I am doing a half marathon in September, and aiming for 1:40.

When and how many gels should be looking at using?





  • Depending on the time of day you're running but if morning (10am) I'd say you won't need anything aside from a proper breakfast (porridge) and drinks

    If you want to carry a gel I doubt you'd need more than the one, and remember to take it with water.

  • Agree. None and never is the answer(in a half marathon)

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    In a half , none!
  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    You make gels sound like petrol for people.

    The energy storage and release capacities of humans are a little more sophisticated than an internal combustion engine.

  • I'd only add that it is worth thinking about if you are looking at a 2hr+ finish time for the HM. That tends to be my line in the sand where I start thinking about using gels in races. Never bother with them in training other than to make sure I can stomach them.

  • I once saw a bloke with 8 gels for a half,  weird !!

  • I a would say from my experience that 1 or 2 but try them first to see what works and if use use "SIS" products I have found that no extra water needed,but is all personal preference .


  • ashman wrote (see)

    I once saw a bloke with 8 gels for a half,  weird !!

    That is pretty weird. Did you actually see him use them all?

    +1 for none, btw.

  • No literatin only saw him at the start with them all on his belt.

  • Thanks for the input.

    I am a bit confused, I have read elsewhere after 75/90 minutes energy stores are depleted and you should use gels to replace??



  • William see how you feel when doing your long runs in training. I don't take liquid or gels for a half, even when doing training runs of over 2 and half hours I feel fine without anything. But I always take money with me so I can get something if I need it. 

  • I seemed to manage 18 miles today with nothing but water but from experience Scott says 1 or 2. Perhaps he should run with his blanky tooimage

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    Most of the people who say you need to take a gel after that period of time are the manufacturers who's main business is to sell more gels.
  • Wo there! The "blankly" comment was a bit sharp! I don't work for a gel company wish I did as they must make a fortune!  They do seem to help but maybe it's all in my mind but we all need a mental boast to get us to the end,if we are doing 5k or full 


  • Mental boast(sic) over 5k? i think the question was about how many gels you need in a half marathon. How many you need for a mental boast(sic) is not going to be a specific number. 

  • Having one might be more of a placeebo effect. You might not need the gel but it may give you a mental kick. Half the battle of distance running is peoples mental capaciy to push through pain and exhaustion. 

    One gel is hardly going to hurt unless it tastes bloody awful and you puke it all over yourself.

  • thing is, they do taste bloody awful though. *shudders*

  • In one of my less sensible moments of July I ran 2hr:53min on the treadmill for 26.2 miles. I was interested to see how I coped with water alone. I was fine - that second rate fuel (fat) saw me through it, along with copious water.

    Hopefully that means I have got my long runs correct, running them nice and slowly and gaining the training adaptations we look for (increased glycogen storage, and improved fat utilization).

    So in a half, I wouldn't think about Gels, in a marathon on race day I will take them to stave off any risk of glycogen depletion - it is the effect on the brain you need to avoid, along with swimming and cycling a long way before a marathon image


  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    I don't use gels as only run as far as HM (and they make me gag) but the guys who I am racing around, so 1.25-1.30, normally take them at the 50 min mark. I read that the body has glycogen stores for roughly 90 minutes of effort

    On the point of them being disgusting, I was recently given a high5 isogel and that was ok, almost like a mini isotonic drink in texture.

  • Thanks for the replies, food for thought


  • Just came accross this thread, I've been using SIS gels during training but defo don't need more than 1 if any. I ususally use one around the 16k or 10 mile mark & I have noticed a difference.

  • didn't use to use them in a half but i do now..i feel the caffiene boost gives me a lift and I keep I would probably use 3 or 4 in a half now.......even take one in a 5 or 10k if i felt it might help.

    Its each to their own........i would only use them in training runs of over 10 miles or so.just for practise........

    You might not need to use them but I prefer to.... and there again i don't need shoes or a hat to finish a half marathon......but personally i feel they help me so I will continue to take them image

  • So they are bit like a blanky then?

  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    I read someplace that taking gels can combine badly in your stomach with the water you may drink and disatrously if you also grab energy drinks (potentially making you so sick that you have to stop).

     Not a fan myself. Sport drink or nothing for me. Not sure Id bother with either for a half

  • That doesn't sound right to me. Most gels you need to take water with them.

    They're basically syrup - nothing magical about them.
  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    hmm might have been the combo of gel and sports drink then. Im wracking my brain to find the link to it. The theory was that it can turn into molasses in your stomach and cause you digestive probems

  • Gels are basically a sports drink with the water taken out so as long as you take them with water the you should be fine.
  • I take a smidge over 2hrs for the half, and I definitely benefit from a gel.

    I start to sag between 8-10 miles, and it helps me no end.

  • My gels are isotonic and so do not need water....image

     might be a blanky.....I feel they improve my performance.......

    In India they had a 5 yr old running a marathon in the heat of the day and he was not allowed to have even water because it was said that would weken him..

    you will always get some people who will state that you do not need energy drinks.or gels or even water on anything less than 30 miles...........but I think rather than have a macho war on it.its easier to just find what works best for you as an individualimage

  • There was another thread on this recently. I'm a just under 2 hour half marathoner and find that one at about halfway is helfpul. Might just be a placebo (or blanky, if you listen to the hard man) but it helps me. Depends if you're fat adapted or are mainly a glycogen burner so it's worth experimenting.

    Using 8 for a half is just insane, nobody could get through that much energy, unless their running style is the most inefficient there is and they're taking 4 hours to finish!

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