Gu…Riffic or Gu…Ribble?


Are you a fan of GU?  I find it a necessity, especially while on runs longer than 10 miles.

With two Halves and a Full in the next three weeks, I made a trip out to our local running store to stock up today.  Capital RunWalk in Cameron Village is an awesome running store that annually wins “best running store” honors in several polls.  This shop is located in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Supporting local running stores is a great thing.  This particular store supports many, many social runs, holds clinics, and sponsors many local races.  One such race is coming up on October, 6th.  RunRaleigh Half Marathon.  Huge fan of this race!!!

A lot of people have strong opinions about GU.  I’ve seen many a post about how good they can be, and how awful they can be.  It all depends on the person, and how one’s stomach will tolerate it.  I consider the texture of GU to be much like loose petroleum jelly.  Melted gummi bears perhaps?  Maybe really thick gravy…. In any event, some folks find it tolerable, and others get sick just thinking about it.

I have never had an issue with stomaching this product.  Available in a multitude of flavors, you just have to find what works, and what tastes good to you.  I have tried many, and really only like the Mandarin Orange, Jet Blackberry, and Lemon Lime.  On today’s trip to the running store, they had the new Salted Caramel flavor available.  Gotta try that, so I bought a few.

My method for taking Gu.  I take one about 15 minutes prior to a run longer than 10 miles.  Typically for a Half Marathon, I use three.  One before the start, and then again at mile 5 and mile 10.  They are small enough to fit into the belt pouch that I wear for long distances, or during races.  For a Full Marathon, I take six.  One before, and then one approximately every 4 to 5 miles.  You can tear the top off with your teeth easily.  My method is usually to squeeze it into my mouth in three rounds.  I do try to swallow it pretty quick, especially when I have a very dry mouth.

I find that GU gives me a nice boost of energy, and is a critical part of my nutrition toward the end of long races.  Usually only a banana will suffice if food is even offered at a race on the course.  Pretzels are good too, but impossible to swallow with dry mouth.  GU is quick and easy, and all while still running.

What do you think of Gu?  Do you like the product?  What have you found that works for you?  Interested in hearing about other options.  Thanks for the feedback in advance!

23 thoughts on “Gu…Riffic or Gu…Ribble?

  1. I used to use GU (espresso and the berry flavors mostly) all the time but have found that I can better tolerate Cliff Blocks and the like. The melted gummi bear texture starts to get to me after a few hours on a run. Blocks are a lot more difficult to carry, though!

  2. I’m one of those people that can’t stomach GU! The last time I tried it I only ate a half of a packet and got so sick to my stomach right away. I really like to use dried fruit instead, especially mangoes and banana chips. They are less convenient but they don’t make me feel sick!

  3. I don’t mind GU, but I tend to rely on Hammer Gel for some reason, more of a subtle taste. In the summer, however, I also tend to go with Sport Beans or some sort of chews. Something about downing a hot gel that just doesn’t sit well with me.

    • Hammer Gel is a bit more liquid, so that works for me, as well. Maybe just a little harder to find around here. Sport beans by Jelly Belly are very good, IMO, and have used them pre-race before but never during. I find the packaging too big to carry along. Thanks for the suggestions.

      • For marathon training I sometimes go with Honey Stinger waffles. It’s just nice to take a break and eat some solid food on those long runs sometimes. I’ve tried the Honey Stinger gel as well and it’s pretty good, but definitely has that honey taste.

  4. I haven’t tried Gu yet. I was going to before my first marathon 2 years ago, but didn’t end up needing it on my long run, so I didn’t use it. I don’t carry food or drink on a training run unless I expect it to be longer than 15 miles (and I very, very, rarely run longer than that). If I am carrying food and drink, it’s a water bottle and a power bar. For half marathons, I eat a peanut butter sandwich and a banana for breakfast, and pre-race I eat as much of a power bar as I can manage to get down, sometimes it’s half a bar, sometimes it’s the whole bar. Sometimes I’m just not hungry enough to eat the whole thing, and I prefer not to force feed myself before a race. “Double Chocolate Crisp” is my current favorite, but I also can stomach the trail mix bars and some of the peanut butter ones. I only eat the granola-like bars though, in other words, the ones that I can pretend are real food. Post-race, I drink a shake made with chocolate protein powder. I used to make it with water and frozen fruit, but my current go-to is water and mint chocolate chip ice cream. If I drink the shake within 30 minutes, I feel pretty good for the rest of the day. If I don’t drink it in time, I feel sick for the rest of the day.

    For my marathon in November, I expect to carry a power bar with me, and stop at every other water table. I start the power bar about 5 miles in, and take very small bites every now and then until it’s gone or the run is over. I have to take small bites because that way there’s not a lot of chewing and swallowing to mess up my breathing rhythm. I have asthma, and once I mess up the breathing, it’s a pain to get it back. I hate grabbing water during races because I totally lose my breathing rhythm when I take a drink, and I feel like I lose a lot of ground while trying to get my rhythm back. I never grab water in any race shorter than a half marathon, and I’ll only drink during a half marathon if it’s close to 70 degrees or more. I just hydrate really well the day before and the morning of.

    Wow, I think I just wrote a book…to sum up, keeping my breathing steady is more important to me than hydrating and fueling.

  5. Not a fan of Gu. But LOVE the Clif shot gels – only ever use chocolate and mocha. I do think gels are important for long distances. However I have heard it’s not a great idea to use one before starting the run, and best to use after every hour or so of running. If I’m running a half, I may or may not use one – i’ll carry one with me and see how I feel. During the marathon I’ll use 2, one after 10 miles, and the other probably around 20. I agree, I hate water stops. I only manage to get a sip after either spilling the rest, or choking.

  6. I dig GU. Being a Triathlete, I use it both on the bike and the run and have great success with it. For a the run portion of a Ironman 70.3, I will dilute 3 gels in a 7oz flask on my run belt, supplementing with water when I consume it. Anything shorter (Olympic) I will carry a packet with me and use it if necessary.

    The other good part of using GU, other than other brands, is that most races will offer it at aid stations. That way if you need additional energy for some reason, you can grab the same product you train with.

  7. I’ve tried GU and Hammer. I skew towards the Hammer flavors right now…but still figuring it all out. The Jelly Beans were great for my half, but think I’ll arm myself with Hammers for my first full. The gels are what I’ve been training with, so not messing with it now!

  8. I tried PowerBar and Gu, and Gu became my go-to gel. (I also tried Jelly Belly’s Power Beans but found I couldn’t even spend the energy needed for chewing.) After going through all the flavors, I settled on Vanilla Bean. It’s rather bland, and I think that’s the point–I learned that the last thing I want during a long run is a strong flavor in my mouth. I try to time my gels (rather than go by distance), but it works out to about what you do.

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