Noticing that drinking water alone wasn’t enough to replace lost carbohydrates and electrolytes, researchers from the University of Florida invented Gatorade (hence the “Gator”) in 1965. Gatorade has since been purchased by Pepsi and become a behemoth in the sports drink industry. I think it’s fair to say Gatorade is to Nike as all of the other sports drinks are to Powerade, All Sport, Vitamin Water, etc.
Having been big into running for nearly 10 years now, I’ve consumed my fair share of sports drinks, gels, and other nutritional items trying to find the perfect mix. My problem with most gels is simply they taste terrible and have a tough to swallow texture. I’ve struggled finding a drink mixture I’ve liked. Some of them, such as Powerade Zero and G2 lack the calories I need while I’m running. Others, like Powerade and All Sport seem to have too much sugar.
By the lack of a default better option, I wind up drinking a lot of Gatorade. I’ve found if I’m going on a short run, it does the trick in getting my hydrated before/during/after. However, if I’ve got to cover any sort of distance over about an hour, I wind up with the dreaded “gut rot.” Any runner can tell you about gut rot. It’s that queasy feeling in your stomach caused by too much sugar consumed too quickly. The simple fix, which elite runners have been doing for years, is to drink a mixture of half water and half Gatorade. It solves the problem of gut rot, but you are also diluting the electrolytes so you only get half of what you’d normally get.
Enter Skratch Labs. Initially called “Secret Drink Mix,” Skratch Labs was founded by Allen Lim to help bicyclists for the Tour de France. He came up with a recipe that contains less sugar, more sodium and no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors. Instead, it is flavored using real fruits (oranges, lemons & limes, raspberries, pineapples).
I initially was introduced to Skratch Labs at the Fishhook Challenge half marathon I ran last month. Since the half marathon, I’ve purchased 2 pounds of Skratch Labs raspberry and orange sports mix in hopes of using it on my long runs.
My simple review on Skratch Labs is that it tastes fantastic and seems to make me feel better than any other drink/gel I’ve ever had. The taste isn’t nearly as strong as Gatorade or other sports drinks. I would best describe the taste as 80% water with a hint of flavor much akin to throwing a lemon slice into a glass of ice water. It’s not overpowering, but it’s noticeable. I’ve done four long runs since getting Skratch Labs and have yet to experience any gut rot I’ve become so familiar with. It allows me to drink a little more water on my runs without fear of having to deal with unpleasant stomach feelings for mile after mile.
The current downside with Skratch Labs is it’s expensive and difficult to find. All of the dealers located on their website are located quite a ways from me, so I was forced to buy it online. I couldn’t find any place that offered free shipping, so I tried to buy a little in bulk. As expensive as it is, I’ve found I don’t use it everyday (as I’d like) but rather just for my long runs. The rumor is they are also working on a bar to enter the ClifBar/Powerbar market as well.
If you are a runner (or bicycling) who struggles with gut rot, I recommend giving Skratch Labs a try. I really hope this stuff gains a little steam and becomes more readily available. The bottom line, based on my experience, is Skratch Labs is better than Gatorade or any other drink/gel/nutritional supplement out on the market.