With just 6 or so weeks to go until the big day, you should now be running at least 14-16 miles for your long runs, which means it’s time to get practising with carbo gels.
Love them or hate them, carbo gels are a great way to stock up your blood sugar levels to help prevent you hitting the dreaded wall at mile 18.
By keeping your sugar levels topped up, it means the body takes less carbohydrate (glycogen) from your liver and muscles meaning you keep energy in reserve for the latter stages of the race – and believe me you’ll need all the energy you can get come mile 24!
There are a number of different types of gel so it’s up to you which one you choose but it is vital that you stick with the same make throughout your training and during the race itself. They are all slightly different, so it’s always best to stick with a gel which you have eaten in training and you know you are able to tolerate.
I cannot stress how important it is to practice taking your chosen gel on a number of training runs. Their formula is very rich in sugar and can disagree with some people’s digestive systems – not good come mile 18 of the marathon with no porta loo in sight.
So, now is about the right time to choose your gel of choice and take one with you on your next long run. After about an hour of running, rip the sachet open and “enjoy” the thick, gooey gunk swill around your mouth. It is advisable to wash it down with a few swigs of water, as its consistency is pretty horrid at the best of times and it’s not a pleasant feeling having your mouth coated with a substance with a texture not dissimilar to glue.
If you have no tummy problems after a few training runs and you are happy using the gels, then stick with them and take 3 or 4 with you on race day.
However, if your stomach starts to rumble or your digestive system is simply not happy after ingesting a carbo gel, it might be an idea to leave them and find an alternative way to boost your sugar levels during the race. Jelly babies and dextrose tablets are both good options so practise with them on a run and if all is well, take them with you on race day.
Do not underestimate the discomfort these little sachets can cause on your digestive system. Practise with them a number of times before race day and make sure you can tolerate them – or you might end up in a pretty embarrassing situation.
If you have had a bad experience with Carbo gels, or have any tips for carbo gel virgins, let us know by leaving a comment – we’d love to hear your stories.