Energy Gel Alternatives during a marathon

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Wirnr

Energy Gel Alternatives during a marathon

Post by Wirnr » Tue Dec 28, 2010 1:08 am

My wife will be running her first marathon next month in Houston. A couple of weeks ago she tried using energy gels for the first time and she developed a terrible cramp in her side. Last week she tried a GU chomp during her long run and again had a cramp. She took some water, but not as much as you should when consuming those substances. Right now she doesn't want to use anything during her race, but I'm worried this will end up hurting her tremendously. Is there anything else any of you have used instead of the sugary energy gels? Thanks for your help.

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Re: Energy Gel Alternatives during a marathon

Post by ap4305 » Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:38 pm

She should be able to get sufficient calories from sports drink alone, if you can't find any other remedy.  Biggest problem with relying on liquid alone is that you don't really know how much you are ingesting since a good portion spills out of the cups when we are bouncing along (and we don't know how much was in the cup to begin with and how diluted or concentrated the mixture was). 

Before swearing off all solid calories, I would check....
a) was there caffeine in that gel?  If so, it might have been the caffeine contributing to the cramp
b)  has she tried any other gels besides GU products?  There are some gel products out there with more complex sugars that are less intense than GU (Hammer makes some decent race nutrition products in this realm). 
c)  it might not have been the gel itself causing problems but instead the interaction of the gel with something else in her stomach

If she doesn't want any solid calories but needs more than liquid, she could always go "old school" and use honey packets.  Of course, at some point many years ago, runners got tired of getting sticky honey goo all over their hands and came up with this invention called...the gel pack!.  Bananas are a safe bet for many Ironman distance triathletes, but I don't recall seeing many bananas offered at aid stations in marathons.  You could also chop up an energy bar into little bits, since those tend to have more complex carbs than the gel packs. 
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Re: Energy Gel Alternatives during a marathon

Post by Tinman » Tue Dec 28, 2010 6:58 pm

Did your wife...

- Consume sport s drink AND GU?

- Drink water along with consuming GU?
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Wirnr

Re: Energy Gel Alternatives during a marathon

Post by Wirnr » Wed Dec 29, 2010 2:18 am

She had sips of water and sips of gatorade along with some non-caffeinated GU. I don't think she drank enough water, but she says drinking a cup of water makes her feel sick while running. After reading the previous post, she is considering chopping up a sports bar.

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Re: Energy Gel Alternatives during a marathon

Post by BoilerTom90 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:03 pm

[quote="Wirnr"]
She had sips of water and sips of gatorade along with some non-caffeinated GU. I don't think she drank enough water, but she says drinking a cup of water makes her feel sick while running. After reading the previous post, she is considering chopping up a sports bar.
[/quote]

Most of the GUs say to consume with water, and a specific amount of water. If you consume with too little water, or with a sugary sports drink, that could be too much sugar in the system at once. 

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Re: Energy Gel Alternatives during a marathon

Post by ATimmins » Sun Feb 20, 2011 12:41 pm

For proper absorbtion you want around a 7% solution of carbs to water.  Anything higher would greatly reduce absorbtion. A standard gel would require 13-14 ounces of water.  That would be a feat while running.  Half a gel is about 7 ounces of water, which is doable. And if you did this every 15 to 20 mins then you would be getting 21-26 ounces of water and 47 to 56 g of carbs.  Not bad.

I still think a sports drink. (Which is usually at 7% anyway) is easier then half gels which is hard to judge at race pace.
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