When To Take Energy Gels During Marathon

When to Take Energy Gels During a Marathon

Using Energy Gels During Marathon

With long distance running like marathon, many individuals find themselves needing a boost and extra energy. And that is through energy gels. When you need to take energy gels during a marathon there’s factors worth considering. Type of gel you are taking, how long you have left, and how quick of a boost you need.

That dreaded wall is coming up, will you smash through it like the pro you really are? Or is this going to be a re-make of the classic ‘Run Fatboy Run’ movie? I know I’ve been subject to giving-in one or two times. But, I’m here to share with you the reason why I’m not anymore: Energy gels.

Should I Really Take Energy Gels During a Marathon?

Using energy gels for running can be tricky. There’s factors that should be considered about your personal body and mental health. Energy gels are taken for long distance running. And no, that doesn’t include the run from your couch to the fridge when you remember there is leftover cheesecake.

When we say long distance, we mean marathons, half-marathons and sometimes 10K (kilometre) runs. Simply, because of the way they are formulated and the effect they have on our magnificent bodies.

Our bodies naturally store calories and carbohydrates in our muscles for up to two hours. That means, we will still have left-over stores after a 5K run. So, we’re really here to answer the question “when should I take energy gels during a marathon?”.

Which energy gel are you using?

Believe it or not, there’s more than one type of energy boost other than your morning coffee.

There’s fructose-based energy gels, glucose-based energy gels and hybrids of them both. There’s energy gels that include caffeine for a quick boost and some more long running gels, too.

Most importantly, have an energy gel (or a few) chosen and ready at your disposal because it’s important that you try these energy gels out, first. I say this because each body responds in their own way to being given a substantial amount of sugars and energy. What may have worked for me might not work for you or your needs.

For some examples of types of energy gels on the market, check out our other blog Energy Gels for Long Distance Running. It walks you through 5 different brands, their contents and how often they need to be taken throughout an hour of running.

You also need to consider the brand. For example, Maurten energy gels. They contain both fructose, glucose and maltodextrin allowing a runner to take a gel up to four times an hour safely.

What is your water in-take?

You probably hear this a lot but I cannot stress how important water is for your long distance running. An individual with low to moderate activity will need an intake of approximately 1.5 to 2L per day based on gender, height and weight. For marathon runners on the other hand, you can expect to increase this by at least half a litre.

As well as this, when you take energy gels during a marathon you need to have them with water (unless you are using specific water mixed gels, such as HIGH5 Energy Gel Aqua). Because of the way they are formulated and packaged: contained in a small gel pouch to allow for easy access and light storage while running, and then when you run past water-stations, you take the water with your energy gel to disperse the fructose through your bloodstream efficiently.

high 5 energy gel wiggle logo

So, a part response to your question “when to take energy gels during a marathon?”; when you get to a water station!

At what point in your marathon are you?

Where you are in the marathon goes beyond where the nearest water station is: you need to be able to assess which point in the marathon you are at in order to know which energy gel you should take.

I mentioned earlier that energy gels have different make-ups and types of sugar. This is to allow each runner to take a different type of gel for their need: if you are in your first ten miles of a marathon and needing a boost, you’ll want to consider taking a slow- burning energy gel that is soft on the stomach and lasts longer.

If you’re nearing the end of your long distance run and needing a boost, then you shouldn’t really be asking when to take your energy gels during a marathon, but reaching into your energy gel stores (wherever that may be, there’s no judgement here) to grab your fast-acting energy gels with high fructose and carbohydrate contents as well as a caffeine boost.

What type of energy do you need?

Although this question might seem very similar to the other, it actually focuses on your body more than your run.

Energy has more than one meaning: it could be mental, physical-muscular or physical- circulatory. When using energy gels for running you need to consider these three types of energy to see where you are and when to take which energy gels during a marathon.

You can combat mental energy through water intake and pre-running meditation. Mental health is the initial driving force for our physical capabilities. So it is very important to consider this before taking on a race or long-distance run.

When it comes to a physical-muscular type of energy that your body needs, then you should consider consuming energy gels with high carbohydrate and fructose/glucose contents as they will provide your bloodstream with the right energy for your muscles to burn through after they have naturally burned through the stores from your meals.

On the other hand, you have the physical-circulatory bodily needs: you will need to consider using energy gels for long distance running. Because that contain recipes with electrolytes to replace all of the vitamins and minerals that you sweat-out.

It’s gross but it’s a perfect part of our human anatomy that needs replacing alongside the water in-take to ensure that your body is able to continue functioning at the same rate to get you across the finish line.


So, in summary, as long as you don’t consider the street a long-distance run, then you should have a think about when to take energy gels during a marathon, which energy gel will suit you, where you are in terms of your marathon, and which type of energy it is that you need.

And, practice! You will need to practice taking your energy gels for long distance running to know which brands/flavours you like. And also, when your body needs to be replenished. (Plus, your stomach will never forgive you for surprising it on race day).

Don’t forget to check out our other blogs Energy Gels for Long Distance Running . Please visit – What Would Be the Best Running Gel for My Sensitive Stomach? to learn more about using energy gels when running!

About Sham 50 Articles
Sham is a passionate distance runner who prepares marathon runners from beginners to advanced sub 3 hour marathon. He writes running training guides and product reviews of running gear.


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