Running Gels: Love Them or Hate Them? Here’s What You Need to Know with Mike Trees

Running gels are like stocks in the stock market. Some people swear by them and couldn’t imagine training for a marathon without them, while others avoid them at all costs.

Just like with stocks, it’s important to do your research and determine what works best for you personally.

Listen below or on your favorite podcast player

And… It’s time to talk about the age-old question: to gel or not to gel? In the last 25 years of running I’ve heard and seen a lot.

Some runners swear by gels, chugging them down like they’re the elixir of life, while others avoid them like the plague. But just like with stocks, it’s essential to do your research and determine what works best for you personally.

First things first, let’s talk about what gels are. They’re small packets of concentrated energy that usually contain a combination of carbohydrates, electrolytes, and sometimes even caffeine. They’re designed to provide a quick burst of energy during long runs or races when your body starts to run low on glycogen.

Now, before you go out and stock up on gels like a squirrel preparing for winter, there are a few things to consider. First and foremost, it’s essential to choose a gel that contains the right type of carbohydrate. Glucose polymer or maltodextrin-based gels are considered reputable as they have a slower absorption rate, leading to a more sustained energy release. This is opposed to simple sugars which can cause a spike in blood sugar levels and leave you feeling like a sugar-high toddler.

Next, you’ll want to experiment with different amounts of gel to find what works best for you. This can vary depending on factors such as the length of your run, your running pace, and your overall carbohydrate needs. Trust me, you don’t want to be chugging down gels like they’re Gatorade if you’re only running a 5k. On the other hand, if you’re training for an ultramarathon, you’ll want to make sure you have enough fuel to keep you going.

And lastly, timing is key. Some runners prefer to consume gels before the run to ensure they have enough energy, while others prefer to wait until they start feeling fatigued during the run. It’s all about finding a timing that works for you and that you’re comfortable with. Just make sure to stay hydrated and consume enough fluids when using gels, to prevent stomach discomfort and ensure proper absorption.

In conclusion, gels can be a useful tool for providing energy during a run, but it’s important to do your research, find what works best for you, and practice proper timing and usage during training. And remember, just because your running buddy swears by gels, doesn’t mean they’re right for you. Everyone’s body is different, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you. Train smart, race (work and live) easy.

What You Will Learn & Highlights

  • Mike’s history with gel formulation
  • how much to take
  • and my personal rules around gels

Notable Quotables

  • “Gels are easy to transport, easy to consume and they work.”
  • “I hate sugary processed foods but I know they help me with performance”
  • “Experiment with the amount of gel and timing of consumption to find what works best for you.”
  • “You can only store about 2000 calories in a marathon, so you need some kind of fuel to get you through it and gels are perfect.”



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This episode is brought to you by NRG – Coaching which is Mike Trees’ coaching service. Mike coaches beginners to pros and all levels in between.

No one is too fast and no one too slow. They just want a desire to learn and improve.

They focus on 1,500m to marathon running and triathlon training.

NRG Coaching is constantly overbooked, so Instagram and this new podcast venture gives Mike and the rest of his NRG coaching team a way to reach out to more people.

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Original Music Used Here

Full transcript here