Let’s start with an extra disclaimer here….In 2019 I was lucky enough to be included on the Tailwind Trailblazer programme. This is a fantastic opportunity for me but it doesn’t mean what follows was commissioned or required in anyway. This is my own view, off my own back, about a product I used (and continue to use) regardless of the opportunity I’ve been presented with. I also bought the items I’ve reviewed (and I would have bought these anyway)….
What is it? Tailwind is a sort of all-in-one nutrition product for endurance sports. It provides energy, electrolytes and hydration in an easy to drink solution. If you read other reviews and research the ingredients of the product you’ll quickly spot the similar themes of “no gut bombs”, “clean flavours” and “all the fuel I need” being written about. I guess that is part of the USP of Tailwind along side its other benefits of being full of calories, easy to consume and vegan friendly!
There are two main nutritional products from Tailwind I use – The Nutrition/Hydration product and the Recovery product (Rebuild). They also do a range of apparel and accessories (and often have deals and freebies when ordering certain amounts!). As I use both the products to compliment each other, I’ll review both together.
I’m not going to regurgitate the science and make-up of Tailwind. I wouldn’t do it any justice whatsoever. You can read that for yourself here in all its glory – Tailwind Science
Key notes for me though are:
- Besides electrolytes, the Nutrition range comes packed with Calories. Each serving (typically a 500ml solution, i.e. a bottle/flask worth!) has 100Kcal. This is energy you’d otherwise need to fuel with solid food or other sources such as gels. There are also caffeinated variants.
- Flavours. I stopped using gels and such things a few years back. I simply didn’t like them nor having to carry them. Unlike many other ‘sports’ drinks, Tailwind is very mild to taste. There is no real sweetness or sugar overload (despite being full of glucose) and it is not fizzy like many other products seem to be (like energy ‘tabs’). I find it has a taste similar to flavoured water and a consistency kind of like a flat Soda Cream (remember that?)
- Salt. Each serving contains the equivalent of 1.5 salt tabs. So no need to take those extra either. Keep those cramps and muscle fatigue away!
- The Rebuild recovery product is similar product focused on the post exercise “repair period”. It’s based on a ‘complete’ protein to get repairing and rebuilding those muscles straightaway.
So how have I been using it? Initially not as directed! Earlier in 2018 I bought my first sample pack and I used it sparingly on races only. I did like the mild taste though and didn’t suffer any ill effects so went ahead and ‘upped’ the usage inline with the recommendations for my races in the later part of 2018. Most notably for the CCC in the Alps. 21 hours predominantly fuelled by Tailwind. I say predominantly as (1) I do like to eat actual food and am lucky not to suffer side effects of doing so (Spag Bol at Champex-Lac was much welcomed!) (2) The fresh cold alpine water is a delight on the mountains. I was guzzling that back straight!
In the training runs and races I’ve used it I’ve found I’ve not been hungry or needed to eat too much in addition. This is ideal as I can carry less food with me! Whilst I’ve not suffered any ‘gut bombs’ (thanks Tailwind!) I’ve also found that I’ve not had any generic stomach issues (think the bloated-ness or washing machine sloshing of the stomach) either. So whilst it works for me, it might not for you. I’m certainly happy it hasn’t pushed me the other way and caused issues I’m not used too!
Post workouts I then started using the Rebuild too. I can’t say for certain what effect this is having and whether it is aiding the recovery, but I believe in the science. Whatever is happening in my body must be helping! I’ve certainly been able to do some pretty hefty back to back runs and seem to recover fairly quickly. My general approach to recovery is pants, I rarely stretch or rest. My muscles do seem to recover fairly quickly though over the last year of running, so maybe if I’m doing one thing right its getting some post exercise nutrition in me!
I’ve also enjoyed the flexibility in the Rebuild product, after a cold all-nigher I’ve mixed the Chocolate Rebuild with some warm milk for a rather satisfying recovery hot chocolate – nutrition doesn’t have to be dull! I’ve seen all sorts of recipes for cakes and brownies and other creative ways of incorporating rebuild into a more exciting diet.
As 2019 has progressed I’ve become more reliant on Tailwind. All my training runs are now fuelled by it and less on solids and all my major events (of which there have already been a few already!) I now plan in advance with how I’ll use Tailwind. As I travel abroad for these and purchase the larger multi-serving packs, I’ve had to be a little intuitive with how I prep. Thankfully being part of the wider Tailwind community I had plenty of access to tried and tested methods of storing and carrying Tailwind on Ultras. The method I’ve adopted though is the ‘travel bottle’ approach. As an example, during the Trans Gran Canaria, for 128km of running over 24 hrs I carried 3 flasks of Tailwind, as well as 6 x 50g travel bottles of the Tailwind to top up at checkpoints. Around half way I had another 3 flasks prepped and another 6 x 50g travel bottles waiting in a dropbag to swap with the empties. Whilst overall this is slightly less than the recommended intake for such endurance activities, I mentioned I top up on solid food throughout races. So I was happy and the plan seemed to work well (I finished the race!). I repeated this for MIUT and the 18 servings topped up with warm soup at aid stations worked a treat.
What I like:
- The mild taste and variety of flavours – I mentioned it is easy to drink, it is tasty but far from overpowering. More refreshing than a plain water and with enough flavour options to choose from you can keep the tastes varied over the longer endurance events. My personal favourites are the Lemon and Berry flavours
- Caffeinated options – Many of the Ultras I do require non-stop running over night. A little Caffeine hit is a welcome addition and not having to take additional supplements to achieve this is a bonus! The Rasberry Buzz flavour is my go to here.
- It mixes well – Tailwind is designed to dissolve instantly in water and that is exactly what it does. The lightest of shakes leaves no powdery residue
- The science – full of magnesium, salts, calories and electrolytes it really does give you everything needed to keep going. Thumbs up for me here. From marathons to Ultras I’ve not felt deprived of energy!
- The brand and customer service – This isn’t some faceless organisation. The Tailwind team practice what they preach and use their own products. The personal service is second to none. Just place an order to get a lovely personal message from Tracy and the team and a ‘good luck’ wish for your upcoming events.
What I don’t like so much:
- The powder – whilst this has many benefits, any powder supplement is a pain in the butt to prepare. Scoops here, scoops there, a kitchen worktop that looks like a Columbian crack house…It can be messy.
- Transport. Imagine that Columbian crack house scene. Now try taking it through airport security. I’m waiting the day my measured packets of powder lead me into a windowless room.
- This is a personal preference one – the Stickpacks. These are great for samples and small usage and also excellent for taking with you to refill on the go, but I just can’t get on board with the inefficiency of purchasing in such small quantities when I ‘need’ so much. It’s almost double the price for the equivalent amount pre-packed into 2 serving stick packs. Given you’re recommended to get through 1 stick pack (or 2 scoops) in 500ml every hour, I could go through an entire 21 stick package in a single race…
- Both of these last points have led to me taking the approach of spending time pre-preparing the loose powder packs into transportable containers (bags, 50g travel bottles etc.) (as mentioned above on TGC). It can be quite time consuming and painful to prepare so much!
Trying to be as unbiased as I can…go get involved! If you ever run with me, ask me – Guaranteed I’ll have some on me you can try. I think it’s great. I’m blessed to be part of the Trailblazer team for 2019, but I like it so much I’d be throwing my money at it anyway. For me the biggest testament is that I’m getting through such epic events like the CCC and TGC without feeling depleted of energy.