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I have come to the conclusion that GU Gels and I don't get along. A Gel at mile 6 resulted in a bathroom stop at mile 8.
So on long runs, what, if anything, beside carbohydrate gels do you imbibe? What works for you?

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I'm yet to eat anything while running. Not to hijack, but at what point should you start taking gels and whatnot?
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That's another good question too. On long runs ( I guess I call 8 or so miles a long run) I take gels. Reason? It's what I have read to do, in either print or the web. So I have been taking gels on runs of 8 or more miles. These gels (GU gels) and I have not been getting along. My meals pre-long run have been very different, depending on what I am doing when.
I have one race, next weekend Nov 21, for the duration of my winter racing, so I am not real concerned about that this right now. But I would like to work toward alternatives, like do I actually need to eat during a 10 or so mile workout? And what would work?
I do know I need to eat pre a 10 mile or so run, I cannot run on an empty stomach. A few slices of bread with PB and a bunch of cofee helps on these runs.
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I haven't actually tried eating on the long run. On cool days I usually take in gels and/or gatorade on long runs that are 18 miles or longer. Obviously on warmer days you want to increase your intake of water/electrolytes (for durations of 2 hours and up).
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And if you read anything older than ten years old about running, there's no mention at all about gels. No, I don't believe they are some magic bullet of late that has transmogified the runnning world. Heck, if that were the case, marathon times should be getting faster instead of getting slower like they are.
I've been at this distance running thing for almost 25-yrs and have yet to be convinced about the Gu phenomenon. If you train without food, you can race without food. Your body will adapt. Believe you me.
It's my belief that gels really are nothing more than a psychological boost. Calorie-wise, you are burning between 100 and 150 calories per mile. And what does a gel give you, 90? It won't even fuel a mile, granted you get all the gel out of the packet and that it gets fully digested too. No, I think it's a little bit of mind-bending for a lot of people that the little pick-me-up lets them backburner the aches and labors of what pushing the long run is all about.
Again, just my two-cents, but I think you're are better off, especially since you are already having problems with the o' GI-tract, to go without and get accustomed to it. Distance running often becomes a mind game and if you can get your head wrapped around pushing the body through those long miles without anything, come raceday, that's one less variable to worry about whether you need to tote groceries along and how your intestines are going to handle it.
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I think jrjo makes a lot of sense. I don't eat anything on runs up to 10 miles. I can't eat within 2 hours of a run either. But I try to eat either a bagel or a big bowl of cereal 2 hours prior to a run of more than 4 miles. A couple years ago I tried gummi bears on longers runs. It was ok.
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I agree with jrjo, but I didn't have any experience to back up my opinion. I don't think they're necessary, at least I haven't gotten to a point where they are. It seems that every marathon report here mentions using gels or gu or whatnot. Do elites use anything? You never see them use gu, but what's in their water bottles that they pick up from aid stations? Just water? Gatorade? Some gel/water mix?
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Oop.. just to cover all the bases, I DO use sportsdrinks.. gatorade, powerade, etc. Loss of electrolytes during runs beyond 90-minutes for me and even shorter for others in warmer climes, do mean you need to get water/sportsdrink and keep hydrated. Electrolytes do need to stay in tune, so getting a sportsdrink is necessary in heavy or lengthy sweating . During a marathon, there's no worries, aid stations are plentiful.
From what I see elites do, seems like they race on sportsdrinks only. Until I see pics of Meb with a hip-pack of gels, I'll follow his lead
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ClifShot chocolate is the only gel I can stomach. Only have them on long runs of 18M+ and in marathons (2 only for both: at the 1.5 and 3 hour marks) because I can't eat anything else they have on the course like oranges and bananas. I use them more on the bike than on foot. I do feel a difference at the end of a long run where I've had them versus when I haven't. For anything 11M and under I won't even have Gatorade unless the temp is above 85. But it's a personal thing.
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No food on long runs here either and rarely do I have the foresight to put anything to drink along my route. As long as I've got water back at my vehicle I'm okay. Of course my longest run to date is a 15 miler.
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I almost always run with a drink concoction (Hammer HEED w/ a scoop of Endurolytes). On any run or bike over 1 hour, I take a shot of Hammer Gel every 45 minutes.
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15-miler? I abhor those who brag.
;)
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For my disclaimer, I've rarely tried eating anything myself while running, and when I have it has not gone well.

That being said, I don't drink anything on runs up to 90 minutes assuming mild temperatures. Once runs stretch beyond 2 hours you might think about taking a gel pack, but frankly if they don't work for you than you can probably stretch 3 hours without food with no problems. I friend of mine recently did a 40 mile run with no food and very little water on a hot day, and while he struggled he still got through it.

As jrjo points out, a gel doesn't have that much energy in it, and drinking a sports drink will likely give you just as much.
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