First try at gels

Last month I was given a gel sachet in a goody bag. As I was going on a long 20k run on sunday I thought I might as well experiment with it to see how I get on with them.  It was an orange isogel.

My biggest gripe was opening the flipping thing with cold sweaty hands was almost impossible at one point I even stopped running to try and get to the gel. Once it was finally open it tasted ok ish but did not want the whole sachet. I was then left carrying this leaking packet until I passed a bin.

I am still not convinced by them but would be willing to try again. My Sunday long runs are normally before breakfast and when going over 15k I sometimes feel low on evergy.

What would anyone recomend that is easy to open and does not make you wretch?


  • you need to try a few brands and flavours to find out your preference

    for me SiS GO gels are still the best as they are isotonic (no water needed), taste good (not sweet like many), and are easy to use (grab tab in teeth and rip open)

    the caffeine Smart gels from SiS are good when you get tired - the caffeine gives a rocket boost

  • Unless you're racing - I'd go with sweets. Easy to carry and eat.

    Gels are good for getting the energy into you quickly - but trickier to open and then messy.

    You do need to practice with gels before using them in anger - but for other long runs I find those foamy bananas (3 packs for a quid in the spar) perfect for scoffing and keeping the levels up.

    Jelly babies too.
  • Yes, SiS are easy to open on the run, no faff with needing to take with water, and one of the more paletable brands. It is one of those things that needs some trial and error testing till you find the right one for you.

    You should note however, that an important part of the race is to cover your face in the stuff in time for your finishing photoimage

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    Agree with the others.  It's all about practice. I use High5 gels (iso ones or regular) and they're the best and agree with my stomach. It's very much trial and error to what works for you. I know a few friends that swear by jelly babies

  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    jelly babies

  • Ive used the high5 ones and found them ok although it takes practice to take them without slowing down too much but you soon get onto it.

  • Thanks for your feedback all. I will try both jelly babies and the other gels mentioned and see how it feels. I am not overly convinced that at the pace and distance I go I really need these things. It is always worth a bit of experimenting however.

  • high5 and those big jelly strawberriesimage Had the misfortune of trying a Lucozade gel once,BAWWK!! ,like wallpaper pasteimage

  • JT141JT141 ✭✭✭
    The isogels are easiest to open with your teeth as you're going. Don't need to rip the whole top off, just enough to suck out the gel. Less mess. They are a pain to hold onto once they're used though, but better that than throwing them on the ground.
  • Besides the logistics of actually eating them, how does everyone find energy gels? Once described to me akin to "rocket fuel", I find them to simply take the edge off slightly for 3-4 miles (only ever used during 1/2 marathon)

  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    does anyone offer gels in smaller capsules?

  • There's only 100 cals in each. If you had them in smaller portions you'd be unwrapping them all race.

    Maybe try shot blocks ? Jelly sweet with liquid centre.

    Gels take 20 mins to be absorbed so it's probably just in your mind ?
  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    Smaller gels would just mean more faffing around opening more sachets.
  • I used to use shot blocks and they were really good as I cannot tolerate gels (intestinally or the taste). 

    I was recommended, by a seasoned runner, to take small blocks of marzipan wrapped in clingfilm as it's apparently a good sugar rush - didn't get round to trying this though so cannot comment on the result.  Perhaps its just as well as I love marzipan and would probably have scoffed the lot in one go!! image

  • Hi

    I completed my first marathon on sunday,i used 3 gels which id never used in trainning as trained my body on the minimul..they worked a treat,kept my mind alert all the way ..i went with the holland and barrat citrus gel (cant remeber the name) £1.65 a pop but well worth it..i used them from 10 mile onwards..get a good grasp on the top with your teeth and rip it open....also they were that good i wasnt tierd or hungry after for a good while

  • I took to decanting a few gels into a slightly squeezy gel bottle. Only about a fiver and about 4 inches tall. Goes into a back cycle pocket or side pod of a small OMM bag or a running belt. Take what you want when you want it and reseal. All the wiping and clearing up takes place when you "load" the bottle.

    I got fed up spraying it everywhere and being a landing strip for the local wasp brigade.

  • Has anyone tried using jelly cubes? Y'know, the block of jelly cubes you buy from the supermarket that you'd usually add hot water to to make jelly.

  • I am considering trying out jelly babies on my long runs, but I'm not sure how exactly I would use them. How many would you use, and how often are they eaten? I know this might sound really stupid, but I really have no idea about how many you are supposed to eat while running!

  • By the way I should add I am already using High5 gels on my long runs and they do work very well, but I'm just curious about jelly babies!

  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    havent tried gel yet mostly since it only recently that my weekend long run has become long enough to make me think about it.

    I did try jelly babies or similar. I found it best to keep in in the side of the mouth ans chew a little / let it dissolve slowly.

  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    I must say the SIS isotonic ones sounds like a good idea

  • So I tried jelly beans at the weekend. I just popped 3 at mile 8 of a 12 mile run. Who knows if the benefit was better or worse than the gel so I won't even try to guess.

    To keep to my original question though it was certainly less fiddly to handle the jelly beans than a gel wrapper. The only thing I will try next time is switching to jelly babies.

    I found eating and running a little weird and not all that pleasant. I think a softer jelly baby will be better than the bean.

  • Woaaaah there !

    You took 3 jelly beans ? Steady on. That's about 12 calories you took on.

    If I was you - I'd skip lunch today.
  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    I invested in some SIS gels. Planning on applying one to my face and neck at halfway into a 20 miler next weekend.

  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    Nayan. Just the one? Put at least 3 an hour i've been told to get the maximum effect.

    Steve - Agree with Cougie... just 3? I know someone who goes through a huge family pack during a marathon.

  • good point Cougie

    At that rate you would need to eat about 30 beans to cover one gel. which sounds like a lot of munching to me (not sure I want to eat that many sweets while watching a film).

    Is the benefit of these things only the calories or does the quick injection of sugar provide benefits?


  • Gels should get into the system quicker - they don't need to be chewed for a start - but it's still 15 mins or so to get into the system.

    What you need to do is plan ahead a bit - so you start eating/taking on gel before you need to. If you leave it too late - then you will struggle to get going again.

    I take 4 or 5 gels on a marathon - so 400 to 500 calories. I think that's a bit under what they advise.
  • NayanNayan ✭✭✭

    Emmy H I figured Id start slow just to get used to it.

    Up until now Ive been doing my weekend long runs pre brekkie and on a glass of water only. I quite like the idea of running 'on empty' and training to burn fat but I want to get used to Gel in advance of my first marathons next year.  

  • Nayan i did my weekend long runs as i got in a couple of months closer to my marathon ..early in the morning before breakie very similar..although i'd take an energy drink,water down powdered one with me,..i only introduced the gel the week before the marathon to see if my tummy would like it and it was great so i think your tactics on the day it certainly kept me from hunger and my brain was well alert!'d have thought i'd had 20 expressos the way i was chatting after..image

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