You know, that truly is what it is. Running has made me more grateful. It has afforded me the opportunity to really think about my life. To truly reflect on all aspects of my world. To think about my family … Continue reading
I never used energy gels or chews until I trained for my first marathon. I always thought that the gels probably had some kind of placebo effect where they would make the runner feel a boost that would change the brain waves and convince the runner that they had more in that tank to run on. Sort of like they’d trick me into pushing on. I completed several half marathons without ever trying a gel or chew, and I did just fine. I was able to complete all of my half marathons in less than two hours, which was just great to me. I mean, after all, I’m not some Spring chicken. I’m a late thirty-something wife, mother, and librarian … I’m certainly no elite runner. I honestly think that I sort of thought it would be like cheating if I took the gel. Not cheating like, if a person uses a gel they don’t actually earn their time in the race or they should be disqualified or anything. I think I just thought that if I didn’t need it, then I shouldn’t use it, because it would be like I was cheating myself. I kept thinking, that’s really for marathoners and people that run super fast. Once I started training for a marathon, that’s when I started to experiment with the gels and chews, and now I’m certain I couldn’t complete a half marathon without a gel.
I started with chews thinking that I might like to have something to chew on while I ran, rather than having to swallow gooey stuff that was somewhere in between the state of a liquid and the state of a solid. But with the chews, I quickly realized that they weren’t for me. I found that I actually hate the sensation of chewing on a rubbery thing while I’m trying to run. So, I went back to the energy gels and I can now safely say that I prefer getting it over with quickly by swallowing it down, rather than having to belabor it with all of the chewing.
So, once I had established that gels were my preferred method of receiving energy, next I started experimenting with brands, flavors, and caffeine vs. non caffeine gels. I tried using two caffeinated gels on a three hour long run, and found myself getting that shaky feeling that can accompany caffeine use, and I didn’t like it. I also had a faint upset stomach. So, I promptly switched to non caffeinated gels only.
Once I established that I needed non caffeinated gels, at least for the time being, and had narrowed down the flavors I preferred, I started to play with the frequency with which I used them. I consulted my trusty running coach, Google, and gathered as much information as possible. I found that some advise to take a gel before the workout, then another around the one hour mark, and yet another at the two hour mark of a three hour run. I also found that some advise to only take half at a time, but to take it every half hour. Some say to take the gels with caffeine only toward the end of a long run to ensure that it doesn’t upset the stomach. So, I formulated my game plan.
My plan: don’t take a gel before the run. Instead, drink water for that first hour, and take a gel at the 45 minute to one hour mark with water. Next, I would take a gel at the one hour and 45 minute mark, or the two hour mark with water. Still refraining from the caffeinated gels. But I can’t help but wonder, should I just train myself to handle the caffeinated gels, at least for the last one? Maybe it would give me that much needed boost at the end of a race?
I haven’t decided what will work exactly for me, but what I can say for sure is that the gels definitely help boost my mood and my estimation of how much steam I have left. Whether it’s a placebo effect, or the gels are actually restoring depleted carbohydrates, either way, I’m an energy gel user. I just have to figure out the best type, flavor, and frequency of use.
Basically, I still haven’t figured it out yet.