To Gel or Not to Gel?


For a full marathon and for some runners a half marathon, a fueling strategy is necessary. Your carbohydrate/glycogen stores are limited and can handle an endurance event of 2 hours or less. But over that at some point soon thereafter in the race you will need to refuel or augment what you have remaining in your body.

A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Nutrition took a look at marathon runners using a science based versus random gel strategy during the Copenhagen Marathon. The study found that roughly 3 gels per hour of exercise worked well and provides about 60 grams of carbs/glycose per hour.

Here is a picture of the nutrition facts for several gel providers. Look for the total carbs each gel provides. Given the warm weather on Sunday April 7 for GO! races, look for the amount of sodium/salt contained. Obviously, you are going to have to replace more salt than normal on Sunday due to the warmth so higher sodium content is important.
Also please remember to drink water when you take your gel as that will allow faster absorption of the gel into your system.

So, the final thought here is taking 2-3 gels per hour, lean towards those with higher sodium content and take with water. Since you have enough carbs/glycogen on board naturally to get through the first hour in great shape start “gelling” about one-hour in. Oh, and be sure you try these beforehand to ensure they don’t upset your stomach. You don’t want and unscheduled port a potty stops…… Good luck Sunday!

Bob Dyer (Co-owner, Running Niche)
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