From diet to technique to training, we are always looking for that something new that will help us enhance our run, so Deepthi Velkur decided to look at running gels.
It’s always the season to start running – whether you want to get serious about an upcoming fun run, get faster for a more serious event or just want to refine the way you run, there are simple ways to race smarter.
Nutrition – arguably the most crucial element to consider when it comes to enhancing your performance. It wasn’t so long ago that runners solely relied on water or sports drinks as their primary supplement while running a marathon. Today, with a better understanding of sports nutrition and the advanced technology available, there are several products out there that aid and assist every aspect of a runner’s performance.
Running becomes a different proposition when you cross the 90-minute mark. One of the go-to options for many runners keen on getting through long runs in the most efficient manner possible is running gels.
What is the purpose of these gels you may ask – it’s simple; they help fuel your run.
These energy gels are a reliable form of quickly processed energy – they generally contain 20-30mg of carbs, which can be consumed easily without breaking your stride and are small enough to fit into a running belt. I would like to provide you with some insights on the benefits these gels have while also listing out a few things to watch out for.
- Energy gels take immediate action on the body and are easily digested.
- They do not contain any added protein or fat and on an average contain 100 calories.
- Apart from carbohydrates, they also contain electrolytes which help maintain body balance and prevent it from stress or dehydration.
- Amino acids, ginseng, vitamins and coenzyme Q10 are added to a few gels to boost performance and reduce the acid build-up and muscular damage.
- Some gels have caffeine added to them and hence it gives you that boost you need on a long run
What you need to be aware of before using an energy gel:
- They need to be consumed with water as it can lead to dehydration
- In some instances, they can cause heartburn or reflux
- Owing to the high amount of fructose, certain gels may be allergic or cause an upset stomach
- Very important – never consume it along with a sports drink; this will lead to high sugar levels in your body
- Look out for gels that contain ‘maltodextrin’ as it is a palatable form of carbs and are absorbed quicker than glucose.
- Look for gels that contain smaller amounts of fructose to avoid the gel being too sweet.
Do remember that as a runner you must experiment with the use of these gels during your training period so that you understand what gel works best for you come race day.
During a run, wait for about 45 mins or 10kms to take your first gel, the next only after 45mins later. Remember to avoid taking more than one at a time because too much too soon will break your body as it tries to process the overdose of sugar.
Some recommended energy gels available today:
- Isotonic Gels(premixed with water): High 5 ISO Gel, SIS GO Gel
- Glucose/ fructose 2:1 – GU Energy Gel, High 5 Energy Gel, CLIF SHOT Energy Gel, TORQ Energy Gel
- Caffeine gels: SIS GO + Caffeine Gel, TORQ Energy Gel guarana, High % Energy Gel + caffeine.
The key to finding the right gel is through testing and sampling a wide range of flavours. Before I end, I would like to point out that energy gels are not the only way you can fuel your exercise but they can give you a real boost and have tons of benefits.