Do you fuel for a HM? : I'm intrigued... - Marathon Running ...

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Do you fuel for a HM?


I'm intrigued to know how other people deal with this distance, as it's a bit of a funny length. Do you fuel? If so, when and what with?

I tried a Sis isogel on my last run, just to see what happened really, and because I wanted to check it didn't disagree with me. My main problem with it was that it was revolting, partly because the flavour I grabbed on the way past the Sis rep at the GNR was not one I would have chosen (chocolate 🤢) and also because something of that texture should not be going in that direction, especially when I'm getting over a chesty cold. Bleurgh, horrid. I'm also not sure if it did much, but that may be because I didn't give it enough time to act (I ran on for another half an hour or so). I don't usually bother with fuel on long runs, except a half dose of Tailwind in my water because I usually run on an empty stomach and I get a bit hungry if I'm out too long. I ate a tube of Clif bloks recently, they were tasty but it turned out unwieldy for a race, especially on a warm day. However, I found I crashed pretty hard during the last HM—I'm sure mostly because it's still a very new distance to me and it was simple fatigue, but I do wonder if I should consider a gel or two to help get me through until I am stronger and tire less easily. For a psychological boost if nothing else! Magic 'run faster' gel 👍

So, how do you approach fuelling?

25 Replies
TedGHalf Marathon

I didn’t take any gels on the GNR, mainly because I stocked up on carbs 2 days prior.... pasta and rice dishes in the evening and granola with fruit for brekkie.

I took a Tribe energy bar about 45mins before the race.

I took the Jelly Baby’s on offer during the run which did make a difference energy wise.

It was also a new distance for me and found myself struggling with a hamstring/glute niggle at 8 miles. It wasn’t til mile 11 that I really started to feel fatigued..... it was the adrenaline that got me over the line if I’m honest!

WhatsappHalf Marathon

I usually run before breakfast, though I am not normally running great distances each time 3-6 miles. I have on a few occasions, however, run 10 miles before breakfast with no problem.

For my HM I had the luxury of breakfast beforehand, as it was a later run, so all my fuelling got done before the run.

I guess the issue with fuelling is that you have to take it earlier, before you need it, in order for it to work in good time; therefore, how do you know you are taking it because need it - rather than because you think you should?


I didn't fuel for my HM back in May apart from one gulp of a disgusting energy drink that I proceeded to Spill all over me! I crashed hard after 16/17km but at the time I attributed that to having not trained more than a 16km long run. With my recent marathon experience (where I started taking gels before the gun and then every 1/2 hour as well as eating the banana portions offered) I'd definately fuel in a HM too! I felt great at 21km in the marathon due to ( I think ) the gels kicking in from 10k onwards.

I don't think you maybe 100% need to fuel in a HM but I will be doing it next time hoping I'll feel as strong as I did at half way in my marathon!

2 gels 20 mins before the gun, one of which has caffeine in it. Then a gel every 20-30 mins or just before every drink station, with a caffeine one on for the last leg.

Carb stuffing with pasta seemed to work for me too in the marathon and may also be why I felt so good for the first 2.5-3.0 hours. I will carb stuff for my next HM too (I have a killer avocado, lime and parmesan recepie I don't mind sharing!). Hey! I just got a great idea for a new post " Carb stuffing recipes!"

Edit - forgot to say that the gels take 30 mins to work/feed through so no use taking one at 17km unless you are planning on walking. Might help stave off a woosey feeling after the finish line though...

I agree with Whatsapp as that’s how I tend to do it - fasted and have done HM distance quite regularly. Last training run of 28k was fasted, drinking Tailwind and I ate a few dried apricots.

I use Tailwind for longer HM+ distances and find it enough but then I’m not fast (2.10 fastest HM). I often take a few dried apricots with me to chew if necessary as Shock-Horror I don’t like jelly babies😮. I like the newish Tailwind recovery drink too which I’ve only used a few times after the longer runs but it seems to have helped recovery - or I think it did 😀.

According to the Tailwind peeps that is all you need. If you are looking for extra oomph perhaps the odd caffeine drink or gel might help you but as WA says, with all refuelling it has to be done early enough to have any effect - and that includes Tailwind. I like the Tribe stuff too but don’t like the subscription part of it.

We’re all an experiment and it is interesting to see what others do.

SqkrAdministrator in reply to AnnieW55

Oo yes, I have tried those Tailwind recovery drinks and did seem to perk up very quickly! They're not very tasty, but are better than I expected. And I might have put ice cream in one on Sunday, which helped 😄 Also, a lady from Tailwind sent me a lovely email wishing me luck in the GNR so I'm a huge fan in general now. It's so nice to get a more personal response from a company!

Sandraj39Half Marathon

I don't like the thought of jelly babies or gels on a run. This recipe for Power flapjacks was posted on here ages ago and I swear by them!

I carried about three bite-sized pieces in my running belt and they definately worked for me - I also ate them at fairly regular intervals, starting quite early to avoid that dip in energy. They are moist and yummy✔️ 🙂 (easy-ish to eat whilst running!) and you can adapt what you put in to your own taste - I add flaked almonds, dried cherries and cranberries to the basic mix. Oh, and they freeze well too, which prevents me from eating them on rest days!!! To drink, always just water! 🙂


🤣 Naturally everyone is completely different 🤣 I have to be honest, I don't like the idea of gels or anything really, I'm a bit of a purist, and until the summer didn't take water either—but I'm also pretty small and feeble so wonder if I shun all these fancy things that might help me is it just cutting off my nose to spite my face? I do like the idea of flapjacks—basically a special running cake, and I'm very into that—but don't really run with pockets, which is problematic. Also I worry about inhaling a bit down the wrong pipe because my coordination is pretty bad 😶 I think this is going to take some experimentation!

AnnieW55 in reply to Sqkr

I can also relate to the “down the wrong hole”☺️ worry as I have had a brush with that (one was a jelly baby during an HM - don’t know why I took it as I don’t like them - getting their own back?😀). But also recently on a trail run with no one around some water went the wrong way and I did choke on that. Have to say it was a bit scary (haven’t mentioned it at home though).

I did make those flapjacks but they were a bit too sweet for me, made my teeth ache just thinking about them. OH likes them crumbled over ice cream! Think I’ll have another go and modify the recipe. I know the various sugars are the energy but I can’t handle that much.

I use a running belt with small side bottles, 175ml each and a bag big enough for phone etc for 10k+ runs. It’s comfortable, was cheap in a Karrimor sale, serves me well until I go really a long, or it’s extra hot, then I resort to a hydration vest.

SqkrAdministrator in reply to AnnieW55

That sounds terrifying! I remember when I was at university I was eating toast in bed and was too lazy to sit up so just munching it lying down, and got a crumb in the wrong place and I swear I nearly died. Tunnel vision and rasping breath and everything. So I'm really wary of these things now (and have stopped eating lying down in bed...). I do like the idea of the flapjacks though, I've not yet found anything too sweet for me, so will try them out and just have to be super careful I think.

misswobbleMarathon in reply to Sqkr

I eat my porridge 💪 I take some Haribo’s in my capris leg pockets. ,Lidl sesame honey snack, broken in half beforehand. they do a pistachio too. No gels 😝. I love the power flapjack as above It is lush ! You can Cut it to a convenient size, wrap in foil and scoff I eat before I start to tire. I drink an espresso before the kick off if there's one going

There no feeling worse than running out of gas so eat 🤷‍♀️ 😁

SqkrAdministrator in reply to misswobble

That's several votes for a flapjack, so I'm going to give that a go next 😁

ancientrunnerHalf Marathon

Not really. Have had some problems with nausea at big events so now I just carry a few polos as think will give me a sugar boost if I need, and read they are good if you begin to feel nauseated. Who knows, but maybe why I am slow.

I normally do my training runs early in the morning so just have coffee, dried fruit and nuts. For training runs over 13 miles and before races I have usually have porridge made with a mixture of muesli and oats with peanut butter a couple of hours before. I used run fasted quite often (I think over 10 miles sometimes) but my stomach would start growling towards the end of run! I’ve never tried eating real food on a run, just gels on runs over 13 miles. I think everyone is bit different in their requirements for fuelling and it’s just a matter of experimenting to find out what works for you.


I’ve only done one big HM event, but a friend gave me a maple syrup squeeze pack for it and it hit the spot around 15k in. And I just found out they are the sponsor for my next HM race in Oct. Going to grab a few at the stations. 😁Normally I have half a multigrain bagel with PB and a banana with a coffee before the Saturday long runs and that seems to work fine. I try not to use any gels or snacks unless I really feel I need them. I keep one maple pack in my belt just in case.

SqkrAdministrator in reply to Decker

I do love an opportunity to grab a freebie to try out, I crossed the finish line juggling all sorts the other day 😀 If I'd actually got a triumphant finish line picture like everyone else (🙁) it would have given all my magpie-like tendencies away.

DeckerModerator in reply to Sqkr

Yes I can just picture you coming over the line loaded up with freebies. 🙂


running for that distance without fuelling etc will have an effect, especially if you aren't used to it. I also hate gels, they are the devils vomit. I like cliff bars and similar with a few sweets for emergencies but why dont you test out some foods to see what works?

SqkrAdministrator in reply to ju-ju-

I'm planning to make my own version of the flapjacks suggested up there this weekend, for my first experiment ^ 😄 I'm not a fan of peanuts so I'll adapt it to fit my own tastes, maybe some ginger and seeds...I wonder what happens if you mix a gel into it. 🤔 I'm more excited about this than I should be, it's like George's Marvellous Medicine.

Watch this space, for Sqkr's Special Runcake. 🏃🏻‍♀️🎂 😁

ju-ju-Administrator in reply to Sqkr

oh I cant wait to read all about it, I hope you will share the recipe??

SqkrAdministrator in reply to ju-ju-

Of course! I'm not a natural baker though so it may take several goes to perfect 😂

misswobbleMarathon in reply to Sqkr

I thought I didn’t like peanut butter. Turns out I do. These bars are lush.


for my last HM with my sister ( a very slow run walk along the Cornish coastal path) we took Bendicks mints. They are ideal as individually wrapped and were such a nice treat to look forward to.

SqkrAdministrator in reply to ju-ju-

My mum loves these, she always used to put some out for Father Christmas 'because he'll be fed up of mince pies by now' 😄 I was thinking of getting in some kendal mint cake, but this is a brilliant idea!

Langley-LoperHalf Marathon

I've only done one full HM with training runs of up to 12 miles beforehand. I didn't fuel at all during training as it seemed to trigger poomergencies, even just a couple of jelly babies. On the day I took loperamide and had one jelly baby at maybe 11-12 miles which I didn't really need I don't think. I just drank water the whole time and probably not enough.

Just think how fast I could have been if I did it properly!

AntSharpeHalf Marathon

So I’ve only done one HM, but on advice from a running friend in training I ate one slice toast with peanut butter and one banana 2.5 hours before start, hydrated properly for 4 days before, took 1 SIS gel ten mins before starting and a gel at half hour, one hour and hour and half, so 4 gels total by each given time to work.

End result, 1 hour 56 min run! In training I was struggling with last few k of runs over 15k... first time I used gels my last 4 k were the fastest 4K of the 21 I did... so I was sold and will swear by them now’

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