To Gu, or not to Gu…

That is the question.

Do you fear the bonk? Do you gel at set intervals faithfully? Do you carry an extra with you on runs just in case?

Or is that just me.

I was trained on a gel philosophy of running. That your body needs those carbs, those calories, every 45-60 minutes.

But what if it doesn’t?

I know – every runner’s nutritional needs are different. Hydration, electrolytes, fuel all varies based on experience, genetics, etc.

But here’s what I’m wondering. How often do you (or I) actually need fuel? How far and fast can you run without it?

On 4.5 – 6 mile runs I don’t carry water or gel. On 8 mile runs, I sometimes carry but then don’t use it.

So why, during a half marathon do I take one at around miles 5 and 10? (Or 4.5 and 9. Or 5 and 9.5?)

When I ran the Jingle Bell Half I took them at 5 & 10, timed to water stops. (Man that lemonade Roctane is tasty!!) And it didn’t register with me until after the race that my two friends took none. Their only fuel was the cocoa at mile 10.5. Mmmmm….cocoa.

This week on Sunday’s long run I headed out empty handed. I had only planned to go 10 miles and figured if I hit a wall, so be it. Mid-run I decided to run 12 miles. Which turned into 12.14 (the date).

Not only did I not hit a wall, I ran negative splits. And my last two miles were sub-9 minutes.


Perhaps I don’t need Gu after all? Or perhaps it’s a total fluke. But I’m curious now.

Since one of my goals for next year is to get faster (reclaim my pre-injury finish times) I’m definitely interested to see if gels truly do help. And if I need two- or just one in the later miles for a boost.

My next race is the Hyannis Half-marathon in February. I’m definitely going to experiment with fueling these next several weeks and see how it goes.

Because the less I need to pack for and carry during a race is always a good thing. 🙂

Happy Monday! And happy running.


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