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Taking gels on long run a good idea? (Read 1134 times)

    My long run is now 12 miles which I've done pretty regularly. On these runs, I take 2 gels, one at 5 miles and one at 8 miles. It started out as a way to try different flavors, to practice eating while running, and to find one that doesn't bother me nor upset my stomach. I also like the energy boost it gives me. I've been reading that the purpose of a long run is a physiological one and it's to help you burn fat more efficiently. I was wondering if my eating gels would be impeding this physiological response? Maybe I should only eat gels on much longer runs (when I get up into the 20-mile range) or in my actual marathon? I know I certainly don't _need_ them for only 12 miles, but the energy boost is nice later in the runs.
    Derek
    Scout7


    CPT Curmudgeon

      Trent will probably weigh in at some point and discuss the physiology side of things.... In the meantime...I generally won't take any gels or sports drink on runs shorter than about 15 miles. But that's me, I know what I can handle. It's not a physiological issue, either, it's more of a...I hate gels issues. If it helps ya, I did an entire marathon without a gel (wait....I had one right before the start, but that was it, I relied on the Gatorade on the course). From what I've read, you CAN get your body to burn more fat than normal. It requires a high-fat diet, and about 6 weeks or so of training. However, the effects of this training start to diminish to the point where there's no real difference between the high-fat and normal diets. The real goal of the long runs is about preparing you both mentally and physically to run those distances. I don't think the ingesting of gels is going to affect the efficiency of your muscles in terms of burning more fat. That comes from training.


      I've got a fever...

        Physiologically, I don't imagine you need it for 12 milers (right Trent?), but if you plan on using gel during a marathon, it's not the worst idea to get used to doing it. That includes the whole getting the gel out part, and not squirting the gel all over your face, etc. Like everything else, practice makes perfect -- you don't want to be doing things during your marathon race that you've never tried at least once during training. Cheers, Jeff

        On your deathbed, you won't wish that you'd spent more time at the office.  But you will wish that you'd spent more time running.  Because if you had, you wouldn't be on your deathbed.

          With your 12-milers approaching the 2-hour mark, you are getting close to the edge of your fuel window, so it's probably not a bad idea to take a gel or two during your runs to help you stay strong at the end--especially if you plan to start including some faster paced running during your long runs. This will be, as you mentioned, good practice for the marathon itself when you will definitely need to take on some fuel to avoid bonking. For runs shorter than 2 hours there is no need to take gels but if you want to go ahead--you're not doing yourself any harm. While it may be true that your body becomes more efficient at burning fat with training, this is the result of the training itself, not starving yourself of carbs. The notion that muscles become more efficient at burning fats if starved of carbs is popular, but I don't believe it is well supported nor is the benefit significant enough to risk the consequences. The point of doing the run is to get the training benefits. If you need to take on some fuel to complete the run strongly then by all means do so. Bonking and staggering home will do much more harm than good both physically and psychologically. To quote one of my favorite writers on the subject: Trying to hammer along with nothing to draw on is like a biological grinding of gears, and the "sparks" that fly take the form of proteins and stray muscle enzymes glutting the bloodstream in unwelcome amounts. Bottom line: for optimum performance its always a good idea to keep your glycogen stores topped off.

          Runners run.


          A Dance with Monkeys

            Like Mikey says. Big grin I would add that it is common for folks to train dry, which is to run some of their long runs with no gel or insufficient gel to fuel the run on the logic that they will be better off when they use gels during the actual marathon. I have done this a few times myself and noticed no real difference in the race. I usually only use gels in runs longer than 2-3 hours anyway.
              Trying to hammer along with nothing to draw on is like a biological grinding of gears, and the "sparks" that fly take the form of proteins and stray muscle enzymes glutting the bloodstream in unwelcome amounts.
              I'd say that quote about sums it up. My car can supposedly go 10,000 miles between oil changes. But I choose not to test that claim. Adding fuel to a long run seems the same, in my rarely humble opinion. I don't think it can hurt. Using gels on runs longer than 1.5-2 hours or so has made a significant difference in my training. If anything, I'm starting to suspect that the opposite of the conventional wisdom is true: I think that by using gels regularly on long runs, I'm now seeing my body respond more efficiently on days when I'm not able to use gels. It's just a theory. Don't quote me. That said, I'm not sure you need to be taking them 3 miles apart. If I were you, I'd take one before leaving the house and one at the halfway point. One key for me was learning how to time the gel so that I took it before actually feeling hungry. The directions on the box work pretty well for me (something like 15 minutes before a run, and every 45-60 minutes after).
              E-mail: JakeKnight2002@aol.com
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                Thanks everyone for the quick responses. I'll continue to eat my gels on my long runs. My 12-mile run is currently 2 hours and it's only going to get longer as I run further.
                Derek


                Needs more cowbell!

                  Using gels on runs longer than 1.5-2 hours or so has made a significant difference in my training. If anything, I'm starting to suspect that the opposite of the conventional wisdom is true: I think that by using gels regularly on long runs, I'm now seeing my body respond more efficiently on days when I'm not able to use gels. That said, I'm not sure you need to be taking them 3 miles apart. If I were you, I'd take one before leaving the house and one at the halfway point. One key for me was learning how to time the gel so that I took it before actually feeling hungry. The directions on the box work pretty well for me (something like 15 minutes before a run, and every 45-60 minutes after).
                  Ditto, though I don't take one before I run (though I may do this on a race day), but generally will take the first one at about the 50 minute mark, then another one at 100 minutes if I'm out for 2.5 hours. That was my longest run, so far, so I think as I get closer to a 3 hour run (plan to do that a few weeks before my 25k) I will likely do a third to help me not die in that last half hour. k

                  I shoot pretty things! ~

                  '14 Goals:

                  • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

                  • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)


                  A Dance with Monkeys

                    I once tried to take a gel every 4 miles at a marathon. It did not help.
                      To quote one of my favorite writers on the subject: Trying to hammer along with nothing to draw on is like a biological grinding of gears, and the "sparks" that fly take the form of proteins and stray muscle enzymes glutting the bloodstream in unwelcome amounts. Bottom line: for optimum performance its always a good idea to keep your glycogen stores topped off.
                      Who is that "favorite writer?" Just curious... Also Derek, find out what brand of gel the marathon will be handing out and give it a try. I found that some gels didn't sit in my stomach as well as others and decided to carry my own on a few half-marathons. From what I have read about the Chicago Marathon, they offer PowerGels.


                      I've got a fever...

                        I once tried to take a gel every 4 miles at a marathon. It did not help.
                        Well, I've heard that eating gel doesn't do much good against flying monkeys. Unless you smear it all over yourself -- then, they can't get a good grip... Clowning around

                        On your deathbed, you won't wish that you'd spent more time at the office.  But you will wish that you'd spent more time running.  Because if you had, you wouldn't be on your deathbed.

                          Also Derek, find out what brand of gel the marathon will be handing out and give it a try. I found that some gels didn't sit in my stomach as well as others and decided to carry my own on a few half-marathons. From what I have read about the Chicago Marathon, they offer PowerGels.
                          I plan to carry whatever gels I'll need so I'm not too concerned about what Chicago would have.
                          Derek
                          Scout7


                          CPT Curmudgeon

                            I once tried to take a gel every 4 miles at a marathon. It did not help.
                            How'd that make ya feel about mile 18-20?


                            Prophet!

                              i took gels and use gatorade when i was training for my first and only marathon so far...it definitely helps with training, it probably would have helped me more during the marathon if i'd remember to actually use it Smile that said, now i run up to 12 miles with only water, some days i feel awful, some days i feel great.. i think that its good to run dry some times to see what your body can handle and mentally train yourself to run when you're tired...


                              A Dance with Monkeys

                                How'd that make ya feel about mile 18-20?
                                It was a hot humid day and I was a goner by mile 10. This from somebody who'd run about 10 marathons in 2 years at that point. At mile 18, even defibrillation would not have helped. I did finish, 4:03. Was shooting for 3:40...
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