Are you gellin’?

As in, energy gels.  Because I’m not.  At least not in training.  I used to for any runs over 13 miles, but I’ve slowly been bringing them along but never eating them.  It’s not that they aren’t delicious, because they are.  (At least, when my brain is functioning at 20% it tells me that they’re delicious)  Even on the 17 miler with Colin he had two and I had zero, which really just proves I’m much more manly.  Ouch.  Yea, I went there.

Over the past few years I’ve tried several brands and developed my opinions of each.  Some have been used more than others and some are still on my “to-do-goo” list.  Get it??  My current gel of choice is Gu.  I have a multi-pack of flavors including Vanilla, Chocolate Outrage, Espresso Love, Tri-Berry, Plain, and Lemon Lime.  My two favorites battling it out for top spot are Chocolate Outrage and Plain.  Yes, Plain.  It doesn’t taste like that paste that you used to eat in middle school kindergarten.  It’s slightly sweet without nauseating you into oblivion.  Chocolate Outrage is a smooth, rich chocolatey flavor reminiscent of brownie batter.

(SIDE NOTE: speaking of brownie batter, I had a terrible experience at Maggie Moo’s the other day.  Before our movie, Ev and I swung by MM to satisfy my craving for some mixed-in ice cream.  Here’s what went terribly wrong: 1) walked up at 8:53pm and the door was locked, they said they were closed.  They close at 9pm;  2) I ordered a small brownie batter ice cream and got Reese’s Pieces mixed in.  Total: $5.15.. for a drop of ice cream;  3) I asked how much for a medium.  She said medium gets a free mix in, so it costs $5.16.  Seriously.  We left and will not be returning.  The good part was that the ice cream was delicious.  Artwork provided by me.)

Broken Heart

Gu also offers an alternative called Roctane, which amps up the caffeine, amino acids, and sodium.  It’s a bit smoother too.  Currently that only comes in Blueberry Pomegranate and Vanilla Orange.  Colin mentioned he can tell a difference between regular Gu and Roctane, but I couldn’t.  I’m not sure it’s worth the additional (double) cost.

Carb Boom

Carb Boom was a long-time favorite of mine, only recently being dethroned by Gu.  It has a thinner consistency that’s easy to swallow.  I was a big fan of the Apple Cinnamon and Banana Peach, though the Banana Peach got a little old… the Vanilla tasted like a vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting.  No joke.  Really good stuff.  I ended up switching because they got to be a little sweet.  I would definitely recommend Carb Boom to anyone new to the gel world.

Powerbar Gel

This review may be a bit unfair, but it must be said.  The first (and only) time I had a Powerbar Gel was on my first long run with Barrett.  It was actually the first gel I had ever tried.  Whether it was the unfamiliar consistency or the mental block I had for it from the get-go, I squeezed it into my mouth and immediately spit it out.  The strawberry banana flavor, from what I can remember, did not help the cause.  I never tried another Powerbar brand gel and probably won’t be going back considering all the other options out there.

Clif Shot

I have never purchased Clif Shots in a store.  As a good marketing tactic they were the sponsor for energy gels around mile 17 in the Marine Corps Marathon in 2007.  I grabbed a vanilla and a chocolate.  The consistency is very thick and really needs you to chew through it more than any other I’ve tried.  The chocolate flavor was rich and not too sweet, and really was like brownie batter, in flavor and thickness.  I still haven’t purchased these if that says anything, but would probably grab another if it was offered on a race course.

Clif Bloks

The Clif Bloks, another energy source made by Clif Bar is an alternative for those who cannot face the gel.  I’ve tried some of the tame flavors, like Black Cherry, and stayed away from the less desireable ones, like Margarita or Cola… Why not make a flavor like Malt Ball or Beet & Goat Cheese.  I certainly can’t say if some of the oddball flavors are good.  I imagine someone is buying them, but it sure isn’t me.  The bloks are slightly less chewy than a Starburst, but twice as big, so it takes some jaw work to get them down.  Also, a personal issue, is that each pack comes with 6, but you should only eat 3 at a time.  It just isn’t convenient to open the pack and eat half and then stick it back in your fanny pack pocket.  Not a bad option though.

Sport Beans

I’m not sure who thought jelly beans have a place in the endurance sports realm, but apparently enough people like the idea.  Jelly Belly has a line of energy jelly beans known as Sport Beans.  They’re a little bigger than regular jelly beans, seemingly because there’s a thicker layer of sugar/coating around them.  I do like them, but if I had one bone to pick, it would be that it sounds like I’m running with maracas in my fanny pack pockets.  Overall I give them a thumbs up.

Like I said, there are other brands that I have yet to try, like Hammer Gel, which is very popular, or the Stinger brand, which is only sweetened with honey.  What gels have you tried and liked / not liked?  Let me know in the comments.

Today’s Recovery Run:


Distance: 4.05 miles
Time: 38:31
Pace: 9:31 min/mile
Average HR: 139 bpm (150 bpm max)

4 thoughts on “Are you gellin’?

  1. Colin says:

    You can think you are hard core for not taking any and just drinking water, but my body is less damaged after a run from not depriving myself. I win.

  2. I have to disagree with you on the Chocolate Outrage. I thought that stuff was putrid.

    The Powerbar gels are OK with me. The consistency makes them super easy to get down.

    Over at my blog, I’ve got a “Running Fud” page that has comments from me and some of my team.

Thoughts? Leave a comment!