How To Carry Gels During Marathon

Running a marathon is an incredible achievement that requires months of training, dedication, and mental fortitude. Along with the physical preparation, marathon runners must also pay close attention to their nutrition during the race. One important aspect of marathon nutrition is the use of gels, which provide a quick source of energy in the form of carbohydrates. In this article, I will share my personal insights on how to effectively carry gels during a marathon.

Finding the Right Gel

Before we dive into the logistics of carrying gels, it’s essential to choose the right gel for your needs. There are various brands and flavors available, so it’s worth experimenting during your training runs to find the one that you enjoy and that works best for you. Some gels have caffeine, which can provide an extra boost, while others are formulated to be more gentle on the stomach. Personally, I prefer gels with a liquid consistency as they are easier to consume on the go.

Practice Makes Perfect

Carrying gels during a marathon requires practice. It’s important to simulate race conditions during your long training runs and get accustomed to consuming gels while running at your marathon pace. This will help you develop a routine and avoid any surprises on race day. I recommend carrying and consuming gels during at least two to three of your longest training runs before the marathon.

Choose the Right Container

When it comes to carrying gels, there are various options to consider. Some runners prefer using a fuel belt or a hydration pack with designated gel loops or pockets. These can be convenient as they allow for easy access to gels without having to fumble with pockets or zippers. If you prefer a lightweight and minimalistic approach like me, you can simply use a small pouch or a race belt with gel loops.

I personally use a race belt with gel loops, which allows me to have quick and easy access to my gels without interrupting my running rhythm. The gel loops securely hold the gels in place and prevent them from bouncing around. It’s crucial to find a container or belt that fits comfortably and snugly to avoid any distractions or discomfort during the race.

Strategically Place Your Gels

During a marathon, it’s crucial to strategically plan when and how often you consume gels. Most runners aim to consume a gel every 45 minutes to an hour, starting around 30-45 minutes into the race. This timing allows for a steady supply of carbohydrates to fuel your muscles throughout the entire race.

In my experience, I find it helpful to divide the gels evenly throughout the race and place them in the corresponding gel loops on my race belt. This way, I know exactly when to consume each gel without having to rely on my watch or memory. It helps me stay focused and ensures that I maintain a consistent energy level throughout the marathon.

Practice Opening and Consuming Gels

Opening and consuming gels while running can be challenging, especially when you are already fatigued. To avoid any mishaps or spills, it’s crucial to practice opening and consuming gels during your training runs. Most gels have a tear-off top or a twist-off cap. Experiment with different techniques and find the one that works best for you.

During my training runs, I practice opening the gels with a quick tear motion. I then consume the gel in small amounts, allowing myself to savor the flavor and minimizing the risk of any stomach discomfort. By practicing this technique, I have become more efficient and comfortable with consuming gels during a marathon.


Carrying gels during a marathon is a skill that requires practice and preparation. Finding the right gel, choosing the right container, strategically placing your gels, and practicing opening and consuming gels are all important aspects to consider. Remember to experiment during your training runs to find what works best for you. By mastering the art of carrying gels, you can ensure a steady supply of energy and optimize your marathon performance.

So, lace up your shoes, grab your gels, and get ready to conquer that marathon!