1st Half Marathon Fuel-Sports Drinks vs. Gels & Water (Read 206 times)


    I am running my first half marathon next month.  Is it better to use a sports drink, or energy gels and water for fuel during the race, and how much?

      For a Half Marathon water only for me.


      The answer really depends more on your conditioning and the days weather conditions.

        There is really no physiological benefit to taking in fuel during a half marathon--the race is within your body's fuel range. So the best bet is just water as needed. Just drink to thirst.


        There may be psychological benefits to taking some gels or sports drinks, bu that is an individual thing and nobody can tell you what's best.

        Runners run.


          I have used gels in my half marathons & try to time them to coinside with water stops (at 3.5-4 mile intervals). I take the gel right before I hit the water stop. Whether they are necessary for you, partially depends on how fast you plan to run the race. If over two hours (which is where I'm at), I think gels or sports drink are definitely a good idea. If you are aiming for under 90 minutes, they might not be necessary. Whatever you choose, be sure to practice your fueling during at least a couple long runs and make sure it works for you. I am sure they help me. I happened to choose gels, because they are easier for me to transport on long runs than sports drink.

          Jack K.

          uʍop ǝpᴉsdn sǝʇᴉɹʍ ʇI

            It's personal preference, but how long do you plan on being on the course? For me one gel is fine. Depending on the weather, I don't stop for water, but I don't sweat that much until the race is over. When I stop running, it comes out in buckets.

            Running Chick

              i use 1 gel.  i may take a sip of water on the sidelines - but then again, i may not.  do what feels good to you - and good luck!!!!!

                Depends on what you're used to, weather, and how long you might be out there.


                I generally use a sports drink in my bottle, but may only take a few sips in a race up to 1:45 under cool conditions. 3-4 hr races (over a mountain pass)  I'll be using sports drink and maybe a shot blok (easier for me to use than a gel). For *me*, the sports drink is easier than water plus gel, esp. since we don't have any aid stations.  In other situations where water might be available, water plus gel may be easier than refilling water bottle with sports drink. Until the peanut butter gels came out, I couldn't tolerate any gel - just too sweet and resulted in gag reaction. PB gel has provided me another option.

                "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

                  Thanks for the suggestions!

                  running metalhead

                    Water may be necessary in case of extreme heat, else it's not important. In any case, if yo feel thirsty I would rely on the watering holes, sorry watering posts...


                    And as for "fuel"... well, it's a half marathon, you should have enough "fuel" in your body unless you plan in doing it in 4 hours.

                    You have glycogen enough in your body to run a full marathon.


                    Your best strategy will be to eat / drink a good amount of calories 1 hour before the race, just in the starting line you could gulp down 8 oz or less of energy drink or a gel and that's it.

                    Even in the case that you think you need "fuel" you can always pick an energy drink from the posts, it will save you from having to carry all these burdensome bottles and packages that besides or making you look a scuba diver add at least a couple of pounds to your starting weight and will affect your running form causing that any extra energy you may win from eating will be wasted, therefore defeating the purpose of "fueling". And the same applies if you count with eating on the run vs. stopping at the posts: The time you will win not stopping will get lost anyway.

                    My particular recommendation: Study the course map, memorise the aid stations and pick up water or energy drinks from there, take advantage of the fact that food is provided so that you don't need to carry it so that you can run free without burden concentrating on passing the guy in front of you and not on the sloshing of the scuba equipment Wink

                    When I run I feel like a swallow

                    Because you are free like a bird?

                    Nope, because of all the flies I eat.



                      It took me over 2 hrs., so I had water and 6 gels.  That worked out fine for me.

                        It took me over 2 hrs., so I had water and 6 gels.  That worked out fine for me.


                        Congrats!  Hope it was a good race for you.  Keep up the running!  As your training continues, you will rely less and less on both fluids and gels.

                        Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject. - S.J.

                          I am running my first half marathon next month.  Is it better to use a sports drink, or energy gels and water for fuel during the race, and how much?


                          The short answer is do what you find works best for you.


                          The longer answer is that you shouldn't need any calories during a half marathon.  The race is not long enough to deplete you to the point of needing to refuel.  Marathon, different story.


                          MTA:  D'oh, sorry!  I just realized that the race is over!  Well, glad it all worked out for you.

                          - Joe

                          We are fragile creatures on collision with our judgment day.

                          running > all else

                            Gosh, I loathe gels.  I think it's psychological or something. They are just weird.

                            I have tried them, taken them on longer rides before. But, ugh. Good to know, that I should be fine with nothing for a HM.