Gels - how many during a marathon?

I've not been using gels on ANY of my training runs! Now, with a marathon coming up, I'm in a panic about it. I stopped at a shop halfway through my run today and bought a couple of High 5 gels. The one with caffeine really gave me wings :) I thought they tasted great but there's a problem.

The packets say you take these every 20 mins. For me, that means taking about 12-13 gels! Seems a bit excessive! What do you guys recommend? 


  • In training I have been taking one every 30 minutes from around an hour in. That will hopefully mean I'll need 5 on the day but I'll take a spare just in case things don't go to plan on the day.
  • There's nothing to say you have to take any gels at all. If you've not felt the need for an energy boost on your training runs so far, I shouldn't worry about it. If you do feel obliged to try them, you're right to think on every 20mins is too much. Personally I go for one every 40mins or so after the first hour.

  • Cal JonesCal Jones ✭✭✭
    As I've said in Shades thread, I take 4. I usually take them at miles 6, 11, 16 and 21. I am an ultra-slow digester, though, so any more than that and I'd be sick.
  • GipfelGipfel ✭✭✭
    Agree with the others here. 4, 5 max sounds about right - be very cautious of taking more than that unless you're sure your stomach can handle them! I've made the mistake of having one too many when flagging during the last few miles of a marathon, and it didn't feel pleasant. I have since discovered that more is less for me, and in my last marathon, I had 3 (well, PowerBar PowerShot gel sweets, same kind of idea), which seemed to work. I did have a gel with me too, but for some reason it fell out of my belt within the first quarter mile! I picked up another one from a water station for emergencies, but I didn't feel the need to use it.

    It's good that you've tested out the gels before the race to make sure you're ok with them - but they should definitely give you a nice boost in the race itself, particularly if you're used to doing most of your training runs without them! I also like the High5 ones - I find they have a nicer consistency (less gloopy) than some.
  • RicBRicB ✭✭
    I'm with Cal and Gipfel... 4 is usually enough, 5 max. Feel fine during the race, feel very sick afterwards. Maybe I'd feel sick afterwards regardless of the gels...
  • KhanivoreKhanivore ✭✭✭
    Great replies guys - thanks. Very helpful.
  • rodeofliprodeoflip ✭✭✭

    Khanivore - I use High 5 gels, they're the only brand (and only one flavour) that my stomach can cope with. I take 6 and always at 6, 10, 14, 17, 20 & 23 miles. This means that I'm taking them at regular intervals, but slightly more towards the end of the race. Being consistent with it means that I have a plan that I can follow, even when tired and falling apart. If you're taking quite a few gels, think about how you'll carry them, and make sure they don't get dropped accidentally. I wear a really lightweight belt and loop the gels around this with a little bit of duct tape so they can't work loose. Some race starts are covered with dropped gels!

    Find one you like and buy a box online, you'll save a fortune, e.g.- High 5, usually about £12 for 20-off in a box.

  • StevieWhStevieWh ✭✭✭
    I take 6, one around 10-15 mins before the start and then one every 4.4miles (I set my watch to buzz and remind me) I use SiS gels and take one double caffeine and one caffeine in with the 5 on course
  • morning time is best running time
  • KhanivoreKhanivore ✭✭✭
    Thanks all - I did a test run of 22 miles today taking a gel every 4 miles. Worked great for me (average 10:30 min/mile pace). Went with the High5 Aqua Caffeine ones and bought a box off the internet. 
  • I take a gel after 45 minutes and then every 40-50 minutes. This seems to be working well for me. 
  • Zero, never needed gels during a marathon. I have eggs and avocado for breakfast and that's enough. 
    Training runs are always fasted.
  • MrM2MrM2 ✭✭✭
    Zero for me as well. Often carry a sport drink, depending on the drink stns..
  • senidMsenidM ✭✭✭
    "The packets say you take these every 20 mins. For me, that means taking about 12-13 gels! Seems a bit excessive! What do you guys recommend? "

    They would say that on the packet, all about getting you to buy as many as possible.

    A good breakfast is usually sufficient and then some carbohydrate just before the start perhaps (my PB Mara was run on porridge, with a slice of fruitcake about 1/2 an hour beforehand)

    If you really want to take gels then perhaps every 5M or 10K should be OK - any more is just carrying unneccessary extra weight!
Sign In or Register to comment.