Hello, I am running the London Marathon in April for the first time and am currently underway with my training. I have read in many places that I should be using gels to help give me energy boosts on the longer runs, in preparation for the marathon. What are the best gels to use and how many should be be consuming and at what intervals? Thanks Adam


  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Depends if you want an energy boost when you really need one, say after 2 or 3 hours of running. Taken under these circumstances they really hit the spot.

    On the other hand you can consume gels the same way as a baby sucks a dummy, for comfort. 

     Personally, if I was spending more than 4 hours to get around a marathon, I wouldn't bother with such things. I'd stick to real food.

  • maxi fuel gels work best for me get the caffiene or hydrating kind both have max carb blends in them 


  • I'm running VLM too for first time but have few marathons under my belt. I used to carry gels with me but soon realised that it was better to get used to what was being handed out on a particular course. In training I have only carried one or max two when getting to 20 miles or so, but have ditched the belt. I see for VLM that Lucozade have feeding stations. Not sure if that is just drinks or includes their gels. If it is the latter then I intend to have a go with them before hand.  Why haul a belt around when you can pick them up on the way?


  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    They hand out drinks and gels on the course do no need to carry loads round with you. Is best to try them out on your training runs over the next few weeks to make sure they "agree with you"

    I got bad stomach cramps from the maxi fuel ones
  • Thank you everyone for your advice. Do you know what exact gel they will be handing out at the London Marathon? Also how often should I take them?
  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    I think it will be lucozade ones as they are still the sponsors. They also give out bottles of lucozade as well. I can't really say when to take them as every one is different. Best to experiment in training. Gels are just the drink without the water so give the same benefit.
  • You can get round on lucozade drink alone or jelly babies or sweeties.

    You need to test out in training what you can cope with.

    Personally I have 5 gels or so - one every 5 miles.
  • From VLM site."Lucozade Sport Body Fuel, in an easy to carry 330ml bottle, can be found at miles 5, 10, 15, 19 and 23. We recommend you carry the bottle while you run, sipping slowly.

    This year we’ll be back again with our Lucozade Sport Carbo Gels at miles 14 and 21 to help you get the fuel you need, when you need it."


    I work on the assumtion that a gel gives 20 mins of energy and takes 20 mins to get in to the system

    So for a 3hr finish I'd take my last gel at about 2:20 (21 mile) then working backwards - 2:00 (18 mile) - 1:40 (15 mile) - 1:20 (12 mile) - 1:00 (9 mile) - 0:40 (6 mile)   That's 6 gels.

  • That's really useful, thank you
  • As some others have said, go with what suits you.  I struggled to find a gel that suited me, that was an okay consistency and an okay taste.  I now use Clif Shot Blocks as an alternative - works the same way but are little blocks of jelly that I can chew instead.  There are other products out there that work in the same way, you just need to experiment and find out what works best for you.  Likewise, experiment with how often you need to take them - its just another part of your training. Good luck

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    An open question.

    What does anyone think will happen if you don't have a gel?

    The human body with a stomach is not the same as a car with a fuel tank.

  • RicF wrote (see)

    An open question.

    What does anyone think will happen if you don't have a gel?

    The human body with a stomach is not the same as a car with a fuel tank.

    I regularly run up to 4 hours without fuel or water without dying. My last marathon was at the end of an Ironman and I followed my 20 minute plan, it seemed to work (3:29:19).  My previous marathons have been done with and without gels and thb there wasn't much difference (if any) but since I can stomach gels I'll take them if there is a possibility of them being any help.

  • The danger is that you run out of energy Ric.  I've done this a few times on the bike and its not conducive to running a decent time image

    So far with my running - I've not had this as I do take on the gels. But as I only run a marathon or two each year - its not the place to take risks.  

    What benefit would I get from not taking on a gel ? 

  • Fantastic IM run time there Mr Marshallini !

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭


    The IM is in a different league. Marathons pale into insignificance by comparison.

    C. Now that you mention bikes. I've hit the wall on a marathon once, a training run once and a freezing cold race on the North Downs once.

    But it was worse on a bike. Once.

    So after that episode I only gunned the bike when knocking back regular glucose tablets. 

    On that basis I would probably go for gels, if only for a boost. Not as a substitute for breakfast though.

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