Marathon and Sport Gels (Science in Sport sis) ?


I am doing my first marathon in September thus I want to start using energy gels on my training runs 

I have looked into SiS, however, they recommend so many different types of products for a marathon and they say they should be consumed 6 days before the marathon (every day) :O 

Can anyone recommend what SiS gels would be good for a marathon? and when I should take them? 

I dont intend on running a fast marathon if that makes any difference (hopefully around 4hr30)





  • donkey, can't help sorry as I have a similar question. Will they be giving away gels during the Race? I'm doing Loch Ness in September and they have fuelling stations so if I were to train with Gels would use the same make to ensure I get on well with them.

  • With SIS I tend to have one every 40 mins or so from 1 hour in. Anything from 4-6 gels should do you. Wouldn't take more than 1/2 for a training run though - costs a fortune otherwise.

    Which race are you doing? Do they provide anything on course - it might be better to save your money and practise with what will be available free image

  • Sadly I dont know if there will be energy gels, I think they only provide things like oranges ... What type of gel would you recommend pmo? There just seems to be a never ending list of different types :L 

  • Just email the organiserimage

    I don't have any problems with most gels, but I know a lot of people do. The only ones I won't take are the Lucozade ones - they taste awful - but practising in training should teach you what you can and can't stomach. Head to your nearest running shop/internet site and buy a few types to try out.

    I like the SIS ones because you generally don't need water to take them, though it's nice to clear your mouth after anyway - if ony to save your teeth. Don't forget, it's just concentrated sugars really - jelly babies will have a similar effect image

  • Donkey - the SIS 'Go' gels are isotonic. That means you can take them without water/sports drinks. Most gels aren't isotonic and are very thick in consistency. It's personal preference - I'd buy a few different ones and try them.

    You can also get gels (both isotonic and non isotonic) that contain caffeine to give you an extra 'boost'

    Some people just don't get on with gels at all and prefer jelly babies or even shot bloKs which are fine if you don't mind chewing whilst running. Again, not for me and down to personal preference

  • I'd always take my own gels so you can have them where you need them - not have to rely on the feed station. What if they run out ? What if you miss them ?

    A marathon is an expensive undertaking - I'd not want to spoil it to save a few quid on gel on the day.

    For me - I wont have anything in races less than a half. Your body easily has enough stored energy for up to 15 miles so you dont need them.

    That said - you do need to try them out on your long runs to make sure you get on with the gel you have chosen.

    On the day I have a gel every 5 miles. Seems easy to remember. And take a spare gel with you on the belt - if you drop one - you dont need to go back for it.
  • Thanks everyone! your advice has been very useful ... which of the following gels would you buy? ...


    SiS Go Isotonic Gel

    SiS Go Gel L-Carnitine

    Or any other?


    Finally, do you think a belt is the best way to carry them?

  • I had these for my first marathon this year (did London in 4:33)

    Carried 6 but only used 5 -finished with a few jelly babies during last few miles as it was a real struggle to force down the gels by the end-even tho you dont need water, it felt much easier with mouthful or two after each one -good luck!

  • I can't stand jelly babies. Is haribo starmix just as good?

  • Have only ever used water in a past existence as I was only running for around 2:40 - 2-50. 16 years later I am going to run another marathon in a lot longer - I do like the idea of being fuelled by starmix!!!!

  • Ive started to use sweets on my long training runs. Harder to get down than gels but as you're not running at race pace it's not too bad. Foamy bananas are good.

    Percy pigs are a bit too chewy.

    No idea what the sis advice is about to have them 6 days before ? I've never bothered.
  • I assume the 6 days beforehand is to make sure you're stomach does not react to the gels so you don't have unpleasant stops in your race!

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    I use the high5 as I find them easier to swallow, and they are smaller. I used six in a Just sub 5h marathon, so would think six is a good amount. I started at 10k the every 5k taking the last one at 35k

  • Hi, the gels that SIS recommend in the days prior to any significant endurance event are the SIS Nitrate gels (the peach flavoured gloop). They recommend a loading of nitrate (2 gels per day) for 3 to 6 days before the event. These are not energy gels (I seem to remember there are 30 - 40 cals per gel). The theory is that higer nitrate levels improve oxygen delivery and so improves endurance

    The alternatives to these are:

    a. - do nothing
    b. - eat foods high in nitrate, e.g. swiss chard, beetroot
    c. - drink something like concentrated beetroot juice (e.g. Beet It shots)

    I would go with a. unless you are seeking out every possible advantage. During a marathon I use SIS Isotonic gels (one every 30 - 40 mins) - just the basic ones (blackcurrant for me), and one caffinated one within about an hour of finishing.



  • tricialitttricialitt ✭✭✭

    Donkey- just try a selection- the most importaant issue is not really which ones are "scientifcally" better, but which ones you can stomach. I dislike most types, and tend to stick with the chocolate flavour "Gu" or clif ones, but mostly as emergency back- up to the main plan of percy pigs, clif shot blocks, plus lucozade sport diluted 50:50 with water ( most folk find lucozade sport makes them sick- diluting it helps this).

    Gels are unpleasant to taste after a few miles, and by the end of the race can be very difficult to stomach.

    It is also worth figuring out whether jelly babies suit you, as every marathon I've done has helpful people an course holding out jely babies , whether you want them or not!

    Beware caffeine gels- they can cause the trots.

    The only answer is trial and error, and nothing can prepare you for the way you feel in those last few miles- it is unlikely that you will feel like takeing the same gels you've used for the previous 20, so having a change of nutrition handy for that stage is worth thinking about.

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