Friday, June 10, 2011

Pre-race recap and some lingering thoughts on energy gels

It's almost a week till race day and I'm just about totally prepared for this marathon thing. I'm so nervous at this point that I just want it to be over with. All my plans are in line. All that needs to be done is to do it. 

I've been cutting back on my training for the last couple of weeks. My runs have gone back down to between 3-4 miles each and my long runs no longer seem long. Well, last Sunday's 15 miles turned into 13, then turned into 9+ 2miles of walking because my hip flexors decided to start making themselves painfully noticed. I had worked ALL of Saturday. Starting at 5am with a 4 mile bike ride in to work to stand behind a desk for 8.5 hours Saturday was a non-stop run in itself. It was busy so I didn't get to sit down for a moment. After that, I rode my bike another 13 miles to get to my other job at a swanky private golf club where I do everything from serve tables to carry them and their chairs to set-up and tear down wedding decorations. We were there until 1:30 am. I had to work there on Sunday afternoon too, so I got a ride home and planned on running there (13 miles) in order to fit in my long run for the week. Due to the overexertion on Saturday, my body shut down 2 miles shy of my goal and would run no further. This just gave me a good indication that taking off work for the 2 days proir to my marathon is a good idea. 

I stopped at the local bike shop the other day and parused their selection of energy gels to bring along with me on race day. There are so many to choose from! I picked up quite a few I think I might like just to try and a couple that I know work well for me. I'm a big fan of the cliff bloks and shots because they are mostly organic and contain no high fructose corn sweetener. I noticed a lot of these contained caffeine. I'm thinking, 'hey, caffeine gives you energy, what a great idea!'  Then I started thinking about what caffeine actually does to me; it may not be that great of an idea after all. I don't know about you, but after coffee I tend to need the bathroom. I wouldn't see that being too comfortable on rade day. I've had that feeling on runs before and I don't like it. I was wondering if this is what the problem is for people that regularly complain about digestion issues on race day. Caffeine can also inhibit the absorbtion of carbohydrates into your system and contribute to dehyhdration.

I'd like to know hear some other thoughts on this. Do you use gels on your long runs? Do you go for the ones with caffeine or opt for the more natural gels without caffeine?


  1. I haven't decided yay or nay net on the caffeine issue, but sometimes I use without in the beginning and towards the end of a long run go for the caffeine jolt to help push me through.

  2. I definitely use gels on my long runs and for racing marathons but I DO NOT recommend using them if you haven't used them in training because they can do a number on your stomach (if you know what I mean). If you don't have an alternative (you will need fuel for a marathon) and haven't been using gels, I'd suggest the SportBeans by JellyBelly or the ShotBloks by Clif which I think would be less 'stressful' to your digestive tract. And if you're caffeine sensitive, steer clear of those caffeinated ones!

    Good luck!!


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