Drinks, gels and water don't work for me!

Hello everyone,

I'm running my fourth marathon this year (London) and STILL cannot get the whole energy drinks + gel + water thing right. I've tried everything and nothing seems to work particularly well for me.

Here's the problem:

When I'm training I never really feel like I need to drink much. I can easily get through a 2 hour run on a cold day without needing to drink, though on a warm day it's more like 1 hour. It's been a real effort for me to include a drinking routine in my training but over the years I've managed it. If I'm doing a long run I take water with me and have sips and all is fine.

One of the reasons I don't like to drink is that it makes me feel worse. I can feel it sloshing around in my stomach, even in small sips, and I know from past experience that if I drink more than a few sips at a time it can ruin a run/race for me. It all comes back up in my throat again and makes me want to vomit. It doesn't matter how much I train with water, it just doesn't sit well with me when I'm running. It's tempting just to go without it sometimes, because I know from experience that I can run anything up to 20 miles on not a lot of water at all.

Energy drinks, gels and sweets have the same effect, if not worse. By the end of a long run or a race I feel sick from using these products, and I've tried ALL of them in my training to find something that works for me. They might be providing me with energy but if they make me feel sick then it really ruins the run/race for me.

Am I doing something wrong? Do I really need to drink as much as everyone says you should? Jelly beans seem to have been the most successful product so far but I don't know how effective they are at providing energy.

(I am female, 4'11", average weight)


  • Drink to thirst and eat what works for you. As you say not really worth forcing stuff down if it is ruining the race for you.
  • How much does everyone say to drink ? Are they runners ?
  • I don't drink much - similar to you I wouldn't usually take a drink for a 2 hour run unless it's hot. In marathons I take a couple of sips only at water stations and I find that ok. I have a fruit pastille each mile, with some spares for when I fancy. I take a gel with me in case I feel I need it, and hate them so much it usually takes me a mile or so to get it down, reducing the sloshing effect.

    There is no science in that other than it suits me, but hopefully reassure you that you don't need to drink 400 litres a mile image
  • I dont drink anything, except in races on really hot days. Am not planning to fuel in my next marathon or drink, except the odd sip of water if I need it.

    Do what works for you, find this out by trial and error as KK says.

  • KK the old it's too late if you're thirsty is not the way current research is going. (Working my way through waterlogged by Tim Noakes). Our bodies are remarkably self regulating and if you pay attention you will know what you as an individual need rather than sticking to a prescribed amount.
  • Camruns - I say ignore the "recommendations". I am only 5ft and weigh about 52kg. Most recommendations seem to be aimed at the average male. I would need only a couple of sips of water for  a 2 mile run in the winter and I never use gels - they contain a high number of calories and seem a bit gimmicky to me (each to their own though).  I think High 5 have about 300 calories which would take me at least 45 mins to burn off. A handful of percy pigs were more than enough to get me through a marathon.

    I find that a lot of people's ideas about what's normal calorie and water intake are based on their own needs and they have no idea of the needs of a short person which are usually a lot less than the average male!

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Ron Hill ran marathons without any drinks at all.

  • Oh good! Nice to know I'm not the only one. There is so much conflicting advice out there about energy and liquid intake.

    Think I'll give up on the gels and sports drinks, and stick to sweets.

  • The Dextro energy sweets you get in pharmacies are good, I find.

  • Having tried two long runs (10 and 11 miles) experimenting with a gel for the first time, I didn't feel any beneficial effect. Did 13 today without any gel, and it was just fine!  And I also drink very little water during a run. Today took 2:21, and I had probably two or three sips of water. I always take water with me, just in case, but rarely take more than a few sips. I get a stitch if I try to drink too much.

  • hi have you tried chia awsome stuff it has the lot.google and see for yerself......


  • 17miles this morning. Drank 1/3 of a pint before going out. Had a coffee when I got back 3 hours later.

    I'm still alive.

    The secret is to be hydrated all week.

    On my marathon in November I took 14 jelly babies, ate 10 of them got sick of them after a while. There were 4 drinks stations I took water at 3 of them.
  • I am 5' 1" so I am not sure height is the relevant issue as I can drink and run, more importantly I used to need to drink heaps when running. I have been training to run without so much liquid but I know without any it does affect my running speed and recently I have stopped at a shop to purchase water when I have felt really dehydrated.

    What I did find works well for me though is to have about a quarter of a all tumbler of water before running. This seems to keep me hydrated enough for up to 8/9 miles.

    The key though is working out what works for you.

    I have some jelly things rather than gels but don't tend to use them in training. The other day a few fruit pastilles were my saviour but it has been trial and error and listening to what my body wants.

    Good luck and find your *norm*!!
  • I always thought that was odd that if you were thirsty it was too late?

    after all, what is thirst for if not to tell you to drink?

    have read that it is better to be slightly under hydrated than over hydrated anyway.

    Camruns, you may find its enough just to rinse your mouth out? (no not with soap!. . . image)

  • your opening post doesn't seem to contain any actual problem, other than you think you might be drinking too little. if it aint broke, don't fix it.

  • I think taking gels etc on long runs is about topping up the tank rather than giving you a boost. In other words, it's about delaying the time it takes to run out of energy rather than give you higher energy (adding more fuel to a car doesn't make it go faster or run easier...it just stops it running out of petrol).

    I struggle to get anything down on long runs of more than 12 miles. I understand it's quite common because the blood in our body is being directed away from the gut towards the muscles as they need it most.

  • If you can't stomach gels and things, the lucozade chewy energy tablet things are good? At least, I think they're lucozade, there are probably different brands! They give you the energy without the cloying sticky feeling in your mouth image

  • I have been training to not drink or eat on any runs up to 16 miles for the last 2 years and now as long as I have had a few mouthfuls of water pre and post run it does not effect the performance at all and i dont feel thirsty during the runs.

    Mind you if it is a hot day I will carry some water, just in case.


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