Saturday, March 24, 2012

Running dates (and no I don't mean going on a date date)

Have you signed up for the Bondi Band Giveaway yet?  Just a reminder that this is the last day to sign up.  I'll be randomly picking two lucky winners tomorrow!  Go to my Bondi Band Review and Giveaway page for details.

Have you ever wondered what fifteen pounds of dates look like? Wonder no more!  Yesterday, I was very excited to get this ginormous box of gorgeous dates in the mail.

Why so many dates, you ask?  Well, because Distance Dude and I actually find them pretty good food to eat while running.  I don't even know how we first stumbled upon the idea a year or so ago.  I know after ODing on GUs in a long run a few years ago, I am no longer a huge fan of them.  I can tolerate one or two, but the longer I run the more I need to eat.  And, once I get past three during a run, my stomach starts to rebel.  Somehow they are just too sweet for me.  Switching to Margarita Clif Shot Bloks  seemed to be the solution to the GU dilemma, but they get old after a while as well.  So I was looking for something that could replace your typical GU but still be useful for running.  At the same time, Hubby was also looking for foods that he could carry on his long runs to offset some of the GUs that he was taking in, especially as his mileage got longer and longer.  I guess you could say that the idea of eating real foods while running was just plain more appealing.  After experimenting a bit with dates, we both found that they do seem to do the trick.

And, we're not the only ones who think so.  According to Brian Willett's article What Fruits are High in Carbohydrates, on, "The high calorie density of dates may make them a good choice for endurance athletes or those engaged in intense workouts." 

Ten dried dates contain 61 grams of carbohydrates and 228 calories (Food sources high in carbohydrates,, so the ratio is not too different than, say, a Vanilla Bean GU (which has 25 grams of carbs per 100 calories).  Dates are high in potassium and purportedly have many additional health benefits.  According to the article The health benefits of eating dates on the site Frederic Petenaude: Common Sense Advice on the Raw Food Diet, dates can do everything from helping with intestinal disturbances and heart problems to cutting your risk of stroke and lowering LDL cholesterol.  Of particular interest to endurance athletes, however, may be that dates are digested very easily and therefore are good for supplying quick energy.  Also, dates are rich in iron and can be beneficial to those who suffer from anemia. (

What makes dates great for the average runner, though, is that they carry really well and, at least for me, are easy on the tummy.   I have experimented with them on my two-hour exercise days, where I will run an hour, eat some dates, and then hop on the elliptical for an hour.  I find they don't upset my tummy, they get rid of any hungry feeling I have, and I definitely have energy to continue my exercise.  Dates seem to store forever in the freezer, and they can in fact be eaten straight out of the freezer.

Ideally, the best dates for running would be a drier variety, so they don't stick together.  According to the good folks at Shields Date Gardens, where we ordered our dates on sale, a drier variety would be Thoory - which unfortunately had a bad year this past year - or Deglet Noors.  Since we were looking for a sale purchase, we ended up with this huge box of Khadrawi.  This is a chewier date that is a little moister than I would have liked, but they sure taste good.

If there is any downside to running with dates, it would be the pits.  You can buy pitted dates, but they are more expensive.  So, what to do with the pits?  Normally, I am very much against littering, but is it so bad to spit these out?  I mean, they are natural and will break down - eventually.  And, being in Northeast Wisconsin, I seriously doubt we're in danger of planting unwanted date palms over the countryside, thus introducing an invasive species.  Hmm, I'll have to think about that.  Also, I suppose if you don't like the idea of carrying five dates versus one GU packet, that is a problem, too.  Going on longer runs, though, with a hydration belt or other hydration carrying solution, I find I have plenty of pockets to carry the dates.  Anyway, food for thought if you are looking for another source of energy on your longer runs.

A day off from ~ everything ~

So, I am savoring my day off from running, rowing, strength, yoga, everything today.  Why Saturdays have developed into my official day off every week, I do not know, but it seems to work out great for us.

Saturdays are the days I don't have to:
  • Get up early - well, until my children come bouncing into the bedroom to remind me I promised them pancakes.  
  • Be anywhere - well, unless it is something we want to do as a family. 
  • Feel bad about being lazy - although when I think about the fact that I have been up for hours  and this is the first chance I have to really sit down, I am reminded that the rest of the day will be much of the same.
  • Move - unless you count the fact that later today I'll be either swimming or at the gymnastics center with my kids.  
But, it's all okay.  That's what Saturdays are for.  They are for resting, recovering, savoring, and just plain doing other things.  At least for me.  Tomorrow I will get back into the swing of things.  On the agenda is a nine-mile trail run with the Big Boys.  Well, sort of.  More on that tomorrow.

Last but not least, another self-portrait to end this post with.  I am really not a basketball fan, but I was very sad to see Michigan State lose in the Sweet Sixteen the other day.  As you can tell, I have been expressing my MSU pride this past week with my sweet MSU tech shirt.  Maybe next year!

Do you have a planned day off from exercise?  What do you do with it?


  1. Just in case you don't see my post on your Facebook page....count me in for the heart bondiband. Yours is adorable! Enjoy your day off!

    I have to confess I've never eaten a date....they look kind of gross. Guess I should try one!

    1. LOL - I think the dates are kind of hit or miss.... Some people would surely think they're gross. I just think they have a nice, sweet mild flavor. Give 'em a try!

      I'll put you down for hearts.

  2. The dates are a great idea! I wonder if the fiber in them would give me a run for my money (couldn't resist). That's the only thing that would make me nervous about them. And you have the green light on spitting out the seeds. If you saw all the leaves and limbs in my back yard, you would not feel bad about one tiny seed. Mother nature does a good job of self cleansing.

    1. Hmm, good question on the fiber and the running for your money. I suppose you could give it a try - with proper route planning of course.... ;)