One of the most confusing things to me when I started marathon training all those years ago –> the whole energy gel thing. I thought it was weird, and kinda crazy, that you ran so much that you actually had to take in food while you were running.
Over the years, I’ve changed my preferred energy gel quite a bit. I started with Gu, moved on to Hammer and now landed on Honey Stinger. I actually started doing Honey Stingers after making the biggest running mistake –> going to the Boston Marathon and forgetting all of my gels, assuming that they’ll be available at the expo. NOPE. I remember going to two running stores, and when I still couldn’t find them, I had to try something new on marathon day. Good thing my body loves Honey Stinger and I ended up finding something that I still use to this day.
So, what exactly are energy gels?
Energy gels are little pockets of calories, electrolytes and fuel to keep your body moving at peak performance while you are running, either for training or in a race. I like those that have a little shot of caffeine too, I’ve found that gives me the right boost.
Why don’t you see elites chugging down energy gels? Many of them actually put it right into their fuel bottle, so they’ll do a mix like Gen UCan (like Meb) or something else that’s specially tailored for them. I’m really tempted to try Tailwind, I’ve heard a lot of good things about it — but since I’ve had such good luck with Honey Stinger, I don’t want to switch up a good thing.
How often should you take an energy gel?
Honestly, this is such a personal decision and it depends on your body. They all have their recommendations on the back and mine change based on my race and goals. My last marathon, which I ran as a training run, I only took three the entire race. Usually I only do a half packet when I take one, and take the other half three or four miles later.
On a training run, because I’m trying to train my body for energy depletion, I’ll do half a packet every five or six miles (maybe even longer if I’m doing a 20 miler). I’m also not running as fast as I do for marathon pace, so it’s not as essential for me to take in as much energy.
What’s the best energy gel?
My favorite energy gel is by far those from Honey Stinger. Some other ones that I recommend checking out based on positive experiences include:
How about you? How often do you take an energy gel while running/racing?
What’s your favorite energy gel?
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