Gels-The Straight Squirt
by Super Dave, Industry Expert
The energy gel first appeared on the market in the mid- to late '80s. Endurance experts out of
South Africa developed Leppin Squeezes because runners there had trouble digesting energy bars
on the long hard runs and bike rides. It wasn't until the early '90s when Gu was introduced to
the market that energy gels took hold. Now, they represent the largest selling nutrition
category at Road Runner Sports.
- They are fast acting.
Since the gel is semi-liquid, it absorbs into the system easier than any solid food.
- They are easy to carry.
Most will fit in the pocket of your running shorts.
- They need water to wash down but quite a bit less water than an energy bar.
- Finally, they taste good!
I was just checking to see if you were reading. They are an acquired taste. Not many people
really like the taste. I actually think it's the texture more than the taste but if you can get
over either; you will find them to be very beneficial energy providers.
When to Use Energy Gels
Use a gel 15 - 20 minutes before your run. They are great for you early morning runners
who wake up and go. An energy gel will give the boost of energy you need after 8 solid hours of
sleep. But they also work for anyone just before your run.
You also want to carry them with you if you are running for more than 1 hour. In that
case, consume 1 energy gel for every 45 minutes of running. If you're running 75 - 90 minutes
you'll want to consume a gel at the 30-45 minute mark. This will top off your energy to finish
your run strong.
Who Should Use Energy Gels?
Every runner who has at least one run more than 1 hour. If you aren't using gel you aren't
maximizing your running. Either that or you've found the next energy source that you aren't
telling anyone about.
How to Choose Your Energy Gel
First decide what you want.
- Do you want caffeine?
The detail on this is for another article, but caffeine has been proven to aid running
performance. On the other hand a little caffeine can send some people on a jittery path for
hours. So you need to be the judge.
- What's your taste?
There is an energy gel out there you'll like, you just have to try them. Some are
"smoother," some are sweeter and some have more caffeine.
My favorite is Speed Gel because we helped develop the
taste and I think it's the best in the business.