Why shouldn't I take this gel on race day?

I only found out last week, the brand of energy gel that will be available during my first marathon in a fortnight.   I didn't have chance to buy any before my final long run this weekend...  so I can't try it out properly.

All advice says NEVER use a gel on race day that you've not tried out in training. But is it really such a big issue?

What consequences could there GENUINELY be?  I can imagine some theoretical ones, but I can't see any that are at all likely.

Does anyone have bad experiences?


  • The most unpleasant reaction will be an upset stomach. I have had this in training when trying a new brand. To have it in a race situation will be very unpleasant. My advice is stick to the brand you know and take a race belt with your gels attached....

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    It can be an issue. If you've never tried that product before then you will never know.

    A couple of years ago, on a long training run I experimented with a gel I received ina goody bag a few weeks before. I felt fine for a couple of miles but then had severe stomach cramps and had to dive into the bushes. Not very dignified. I wouldn't like something like that to happen in a race.
  • Glad I asked.  I think it's taken just 8 minutes to convince me!

    This was, of course, one of the 'theoretical' problems in my mind. But what the hell are they putting in those things to make that happen? image

    I've never bothered with eating on runs before.  This is my first race beyond 10 miles.

    In training, one long run I did eat half an energy bar bought from from Millets - and I had a Snickers at the half-way point of a 17 miler on Saturday...  but that's about it.  Other long runs have been foodless.  Clearly this is one of the areas of training that I've neglected... but too late now!

  • BookyBooky ✭✭✭

    It's not that they put strange/bad things into the gels - it's just that the carbs are so concentrated!

    A friend of a friend was in second place in an Ironman, and there was a fair bit of prize money involved. They took a gel they weren't used to and got serious cramp - they eventually came in fifth!

  • It largely depends on the person, i've never had any issue with eating anything gels or solid food on a run. But then i'm not a "sickly" person and can count on one hand the number of times i've vomited since being about 6 and I can actually remember.

    If you're prone to upset stomachs don't do it, if it's something that happens to other people, don't worry about it. 

  • This is why you need to practice your strategies on your long runs. 

    Personally I just use High5 gels and stick with them. I always carry my own even when races offer them - so I have control of when I take them, and if they run out - its not affecting me. 

  • I spent from mile 10 in last years Manchester Marathon either trying to run with crossed legs, or sprinting as the next toilet came into view, and I put that to using their gels that were new to me on the day, it's unlikely to have been the full reason as it happened too soon, but I won't chance it again..

  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    From your posts, it sounds like you haven't previously used any gels?  If this is the case, then I'd definitely avoid as they are a bit like Marmite in that many people love or hate them.  You may find them hard to ingest without water, and sod's law is there will be a two mile gap between the gel & water stops! 

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    And definitely don't use Marmite!

  • SiS Go and Hi5 isotonic are fine without water - they are designed to be isotonic and therefore no dilution required.

    Most others you need water with.

    Everyone has their own experiences but I know there are a few brands that will give me instant stomach cramps and a sprint to the loo.  The fewer ingredients usually the better and personally I am very wary of anything containing fructose as I find that is guaranteed pain.


    If the gels at the race have similar ingredients to the ones you have used in the past then you could 'risk' it if you are really desperate.  


  • I love marmite sarnies on long runs image

  • Me too!
  • You see, the water with gels thing, I never drink water with a gel, makes no difference?

    It's no different to eating a sugary sweet. 

  • Fructose makes sense to me. I once had a little snackette on blackberries on a long run. Bad idea. I find that I'm that way with some fresh fruit anyway, much as I love eat. Can't eat apricots at all.

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    Agree with others. I'm very careful with what I use on runs and make sure that i've tried it out before.

  • Lard arse which gels do you use ?

    I need water with the high 5 just to wash it down. Don't fancy it alone.
  • DeanR7DeanR7 ✭✭✭

    cant you just try a gel on a small jog or sitting at home, if it is going to upset your stomach i would have thought it would do so without the long run aspect....


  • PhilPub wrote (see)

    And definitely don't use Marmite!

    i find marmite and peanut butter sarnies on ultras are fabby-but dont do it  for your first marathonimage

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭
    Ultra cougie wrote (see)
    Lard arse which gels do you use ?
    I need water with the high 5 just to wash it down. Don't fancy it alone.

    At the run on the weekend there were no water points near where I was due to take my gels. So I sucked a mouthful of gel in my mouth and then let my saliva help it down. It was suprisingly ok.

  • I had this issue with the Loch Ness Marathon - took me a while to have a try with the Clif Gel that they were giving out, and it wasn't til the day before I got a taste of the drink they were giving out.

    I bought my own gels (SIS) instead and filled my bottle with lucozade, my favourite - plan was to take my own gels at the beginning then swap to the chocolate gels being given out (only flavour I'd tried or could stomach at the time).

    Would have worked except for losing my losing one of my gels in the crowd at the start, and then one of the stations unfortuntely running out of gels and only having the energy drink, which I took but found foul-tasting and only took a sip.

    I wish I'd taken more of what I was offered because between miles 15-20 I was getting low on energy and had run out of my own gels - I was so desparate for fuel that I even picked up some off the ground that others had discarded, unopened! Classy!!  At the later stations, miles 20 and 23, I simply took whatever was on offer whether I had tried it before or liked the taste - and I'm glad I did because at that point I needed Anything!

    (People were giving out handfuls of food somewhere along the route, I took a mouthful but have no idea if it was cake, sandwich, bread or whatever - it was carbs!! Yay!

    So long story..... if you can, get used to what will be on offer, or bring your own if you have a belt to carry enough to get you through - but, when you're actually running it, if you find need SOMETHING, just take whatever you can at the time!! ;D Like me, picking up some random coffee-flavour gel off the ground with mud all over the packet! hahaha.  

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