Just over a week post half marathon and I am happy to report that I am back to running as normal. There was some soreness and the first run last Tuesday was slow and steady (my legs really weren’t happy or understanding as to why they were moving again so soon) but I did complete a 10K long run on Sunday in the sunshine and they seem absolutely fine. Crazy how the body springs back!
I’ve decided to do a post this week on fuelling for a half marathon and review a a selection of the energy gels out there.
Why fuel with energy gels?: Well, the simple reason is because your body can’t store enough glycogen to help fuel your longer runs. I read somewhere that after about 90mins of running your glycogen (read: sugar) stores have pretty much been used up and now your body switches to other things such as fat instead (handy if you want it to melt off) and you start to really feel like s**t. This is on top of the already tired feeling and pain experienced by your legs. This means if you run for longer you will need an extra source of energy, it can be from energy drinks or Percy Pigs or Jelly Babies but most people use energy gels.
Effort 1: Gu Energy Gel – Strawberry Banana Flavour
I took this during an 8 mile run even though I didn’t need it. Basically, other people on TV look cool when they rip off the top, take a big gulp and in an instant you see them rise from the ashes like a graceful phoenix and power down the road. . Instead I looked like an idiot as I half-gagged, half choked on how sticky and gloopy it was. What made it worse is that I didn’t have any water to wash it down with so it was cloying and made me feel a bit ill. I honestly didn’t feel any boost from the gel, instead I genuinely felt quite sick and my tummy wasn’t happy. Not for me sadly, tasted nice though 2/10.
Effort 2: Huma Chia Energy – Mango Flavour
This energy gel is made from pure fruit purée with no artificial sugars and therefore rally appealed to me as I try and stay away from the synthetic stuff. I don’t really believe in the chia seed hype but I am sure it didn’t do me any harm during the run. I took this on my 9 mile and 12 mile run. Washed down with water this fared better than the GU. It tasted delicious and definitely wasn’t as gloopy. No tummy issues like they promised and it did give me a bit of a boost. I wasn’t a fan of the seeds though and still not into the cloying stickiness of gels in general. 7/10
Effort 3: Haribo GoldBears and Starmix
I love the little Funsize packets you can get from the supermarket so I decided a take a pack out for my 10 mile runs. They were excellent! You get the satisfaction of eating sweets which every person likes no matter how old they are and the boost of sugar that you need. My problem was of course storing them as they become too warm in my pockets as well as trying to chew whilst running at the same time (harder than you think!). My plan was simple, take a piece at every mile and see how I felt. I preferred it to gels No stomach upsets or anything and this is a really safe bet when it comes to fuelling if not for the fiddly logistics. 8/10
Effort 4: SIS Isotonic Gel – Orange Flavour
I chose these as they are the most watery out of the lot and it said you didn’t need to take it with any water. It even recommended taking one every 20 minutes which sounds INSANE. I only took 1, halfway through an 11 mile run. It worked fine, didn’t make me feel sick and I preferred the orange flavour, which although sweet, wasn’t cloying. They come in a bazillion different flavours. Many people also like to take gels with caffeine to give them a real boost but I don’t drink any caffeine anyway (except the odd green tea) so I’ll leave this until the long awaited marathon in the future. As someone who doesn’t like gels this one seemed the best. 9/10
I’d strongly recommend you trying out a few different gels out yourself before a race. I’ve heard the horror stories of people being sick as they decided on gels at the last minute and ending up making that embarrassing pit stop in a bush somewhere (in London there is NO such privacy). For my half marathon I decided that the SIS gel worked best, the flavour was nice and went down the best for me. I only took one at about 6 miles and was fine. You really need to find out what works for you 😀
I hope the info has been useful. All opinions are my own but do check out the flavours at your local running store and don’t forget to bring some water.