Using Gels During a Marathon

Gu Gels Flavor Pack

"Should I eat gels during a marathon?"  We get asked this question frequently.  The short answer is: probably!

If you've ever hit the wall in a marathon, it's most often due to running out of carb energy.  For the typical marathoner, this happens somewhere between mile 18-22.  It's caused by depletion of glycogen reserves, stored in the liver and muscles.  Hitting the wall makes it very difficult to keep running and most runners slow to a dizzy walk.

Marathon Runner’s Refuel Smoothie

strawberry banana smoothie

Marathon training exacts an energy toll on the body. Running 4-7 days a week in a solid training plan leaves little time to rest and recover. One of the most important components of a successful training season is proper refueling.  This means eating to replace lost energy reserves and for rebuilding and growing for improved fitness.  One of the best items to refuel with are fruits.  A quick, easy, and satisfying way is with a fruit smoothie.

Marathoner's Healthy Whole-Wheat Pancakes

Healthy whole-wheat pancakes with fruit

A big stack of pancakes is a delicious carb-fest for us runners.  After a long run of 8 or 10 or 12 miles, it's a tasty way to replenish those glycogen stores.  Unfortunately, traditional pancakes of white flour, sugar, and fake maple corn syrup aren't the most healthy option for energy replacement.  But you can have your pancakes and feel good about eating them too!

Caffeine Before Running a Marathon

Woman drinking coffee before a marathon

Caffeine has been found to increase athletic endurance in numerous scientific studies. For runners, caffeine can be helpful in reducing the effects of fatigue. In the marathon, that means faster speed and greater ability to stay running.  However, caffeine is not without side effects, which is some cases, may affect performance negatively.

The Marathon Pre-Race Checklist

Spinach pasta for marathon carbo-loading

The final preparations for a marathon will help insure a successful race. Failure to get ready in one of these areas can turn a great experience into one much less exhilarating. Here are the basics to focus on in the two weeks leading up to your marathon: