MOST people will know that sports drinks can rehydrate and give you the energy boost you need when training but these can be practically impossible to carry or a bit of an inconvenience when out on long runs and cycles.

A more practical and efficient way to give you that fuel and fluid boost is using energy gels.

Energy gels offer a concentrated source of energy making it easier to replace lost energy stores whilst training and racing.

Most energy gels are based on maltodextrin which directly provide glucose to your blood stream and provide an easily absorbable form of carbohydrate. Energy gels are essentially concentrated drinks of about 100 calories each and nearly all need to be taken with water so that they digest properly.

How much gel you need depends on your size and how far you're running. As a general rule, you'll benefit from 30 to 60g (about two gels) per hour in a long run of two hours or more.

Energy gels should be taken just before or during exercise. They work by immediately raising your blood sugar level. If you are not exercising, the body will release insulin and convert into long term stores (glycogen) actually leading to lower blood sugar levels. Thus if you take energy gels one or two hours before a race, you can be left feeling tired at the start of the race.

However, once you are running, the body will be using all the glucose released.

Sometimes runners take energy gels and concentrated energy drinks at the same time. This means they are consuming too much concentrated energy solution and it can leave you feeling sick and dehydrated — especially if hot.

Energy gels can be a little sweet and you may find that your stomach reacts badly from consuming large amounts. In training you should be testing your stomach's tolerance to different makes of energy gels. Then when the big race comes, you won't be trying something completely new that your stomach may not like.

As I have mentioned in my previous articles I am currently training for the Liverpool half marathon and, on my long runs, I am experimenting with different types and brands of gels in my training and at different times so that on race day I know what works for me.

To store the gels on my run I use the small pouches in my running leggings but you can always buy a running belt which normally have separate holders for gels and this way you can also hold small water bottles on there too.