ITU Pro Kathy Rakel Reviews the First Endurance System

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This is a blog that I’ve been looking forward to writing, but the passing of time was important.  I wanted to be as unbiased as possible, although I now have good reasons to be biased.  Can you relate to putting in hours and hours of training, only to have nutrition woes on race day?  Pros and amateurs alike experience these frustrating circumstances.


Challenging nutrition experiences this summer and fall prompted a phone call to First Endurance in early October.  I had browsed the websites of several nutrition companies.  I found doing this somewhat difficult because every company has their own spin and believes their product is the best.  Thankfully, I had a gut feeling to call First Endurance.  After looking at their website, my first question was along these lines, “Based on most of the pros that you sponsor, I assume your product is geared more for Ironman athletes.  Can you explain to me the benefits of using your products for an ITU, Olympic-distance athlete and how you recommend this distance athlete uses your products in races?”


This question, and all of my other questions, were answered with an impressive level of knowledge, experience, and a genuine concern for me as a person (which I really appreciated).  We hung up the phone, I did my final race of the season, and a few weeks went by where I let myself forget about triathlon.  When I came back to reality, I was determined to get my training and racing nutrition dialed in.

I reconnected with Robert at First Endurance, and he recommended I watch the videos on these 2 pages: Ultragen &OptygenHP.  I did that.  Again, I was very impressed, so I watched the rest of the videos for each of their products.  After doing this, I made a firm decision–regardless of whatever financial sacrifices it would require (I budgeted it out, per month, to the exact penny), I needed to make the switch and completely commit to their entire line.  I initially had some hesitations because I had been using the same nutrition for the past few years.  The thought of changing this up was a little worrisome, but I decided the time had come.  I stuck with my firm decision, and First Endurance graciously provided me with a sponsorship, which I appreciate more than words can describe.


I’ve now been using all of the products for over 1 month.  Can I feel a difference?  Absolutely.  Here are some of the differences I feel:


-The stress level in my body is reduced.  After consistently taking OptygenHP for about 2 weeks, I felt better equipped emotionally to handle what I used to consider high stress situations, regardless of the source of stress.  I also began sleeping better on a more consistent basis.  I’m not up in the middle of the night nearly as much as I used to be, nor do I feel as anxious about things.  I think more clearly.  I combined my use of OptygenHP with a commitment to reduce stress in my life–this combination has been key!


-Consistent use of the Ultragen recovery drink has allowed me to recover from workouts more effectively.  I can undertake a larger volume of training.  Because I feel better overall, I am happier, too!  Also, I love that Ultragen is rapidly absorbed into your body.  The science and recommended usage behind this product makes so much sense!


-Even with a major increase in swim volume this past month, my speed and strength have continued to improve.  I am not exhausted or overly fatigued (physically or mentally).  I am surprised how my body has been able to handle the volume.  I have also recently restructured how I fuel during these workouts with the EFS drink and/or liquid shot.  I am now fueling in a way that is specific to short course (Olympic distance) racing.


-I am running at speeds on the treadmill (for repeated short bursts of time) that are faster than I’ve ever run before.  Recently, a guy on the treadmill next to me even asked if I was training to be a sprinter!  A positive mental state has helped me reach these speeds, and having confidence in my nutrition, because I truly feel good, helps me to remain positive.


-Most importantly, my confidence in how I’m fueling my body during training continues to increase with each successful session.  How my body reacts to and handles the training is much more predictable than it used to be.


One final thought.  If you love the electrolyte drink and gel that you currently use, then stick with what’s working.  I would, however, consider using Ultragen as your recovery drink and Optygen/OptygenHP.  If you have goals in the sport that you’re seriously working towards, but you’re doing so while balancing a full life with your family and/or your job, buy a month’s supply of these 2 products, and see if you notice a difference.  Also, if you are short on recovery because you juggle so much in a day, I do believe this combo will help.  If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask!


I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season, complete with family, friends, and a happy, well-fueled body during training :)

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