What effect do you notice after taking a gel?

I have just started experimenting with Sis Go gels on long runs, and wonder what effect I should be expecting and experiencing. In November last year I did my first 10 mile race, and all my runs before that had been without gels. It never occurred to me to use them. Then I entered my first HM on 3rd March, and thought - ooh err, 13 miles, perhaps I should be using gels.

Last weekend did 10 miles (gel after 6.5) and yesterday 11 miles (furthest I have ever run, gel at 7 miles). I half expected to feel like a switch had been turned on, and to have a sudden burst of energy. Instead, I didn't feel much different, really. After both runs, I was knackered, and my pace/tiredness didn't noticeably improve.

Perhaps the effect is subtle, and perhaps without the gels I would have felt worse? But that doesn't tally with my successful 10 mile gel-free race. And 7  miles is a distance I comfortably and regularly do on my general runs. (Another  concern is that I don't want to become reliant on gels when the HM is over and I'm running for pleasure rather than for a race).

I'd be really interested to hear of anyone else's experiences of using gels and what difference you feel, what difference they make to your speed and endurance.

Thanks!

 

 

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Comments

  • OK very simply and from a layman's point of view...on longer runs there comes a point where you've used up all the energy  that has  has been stored as Glycogen in the muscles and liver. You then  start to burn fat, which you can't do as efficiently. So your energy levels, for want of a better term, drop off and you get tired.  Gels are supposed to provide accessible energy so that you don't deplete all your reserves.  They won't "inject" you with a spurt of energy, your body still needs to be efficient at converting what energy they provide.

     People have been running races of all distances without gels until the last few years.  Get a few gel-less halfs under your belt - you certainly don't need gels to run a half- then try it in a race yourself and make your own mind up about any improvements.

  • You don't need held for those distances.

    A gel takes about 20 mins to be absorbed so you'd probably finished your ten miler.



    The body stores enough energy to run up to 20 miles without taking on any extra.

    There's no turbo boost from a gel - not that I've ever noticed anyway.



    If you're planning a marathon then you can use them- otherwise it's a waste of money. You'd probably run faster without a gel anyway - eating and digesting anything will slow you down if you don't need that fuel.
  • I've run 18 marathons & over 200 half marathons over the years & managed well enough for years without gels & muck like Lucozade Sport & personally think runners are better off with water & Jelly Beans. When i did try them i found no benefit at all & along with Lucozade Sport made me feel sick, stopped taking them all together & found no difference in performances. From personal experience i think there's big  marketing from large companies promoting these products but whether they are as good as they claim is very questionable.

  • i get the BOKE

  • My handle bars get sticky
  • Jelly beans are no good for me. Id probably end up scoffing them before the race and end up with none left. At least I won't scoff gels for fun.
  • Thanks for the comments, everyone. I'll try my next long run without taking a gel, and see how I feel in comparison with the last two.

  • Water and additional training are more effective than gels. 

  • gels are just an expensive gimmick IMO and pretty sickly.   Percy Pigs will do the same thing and you don't have to ingest the whole bag at once - but by gibbidy it's hard not to. 

  • I did a race using Sammy Snails once. (the asda version of Percy pigs).

    Apart from the Snail vibe obviously slowing me down - they're definitely harder to eat at speed. Especially if you want to breathe too.



    They're ok for slower training runs but I prefer gels for racing.
  • I've never used gels or jellybabies in the past, but last HM I did there was a kid at the side of the road with a bowl of skittles (i assume he was offering them to runners) so I grabbed a hand full and tried to eat a few.

    To cut a long story short most of them ended up in a hedge bottom as soon as I was out of sight of the very kind and thoughtful young chap.
  • I can only speak from personal experience of trying them & have come to the conclusion they're absolutely useless & had no effect at all, people buy into the bullshit that the big companies sell but the truth is they're no better for an instant fix than a sugar cube.As for Lucozade Sport it contains 8 spoonfulls of sugar, says it all really.

  • Isn't that what you want from it though ?

    It's be crap giving out the diet version at the marathon.
  • there'll be bluebirds over....,, wrote (see)
    there'll be bluebirds over....,, wrote (see)
    "...without gels & muck like Lucozade Sport & personally think runners are better off with water & Jelly Beans. "   there'll be bluebirds over....,, wrote (see)

    As for Lucozade Sport it contains 8 spoonfulls of sugar, says it all really.

    Pray tell, what is in your healthy Jelly Beans ??

  • Sugar, the same as the overpriced nonsense that is gels & Lucozade Sport but at the fraction of the price.

  • there'll be bluebirds over....,, wrote (see)

    Sugar, the same as the overpriced nonsense that is gels & Lucozade Sport but at the fraction of the price.

    So why use Jelly beans, as you mentioned earlier?

    Can't say I am a fan of eating anything when running, cycling or rowing. Gels are a convenient fuel source for long endurance events. Are we not just benefiting from the advances developed for elite endurance athletes. Maybe runners world would be better placed to explain how to use then, and what they are for, then we wouldn't see 5k, 10k and half marathons littered with Gel wrappers.

  • Interesting this, I've just finished reading this months Mens Running and there's loads about energy bars/gels in the articles and they seem very popular. I for one have only tried them once when running a half marathon and they just made me feel sick! 

  • I see loads of people at my local parkrun jogging round with bottles of Lucozade.

    I wonder if they ever stop and think about how the runners at the front manage to get round without anything.
  • There was a programme last summer about the effects of these products & questioned their effectiveness, the experts came up with the conclusion that water was just as effective. Everyone to their own & if they want to spend money on them fair enough but personally i don't see them as the be-all end-all, we live in  quick fix times & we are bombarded by companies claiming that by taking their products we will perform better but at the end of the day there's no substitute for hard work & of course waterimage

  • I think you have oversimplified the conclusions of that program in a Daily Mail kind of way.. For Joe public, not taking part in endurance type events, they are a complete waste of money. But they were recognised as having a place in endurance events. I noticed Wiggins time his Gels to one every 18 mins.

    I think a lot people ("users"image) see them as some sort of turbo booster, and have little real idea why they use them. I can run a marathon on water and training. I could run one a little faster with a bit of easily digested carbs.   

  • I've seen women scoffing 500gr dairy milks to get round the race for life.



    Christ knows why - it looked like her fat stores were pretty much topped up.



    Joe Public just hasn't a clue about these things. And most others too.
  • I've tried quite a few different brands of gel but they all make me feel slightly nauseous, I get on much better with Jelly Babies or Shot Bloks. Lucozade/Powerade also me feel a bit sick if I drink them while running and the sugary/sticky residue is horrible.

    I tend to have a Blok or a couple of Jelly Babies about 80 minutes into a race and then every 30 minutes after that. I think the idea is to take them before you feel like you need it so that you don't crash? That's what I do anyway, and if it's just a placebo I don't really mind - its a good excuse to eat some sweets image

    Has anyone tried the sports jelly beans? My sister got me some of the Lucozade ones but they are so chewy (and expensive! 25g is nearly the same price as a whole bag of Jelly Babies)

  • Also-ran wrote (see)

    I think you have oversimplified the conclusions of that program in a Daily Mail kind of way.. For Joe public, not taking part in endurance type events, they are a complete waste of money. But they were recognised as having a place in endurance events. I noticed Wiggins time his Gels to one every 18 mins.

    I think a lot people ("users"image) see them as some sort of turbo booster, and have little real idea why they use them. I can run a marathon on water and training. I could run one a little faster with a bit of easily digested carbs.   

    perfect summary

  • I am pretty slow so my LSR can be 3 - 4 hours.  I don't like to eat too much before a run and I find gels quite useful as an easy to carry top up; I use Gu gels, but only take about half a sachet at a time, any more than that and it makes me nauseous.  No more than 3 in one day, for the same reason.  Can also cause a bit of stomach distress afterwards.  Regarding effect - about 10 mins or so after taking it I do feel a boost, suspect most of it is down to the caffeine.

  • Just a quick ask - does everyone follow the instructions on the gels ? They're usually quite precisely written on the back of the packet, but to see the wrappers strewn about during a large event, it makes you wonder.

    Anyway, I found a number to be a bit fiddly as you had to take them with water, switched to a make where they were already diluted, but then switched back as I felt more in control of my gloop 'dosage' 

  • I think the gel usage as directed is too much. I know some riders on a sportif did a trial whereby they got free gels and had to use them as directed. They came back with good reports - but it was a stupid amount of gels - something like 20 or so ?



    That's a bloody expensive bike ride.
  • LouiseG wrote (see)

    I am pretty slow so my LSR can be 3 - 4 hours.  I don't like to eat too much before a run and I find gels quite useful as an easy to carry top up; I use Gu gels, but only take about half a sachet at a time, any more than that and it makes me nauseous.  No more than 3 in one day, for the same reason.  Can also cause a bit of stomach distress afterwards.  Regarding effect - about 10 mins or so after taking it I do feel a boost, suspect most of it is down to the caffeine.

    i would have a think about the volume of gels you're using during training - the LSR is there to train your body to fuel from fat, and by taking gels you'll be limiting how much you're developing that process

  • the body metabolises both stored glycogen (from the liver and muscles) and fat for energy during your race.

    there are physiological limits to how much glycogen you can store in your body (this equates to about 90mins of high intensity exercise). There is a MUCH higher limit to how much fat you can store.

    if properly nourished before the race, and assuming you have no medical conditions that interrupt normal metabolism, when you run at low relative intensity your body will metabolise fat for about half of the energy requirements of your muscles. At higher intensities, the energy demand increases, and it's more efficient to use glycogen (the metabolic path is quicker and cheaper) to satisfy those demands.

    An elite distance runner will have trained to a degree where s/he can draw on fat stores for a higher proportion of energy requirements for longer. There is also some evidence that small amounts of caffeine ingested before exercise can increase the rate of fat metabolism.

    So in summary, this explains why some people can run an entire marathon on nothing but a bit of water to rehydrate themselves, as they're using a mixture of fat and carbs from the outset to supply their muscles with energy, and they never fully deplete those glycogen stores. Unless you've starved yourself, you don't need any additional carbs during workouts up to about 90 mins in length, and that's assuming you burn glycogen only, and burn no fat at all.

  • cougie wrote (see)
    I think the gel usage as directed is too much. I know some riders on a sportif did a trial whereby they got free gels and had to use them as directed. They came back with good reports - but it was a stupid amount of gels - something like 20 or so ?

    That's a bloody expensive bike ride.

    Thats very true of the SIS isotonic Gels. Look on the packet and its one every 20 minutes, but look on line for SIS' advice on marathoning and its more like 30mins. I'm OK with a Gel belt, but carting around a carrier bag full of them is getting a bit much.

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