Lucozade drink vs gels

Lucozade drink vs gels

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14/03/2013 at 15:36

Hi there,

Can someone please let me know the difference between Lucozade and gels? Do you need gels in order to run a marathon or will Lucozade do the job?


I am running the London marathon for the first time in April and have been training with the Lucozade drink as thats what will be available on the day - I have run 18 miles and felt great, however I have heard gels are at their best for the last few miles.


Confused and curious - any help would be appriciated.




14/03/2013 at 15:40

You certainly don't need either to run a marathon.

However, I would suggest if you have trained in a certain way and it is working without problems so far it is advisable not to change that too close to race day.

Personally I would take just water and possibly a gel after a couple of hours. That is my personal preference though.

I think the gels handed out are lucozade gels, they are awful in my opinion.

Edited: 14/03/2013 at 15:41
14/03/2013 at 15:44

Stick with what you know if that works.  It seems a long time ago that I first tried out a few gels and my vague impression of Lucozade was a fiddly packet and sickly contents!  I subsequently have run marathons using various strategies (water/Lucozade/jelly babies; water/SIS Go gel) without any problem.  For London this year I'll be making do with the water and Lucozade Sport they give out on course, simply because it means I won't have to carry anything.

14/03/2013 at 15:46

The problem with lucozade is the volume you would need to drink to get the amount of carbs - vs a gel.  Personally I can't do with all the liquid sloshing about in my stomach.


It's not that you get to 20 miles and the gel kicks you to the end it's just that you are trying to drip feeds carbs back into your muscles throughout the entire race.  You can only absorb so much per hour - so ideally you start early and keep taking on a little, often.  I think it's about 60g - which is approx 2 or 3 gels depending on the brand OR lots and lots of lucozade (with all the associated liquid).  A rough guide to carb storage in the muscles is 18-20 miles - so you need to be getting that fuel back in long before you get to that point in the race.  


Using gels and drinks correctly (unless you go for the caffeinated kind) don't give you a boost - they just stop you hitting the wall - assuming our training has gone well and you have the cv fitness to get through the race at your chosen pace. Everone has their own opinion on the best way to get through the miles - certainly folks managed it before gels came along. I use them - I like the routine of them more than anything - I take one every so many miles and I find it turns the race into lots of little milestones (i use SIS GO - no water required and not too disgusting).

Edited: 14/03/2013 at 15:48
14/03/2013 at 16:01

Thank you for all of your responses. I never realised running was so complex haha - I have learnt a lot over the past few months what with pacing, training, etc. And there was me thinking before I started that I was a seasoned runner - how naive I was.

So the general consensus seems to be to stick to the Lucozade drinks as that is what I have been training with and seem ok so far. PhilPub you mention jelly babies, do you think it's worth me adding these into my training (especially as they are easy to carry) and try with my 20 mile long run this weekend for that extra boost if needed?

I did a half marathon at the weekend and ran it in 1:45 which I was pleased with - I am aiming for a 3:40 marathon but not really sure what to expect in the later miles and if I will slow much.

Thanks again

14/03/2013 at 16:07

I too prefer the gel option (not locozade as they need to be taken with water) and will drip feed them. I use SOS GO, and time them for every 30mins. I don't like taking on lots of volume of liquid.

Use what you have trained successfully with. Everyone develops a preference, and if the course gel / drinks are on tap then that's an ideal situation for you - take advantage.

14/03/2013 at 16:15

Adam - GA has a point about the concentration of carbs in gels*, which does make them handy. And there is definitely the psychological element - if you've got a gel / jelly baby to look forward to in x number of miles, it helps to break the race up into chunks.  The only practical problem I had with jelly babies, which is why I've never used them again, is that they got stuck in the throat somewhat; this was London 2007, a very warm year.  SIS Go gels are more palatable.  But by all means try them.  Just make sure whatever you use on the day is tried and tested, from every practical point of view, i.e. can you carry the required amount?, get to them easily whilst running race pace?, etc.  (I had a minor panic on the start line of the Paris marathon when I realised how bouncy my running belt was with a gel stuffed in the pouch!)

*I like to think I can get away with drinking just liquids even if this isn't providing a huge number of calories, cos I'm pretty sure I'm a better fat burner than I used to be. (No energy issues after a 24 mile run on no breakfast, including 7 miles @ MP would suggest I'm fairly efficient.)  That's another thing - whilst various people have strict rules about so many calories required per mile, or bodyweight or whatever, this can vary greatly between one person and another.  And I sweat a lot, so liquid replacement with some electrolytes is a good thing!

Edited: 14/03/2013 at 16:17
14/03/2013 at 16:20

Adam, if you want to try Jelly Babies or Gels you really want to do it in the next couple of weeks during a training run to see how you get on with them.

I used Torq gels for a previous marathon as they tasted OK, but thought I'd experiment this year.  I tried Jelly Babies but didn't really get on with the chewing whilst running etc. I'vve tried the High 5 equivalent of the SIS ones (i.e. don't require additional water) and may go with them.  I've also bought some Clif Bar Shot Blox as a half way between Gels and Jelly babies, and plan to try them tomorrow on a run.

Plenty of alternatives out there - but you do need to test whether you get on with them during a run, and if you don't you want to leave yourself some time to try an alternative before race day

14/03/2013 at 16:27

I love these forums, everyone is so helpful - thank you.


I may give both a try, get some jelly babies for my run on Saturday and then order some SIS Go gels for my Sunday long run and see how I find them.


Thanks guys

14/03/2013 at 16:29

Just one other question - I assume you still drink water (around 500ml per hour) when running when taking the gels? Gels are not a water substitute?

14/03/2013 at 16:43

Adam, Isotonic Gels such as SiS GO do not need to be taken with water. Others such as Lucozade Gels need to be consumed with water, so timing them with the drinks stations is more important.

I use the SiS, but will still need/want some water to get me round.

14/03/2013 at 17:00

Thanks AR

14/03/2013 at 17:39

I barely drink during a marathon - just a few mouthfuls when I feel thirst - you don't need to try and get half a litre down per hour.


Check out Waterlogged by Noakes - it's an eyeopener.


14/03/2013 at 18:23
Wow that's interesting, there are so many conflicting reports it's hard to know who to believe.

I normally drink to thirst and it works for me - plus it's horrible running with a full bladder...
14/03/2013 at 18:32


A lot of the 'conflicting reports' are based on science sponsored by the drinks companies..... just saying.  Noakes is a  legend  - I trust him before the manufacturers.  

14/03/2013 at 21:09

  GymAddict, if I've understood you correctly, you said that your body can absorb approximately 60g of carbs per hour, which equates to two or three gels. So if I'm expecting to run a 4:30 marathon, does that mean I should be carrying around a dozen gels? I ask because it seems a lot (which is a stupid observation, in fact, as I've got no experience of running a marathon yet).

  I'm currently training with just Powerade and water. Have any of you or would any of you recommend a liquid only strategy?


14/03/2013 at 21:20

no - I usually take 8 go gels - allowing for one dropping (always happens) - that gives me 7.


I then take a donut of lucozade at the start - one of the tiny ones - sip it for the first three miles and then chuck it away - it keeps me calm and means I can ignore the first few feed stations.


Then first gel at 5 or 6 miles and then I just ration then out every 3 miles from then taking on water whenever I feel thirsty.  Honestly it really makes the race pass much faster.   I can't take much more than this on board.  Remember you still have lots of fuel in your muscles (18 miles or more) so you are just topping this up - not trying to replace  it all.

15/03/2013 at 08:44
I think the key thing Adam is to do as you've said you're going to do. Work out what is best for you and don't change on the day. 

Also, be wary of trying too many samples of different products at the Exhibition

Edited: 15/03/2013 at 08:47
15/03/2013 at 10:36
Dicky M wrote (see)

Also, be wary of trying too many samples of different products at the Exhibition

They'd better have some free samples of London Pride on the go or I'll be upset!

15/03/2013 at 12:22

Gels and Sports drinks can be very useful for marathons. For this amount of running i would recommend about 30-60g of carbohydrate per hour, this matches the maximum amount of carbohydrate that your muscles can uptake during aerobic exercise. It takes about 30minutes for the carbohydrate to be absorbed into the blood stream which is why it is important that you know your body and how you feel after certain distances so you can plan ahead when to take on additional carbohydrate.

As was mentioned previously about hydration. It is very important you maintain your hydration levels. The amount you should be drinking is not a set amount and varies from person to person. You should be trying to replace around 80% of your sweat losses. I have worked with some people who lose upwards of 2litres an hour whereas others are only 500mls. It is a good idea to get your sweat rate worked out as you can then plan ahead and make a rehydration plan instead of just drinking when you feel like it.

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