce race results worthy enough to even have been considered for sponsorship is a testament to both our hard work and the fantastic products Hammer Nutrition offers.  Before getting to the products we’re giving away, which is a great sample pack of various Hammer products and gear, I’d like to give a little back story on how we got started with using Hammer products and how far they’ve helped us come over the past few years….

Let’s go back in time late 2009, right around the time Mindy and I decided to sign up for our first Ironman race, Ironman Arizona.  Actually, here’s a little history to get us to that point… We had been running (ok, jogging) races since our first half marathon in 2007, Rock and Roll Arizona.  A few half marathons later we opted for a full marathon in January 2009, again Rock and Roll Arizona.  From our beginning races until roughly that first (terrible) marathon we were putting no thought into race/training nutrition.  Gatorade was about as far as we went when thinking about how to fuel.  We’d also use the occasional gel, usually whatever was offered on the racecourse that particular day.  While continuing our running, we were starting to get intrigued by the idea of triathlons.  Having just run a marathon and swearing off the idea of ever doing another one, the chance to mix up our workouts with some cycling and swimming seemed like a good idea.  With that we purchased some road bikes with the thought of triathlons, but also just recreational riding too.

Fast-forward to November of 2009 and another one of our typical “seems like a good idea” ideas popped into our heads.  We have a history of these decisions- our first race of any kind was a half marathon, we signed up for our first full and raced without doing any long runs above 14 miles, etc.  In this case we decided that since triathlons sounded fun and it would really cool to say we did an Ironman, we should sign up for Ironman Arizona.  We figured we’d have a year to train, and that would be plenty of time to get ourselves in shape.  We just needed to prepare for 140.6 miles of racing and get our nutrition squared away.

It was about this time we were helping out a local triathlon shop owner at a race expo in Phoenix.  Oddly enough we were working the booth for a large nutrition company who makes gels, sports drinks, recovery drinks, energy bars, etc.  These were products we had been using off and on for a few months and they seemed to be working well enough.  (We were using mostly whatever we could find on sale and figured there wasn’t a huge difference between brands.)  We were passing out samples at our booth all weekend, and on the second day of the expo we happened to cross paths with a fellow Paul who just happened to be a Hammer rep for the triathlon shop we were working with.  We started chatting with him about our plans for Ironman Arizona and given the nature of our booth, the topic of nutrition came up.  We mentioned our current plans of trying different products and Paul asked if we had tried Hammer Nutrition.  We hadn’t tried it before and told him as much, and Paul said he could offer us a starter pack of Hammer samples if we were interested.  Free product sounded good to us, and we said we’d give it a shot.  Paul went on to give us some info about Hammer- natural ingredients, a huge online knowledge library, great customer service, etc.- all we heard at the time was there were free samples for us and it sounded good.

A few weeks later we were at our tri shop and the owner came over and gave us a bag that Paul had left for us.  It contained several samples of Hammer Gel, HEED, Recoverite, Perpetuem, Endurolytes, and more (even a sweet Hammer t-shirt!).  There was also some reading material, a copy of Endurance News, Hammer’s Little Red Book and the Athlete’s Guide to Success.  With Ironman looming (yes, you say that even a year out with your first Ironman) I went home and started reading as much as I could of the information Paul provided.  It wasn’t long before stuff started to click.

Why wouldn’t I want to use natural products when I race?  What sense does it make to train as hard as I can then use products that will cause me to crash during a run? So drinking from each aid station just because it’s there isn’t a good idea?  Carbohydrate loading the night before a race isn’t the smartest thing?  My post run recovery drink is hugely important?  All these questions sound silly now, but at the time they were things we weren’t even thinking about.  And they’re all things you should think about if you’re interested in progressing as an athlete of any kind.  Most of the great information I’ve found comes from both the Endurance News and the online Hammer Knowledge Library.  The Athlete’s Guide to Success is what I describe to people as the Cliff Notes version of athlete nutrition.  It covers fluid and calorie intake, sodium levels, recovery, various types of fuels and proteins, and more.  I can honestly say I’ve read it several times and am constantly thumbing through it, especially when a big race gets close.

As for the products themselves? Fair question… here are some product highlights –

Hammer Gel is gluten free, vegan friendly and kosher certified.  It uses long chain complex carbohydrates, which won’t cause you to crash and burn.  Other products on the market can cause insulin spikes that cause you to have the sugar high and then crash.  This is obviously not something you want to have during a race. Also, and perhaps most importantly to some folks- Hammer Gel tastes amazing.  Since it’s all-natural, the flavors taste like you’d expect, not a candy version.  Raspberry tastes like real raspberries, banana tastes like real bananas (mix it with chocolate Hammer Gel for a treat) instead of tasting like buffet line banana pudding.

A Hammer-fueled BQ!

HEED, Hammer’s High Energy Electrolyte Drink, is similar in those respects to Hammer Gel.  HEED has also won a “Best of MTBR.com” Award in 2005-6 and 2008-10.  It was the only product to receive a perfect 5 out of 5 in the sports nutrition category.  The awards are voted on by users of the site and real cyclists, a testament to the love of HEED by everyday athletes.  HEED is also more mildly flavored than most of your -ade drinks.  No super sweet, sticky drink here.  HEED has enough flavor that you enjoy it, but doesn’t over do it.  I’ve run through aid stations at races where the drinks are so sugary my shoes literally were sticking to the roadway- not sure I’d want that inside of me during a race!  Perpetuem, a fuel we use for longer events also contains a GMO-free soy protein.  The protein makes up roughly 10% of the caloric value of Perpetuem, the same amount that is cannibalized from muscle tissue during long slow workouts.  Needless to say, Perpetuem has been our go-to product for Ironman racing.

Next up, Recoverite, an aptly named recovery drink.  Taking into account that gains in athletic performance are achieved when you combine workouts with recovery.  When I say recovery, I don’t mean watching television while eating a bowl of ice cream (been there, done that), I mean getting solid rest and using a quality nutrition source.  Think of it this way, how well you recover after your workout today will directly affect the quality of your workout tomorrow.  Most people we’ve talked to that aren’t seeing any increase in performance usually have no plan for recovery.  (Some folks go with chocolate milk, which works in a pinch, but Recoverite stacks up better; per 100 calories chocolate milk has nearly 5 grams of fat, Recoverite- 0g.  Of the carbs in chocolate milk, often times you’ll find products like high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, and lactose.  None of those simple sugars are anywhere to be found in Recoverite.  Regarding the protein of both drinks, around 80% of the protein in chocolate milk is in the form of casein, with only the remainder in the form of whey.  Recoverite uses 100% whey, which has the highest Biological Value of any protein source and carries a greater percentage of branched chain amino acids. And there is no chance of having rGBH hormones in your Recoverite!)

Quick side note about whey protein… make sure you’re using quality protein.  The ingredient list on Hammer Vanilla Whey Protein is four ingredients long.  That’s it.  Whey protein isolate, L-Glutamine, Natural Flavor, Stevia.  Like most Hammer products, HEED and Recoverite come to mind, the Hammer Whey has this statement right on the package- Hammer Whey does not contain: Artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners; wheat, gluten, added simple sugars, stimulants, fad ingredients, or anything unhealthy.  If a “protein drink” contains any of the above ingredients, it can cause unwanted side effects that may actually hinder your performance.

There are a ton of other products we use and find a great benefit from, but I’ll just touch on two more so I can get to the giveaway part of the blog!  Hammer offers up Vegan Recovery Bars, something that I (as about as far from vegan as can be) almost dismissed without trying.  The bars contain no trans fats or cholesterol, 14 or 15 grams of protein per bar depending on the flavor, are Kosher certified, and are non-GMO and gluten free.  The part that surprised me the most was they taste good!  I had a preconceived notion about vegan and was surprised how well they tasted.  I actually prefer the Vegan Recovery Bars now, something I wouldn’t have predicted a few months ago!

Mindy’s turn to BQ !!!

Hammer Endurolytes is the last product I’ll cover today, and it should be of great interest to everybody out there- especially if you’ve ever cramped up during a run/ride/etc.  The importance of electrolytes can’t be overstated, but how you consume them can often be misguided.  Assuming you’ll just grab the sports drink at an aid station to fulfill your electrolyte needs can be a huge mistake on race day.  Different bodies have different fluid, caloric and electrolyte needs.  Grabbing that cup of sports drink is assuming you have the same needs as the person next to you, or in fact the same as everybody else doing the race- something that isn’t true.  Also consider that while you may need the electrolytes in the drink, your body may not need the extra fluid.  That extra fluid may actually hinder your performance if you aren’t careful and drink too much while trying to take in electrolytes.  Ideally there would be a product you could take independent of everything else, something tailored to your electrolyte needs.  Funny you should say that…

Endurolytes allows you to tailor the amount of electrolytes to your specific needs.  They’re available in capsules, powder and Endurolyte Fizz tablets.  The capsules are the easiest to utilize when running, I’ll just fill a pouch with several and take them on set intervals I’ve become comfortable with.  This may vary depending on the weather, type of course (hilly vs. flat) or just a gut feeling, but I’ve been using them for a while now and feel pretty dialed in with my body.  The powder form is great, and I’ve begun adding a few scoops of Endurolyte powder to my bike bottles, especially given the heat of the Phoenix area this time of year.  The Endurolyte Fizz tablets have now become our daily ritual.  Both of us work outside a good portion of the day, and in Arizona that means fluid loss.  The conditions are dry here year round, and it’s easy to become dehydrated just walking around, especially if you’ve worked out in the morning.  We find it easy to drop a tablet or two into our water bottles at work to help combat the conditions.  The flavor is subtle (in a good way), and provides a nice change of pace from plain water.  Plus we get a perfect dose of electrolytes during the day to keep us going.  Also important, Endurolytes are not only salt tabs. Electrolytes are more than just salt, which is why Endurolytes contain such things as potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B-6.

With all that I’ve written, I’ve left out several other products we use on a daily basis including Premium Insurance Capsules (a multivitamin/mineral supplement designed for athletes), Hammer Bars (my favorite product hands down, Coconut Cashew Chocolate Chip Bars are the best in my opinion), and many more.  These are all products we used before even thinking about applying for an athlete sponsorship with Hammer, but we tried and then chose to use based on the quality of the product and the results we gained by using them.

While that is a lot of information, it’s really only the tip of the iceberg.  There are tons of great articles that cover just about any topic related to racing and training online in the Hammer Knowledge Library. There are sections for essential information, advanced, FAQ’s, etc.  Most of the technical information I’ve provided has come from hammernutrition.com, and more information can be found there as well.  On each product page, there are several tabs of information- typically product benefits, product detail, related products, related articles, product video, usage, nutrition, and VIP Program.

A quick note on the VIP Program…  you’ll have to decide if it works for you, but it did/does for us.  In a nutshell, you commit to quarterly orders of $150 each.  We were easily spending that over the course of three months for gels, sports drink, recovery drink, vitamins, etc. for the two of us (close to double!). In exchange, you get the following; a Hammer clothing kit with your first order (cycling top/bottom, tri kit, running top/bottom or swim kit), a soft goods item (up to $20) with your second order, product samples with each future order (we’ve gotten blender bottles, bags, new products samples, new flavors to try, etc.), free ground shipping on quarterly orders and on one “fill-in” order per quarter in case you forgot something in your order, and special sales/discounts offered to VIP program members.  Also, and most importantly, there is a standard year-round discount on products for VIP members, which can be found on the VIP Program Price List.  We love the program and have been on it for years.  Hammer even sent me a replacement triathlon kit when I lost so much weight I needed to size-down!

For us, the proof was and still is in the results with Hammer….

First ever triathlon, Blue Water Tri 2009
Fast-forward a few years….
Tinkerbell 1/2 Marathon 2013

So you might be wondering what ever happened with that very first Ironman?  Well things went great! We did a half ironman in May of 2010 to get some practice in, and as our first crack at paying attention to our nutrition.  That day the weather peaked close to 95 degrees and the humidity was close to 90%.  With a steady diet of Endurolytes (and cold sponges on the run) we were able to handle the elements better than we expected.  (Considering we finished when several others were being tended to medics for various heat related illness was an accomplishment in itself!) We both opted for Perpetuem on the bike that day and mixed in Hammer Gels to give us a few treats during the race.  As for Ironman Arizona, we built upon our half-ironman plan, again using Perpetuem on the bike and Hammer Gels for the run portion of the race.  We also added to our Endurolytes by taking Endurance Amino and Anti-Fatigue caps at regular intervals, something that has become our race day staple.

After Ironman Arizona, I did two more iron distance races, giving me three in twelve months- all fueled by Hammer, and each faster than the previous.  We’ve also both gotten our marathon times fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon, with Mindy and I qualifying two weeks apart earlier this year.

Needless to say, we’re pleased and we’d like to think you would be too.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask we’re always happy to help share information we’ve learned along the way.  We definitely weren’t runners or triathletes in the true sense when we started getting in shape, and we’ve still got a lot to learn and accomplish, but so far we’re happy with where we’ve gotten and thank Hammer Nutrition for being a part of our journey!  Now on to the free stuff…..

Here’s what the folks at Hammer passed along our way…

Free to a good home!

Samples of HEED, Whey and Soy Protein, Perpetuem and Sustained Energy, Vegan Recovery Bar, Endurolyte Fizz, Endurolytes, and Hammer Gel.  Also included is a Hammer towel, water bottle, and a gear bag.  And to round out the goods, a copy of the Little Red Book, Consumer Education Guide and the most recent Endurance News.

I bet you’re asking how you can win…
     If you found us via Twitter- retweet my tweet with the link to this page.
     If you stumbled upon us via Blogger or Facebook, you can simply post a comment on the blog or join us on Twitter by tweeting at us, @RaceEveryStep.

We’ll leave the window to get in open until the end of the day on Sunday and contact the winner to get the items shipped on Monday morning.  Good luck to everybody!!!  UPDATE- Congrats to Patty, twitter friend and runDisney fanatic for winning our raffle!  Prizes are on their way!!!

Lastly, and most important… While we’re rooting for everybody to win (come on Hammer, send us some more goodies to pass out!) if you aren’t selected but still want to try some Hammer Products at a discount, head over to their website, grab some items and use referral code 155476 to save 15% off your first order.  Keep this in mind as well- Hammer offers a satisfaction guarantee.  If you aren’t satisfied, return the unopened or unused portion of the product for a full refund or exchange.

This is where I post the disclaimer I see on other blogs…Yes, we’re Hammer sponsored athletes, and yes we get a discount on their product.  That said, this blog post, and the idea to write it was not in any way requested by Hammer.  Seriously. This post, and the idea to give away product were mine, and something I approached Hammer with and not the other way around.  I’ve done my research and wouldn’t be providing samples, much less using a product I didn’t 100% believe in. That said, do your own research and don’t just listen to a guy who blogs online.  I’ve been sharing this information and product samples (usually out of our own orders) with friends and coworkers since we started using Hammer as unsponsored and clueless runners/triathletes.  The results speak for themselves.  Thanks for reading and Hammer On!

6 thoughts on “Why we use Hammer Nutrition (and you should too)!

    • Kris and Mindy

      Yep Frank, you’re all set! Hammer is found, at least locally in Phoenix, at most running/tri shops, as well as places like REI and Sport Chalet. We like the autoship option as it saves us the need to hunt around town for it, plus everybody likes getting a package in the mail! Good luck!

  • Travelin Mich

    I have a question! I already use and love Heed and Perpetuem. Lately been doing a LOT of long runs in the heat and as much as I love the Perpetuem, it not as… “delicious” when it gets really warm. I’ve never tried the Perpetum tablets (or whatever they are called) Have you? Do you like them? Do you think one works better than the other (powder vs tablet) or they are pretty much the same? Thanks! Michelle

    • Kris and Mindy

      Hey Michelle, it’s Mindy answering this one because I actually really prefer the Perpetuem Solids to the drink. The main reason for this is the exact one you mention – living and training in Arizona, it’s hart to keep the drink cold. Not only do I not enjoy it as much when it gets warm (I do like it when it’s cold!), we also have to worry about it spoiling. Once it’s mixed with water, it needs to be kept cold and used quickly. The solids; however, can go with you anywhere and have the same great nutrition as the drink. I use them anytime my workout or race will be more than a couple hours – they easily fit in a pocket and I usually use them along with HEED and/or Hammer Gels and I make sure to drink water as well. I prefer the orange-vanilla flavor (that’s also the drink flavor I like best).

      I will warn that not everyone likes them right away. They do take a little getting use to because if you bite right into them, they can seem a little powdery (although, they have improved them so they don’t crumble as easily as they use to). Two suggestions … I normally pop one in my mouth and let it sit there while I bite off small pieces. A friend of mine cuts the solid into 4 pieces prior to using them to make it a little easier to chew. Either way, take your time eating them and try them a couple times before you decide if you like them or not.

      Good luck and let us know if you have any other questions!


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