The best running gels that are guaranteed to get you through your next race
Ever heard of hitting the wall? Well, this occurs when your glycogen – the carbohydrate store in your muscles and liver which gives you energy – runs low. Running gels will help to replenish these carbohydrate stores and reinvigorate your running.
Generally, gels are needed for people participating in half marathon, marathon or ultra marathon races as well as Half Ironman, or Ironman events. Or, to put a specific time on it, any event that requires more than 90 minutes of intense exercise.
Rule of thumb: if you’ve not been training with running gels, don’t decide to use them on race day. Running gels are not for everyone, and they can cause an upset tummy. So, if you’re looking for that extra energy shot come race day, then make sure you’ve been using it during your training.
With this in mind, I’ve included some other energy products which might work for you. As ever, I spoke to the Let’s Do This team to get their recommendations for the best running gels and energy alternatives currently on the market.
When it comes to running gels, Science in Sport (SiS) are one of the best in class. These gels have 22g of carbohydrate per sachet and are designed to efficiently top up your glycogen levels during an intense race. SiS Go Isotonic energy gels were recommended by double Olympic medalist Constantine Louloudis, because the gels are not too thick or gloopy which makes them easy to take on.
For events with an endurance focus or if you need to conveniently carry a lot of carbs, look to the new Beta Fuel range from SiS. Each gel contains 40g of carbohydrates, almost double that of a standard gel, and is made using a unique 1:08 ratio of maltodextrin to fructose. This blend allows the body to absorb and use up to 90g of carbs per hour, and has the added bonus of avoiding any stomach discomfort! As well as the standard, Beta Fuel gels come in a nootropic version with added caffeine for when you really need a boost.
Another leader of the energy gel world, Torq offer a huge variety of flavours so you can really find what works best for you. If you’re just starting to use running gels, then it’s worth testing Torq’s sample pack. Each gel holds 30g of carbohydrate, so slightly up on the SiS Go Isotonic gel. With that amount of carbs, it’s even more important that you’ve been training with these ahead of race day.
The Maurten running gel comes in very highly recommended by Jessica Frey, former CEO of Virgin Sports who, in her own words, “absolutely loves Maurten”. And, it’s also the chosen running gel for Eliod Kipchoge, Mo Farah, and Kenensisa Bekele. So, you’re in good company on this one. Jessie used the gels to get her through her first Ironman event and describes them as not too sickeningly sweet. Each satchet contains 25g of carbohydrate.
Another gels that comes highly recommended from the team, as a result of it being not too gummy or viscous in nature – making it much easier to eat and digest. That said, I’ve been well warned that this also makes these gels easier to spill while running, so get ready for sticky fingers. These 60ml sachets contain 23g of carbs and are completely caffeine free.
Ok, so this is an energy bar rather than gel. But still, these energy chews are perfect if you’re out on a running adventure or if you can’t stomach running gels. They come in five different flavours – Black Cherry, Margarita Citrus, Mountain Beer, Strawberry, and Tropic Punch – and each bar has 8g of carbohydrate and 33 calories, making them ideal for some mid-run fuel.
Energy chews are another good alternative to a straight running gel, and the Honey Stinger’s are some of the best in the business. I’d especially recommend the fruit smoothie flavour. These small chews are perfect for regular snacking while you’re out on the trails, or running in an ultramarathon. One 50g packet contains a total carbohydrate of 39g, with 160 calories inside each packet.
Do you use running gels or do you prefer alternatives? Let us know in the comments below.