Following the Zipvit Gel thread, what else would give you a similar hit at 20m

I swore I wouldn't do gels after trying the cliff bloks last year and ruining a race. So, have stuck with the faithful jelly babies and small amounts of energy drink. But friends take the zipvit gels with caffeine at mile 20 and get a pretty good hit for the last 6 miles.
I'm panicking about the last 6 miles...I just go to pieces at around 23-24m and end up having a little walk before I pull myself together for the final miles. I've really worked hard on pacing myself in training, starting slowly and finishing faster.
But even with having a much better pacing strategy in my head, I have this nagging doubt.
What would give me the same buzz as a gel with caffeine?


  • brandy and brufen plus a SIS Smart gel with caffeine

    the twice I've done Brighton Marathon, I had a prearranged miniature of brandy at the final water station at Mile 22 (via someone I know who was manning it). the brandy was taken just after a brufen (back ache) and a SMART gel. after a short absorption period, I flew the last few miles!!

    in the old days of the Tour de France, the riders used to drink a lot of brandy to keep going, so I kind of figured I'd give it a go. seemed to work OK..... image

    and seriously - I've used the SMART caffeine gels a number of times in races late on, and the caffeine does give you an extra boost.
  • But please don't take the caffine gels from the start instead of the normal ones.
  • For best effects you need to swear off all caffeine for a couple of weeks - so its a bit hard to do. And I think leaving it til mile 20 could be too late. Gels take 15 or 20 mins to get into the system - so you'll not be too far off home then.

    Anyone tried necking a can of red bull ?

  • A friend of mine did before a 10K, at halfway he was 8 mins in the lead (he does usually win his races), but ended up 5th, it's a timing thing as you say.
  • Lol ! <scratches that off the list of possible things to do>
  • Drinking a can of red bull before a 10k was one of the worst things I have ever done before a race. Of course it's an individual thing but for me the initial boost was ruined by the crippling stomach ache I had to endure for the rest of the race. I have tried SIS caffeine gels and found them ok - so suspect it was a redbull thing. Don't be tempted by freebie samples before a race is all I can say (I know - common sense and I should have known better)
  • Pint of cider image' />
  • Thanks Fat Buddha, loving the Brandy idea!

    I did the Paris marathon, and they give out wine near the end. I was reprimanded by my husband, for not taking some, if I was going to have a small potter around the streets of Paris, I should atleast have a glass of wine, how rude of me! He did partake, and flew the last few Km time!

    Now Cougie, I had been wondering about Red Bull, this was an idea I thought could work. I know one of the fast runners, that guzzles the stuff before the xcountry, but that's only 5 miles, and she's so speedy, she's probably back home before any ill effects.

    On the back of that advise, I've ditched the coffee, struggling to be honest, it's half term and with small children.....I NEED COFFEE! But I'll be strong.....(ish).

    Began to wonder about taking a small bottle of full fat coke....nice and flat by the time I get to drink it, just a wee bit to get over that hump. To be honest, I think I need something that has a placebo effect, that I think will get me through the toughest bit. Maybe switch to fruit pastels for those last few miles as a treat.

    Might try that Sis caffeine gel this weekend, and see what's that like. I tried the zipvit, and could only take a small amount as it was so yucky and thick. (How do people take the whole thing?) It might be worth carrying one, so if I really start to flag, it will atleast take my mind off it while I try and open the darn thing...

  • I have found the SIS gels the easiest to take because they are a bit runnier than other brands and you don't have to take them with water (although I do this anyway). I hate the flavour of the caffeine one - it's called 'Berry' but you can taste the caffeine (think along the lines of the taste of red bull). Again - a personal thing.

    Definitely recommend you try it though. Let us know how you get on! Phew so much to think about! Fuelling is a minefield all on its own!

  • ddd - flat coke (or not so flat in the case of some races) is standard on the marathon part of an Ironman triathlon as the caffeine is known to keep people going. it's also an alternative taste to all the sweet, sticky gels, fuel and energy bars that you've been consuming before.

    I won't say the coke gives you a boost per se in an IM as you're usually too knackered after the 112 mile bike leg, but it does stop you flagging too much.

    you could also try a Proplus caffeine tab. downside of that is swallowing it with a dry mouth and I don't know how long it takes to dissolve in the stomach and then get absorbed - a caffeine gel or drink would be quicker.

    then there are Clif Double Espresso gels - 22g of caffeine per gel. Not tried them in a race but have tasted them and they aren't too bad.
  • There's a very good interview in this podcast about caffeine and marathoning:

  • That was an interesting podcast. I had never really given much attention to caffeine except that I need it.
    Made me think about a few more definitely keep off caffeine until race day, when I'll have my normal coffee that I always have before any run.
    I take on board what the guy was saying about caffeine tablets, I agree with him that it sounds more dodgy, but is just coffee with the crap stuff taken out. Think that is something I might consider for my next marathon, I can only focus on one thing at a time. This year was all about the in start slow.

    But for this race, thinking have left it too late to try any new gels, again, next marathon. But I think the coke might a be a winner.....anything iron men do! (in awe of anyone that can do that). Used to focus on my ice cold coke waiting for me, when I had finished a long run. That was before I started making milkshakes.

    Also, from the other thread, dextro tablets. I had forgotten about them, used to take them for exams. I hadn't eaten enough breakfast on one of my first longer runs this year and a mile from home, thought I was going to faint. Someone gave me one of those and it perked me up immediately.

    Thanks everyone, got some useful stuff to try, and now I can really enjoy my coffee.
  • +1 on what Cougie said, if you take them when you are tiring its too late. Try and keep yourself topped up. 

    I was given a couple of zipvit energy gel samples from my bike shop and i too think they are really thick and disgusting. I use torq gels now. they are an incredible booster. i like the rhubarb and custard flavour (non caffeine) then for the boost for the last really stingy bits of the 26.2 i use the banoffe (with caffeine). They are runnier than most so dont make me gag and they taste incredible!!!

    I hadnt thought of backing off of caffeine so I get a bigger hit in the race!!! Will totally be taking that piece of advice on!

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