Running with Gels
In the past, I struggled to maintain my pace past the 5-mile mark, watching it dwindle with every additional mile. This changed dramatically when I began using gels at 15-minute intervals, not only sustaining my speed but even managing to notch up a few quicker miles as I neared the end of my run.
I know many of you prefer to run without carrying a bottle (myself included), a preference which used to make using several gels a challenge due to the need for water to wash them down. Thankfully, the advent of isotonic gels and Maurten’s gel — make it easy to consume gels without water.
However, diving into the world of gels does come with a commitment: a consistent intake throughout your run on a strict schedule.
Regarding traditional gels, offering between 25g and 30g of carbs, my go-to's have been Neversecond, SIS Isotonic, and Enervit Liquid Energy Gel. If you're new to this, ease into it with one gel every 20 minutes to get your stomach accustomed, gradually moving to a 15-minute interval.
The Carb/Hour Goal
The objective here is to work up to absorbing at least 80g of carbs every hour, a number that top runners are nowadays pushing to a whopping 125g and beyond — with a couple of world-leading triathletes even reaching over 150g (although I wouldn't advise trying at home without slowing ramping consumption over many months).
In line with the trend of higher carb content, new gels on the market are packed with up to 40g of carbs each, simplifying your refueling strategy significantly and reducing the number of gels you must carry.
Here are the top three NEW choices to consider:
This means you can refuel once every 30 minutes, using only two gels per running hour — for me, this translates to 3-4 gels, a manageable load to carry.
Speaking of carrying, the Nathan run belts have been a game-changer for me, offering easy access to your gels and a convenient place to store your empty wrappers (it's easy to throw in the wash post run. Check out the Zipster for larger storage (and your phone) or the more minimal version get the Mirage Pak.
Here's a quick gel running plan to get you started:
- Experiment with the new higher-carb gels
- Have a gel every 30 minutes
- Use the your run belt for easy gel access
I'm confident you’ll appreciate those negative splits past the 10-mile marker!