Tis the season to stuff loved ones' stockings with little somethings that make them smile. Often, we pick up their favorite candy or sweet treats that they don’t indulge in throughout the year, or some silly gag gift that ends up in a landfill. Why not stuff those stockings to show that Santa really knows his stuff this year? Below, I've put together my go-to stocking stuffers that any athletic enthusiast will dig! Some of these picks were critical in my preparation and success at the 2012 Olympic Games, where I took home a silver medal in track cycling.
I hate packaged food for the most part. Packaged foods don’t come from trees or the ground and I like to keep 90 percent of my nutrition from said sources. If it's packaged, it's processed—right? If it's in a wrapper, it's not fresh—right? Bonk Breaker bars are an exception to this rule. Until I discovered these bars, I had to make all of the food that I would take with me for a day of training. I wasn't willing to compromise my nutrition for convenience. As a professional athlete, I need to put only the best in if I want to expect superior performance.
Bonk Breaker bars changed my life. That sounds dramatic, but it's true. These bars get packaged fresh out of the oven, and they don’t have any preservatives (which also means they don't have a very long shelf life). They are made with gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian ingredients that you can read and understand, such as organic gluten-free oats, honey, flaxseeds, sea salt, rice nectar, and almond butter. Yum! The bars come in 10 tantalizing flavors. My personal favorites are Blueberry Oat and Espresso Chip. Also, I have been campaigning for a new flavor of secret ingredients that I can't share with you just yet, but owners Chris and Jason say will be out very soon. Stay tuned.
I met Osmo’s creator, Dr. Stacy Sims MSc, PhD, about three years ago. She was a nutrition consultant for the United States National Team as we were just beginning our surge toward the 2012 Olympic Games. At the time I met her, Stacy had been doing some work with the professional men's cycling team, Team Garmin/Chipolte, and creating formulas to help them achieve nutritional advantages. One of her works of genius is the PreLoad hydration mix. We used to call it “buffer mix,” and I was one of her guinea pigs as she tinkered with the ingredients. This mix is specifically made for high-intensity efforts and hot conditions, two key factors in track racing. Our competition velodromes are often heated up to 80-84º F because collisions of molecules in warm air is greater, making for faster conditions. PreLoad Hydration increases plasma volume, “buffers” lactate, and sustains sodium stores to maximize sustained power and reduce muscle fatigue. It's like a miracle mix. Truly. Make sure to mix your bottle in advance and put it on ice, as this works best if you drink it very cold. The entire line of Osmo products rock, and I am also a huge fan of Goodnight Recovery. If you have trouble sleeping after big volume days of exercise, this should be your new “go-to” for a restful night’s sleep.
With more than a decade of racing my bike at the pro level, I know all too well that injuries are a part of sports. SpiderTech kinesiology tape (AKA "incredible magic tape") is used to reduce pain and swelling, and enhance athletic performance. The tape is designed to mimic the properties of skin, with a certain amount of elastic stretch to provide dynamic support to the body without restricting normal movement. It's used for all types of musculoskeletal injuries, as well as nerve-related conditions. It will stay on for three to five days when applied correctly.
I have used SpiderTech tape to overcome physical setbacks; for instance, the Hip Spider has been instrumental in my healing from sciatica. Nothing worked before Spider Tape to keep the pain at bay while I healed. I always had pain, and since I always train hard, I lived on Ibuprofen, which had me very concerned for the health of my liver. I use this magic tape when training, racing, and also when traveling on long flights across the globe. When I sit for long hours when traveling, my lower back and IT bands get very tight. The Lower Back and Hip Spiders keep me loose and keep the blood flow uninterrupted. I arrive at my destination feeling ready to ride and train the first day, instead of spending two or three days trying get rid of “airplane legs.”
This incredible tape comes in very cool colors. My favorites are the “X” Spider and the “Y” Spider, as they are easiest to use and will fit into any size stocking. They even come in cute and sassy little aluminum boxes. It's so easy to use, drug-free, and you can apply it yourself: Amazing!
Gu Chomps Energy Chews
I am madly in love with Chomps, one of the products in the Gu Energy Labs line-up; they keep my blood sugar levels steady for both training and racing. Track training and intense road intervals burns glycogen only, and I only have so much stored in a given day. Chomps save me every time, allowing me to keep training in a steady, relaxed, and fueled state. These little gummy wonders come in a variety of fabulous flavors and are filled with ingredients I can trust to fuel my body right, such as Amino Acids for added focus and energy, Vitamin C and E to combat tissue breakdown, and sodium and potassium to restore electrolyte balance. GU Energy Labs offers a broad selection of performance energy products for any endurance sport. GU continues to work with pro and amateur athletes in sports such as biking, running, tennis, soccer, triathlons, and hockey to formulate a suite of products that work together to improve performance.