Gelling from the Get-Go: A Brief History of Spring Energy’s Nashville Roots

by William Harwood

Rafal Nazarewicz, founder of Spring Energy, is a very smart man. Multilingual and multifaceted, Rafal has racked up over the years several successful careers: marketing analyst, research scientist, nutrition professor. Yet, despite all his brain cells, the bacteria of his gut remained deeply unimpressed, at least when Rafal ran distance races.

“I ran ten marathons,” Rafal recounts. “And each time I had gastrointestinal problems.”    

Rafal would ask experienced runners about what they ate during long races to keep the dreaded bonk at bay, and each would steer Rafal toward some preferred pack of garishly colored goo. Not only still no go, but — for Rafal — still all stop and go. (Sports science demonstrates conclusively that multiple Port-o-Potty visits are not an effective strategy for marathon PR’s.)

Clearly, something had to change. The first was the scenery. In 2014, Rafal signed up for his inaugural trail race, circumventing the kiddie pool of public park groomed path 10k’s and diving straight into the deep end with a 50 mile mountain monster outside Chattanooga.

“Randy Wharton is the race director for Wild Trails,” Rafal says, “and he only had real food at the aid stations, healthy stuff like broiled potatoes. I was not only surprised by how much I ate, but by how good I felt. No GI issues for fifty miles!”

The experience proved an epiphany that punched him in the gut, only in a good way. Rafal realized his skill set and running experience had perfectly positioned him to do what had never been done: transform real food into healthy, tasty and effective gels. “I have a Ph.D. in Nutrition and have done research on metabolism. When I came up with the idea for Spring Energy, I was working at Vanderbilt. I didn’t have money, but I did have credit cards.”

So, to Rafal’s credit, he took the chance, betting he wasn’t the only endurance athlete craving high quality, healthy food in packets that would provide portability, performance and taste. He was right. In the five short years since Spring has sprung, early local adopters like Fleet Feet in Brentwood and HardWin Adventures of Nashville are now joined by running stores, race directors and endurance athletes in multiple countries spread out over four continents.

And the great keeps growing. “We’ve just introduced our first powered drink,” Rafal says, “and without compromising on our commitment to real food.  We use a new technology that removes water molecules so gently that 99% of the vitamins are left intact along with the color, taste and aroma.”

To put some Springs in your own strides, check out the next article over about Achilles International Nashville.  Rafal has generously provided samples to help the Achilles athletes raise funds for their nonprofit.

Visit for more information and to shop their products.

NFM Staff
Author: NFM Staff

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