Handy Sports

Gels for Running


by Graham Hand September 12, 2016

Energy Gels for Running: How They Work and When You Should Take Them?

Hit the wall. Bonking. Cramping. Pure exhaustion.

The marathon brings many of those experiences to each and every one of us, but we are told that if we use energy gels, running will be much less miserable, and we will feel better in those final few miles of a race.

Is there a best energy gel for running?

The answer is No, we are all built different and have taste and body make up which makes the one size fits approach absurd. So it is then about praise and trialing different products and finding the one that works for you. 

Every Gel has on the back its nutritional content, typically on the front its flavour and inside the texture and content will differ among vendors. 

Personally for me I am addicted to Coffee so having a Hammer Gel Espresso really not only gives me a boost mentally but also satisfies my taste buds. 

I experimented with a few vendors before I chose Hammer and I also flavour to but its really a personal journey of discovering which one is right for you.

What do Energy Gels do?

They are designed to replenish carbohydrate stores that are depleted when running.
Sounds like energy gels are a savior, right?

Unfortunately, energy gels don’t provide a simple one-to-one replacement (something you won’t read on the label of your favorite gel) because the glycogen we ingest from gels doesn’t always make its way to the working muscles.
Why?
Because carbohydrates are stored in both the muscles and the liver and your performance on race day relies on using the glycogen stored in the muscle.
For glycogen to make its way to the muscles, it must first be digested, make it’s way through the intestinal wall, and then absorbed by the muscles.
This process takes time and isn’t very efficient.
However, gels will often “wake you up” in a very noticeable way because our brain only runs on the glucose stored in the liver.
As the muscles start to absorb more blood glucose, the brain gets less glucose and starts to get hazy (you’ve probably noticed this feeling on your long runs or if you ran without eating enough).
Often, a gel will wake you up and help the mind feel energized, but it doesn’t necessarily prevent the bonk in your leg muscles.

Do I need Gels for a 10k or Half?

Typically if you can run a 10k in under 40 Mins no, however if it goes longer than 60 Mins and feel you need a lift then it will do you know harm.

 

When should I take Gels for Running?

Well this is a two part question I guess, Firstly one 30 Mins before an event is like priming the engine ready for work and sacrificing that first part of your run and giving the gel as fuel to the fire other your muscles.

Secondly in regard to during competition if you are looking for the Magic number there isn't one, a recommendation is that you take one every 30 mins, but that to me is way to much. I would say if you are not doing your homework with experimenting on your long runs or during training then 1 hour of hard running vs a gel is a better fit. If you would like to work out a plan for you then get in contact a great nutritionist Jennifer Moulin from Pro-Active Nutrition who will work out a plan for you that is perfectly matched to your training and Racing. Typically this will involve a sweat test and also some other fancy science to work out that Magic number that suits your body. 

How do I take them?

Typically a Gel comes in a packet with a tearable tab at the top for Easy Opening on the Run. The other option is to use a Bottle and get a refillable Gel container that you can re-use. Bottle holders and running belts can be found on the Shop

 

Always take with Water

Always take energy gels with water, never alone and NEVER with electrolytes.
Without water, energy gels will take longer to digest and enter the blood stream. If you take an energy gel with a electrolytes, you run the risk of ingesting too much simple sugar at once.
Taken together, a gel and electrolytes could be delivering close to 60 grams of pure sugar. 

If you would like to purchase some Gels for your training or Competition check out the shopEnergy Fuels

Happy Running. 




Graham Hand
Graham Hand

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