In my limited experience, I used to follow the same gel/distance pattern in training and marathon. I did feel that by race day I wasn't feeling any particular boost after a gel - usually they take a couple of miles to kick in, so don't make the last one too late.
This past year I have weaned from them in training. I used to take them every 5 miles on a 18+ run, and started to reduce to every 7 miles until now I can get away with one gel in a 20 miler these days and don't feel any different, ie I'm not dying on my feet. Then just refuel immediately after running. I wanted to train myself to not need them and like you said hope that when I use them in a marathon they will give the required kick.
2 thoughts -
You will probably need to have at least 1 - 2 runs using your race pattern to see if you can tolerate them/that many.
I'm not sure how many you used when you were up to 16 or so last year, but I swear, you will be fed up with the taste of them, especially if you also take energy drinks (I don't). Personally I would go with every 5 miles max. Or 5, 10, 15, 19 and no later then 22.
Edit for clarification - 5 mile intervals in the race, nice round numbers. Your (generic "you" ) mind sometimes is not able to manage simple calculation when you're running for so long. In training, space them as far as you can get away with.
I think that should be fine. Remember, it also says on the packets, 3 an hour , so you've just got to find what works for you.I actually think it is the immediate refuelling with proper food when you get back that makes the biggest difference in replenishing stores.
I don't think you (you personally?) use gels in a half, so 2 with a few miles longer will be a good boost.
Also, I think "they" recommend 1-2 gels 10 mins before you start a marathon so that will carry you too on the day if you choose to do that.
I also, when I remember, take one every 5 miles when running say 20 miles and only one when running a half.
(I do like the taste of them thou esp the SIS Smart ones & always carry a spare)
I wish I liked the taste of them - I still almost gag every time I take one - and I've tried quite a few now. I must admit the Lucozade ones agree with me the very least.
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