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How NOT To Carry Energy Gels During a Marathon

nyc marathon runners

If you are running a marathon or other endurance event, there’s a good chance you need to carry food with you. Sometimes you need to carry food and water, but most events provide water and Gatorade on the course, so food is the primary concern.

I prefer to carry energy gels with me by pinning them to my shorts, but there are many other ways you can try.

Here are 7 of those ways: (The catch is, you do NOT want to carry your gels like this!)

1. Gels under your race cap.

If you wear a running cap, you could put the gels underneath the cap so they are held in place between the hat and the top of your head.

But gel packets on your head isn’t very comfortable, and you also have to make sure the gels don’t fall onto the ground whenever you remove the cap!

2. Gels under a forearm sweat band.

I like wrist/forearm sweatbands so I can easily wipe sweat from my brow, but I wouldn’t use them to hold gels against my arm.

Gel packets are slippery, especially against skin, and they could easily slide out from underneath the sweatband.

3. Tape gels to your body.

To make sure the gels aren’t going anywhere, you could just tape them to your body. That will certainly hold them in place, but removing them is not comfortable, especially if you have body hair!

4. Glue gels to your body.

If you’re out of tape, don’t worry – you can glue the gel packets to your body! Of course, this makes for even more painful removal, since a layer of your skin will rip off with the gel packet!

5. Clothes pins around your waistband.

If you’re out of safety pins, maybe you have some wooden clothes pins lying around? You could clamp some gels to your waistband with these pins.

You just have to deal with the discomfort of a big wooden object pressing against your body, and the good possibility that the gel will slide right out of its grasp.

6. Sew your own Velcro holders.

If you are good with needle and thread (and glue,) you could make your own Velcro attachment system. Simply sew Velcro patches onto your shorts, then glue the corresponding Velcro to your gel packs.

That’s pretty secure and allows for an easy grab, but why waste good Velcro on gel packs that will be thrown away?

7. Wear a triathlon singlet.

By far the easiest way to carry gels when running would be to wear a triathlon singlet (those fancy skin-tight tank tops.) It has a neat little pocket in the back where you could stow a few gels.

But triathlon gear has no place being worn during a marathon! Outside of triathlons, you shouldn’t, you know, look like a triathlete…

Photo credit: Penningtron

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4 Comments
  1. Regarding the article where not to carry gels during marathons. I have just started using gels on long runs and carry them inside the front of my anklet socks, one on each side. This has worked fine so far because this type of sock is tight in that area and holds fine. Looser socks would not work.

  2. @Jim

    Interesting idea. I don’t think I’d find that very comfortable, but if it works for you, keep doing it!

  3. I bought some Adidas running shorts with a key pocket on the outer side. It’s the perfect size for 2 gels. They’re against my hip so they don’t bounce around. I can hardly feel them while running long distances.

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coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

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