Using gel's while training and racing


My plan is to take a gel every 4 miles during the Edinburgh marathon.

The question is; should I stick to this during my training runs or take them further apart; say every 6 miles?
My theory is that when it comes to race day, my body gets a gel hit quicker than it expected and may be of benefit; or is this a load of rubbish and I should train as I plan to race?

If it helps; at the moment I'm guesstimating my finishing time to be around 4:35 which is roughly 10:30 pace. 

Cheers in advance.



  • Hi Mick image

    In my limited experience, I used to follow the same gel/distance pattern in training and marathon. I did feel that by race day I wasn't feeling any particular boost after a gel - usually they take a couple of miles to kick in, so don't make the last one too late.

    This past year I have weaned from them in training. I used to take them every 5 miles on a 18+ run, and started to reduce to every 7 miles until now I can get away with one gel in a 20 miler these days and don't feel any different, ie I'm not dying on my feet. Then just refuel immediately after running. I wanted to train myself to not need them and like you said hope that when I use them in a marathon they will give the required kick.

    2 thoughts - 

    You will probably need to have at least 1 - 2 runs using your race pattern to see if you can tolerate them/that many.

    I'm not sure how many you used when you were up to 16 or so last  year, but I swear, you will be fed up with the taste of them, especially if you also take energy drinks (I don't). Personally I would go with every 5 miles max. Or 5, 10, 15, 19 and no later then 22.

    Edit for clarification - 5 mile intervals in the race, nice round numbers. Your (generic "you" image) mind sometimes is not able to manage simple calculation when you're running for so long. In training, space them as far as you can get away with.

  • Hi Kelly,

    I was up to 16 miles last year and I think I was having a gel every 6 miles.  The reason why I changed to every 4 miles is that they (they - magazine articles) recommend a gel every 40 minutes.  A change to  every 5 miles shouldn't be a huge problem and like you said, it might be easier to remember!

    I don't use energy drinks, just water.

    I have my first long run planned for Sunday (16 miles) so I might try them at 6 and 12 miles.


  • I think that should be fine. Remember, it also says on the packets, 3 an hour image , so you've just got to find what works for you.
    I actually think it is the immediate refuelling with proper food when you get back that makes the biggest difference in replenishing stores.

    I don't think you (you personally?) use gels in a half, so 2 with a few miles longer will be a good boost.

    Also, I think "they" recommend 1-2 gels 10 mins before you start a marathon so that will carry you too on the day if you choose to do that. 

  • Mr KMr K ✭✭✭

    I also, when I remember, take one every 5 miles when running say 20 miles and only one when running a half.

    (I do like the taste of them thou esp the SIS Smart ones & always carry a spare)

  • I wish I liked the taste of them - I still almost gag every time I take one - and I've tried quite a few now. I must admit the Lucozade ones agree with me the very least.

  • cheers all.

    I use the SiS Go tropical gels and find they are the best but its personal preference.
    I tried a lucozade once; and only once.  It was way too thick and nasty.
  • Well, I did my 16 mile run and took a gel at 5 and 10 miles.  I didn't feel any noticable boost but then again I shouldn't really at this distance but it's all good training.

    I don't mid the texture of gels at all but I really wish they offered a tasteless version to stop the smelly burps.   imageimage
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