Marathon Race Day Tips
Once you have put in your mileage and properly trained with e-Gel, you will be ready to turn in that PR on race day (or be a first time finisher). If you intend to use just e-Gel and water then this article is for you. If you want to use e-Fuel or another sports drink with your energy gel then you should also read when to use gels and drinks.
Hopefully your glycogen stores will be pumped up from a good carbo loading plan in the days leading up to the race. During that time don't forget to drink lots of water to start your "pre-hydration" as well. On race morning we recommend that you "top off" your water supply by drinking 2-4 cups of water approximately 2 hours before the race, and then no more food or drink. This will give your body time to become properly hydrated and to tinkle away the excess. If you drink too much water too close to the start of the race it will increase the chances that you need to hit a porta-potty after the gun goes off and/or that you will be carrying excess weight (urine).
If you choose, you can do your first e-Gel 5-10 minutes before the race, but don't forget to flush it down with a few ounces of water. During the race we recommend consuming no more than one e-Gel pack every five miles. Always follow e-Gel with at least a few ounces of water. If you don't carry your own water then find out ahead of time where the water stops are. Then you can plan where and when you will take each dose of e-Gel. It is important to go into the race with a well thought out race strategy - including your race pace, hydration and nutrition plans.
Our recommendation for e-Gel consumption during the race is the same as we recommend for your long training runs. The general rule of thumb is to consume no more than one e-Gel pack every five miles. If you run 6 minute miles, you would consume no more than one every 30 minutes. If you run 12 minute miles you would consume no more than one per hour, etc (see chart below). Regardless of your pace you would consume no more than 6 e-Gels during a marathon. However, if you are not able to maintain the recommended hydration plan during the run, then you should reduce your gel intake accordingly.
Remember that water intake is critical to proper gel assimilation and we recommend consuming 16 ounces of water for each gel pack consumed. This does NOT mean that you should drink 16 ounces all at once, but you should drink 16 ounces before you rip open your second gel pack (an so on). The logic behind this is that if you are properly hydrated then you will have 20-30 ounces of available water in your stomach and intestinal tract. This water can be used to assimilate the gel, but if you don't replace it then you can become dehydrated. If you're not good about drinking water during a race then we recommend that you cut back your gel intake accordingly - or better yet, learn to drink water during the race! Dehydration is a sure way to have a bad race, or worse yet, suffer potentially serious health consequences.