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Why all athletes should use a gel in training

August 5th, 2008 · 8 Comments

In a recent article in Runner’s World called “Carbs on the Run” (Sept. 2008), Shea discusses the needs and usages of powergels in a runner’s diet. Avoid athlete fizzle by adding a gel to your workouts! Running buddy, Bobbi, recently struggled on our last long run because she ran out of fuel for the intended distance.

Standard pre-race protocol:
Instant oatmeal three hours prior to the start of the race followed by water and HEED leading up to the start of the race. Ten minutes prior to the start- tummy is rumbling. Food is required, but, eating a powerbar/bar or any food can lead to stomach distress during the event. By distress, I am referring to nausea, burping, stomach churning, etc…A gel will provide that much needed “substance” in a liquid form that SHOULD NOT cause additional stress. The energy from one gel can last approximately 45 minutes. Powerbar was one of the first to have a gel, and I used to SWEAR by Powerbar. Always took one at the start of a run, ride, race, even on days when I was cross training!

What exactly is a gel?

A gel is a liquid complex carbohydrate that is meant to provide energy for endurance events. The ingredient list should not contain FRUCTOSE, or anything that ends in -OSE.

Who should take gels and when?

You should use gels immediately before a workout, 45 minutes into a workout, right after a workout if you don’t have an appropriate complex carbohydrate/whey protein recovery drink. You can then continue taking gels every 40 minutes throughout your workout. I usually wait till my tummy is rumbling, but, I know experienced runners plan their gel intake by the mileage 7, 14 and 21 in a marathon.

I would even suggest to the gym goers to use gels in their weekly routines! Especially if you are heading out the door to the gym right before dinner or if you plan on starting a workout with an empty stomach. Gels can really provide a fantastic source of quality energy.


How about Rasberry and Espresso to make a mocha? Or Vanilla and Orange Cream to make Orange Crush? Yumm…Anything with Espresso and I’m happy!

My favorite brand of Gel and all Fuel/Refuel is Hammer Nutrition.  

So, what do you take for immediate energy right before a workout? If it’s not a gel, what do you do?

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Tags: Questions for Readers · Running · Uncategorized

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 AndrewE // Aug 5, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Hmm…corn syrup solids sounds like it might be an -ose in disguise. That’s what my gel has in the ingredients.

    AndrewEs last blog post..A long run between the showers

  • 2 MizFit // Aug 5, 2008 at 8:53 am

    ok can you tell Im not OFFICIALLY a runner?
    or I need a massage?
    my first thought was massage gel.
    or muscle relaxing gel.


    I need to pound the pavement more often.

    MizFits last blog post..odds & ends.

  • 3 Fitarella // Aug 5, 2008 at 10:03 am

    do you carry that bottle with you on long runs? I’m a gel girl too. I’ve tried the sports beans & the cliff shots, but i am not coordinated enough to run and chew at the same time :-)

    Fitarellas last blog post..See Jacq run!

  • 4 Fitarella // Aug 5, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    hey, what happened to me comment from this morning? Ok well it said: do you carry that bottle with you on long runs? I’m a gel-girl too. I tried the sports beans & cliff shots this past weekend, but am not coordinated enough to run & chew at the same time :-)

    Fitarellas last blog post..Agradecimiento

  • 5 FitMom // Aug 5, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Hammer sells the gel in single packets which I can tuck in the pockets in my running skirts. But, I do carry a water bottle and plant extra bottles out on the course.

    Exactly, Andrew. To me the mainstream commercialized gels act like they are healthy but really NOT.

  • 6 Mark Salinas // Aug 5, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    The gels make me nauseas….I am not as hard core as you. i can’t hang! :)

    Mark Salinass last blog post..How about a Walk?

  • 7 Andy Bailey // Aug 5, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    I am really really sorry, this is the last test I need to make (your version of commentluv is using the beta remote script that is using the database to cache entries and I need to test it) [debugon] (has luv) (using curl)

    Andy Baileys last blog post..Rainy day – perfect weather for code tinkerers

  • 8 Kimberly // Nov 1, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    I agree with the gel being the best option before a race or longer run…and also great for halfway through endurance run workouts. I personally like the Gu Chocolate Outrage ’cause it’s like sucking down chocolate frosting with a caffeine boost added, but it can be a bit thick and pasty sometimes. I’ve done the Hammer gel with the refillable gel flask before, and that worked well, but I like the single-use packets so I can run with less stuff on (nowhere to stash water on my route, so I’m already having to carry that with me). Happy running!

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