As promised here’s part 2. I’ll go through the first day at Gatorade HQ and show you some of the expertise and research that goes into Gatorade products along with some details on the products that they’ve designed specifically for the endurance athlete.
I flew out of Philadelphia International Thursday morning and got into Chicago O’Hare around 9:30 AM. I met up with a few other ambassadors and we rode together to the hotel to drop off our bags and get ready for our afternoon meetings over at Gatorade HQ. We got to the hotel and at the front desk we got a bag of Gatorade swag including two polo shirts to wear for the meetings and a tech-tee for the training run Friday morning. After a quick shirt change and putting away a few things it was time to head to the lobby and catch our ride for the first meeting.
When we got there we got to meet the Directors and Marketing folks at Gatorade and the folks from Hawkeye who is the marketing company running the ambassador program. What a great group of people! It was fun meeting everyone and we all sat down, grabbed some sandwiches and started talking. We moved through introductions pretty quickly and then started talking about Gatorade as a company and as a brand. One of the things that impressed me the most is the amount of research that goes into every product Gatorade provides. We spent a good hour talking to Matt Pahnke, a sports scientist at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Matt has his doctorate in exercise physiology, is a level II certified USATF coach and was a member of Team USA in 2007 competing in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. In other words, Matt knows his stuff. He’s a member of Gatorade’s “G Council” which is a group of professional athletes, coaches and scientists that provide guidance and subject matter expertise. I could take up several posts in breaking down all the great information Matt was sharing. The topics varied from fluid, carbohydrate and nutrient needs to what the latest research was telling us about performance and recovery. You may hate me for not going into more detail but the good news is I don’t have to, Gatorade has broken it all down into one product line and three phases:
G Series Pro
- 01 Prime: Pre-race fuel that helps your body convert carbs to energy.
- 02 Perform: G Series Pro Endurance Formula with twice the sodium and three times the potassium of Gatorade Thirst Quencher.
- 03 Recovery: Post workout/race protein products to help rebuild muscle.
We got to sample every product and flavor. I was familiar with several products but a few I had never tried. I had used 01 Prime at both the Broad Street Run and the Moorestown 8K and PR’d at both races. 01 Prime is a 4 oz. pouch that has carbs, electrolytes and B vitamins to help convert carbs to energy. I downed the pouch on race day about 15 minutes before gun time. It digested really well and I had no GI issues. Next we sampled the 02 Perform G Series Pro Endurance Formula. What I wasn’t aware of is that this is the product you get on the race course at water stops. For years I thought that it was regular Gatorade Thirst Quencher but instead you’re getting the extra potassium and sodium that comes in the G Series Pro line. The Endurance Formula comes in the familiar bottles but you can also buy it in powder form to mix on your own.
We then moved to the recovery products which I have become a firm believer in over the past two years. One thing Matt shared with us is that for a post recovery drink you should be getting about 20 grams of protein for maximum effect in rebuilding muscle tissue. More than 20 grams has no real impact which I was not aware of. Essentially anything over 20 grams is just expensive urine. It’s a good idea to take in protein again but you need to wait at least a few hours for your body to be able to take advantage of it. The recovery drinks come in an 11 oz. shake (the vanilla is good but the chocolate is great) and also in a 16.9 oz. drink that has a consistency similar to other beverages. I’ve used the recovery drink post race and I’m planning on getting my hands on the shakes in the VERY near future.
We then went over messaging, social media and a few business areas. I’ll spare you the details but it was all good info. Now let me back track a second here and mention that there were two people who came into the meeting a little later than us and were sitting on the other side of the room. At one point one of the speakers mentioned that these were two other members of their G Council and introduced the gentleman as Running Coach Greg McMillan. My ears perked up and I quickly leafed through my binder to the bios. It was him, the head coach of McMillan Running and creator of the McMillan Calculator sitting about 20 feet from me. Then sitting next to him was Michellie Jones, one of the best triathletes in the world and a sliver medalist at the 2000 Olympics.
I looked around for a minute and took it all in. Since I only knew the people around me for all of 2 hours I felt awkward asking someone to pinch me. It’s was turning out to be a pretty good day.
I’m noticing my word count is getting high so I’ll save the rest for part 3 and trust me, I’m saving the best for last. After the meetings we all headed out to US Cellular Field to get dinner and catch the White Sox play the Blue Jays. During the game I got the chance to sit with Coach McMillan and pick his brain a bit. Stay tuned!