Fuelling on the run

Oh, what's happening to me?

Currently training for my 5th marathon in 4 years. With each one I struggle more and more with ingesting things on the run, in particular gels. It's got to the point now that even when I srat thinking about taking a gel I start gagging - I was  lucky to get one down on yesterday's 20 miler. Then towards the latter stages even drinking is a struggle. Give me 30 mins after i've finished and I can drink and eat anything!

I've tried many types of gels (currently on the High Five Isogels) and I think I'm done with them. I need something els, perhaps more natural but that isn't difficult to digest. I'm OK with a few jellybeans along the way.

Any interesting home-made or more natural suggestions?


  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    Hiya, I have a similar issue, but not as bad. I have tried the following to a less or more of a success:

    - Flapjacks
    - Marshmallows
    - Percy Pigs
    - Energy drinks (SiS is currently outperforming Lucozade and other brands)
    - Wine gums
    - Fruit Pastelles
    - Cheese Sandwich
    - Prezels

    I think it's just about experiment. I would never have thought to have tried a cheese sandwich as the thought doesnt appeal to me but the savoury taste of the bread really appealled to me at 15 miles!

  • flapjacks
    Dried fruit
    and if you cant stomach anything solid - orange juice works for me. (dont usually drink it but its also the first thing i crave after a long run!)

  • I tried Sammy Snails for a 20 mile race once. I think as well as the negative connotations of eating such slow sweets - I found it hard to chew them and breathe at the same time. They may have worked ok on slower runs though. 

    If jelly beans work for you - why not carry on ? Maybe have one or two per mile ?

    Shot Bloks are quite good - kind of jelly sweets but a bit squishier inside so slightly easier to eat.

  • I did 20km yesterday and from 5km onwards had a jelly baby every km until I ran out after 15k (need a bigger pocket).
  • How about replacing jelly babies with something that last a bit longer like fruit gums or hard boiled sweets. Is there a reason jelly babies are better?


  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    I find fruit gums harder to chew when i'm running so it alters my breathing. I've tried hard boiled sweets but they didnt give me the same effect as jelly babies.

  • Listen to your body. If it doesn't want food. Don't give it food.

    If you've done all the correct training for the last few marathons your body now doesn't need the gels etc. You just think or have read that it does.

    Don't worry about it. stick to the jelly babies.

    You may only need the gels at about 2hours into your marathon when you're running at marathon pace. Not during your LSR. You may have needed them in the past but your body will probably have adapted by now.

    Same for drinking, you're probably drinking too much. Water or Sports drink? Stick to small sips of water in the latter stages of your run.

  • Timr

    What you say is something i've wondered too. maybe you're right. i could carry on with jelly beans, it's just that i'd have to eat bloody loads to equal the same carbs in 3 gels.
  • But if you're training you should only be using gels to find what works on a race. Part of the training is to teach your body to run on stored fat, not on carbohydrate. 3 gels is about an hour and a half's intake. Your body can't digest that much in any shorter time.

    How often and at what point in your run are you taking them?

    What are you drinking?

    Try taking your first gel at about the 2 hour mark.
  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    I agree with TimR to an extent. You need to play around and see what works for your body. For me 2 hours was too long - i needed to sip from an hour and take a gel every 30 minutes. I alternate food so that my body isnt just used to gels and that's helped me at the latter stages of a race

  • In training I tend to try take a gel every 5 miles (45 mins), so 4 max, although I've never got past 3. I don't feel I need to take them, but I just do to stop me getting to empty. Obviously, i'm more likely to need them during the race as I'll be running 45 seconds per mile faster.

    I try and sip water all the time but i have noticed that I actually drink less with my camelbak on than I do in a race without it. I think because the water stations every mile or so remind me to take on fluids

    I'm thinking my problem isn't so much *what* I try and ingest, rather than ingesting *anything* during a long run is difficult, and my nausius feeling at the latter end could possibly a little dehydration.

  • How much water are you drinking? Maybe you're drinking too much.
  • Definately not too much. I only drank about 1.5ltr on Saturday's 20 mile run.

  • 1.5ltr is more than enough. that's 250ml every 5km


  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    SSING - I think it depends on the person/temperature and humidity they're running in etc.

  • Well, for comparison, I did a 20 miler at the weekend too, and drank 300ml of water and 300ml of a 4:1 carb/protein mix I was trying out. Ran out at 18 miles and would have liked some more water but it was a REALLY hot day. Normally two 300ml bottles will get me round 20 miles with some to spare. Through the winter I'll often get home and still have half left.

    I also didn't take any food till the halfway point, which was a jam sandwich - at about 2 hours like Tim R says. Then took a caffeine gel at about 3 hours for a bit of a boost, but that was all. I do use gels more than food in actual races, cause when I'm running faster the gels go down easier, but I still probably wouldn't start using them before at least 10 miles in a marathon.

    I think Tim R's advice is good. Are you actually slowing down, feeling dehydrated and thirsty, feeling hungry and running out of energy? Or are you just worried because you think you should be eating/drinking but your body doesn't want to cooperate?

  • Curly45Curly45 ✭✭✭

    I am one of those who cannot eat or drink on the run as it gives me terrible stitch like pain (I dont think its a stitch as its too high to be in my liver but it could be referred pain, its doubling up level of pain). So I dont.

    I freely admit to being a camel mind image


  • Bear in mind if it is humid, you don't necessarily sweat more, just seems like it because the sweat doesn't evaporate.

    The big marathons give water every mole to cater for different people's water strategies and if you can't get to the water at mile 3 because it's too busy then you've not got long before the next station.

    Compare that to a marathon I did last year with 600 people and 3 water stations.

    I've cut down on my water consumption because I felt it was a crutch. Ive gone from 500ml on a 10k/1hr down to nothing on a 10mile/100mins and maybe 300ml on a hot 13mile/2h20.

    I would experiment on reducing your intake on shorter runs and see how you go. Maybe only take a big gulp of water every 3 miles on your 20miler and fall back on your thirst mechanism for a bit.

    Difficult if you are training for one marathon a year, because you could potentially mess up one of only a few 20milers.
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