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When we do long runs, we need to provide our bodies with carbohydrates to provide more energy, sodium to replace the salt we’ve sweated out, and potassium to support our muscles and to prevent cramping. Gels are popular because they require little digestion and therefore provide quicker energy delivery to working muscles than solid foods.
|There is debate over using gels, some people find they upset their stomachs, others don’t like the concept of processed synthetic foods and others swear by them. Each to their own, but we do recommend that if you haven’t used gel’s before and want to give them a whirl, then test them out on your training runs, not on race day.|
|If you are wanting to use gels but your stomach can’t handle them, I have heard rave reviews about SIS (Science in Sports) gels, apparently these do not mess with your stomach but the downside is they are not yet available in New Zealand but can be purchased online www.scienceinsport.com.|
|Using Gels on Race Day|
|If you are doing a 5-10km race and will be less than 45 minutes you don’t need to use gels, if you take a little longer have a sip of an electrolyte drink instead.|
|If doing a ½ marathon, have a gel about an hour into the race and if you take over 2 hours top up with an electrolyte drink or consume another gel.|
|For a marathon, 2-3 gels per hour starting at the 1 hr mark.|
|A general rule of thumb is to take in about 100 calories after an hour of running, and then another 100 calories every 40-45 minutes after that. Many sports gels contain 100 calories, so it's easy to keep track how many calories you're consuming.|
|If gel’s aren’t for you then some great foods you may want to use are raisins, almonds, chia seeds, kumara (with added salt) or make a kumara puree and consume a sports drink like PowerAde.|
|The key is to experiment, what works for one person may not work for another so it’s important to work out your race day nutrition plan during your training runs.|