Way back when I was a teenager running the English Schools’ Cross Country Championships, we had a very talented athlete on our team who didn’t ride the team bus with us to the meet. The reason for this was because the previous year, when he did ride the team bus, he had been selected for post-race drug testing but was unable to produce a sample. When it came time for the team bus to leave and he still hadn’t managed to pee, he was forced to ride in the drug van behind the team bus until said sample was provided. So the following year his parents decided to drive him to avoid a repeat installment.
The English Schools’ Cross Country was my first foray into drug-testing at a race. Needless to say I wasn’t in any danger of being tested, as far back in the field as I finished, but I did have to provide a doctor’s note for a prescription I was taking at the time. This was required for any medications any of us were taking.
Fast-forward exactly 20 years and travel 3000 miles. I arrived in Virginia Beach for the Shamrock marathon….and discovered that spring had sprung earlier than in my adopted home of Northern Virginia and the Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom. No sooner had I stepped out of the car than I started sneezing. My allergies rapidly worsened to the point where my eyes were so itchy and streaming I couldn’t wear my contacts and I was so congested I could hardly breathe. The morning before race day, I dragged myself to the nearest drugstore in search of whatever meds would alleviate my symptoms. The pharmacy was closed and so I was forced to buy some over-the-counter meds. Turned out the pharmacy’s closure was a good thing, because in my histamine haze I probably would have taken as much pseudoephedrine as possible and not only potentially screwed up my marathon but would also have been under the influence of a banned substance.
Granted, I was not fast enough to be tested, and probably could have protested if I had, but there’s a reason that a stimulant such as psuedoephedrine is banned, and I wouldn’t want to think that my BQ had anything to do with taking a performance-enhancing drug. For once, I was glad the pharmacy was closed.
Since then, I’ve discovered that banned substances can actually be found in multivitamins, dietary supplements, and sports nutrition products. And that the banned substances are not disclosed on the product labels. According to the NSF, a study funded by the International Olympic Committee in 2004 found that 15% of 634 supplements tested contained steroids prohibited in sport, none of which were declared on the label.
So how do you know if your supplement or multivitamin is safe? If it has the NSF Certified for Sport seal, it has been screened for banned substances and reviewed for toxicology, contaminants, and label claims. You can visit the NSF site for a list of substances banned in sport as well as products with the NSF Certified for Sport seal of approval.
One such range of products that carries the NSF Certified for Sport seal is Klean Athlete. The seven Klean Athlete nutritional supplements were designed to maintain the healthy lifestyle and promote peak performance of athletes, from the weekend warrior to the amateur and professional competitor. I was recently sent samples of their multivitamin as well as a D-Ribose supplement called Klean Endurance. In addition to being certified free of banned substances, Klean Athlete products don’t contain yeast, wheat, gluten, soy, corn, sugar, or starch and have no artificial coloring, preservatives or flavoring. I’ve been taking the products for the last two weeks.
The multivitamin contains all the usual multi stuff as well as a “proprietary blend” of wild blueberry, strawberry, and spinach extracts. You take two tablets daily; they are coated to go down more easily and have a interesting but not gross smell that I can’t quite describe. For someone like me who hates swallowing horse pills, they are great. Do I notice any difference after taking these for two weeks? Well, I can tell you that my nails are much stronger than usual and look really healthy. And I’m someone who chews them off if I’m not in range of nail clippers, can’t stand manicures, and never wears nail polish. I haven’t really noticed anything else, but I was taking a different multi before switching to Klean Multivitamin.
This chewable tablet intrigued me. Its primary ingredient is D-Ribose which, according to WebMD, is used to improve athletic performance and the ability to exercise by boosting muscle energy. I am training for the Boston Marathon and am running some of my highest mileage weeks right now. While my muscles have definitely felt fatigued after a hard effort or long run, I have been recovering well and am able to meet all of the times and distances set for me. On Sunday I ran 12 miles easy and then jumped into a relay race and ran 5K pace for 3 x 1.4 miles. This is something I would normally have trouble doing but I felt strong throughout the entire workout. I think my training leading up to this is much of the reason for my current performance and certainly wouldn’t say this is a miraculous supplement that is enabling me to run longer, faster, better, but I am intrigued enough to keep taking it and see what happens. Note that D-Ribose should not be taken by people with low blood sugar.
Timothy Monk, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing for Douglas Laboratories, which makes the Klean Athlete line, is a multiple marathon and triathlon finisher, including the Ironman World Championships. Monk states, “Many of us are athletes who are passionate about competing at our very best in a natural way and we recognized a need to create products which support – rather than enhance – peak performance.”
What’s nice about these supplements is that I know they’re safe, they are easy to take and don’t taste gross, and I haven’t experienced any side effects from taking them. I am not under the illusion that supplements will suddenly make me a better athlete, but if I am going to take something to support my performance and recovery, you bet I’d rather take something that carries the NSF certification. You never know, maybe that drug van will be looking for me one day…
You can purchase the range of Klean Athlete products, which included the two I sampled as well as Klean Antioxidants, Klean Cognitive, Klean Probiotic, Klean Isolate, and Klean Electrolytes, at kleanathlete.com.
FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own.
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