How Do Marathon Runners Carry Gels: Training And Racing

The number of gels a marathon runner chooses to carry during their race and training is very much down to personal preference, as there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

Some runners may carry just one or two gels, while others may take up to four or five.

How many gels you want to carry will influence how you carry them. For example, for most of my eight marathons, I had four gels comfortably in my Flipbelt. I wanted to carry a couple more for my last marathon, so I did something strange. I’ll talk about that later.

This article gives you an introduction to the various methods for carrying gels during your marathon.

Running Belt For The Win

Running belts are a great way to carry gels on a run, but they can also be used to store other items.

The FlipBelt is an example of one of these running belts; it has one continuous pocket that allows you to securely store any number of gels, keys (on a hook), or other small items.

They come in different sizes to fit any size of waist, and their slim design ensures comfortable yet secure wear.

With a Flipelt and other running belts, you don’t have to worry about your gels bouncing around in your pocket or getting in the way of your stride. Take a look at some of the FlipBelt details here:

FlipBelt FB0114-BLK-XL.1, Black, Extra Large
  • COMFY RUNNING WAIST BELT: Made to keep you in motion, the FlipBelt is an exercise-belt phone holder and carrier pouch for small vital essentials. Designed to pull on and lay flat on your hips without slipping, it is a light alternative to bulky running bags and armbands.
  • MONEY & PHONE POUCH: The FlipBelt features 4 pocket openings to slip in all your must-have items, like cards, cash, and earphones, and it even has an internal key hook for added security. It’s bounce-free storage for your phone during your workout and is compatible with screens 5″–6″ and larger.
  • FASHION & FUNCTION: Made of moisture-wicking material that is quick drying and soft even while working up a sweat, this belt design is sleek with no buckles and no chafing, and it has a reflective logo for visibility while jogging, walking, or hiking. Sport it at the gym or during casual travel.
  • HOW TO WEAR & CARE: This fitness belt should have a snug fit every time. Depending on where you wear it, the size will vary. To wear it low on your hips, go up a size. For on or above your hips, go true to size. To wear it on your natural waist, go down a size. Machine wash and dry or hang dry.
  • TAKE FLIPBELT ANYWHERE: We made FlipBelt to provide easy storage to people on the go, no matter where their day takes them. We offer different apparel to suit your style and even FlipBelt-exclusive accessories that are sized just for our pockets so you can have everything you need at hand.

Most Shorts Have Pockets

Most shorts these days come with a pocket or two – usually located in the back waistband, which is incredibly convenient for short runs.

They may be small, but they are good enough to fit one or two gels. Moreover, who doesn’t like having some pocket space to keep their hands free?

That said, those pockets don’t have too much space, and you won’t be able to fit large items in them – but that adds to the convenience because it ensures that you don’t need to carry any unnecessary weight while running.

Path Projects and Tracksmith Shorts Have Great Pockets!

For marathon training and racing, Path Projects and Tracksmith Shorts are excellent choices for their convenient pockets.

The shorts come with enough built-in pockets to carry up to six gels comfortably and look stylish during your marathon preparation.

These two brands of marathon shorts provide an unbeatable combination of convenience and style that marathon runners love.

Compression Sleeves With Pockets

Running compression sleeves with pockets is an ideal accessory for marathon training and racing.

Not only do they provide therapeutic support to the muscles and joints as you work hard, but they also offer convenient storage while on the go.

With plenty of pockets, runners can access nutrition and hydration any time they run without carrying anything extra.

This extra storage for marathon running delivers greater security as items are held firmly next to your arm.

Running Pouch

For marathon runners, running pouches are the must-have accessory for marathon training and racing.

These small pockets can be worn like a belt or about your person and easily hold energy gels, a key, and just enough cash or cards. As marathon training sessions extend beyond an hour, it’s convenient to have quick access to these items while on the go.

Running pouches come in many styles, enabling runners to carry only what they need during marathon training and races.

FlipBelt (With Staples)

As my marathon training and racing continued to evolve, I sought creative solutions to help me carry more gels during races. I recently tried out the FlipBelt with staples for the 2022 Chicago marathon, and it worked perfectly!

I had a relatively easy time stapling three additional gels to the outside of my FlipBelt, giving me a total of seven, and they stayed well and came off quickly when I needed them.

However, I’ll staple them onto my belt next time after putting the belt on for a better fit. The FlipBelt with staples got me through that marathon, and I plan on using that method again.

One For the Ladies

Storing a gel in your bra during marathon training or racing may sound like a great idea, but it might not be pleasant after a few miles.

My wife is an avid marathon runner, and she believes that having the gel so close to her skin would eventually become quite uncomfortable.

She prefers to store gels in her pockets or simply in a pouch she attaches around her waist.

Pinning to: Shorts, Shirt, Or Hat

Put a safety pin through the top of a gel and the waistband of your shorts, tuck the gel inside, and you’re good to go. 

All you need is a safety pin and some gels, which are easy to find and relatively cheap.

By attaching the pin through the top of the gel and waistband of your shorts, you can tuck the gel inside and get your marathon done.

There’s no worrying about where to put it or jostling it around in a pocket. It’s simple, effective, and cost-effective!

Hydration Pack

Hydration packs are becoming a more popular item amongst marathon runners since they provide convenience and as well as added storage capacity.

For marathon training and racing, these packs can hold items such as water, an extra layer of clothing, or anything else marathoners may need in addition to gels.

Most hydration packs are designed for ultra-marathon distance, but now marathoners are embracing them as a part of their regular gear.

Are they allowed by the event organizer before arriving with one? They are not permitted at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon for security reasons.

Cold Race? Inside Your Gloves!

Training for marathon running can be an intense endeavor, especially during the colder months.

It’s essential to have a plan to consume energy during long runs and races.

Marathoners have found a solution for storing gels in their gloves. This ensures that gels are easily accessible and hands stay warm simultaneously!

With marathon training providing plenty of challenges, this simple hack could make a big difference for any marathoner out there.

Gels Supplied By the Organizer

Marathon racing is a tremendous physical challenge, and it’s even more remarkable when you consider how strategically marathon runners must prepare.

This includes planning where the gels they consume are. Could you find out if and what gels the organizers will put on the course? Allows the marathon runner to test those gels to see if they work for them

Placed out on the course at various aid stations, marathoners can quickly and easily re-fuel and stay in the running.

This is a slightly risky tactic. There’s no guarantee that any gels will be left on the table by the time you get there!

How Do Elite Marathon Runners Carry Gels

The elites arrive at the hydration stations way ahead of us, mere mortals. They have their water bottles waiting for them (or passed to them). On that bottle, they will often have a gel lightly attached.

This allows them to have a drink and get some calories down.

Final Thoughts

Elite marathon runners have their tactics for carrying gels during a race. Some prefer to attach them to their water bottles, while others like to have them readily available at the hydration stations.

The event organizers can also supply gels, but this is a risky tactic as there’s no guarantee that any will be left when you get there.

No matter your strategy, testing out different gels beforehand is essential to see which ones work best for you.



Slightly obsessed middle aged runner.