Sep 25, 2009

To Gel or Not To Gel

Historically I'm not a gel user in training. I'd use them a couple times to simulate race conditions and make sure that I didn't have problems with them but most of my workouts went unfueled. Recently though I've been more gratuitous in my gel consumption. For some reason a couple weeks ago I used them before my MP workouts and had satisfactory results (8 and 9 miles at pace). Then the next week I went back to my non-usage and didn't do as well (7 and 8 miles at pace). Well, now I'm back on them, have been for a couple weeks and have been doing better having gone 10, 9, 9 and 10 miles at pace in the last two weeks. Obviously the writing is on the wall and I'm going to continue to use them but somehow it seems like, well like cheating. Maybe I'm just unable to do the workouts that I used to be able to do (aging? not enough miles?) and I need that external boost to get me through. I don't know why I can't get my mind around this one. Help me out.

So anyway, my gel-aided run on Tuesday went fairly well with 11 total miles and 9 at a 7:12 pace. In fact I did a double boost with a gel at the beginning and another after 5 miles. Today I took one before the workout again but refused to take the second one even though I had it ready. I ended up with 12 miles and 10 at 7:13 pace. The only problem is that my HR was getting so high that I took a little breather with 2 miles to go so that I knew I'd be able to complete the run. That seems a little like cheating too, no? Well if that's what it is going to take for me to get the training stimulus that I require/desire then so be it. But I may not like it...

All in: Tuesday, 11 @ 7:30 and Friday, 12 @ 7:29.

6 comments:

Karen said...

I don't have the endurance that you do but I always gel up in training. I can definitely tell a difference. The funny thing now about the gels now is I always went for GU chocolate gel. I guess I used it so much training for the last 2 marathons that I have to choke it down now. Might need to try a different flavor or maybe sport beans...

lindsay said...

i don't know if it's mental or not, but it seems my runs are better when i gel. supposedly they also help with recovery/muscle soreness too? (gu's at least)

i try to do some longer/hard runs without gu sometimes. i managed yesterday, though i only did 5 miles at threshold pace. i take gu's every 45 minutes, so basically if i'm running more than 1.5 hrs i'll bring a gu. i try to suck it up without if i'm "only" running for an hour and a half.

i know how you feel, don't want to be "dependent" on gu's. set a limit for yourself (mileage or time) - you know you can work through a tough workout without them. (keep in mind the previous day's nutrition/hydration!)

Beth said...

I don't think gels are cheating. Your body needs the energy to burn plain and simple. How is it any different than drinking water or Gatorade? Use the gels for the long runs and races... you will be glad you did.

Glenn Jones said...

I think it depends on your goal for your workout. If it's just an LSD, then maybe the fueling isn't as important. But, you will need to refule somewhere along the way nonetheless. Whether it's a gel, energy bar, pop tart, etc., as long as it's in that 200 - 250 calorie per hour window your body will thank you.

Yes - I don't plan on stopping and standing around for 30 minutes on the 11th! Ha! (What was I thinking?)

Finally - thnks for the article about group training. I actually forwarded it to some rowing friends of mine!

AZ said...

Thanks for all the comments!

I definitely gel up during races but for some reason I like to get through my training without them. Long runs usually aren't so bad because I do them slow enough. I think I'll be using them from more in the future now. Better training = better racing.

Lindsay, your comments are right on concerning recovery and previous day's nutrition/hydration. Something I need to put more effort into.

Meg Runs said...

I never used gu unless I raced, something a physiologist told us one day at a "track" running talk but if I have a long run, I have to refuel. It will be interesting to see if you continue to use gels in training and how it will work for you in a race. Nice visiting your blog, you're fast!