Why take running gels? 

After about 90 minutes of running your body’s available glycogen stores will become depleted and if you don’t keep your carbohydrate levels topped up, you could be in for a struggle.  

Gels/chews aren’t the only way to get quick absorption carbohydrates into your blood stream, but they are one of the easiest, simplest methods to use. 

I will outline below the what & how of practise and the time scales needed so you can go smash your run.  


If you are going to be using running gels in your next race then practise taking them in your training runs. There are two areas that practising will help with.

  1. Physically drinking the gel

One of the biggest problems runners have when having gels is consuming them. If you are not used to having something to eat or drink during a run then it can be hard to have them. I recommend taking a three-step process in taking gels.

Step one plan when you are going to take them. If you are doing a half you may plan to take them on mile 6 and mile 10 or you might decide to have a gel every half hour you run for example one gel at 30 minutes, one gel at 1 hour and one gel at 1 hour 30 minutes.

Step two when you first start taking gels stop have your gel whilst gently walking, as soon as you have had your gel start running again.

Step three have your gels whilst running. You may be going for a time or new personal best and stopping to walk each time you want a gel may slow you down and get you out of your rhythm. You can build step three gradually initially progressing you’re walking whilst having a gentle jog, do this for a few runs until it feels comfortable and then build in a slightly faster run, keep following this process until you are able to run at pretty much race pace whilst taking on your gel.

  • Find the type of gel you like

There are many different gels with different textures, some with caffeine, some without, some thicker and some thinner. You need to find a gel that you can stomach. Everyone’s stomach and taste are different and it is crucial you find what works for you.

Being diabetic I take on gels regularly (every 25 minutes) when running and would actually switch type of gels I would use depending on the distance. When running 10 miles or below I would use light thin gels like High Five gels. However, if I was training for a half marathon or full marathon, I would use energy chews these are much more like a small chewable sweet. I would use the chews on long distance runs as I would need to take a lot of them and it was lot easier for me to stomach a few sweets than multiple gels.

Allow time

Give yourself time to practise. Everybody is slightly different and some people can take gels with very little practise some need more. I usually recommend to start practising 3 months before your race as this gives you plenty of time to test different gel types and find what works for you.

However, don’t worry if you have a race coming up in a few weeks and haven’t started practising yet. You can get gels/chews in most running stores or next day delivery on the internet. Following the three-step planning process and start taking your gels. You will feel more comfortable going to your next race and can then continue the process for your next race with race practise already in the bank.

Good luck with your next race you have got this. 

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