Doing a race where there is plenty of water on the course, but you still need to carry your favorite energy gel? Then skip the fancy products like the Fuel Belts and go back to basics – safety pins!

Yes, you can use safety pins to attach gel packs directly to your running shorts. I used this technique during my first marathon and it worked marvelously.

What you do is…

1. Gather the supplies.

energy gels and safety pins

You are going to need one or more gel packets, scissors, and safety pins (one for each gel packet.)

2. Smooth the gel.

rounded corner energy gels

Since these gel packets will be close to your skin, sharp corners are the enemy. So you need to take the scissors and round the sharp corners off the energy gel pack and you’re all set. (Notice the gel on the left has sharp corners, while the gel on the right has been cut.)

I recommend GU energy gels, because the packet is very slim and you can easily round the bottom corners off with scissors. Plus, the tab provides plenty of room to pin the gel without puncturing the actual gel part.

Some other gels, like Hammer, are big and bulky, so I’d skip them.

3. Pin the gel to the outside of your shorts.

energy gels pinned on waistband

Pin the gel to the waistband, but not so it hangs down. You actually need to pin it upside down, as shown in the picture.

Be sure you pin through the pull-off tab and not through the gel part!

4. Put on shorts.

This is simple. Put on your race shorts and singlet.

(Don’t worry if the gels fold over.)

5. Fold the gel over to the inside.

energy gels under shorts

Now fold the gel packs over to the inside of the waistband. This step holds them in place so they don’t flap around.

With the sharp corners cut off the gel packets, this should actually be comfortable. If not, just tuck in your shirt, and you won’t even notice the gels (which will rest between your shorts and singlet, not touching your skin.)

6. Eat.

energy gel tab

Then during the race, you can rip the gel off your waistband, and there’s no tab to litter, because it’s still pinned to your shorts!

(You can deal with the safety pins after you have recovered from the event. No need to mess with sharp objects when you have no energy!)

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  3. Smart and simple. Like it!

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