OK, so I've done a 10 mile plod in my marathon training and i'm about to start doing longer distances, is it worth getting in the habit of trying to take gels whilst running or is it just not worth it? 

If not gels, and i'm running say 12 - 20ish miles should i be taking anything else if so what? Water... that seems a lot heavier to carry then a few Gel bars?

I don't really have any idea so i'm throwing it out there for your clever people image


  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    Oh.. one of the reasons is i'm thinking of how do I carry them or water, a big pack, a small bum/thigh bag? or i've seen a gel strap that's barely more then a strap that you can put them in and can hold an inhaler, and if you want a phone etc... Just wondering if I should get something like this and get in the habit of wearing it, or if it's just all a waste of money and just need to carry a small rucksack or something with water in it.

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    When I run more than 12 miles - i'll use gels (SiS and Powergel). It all depends on your race day strategy - how are you planning to run the marathon? On gels? food? Energy drinks? This will dictate how you prepare and work in your training.

    I have a waist belt from Camelback that has:
    - 1 500ml bottle (i use water)
    - 2 locked pouches. I use one for gels/flapjacks and the other for keys/inhaler/tissues.

    You should never try anything new on race day so you need to make sure that in your preparation runs you're trying out the different fuelling methods to see what works for you.

    If you're going out in hot weather - you'll need water and if you're using a non-isotonic gel (e.g. powerbar) you'll need water to slurp it down.


  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    Thanks Emmy.  This is me trying to decide what my race day strategy will be image

    Gels, seem a way of hopefully avoiding the dreaded wall, mind you i'm so slow i might not have that issue.... anway.  I'm thinking Gels (carrying my own around, possibly every half hour, not sure if mean to be that or every 20ish min) and water from the oncourse watering holes. If so, then I guess I should train with Gels and a watter bottle and drink every 5k to emulate on course water. (wll check to see if that's how often they are in my race).

    Does that seem a reasonable thing to get in the habit of doing for anything over 10m or just overkill?


  • Best thing is to try a load of different things out on your training runs and see how you get on.  Personally I don't like the gels so I have some jelly babies or something similar, dried apricots or flapjack.  I'm not super speedy though so it's not all swilling around in my belly!! image  I have a waist belt too that takes a couple of bottles and has pockets for other stuff. 

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    So... I guess I should get some sort of belt, and go from there image arrgh it's all soooo complicated image

  • Steph I would go with what Emmy_bug said - do the same in training as you would on race day. Every long run over 10 mile start introducing a gel or 2 - I usually have one half way on a 10 miler and 12 miler and 3 for a 15 miler (1 every 5 miles) and so on

    - every 45 minutes during a marathon is enough to avoid the "Wall" and a light brakfast (300-500 Kcals),if your body is used to the gels from training you know there won't be any bad reactions on race dayimage

    Tip: even if water is provided by the organisers don't rely on it (they've been known to run out) - best to carry your own just in case - that way you can take gels at whatever stage you wish (topping up your bottle belt now and again if water is there)

    Best of luck!

    Andy ( )



  • by the way, I use high-five energy gels on an elasticated belt, like the one you mentioned - you can just wash these down with water - this works well for me!

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    @Steph - I'd try out as much as you can. I'm not fast (5 hour marathoner) and I'm slowly coming round to the idea of flapjacks because i have issues with taking on anything after 19 miles. I love them.

    A friend of mine gave me "shot blocks" to try for this weekends run and i'll see how i get on. I'd much rather try and fail during training than fail during a race!

    I also carry my own water - but that's because in hot weather I put a nuun (electrolyte tablet) in it. It helps keep off stomach cramps and stitches.

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    Thanks everone.  That's exactly the sort of thing that I wanted to know image

    The every 5 miles is great. I'm a bit slower than you I think so it might be every 6 or 7k for me image

    But i'll get some and experiment I think i'm going to try the high5 thing as they do a box with some gels in and the belt for about £15 so seems a good starting point.  Do that and carry a hand bottle that takes 500ml and see where i go from there.


  • Tim R2-T2Tim R2-T2 ✭✭✭

    I'll just throw a spanner in your thinking. Part of the training for the marathon is to train your body to get its energy from burning fat and to increase your capacity to store glycogen.

    I take no carbohydrate at all on any runs. The excpetion is when you are experimenting to see what works digestion wise. Therefore I would just take one gel towards the end of some of your longer runs.

    The theory is that you complete deplete your glycogen levels on your long run the body then compensates by storing more each time. During the race you then prevent your stores from running out completely by taking Gels etc.

    Someone will probably explain why I'm totally wrong though.

    I take a backpack out on runs over 15miles, I tend to use over 500ml of water which is hard to carry. It's 2litre but only half fill it.

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    I was told roughly every 30 minutes you should be taking on a gel but I think that depends on you/your body/how fast you're running etc.

    Play around, experiment and see what is best for you.

    Good luck with your training!

  • Gavlar CGavlar C ✭✭✭

    Do what suits you and take a spare gel with you as they can fall out of your belt! I tried a couple of HM's with no gel, just relying on water but I found the last 3 miles hard work so I have gone back to using gels at 60 mins then every 30. I also use the High 5 gels, banana to be exact and buy them in bulk as they're cheaper that way.

  • Agree with TimR. One of the most important parts of the long run is to get your body trained to store more glycogen. So, yes, do practice with Gels, and decide on the strategy for race day, but don't let gels become a regular part of your training runs

    Note also that some Gels must be taken with water (e.g. Lucozade), while others can be taken on their own  (e.g. SIS). I choose not to take them in line with water stations, so something like SIS Go Gels are perfect.

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭
    Cheers. I can understand that about not

    Getting to much into you and letting your body learn.

    Lots to think aboutimage
  • I only take gels if I am running more than a half marathon. My routine long runs when not training for anything are 18 miles and I usually take a gel after 13 miles. Though that said the other week my gel fell out and I still managed to complete the run at near my usual speed.
  • Tim R2-T2Tim R2-T2 ✭✭✭
    I think the question is how fast/long are you running for. It's supposed to take 30minutes for the gels to take effect. So if you're running a 2 hour half marathon you need to take one after an hour of running and there's then no point in taking one at 1:30.

    I was quite surprised when I saw people carrying them on half marathons, and even more surprised when I saw people carryingvthem on a 10k earlier this year. What's the point in that?

    18miles, I'll have a handful of jelly babies to keep me company after 14 miles. Psychological help more than anything I think for me.
  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭
    @tim - I've seen people using gels on a 5k....

    I recommend just trying everything and anything on your long runs. You need to know what your body likes /dislikes/refuses before race day. It's doing trial and error that I know that I can't take anything nut related on whilst I'm running as I throw up... But flapjacks are a great treat at mile 17.
  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    It's more how slow then how fast image I'm a newbie this is about getting around 5h probably over.

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭
    @steph- to give you a comparison for what I do (as I'm a similar speed):

    - runs up to 10 miles: nothing. Only water in hot weather

    - half marathon: 1 gel and water

    - long runs up to 18 miles: 1 gel after 8k then every 45 mins after that.

    In marathons I normally stop with gels after mile 20 and if I need a pick me up - I'll have some jelly beans. I'm trying to teach my body to not rely on the sugar stores so am replacing gels with a flapjack or malt loaf/something similar.

    I know a friend of mine who has a bumbag full of 'snacks'. She's great to run with as she always carries 'proper food'.... On one ultra she took cheese sandwiches, a packet of crisps and some liquorice all sorts! It warlike she had a Mary poppins bag of tricks!
  • Tim R2-T2Tim R2-T2 ✭✭✭
    Getting technical.

    The number of gels per hour depends on the individual. Recon on absorbing between 40 and 50 grams of carbohydrate an hour. So most gels it's just under 2 per hour. Given that's only around 160cals the other 500-600cals has to come from stored glycogen or fat.

    If you get stomach cramps it's probably because you've overdosed on carbohydrates rather than not getting on with a particular make.
  • I'm just starting out in running and am currently training for a half and also Brighton Marathon next year.  I have never used / experienced Gels and if im honest im not even entirley sure what they are.  I completely agree with the chap earlier who was talking about glycogen depletion and training your body.  Allthough i havn't run a marathon yet i have experienced equally physically demanding activities and have found that you cant go far wrong with 2 litres of water and a bag of mixed nuts.

  • image

    Plodded 5k this morning, have 12k tomorrow (just taking a hand water bottle thingy). Spent this evening watching the Olympics. Breathtaking
  • I tried my first gel today.  I have a half marathon coming up and in the next few weeks I'm just experimenting with different things.  Here's what I've found so far:

    Did a 10 mile run carrying a small do-nut shaped bottle with just water.  Found it hard to carry and really flagged towards the end.

    .Started off a long run with a cheaper version of a camelbak filled with water and had some treats in the pocket (jelly babies & jaffa cakes).  I didn't get to try the treats beause the cheap water bladder burst 2 miles in and I had to go home!

    Last week I ran 12 miles and carried lucozade sport in a bottle attached to a waist belt.  A bit cumbersome to carry when the bottle is full but I soon got used to it.  Didn't flag at all towards the end.

    Today I carried water in the waist bottle belt and tried a gel after about an hour (high5 orange).  It was horrible! Tasted rank, horrible consistency and it went all over my hands, making them all sticky and I promptly got attacked by flies! Flagged a bit by the end but only consumed about a quarter of the gel.

    I'm still experimenting but I think the way forward for me in a long distance race will be to alternate a sports drink with water at the aid stations and carry a few treats in a waist belt.  Also tempted to buy a decent camelbak for longer training runs/walks as before the cheap one burst it was brilliant.

  • Lots of good advice (as alwaysimage) for what it's worth, I think experimenting on what's right for you is the way to go, for me strangely I never use gels in training runs, I typically run between 15-18 milers 3/4 times a week and get through fine (for me) without, no water either (unless I pass a fountain on route) but that's because I hate to carry anything, tried it but found it awkard.

    However on race day i'll probably use 2 gels during (GU brand nice flavours) when I remember to pack them! But I don't know how much they actually help? My PB in Rotterdam was run with no gels (I forgot them!) just the Isotonic drinks and water on the course and I had a great easy feeling race, where as other marathons where i've used them I haven't found it any easier as I would have expected.

    For me I think gels are as much a mental boost as physical in my opinion based on my performance, Jelly babies/beans are much nicer and cheaper but not as portable.

    One thing to add not taking anything away from people who use gels, but the human body does adapt, which is evident through progression in training.

    Anyway best of luck in training and your planned event.

  • Had a long day Sat too much BBQ food, wine and beer. Woke up late Sunday and decided to give it a miss. When I got up though the weather looked too good so decided to at least do 10miles. That's a short run for me so took no water. After 4 miles things were going well so decided to branch off and make it 16miles.

    Probably not a great idea. 16 miles 2 and a half hours no water and no gels. Survived but was glad to get home.
  • Ran 16 the other night on water and 2 cake bars no probs,yer if you use tem Akers sure it can get on with them but don't bother in training.i used to use them but put on weight!
  • Cheers. 

    I'm liking the answers so much info and so many different ways.I like the trying not to use them much if at all as the whole point is getting the body used to working it's arse off.

    So i'll see how it goes.  I'm thinking I might squeeze some jelly babies into the small key pocket in my shorts and see how they go.


  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    I've found that if the going gets tough (especially on summer days) i'll mix fruit juice with water and have that as energy if i need it. Works a treat for 10~ miles

  • The beauty of Jelly Babies are that they're less than 5g of carbohydrate per sweet so one every 5 or so minutes is perfect.
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