Choosing the right energy boost

I’ve run three marathons so far and never bothered with energy gels, snacks on the go or the like and have got round on water and maybe a little slug of the energy provided by the race organizer. This time around though, I’ve decided to give myself that extra little boost as I’d really like to get a good for age place for London 2015.

There seem to be so many different ways to go and products on the market that it was a bit overwhelming. I took to #UKRunChat hour one Sunday, 8-9pm to seek advice and find out what others were doing.

If you’ve not discovered #UKRunChat hour, it’s a brilliant way to connect with other runners on Twitter. People swap advice, give support and make connections with fellow runners. It’s billed as the fastest hour of the week and keeping up is quite a challenge, but it’s also great.

So, armed with a bunch of suggestions I headed to Sweatshop and had a chat with them. I’d decided to try three different options, otherwise I wouldn’t have time to get used to my choice.

First up was Science in Sport, Go Isotonic Gel, 60ml, apple flavour. I don’t carry a bag or a belt or anything and these were really bulky in my back pocket and the corners were poking me too, so was glad when they’d both gone. I found them quite hard to open, I had to rip them with my teeth which wasn’t pleasant.

It was good that you didn’t have to take them with water, they were pretty liquid and the flavour was ok, but a mile later, they were a bit “repeaty” for want of a better phrase. This was not good, feeling a bit sickly.

Next up were Jelly Beans, Sport Beans, 28g pack, orange flavour. The pack recommended one whole pack 30 mins before running then to eat the beans as and when you needed an energy boost.

As someone who doesn’t normally eat jelly beans or sweets for that matter, eating a whole pack before running was quite a big ask. I didn’t really enjoy the jelly bean experience at all. I did pop one every 2-3 miles, or when I stopped for water, but I found that they really stuck to my teeth and I just wanted to brush and get rid of them.

Finally, I tried the GU energy gel, 32g, jet blackberry flavour. I took three out with me and spaced them out during my longer runs. I could just about fit them into my back pocket, so was pleased with that. Again, they were a bit tricky to open, but I think I’ve got the hang of it now. The flavour was ok but I can’t say I enjoyed the texture, made sure I had a good bit of water with them.

I’m not going to try any more now ahead of the marathon, so I’m sticking with the GU, the best option of the three that I tried.

I definitely think they’ve made a difference to my training, last year, ahead of Paris, I’d come back completely spent and hungry. My last two long runs, 24 miles each, I’ve felt fairly comfortable and confident I could do the last 2.2 at the end.

Here’s hoping they help me reach my goal in Brighton next month.

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