When To Take Energy Gels During Half Marathon

When preparing for a half marathon, one important aspect that often gets overlooked is fueling during the race. It’s crucial to take in enough energy to sustain your performance and prevent hitting the dreaded wall. Energy gels have become a popular choice among runners for their convenience and quick absorption. However, knowing when to take energy gels can make a significant difference in your race experience.

Before the Race

On race day, it’s essential to start with a well-balanced meal that includes carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. This will help provide you with sustained energy throughout the race. About 30 minutes before the start, I like to take one energy gel to give me an extra boost. This early intake allows time for digestion and absorption, ensuring that I have enough fuel in my system as I cross the starting line.

During the Race

During a half marathon, it’s recommended to take energy gels every 45 minutes to an hour. However, it’s crucial to listen to your body and adjust accordingly. Factors such as your fitness level, pace, and weather conditions can influence when you should consume energy gels.

Personally, I like to start taking energy gels around the 45-minute mark. This helps me establish an early fueling routine and prevents the risk of hitting a sudden energy slump. Depending on the intensity of the race, I may take another gel around the one-hour mark. However, it’s important not to rely solely on energy gels for your fueling needs.

In addition to energy gels, I also make sure to hydrate adequately. Taking small sips of water or sports drink at each aid station helps in the absorption of the gels and keeps me hydrated throughout the race. This combination of energy gels and hydration has proven to be effective for me, but it’s essential to experiment during training runs to find what works best for you.

Experimentation and Personalization

Every runner is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s crucial to experiment with energy gel intake during your long training runs. This will help you determine what timing and quantity work best for you.

I recommend starting with the energy gels provided by the race organizers during your training runs. This will give you an idea of the brands and flavors you prefer. Once you find your preferred gel, take note of how you feel after consuming it at different intervals.

Some runners prefer to take half of an energy gel at regular intervals, while others prefer to take a full gel less frequently. It’s all about finding the right balance that keeps you energized without causing any digestive discomfort. Remember to always follow any specific instructions provided by the gel manufacturer.


When to take energy gels during a half marathon is a personal decision that requires experimentation and a keen understanding of your body’s needs. Starting with a gel before the race and then taking them every 45 minutes to an hour during the race is a good starting point. Remember to stay hydrated and listen to your body to make adjustments as needed. With the right fueling strategy, energy gels can provide that extra boost you need to conquer your half marathon goals.