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Products, Training

Running High: Energy Shots and Gus-Do they help?

I spent this last couple of weeks testing four products on the market: two types of energy gel products, energy jelly beans and shot blocks. In my reviews of the four products below, I refer to reviews by other runners and athletes on  If you have not gone to Amazon to look at these products, consider it – if for no reason other than to see if you can save some money on purchasing a case or two of these products.

I gotta say, the taste for all of these products has improved tremendously over the years and none of them upset my stomach.  I tend to migrate toward either chocolate or cherry-flavored products so you find my opinion on flavor testing.

GU Energy Gel

I most recently had the chocolate GU sports energy gel. I used it on a day when I was training on the treadmill. My goal was to run for an hour and cover a little over six miles. Considering the fact that I was running a hard run and I needed as much energy as I could muster, I found that the GU sports energy gel did not do it for me. While it tasted great and my stomach could handle it, it was more like a nice digestable food but I don’t feel like it helped through my run. It was definitely less vicous than the Power Bar gel (see below) and from that stand point, it was nice because I had less of a gag reflex when downing the gel.

The GU energy gels got a pretty good review on An for those marathoners out there, people were generally very satisfied with taste and the energy boost they got.

I was neither here nor there with the product but if you need 100 calories here and there along your long marathon training runs, this product’s great after you get about 5 miles into your run. Take one every 5 miles or so.

Power Bar Energy Gels – with caffiene

I had a real bright idea last weekend. I took the caffienated chocolate Cliff Shot Energy Gel first thing in the morning. It was the equivalent of drinking two express shots and as I took off like a shot out of the door I thought to myself “I’m higher than _____.”  I’ll let you fill in the expletive.  Anyway, I ran like a gazelle down the road until bam! It was like I hit a wall or something. I just slowed. The high feeling was gone and I had to really fight the let down from the high. It was the difference between running on full and running on fumes. I had to switch to another internal energy bank. Man, it was not fun. Then again, I did not drink any coffee that day because I was jittery. My run stunk.

Rule – don’t do these things on an empty stomach. Well someone had to test these things in the morning right? My advice – don’t do it. These things are meant to be taked before, during, or after your run…..only if you’ve eaten something.

However, if you want to wake up and don’t have time for coffee, these would be nice for on the way to work and they’re a lot cheaper than an expensive Vente latte!

Not many shoppers gave reviews on the Power Bar gel on Amazon. Cliff Energy Gels and the Gu Energy Gels have tons more reviews – most of them positive.

Cliff Shot Blocks

shot-blocks.jpgLike Gummy Bears? Me too, and the cherry or red-flavored shot blocks taste good but I am not sure they did a damn thing for me. I found myself wanting them just to much on them rather than eat them in conjuction with my running.

These shot blocks do not upset your stomach and I did try them first right before an afternoon run.

Amazon shoppers gave the shot blocks a thumbs up too, especially in terms of digestability. The biggest benefit of the shot blocks are that you are not swallowing a sugary, viscous gel that you  need to gag down.  It’s one thing to eat a gel while you are standing still, but to choke one down when you are running is another story.  Shot blocks can be popped into your mouth and you don’t need water to get them down.  With gus and gels – water’s necessary other wise I get afraid my throat will get glued shut. Slight exaggeration but you’re all with me, right?

As far as those environmental runners out there are concerned, Cliff is a pretty environmentally-proactive company. Yeah for them! My endorsement check is in the mail I am sure!

Jelly Belly Sports Beans

I was hoping for more from these beans. They are so sweet my lips puckered. Also, they did nothing for me other than give me a slight sugar high.  The three people that reviewed this product on Amazon could have sworn they had reached nirvana. People who tried them reveled at how they worked. Product reviewers seem to like the lemon-lime flavor.

I think I will give these another try while I am running instead of before. Like the shot blocks, they don’t have that viscosity that is kind of disgusting when one is trying to honk a gu gel down during a run.  They don’t get caught in your teeth, and that’s a nice perk too.

When you try these products is important. They are probably best during a run instead of before, but I wanted to see if they gave me a burst before my run. All of these sports products should be consumed during a run or workout.  When I am running however, I really don’t like to carry anything on me but if I am to go the distance, I think I better change my attitude.

Save money – buy products in bulk from



9 thoughts on “Running High: Energy Shots and Gus-Do they help?

  1. Thanks, very helpful as I’m in the last stages of my marathon training.

    Posted by Mark | January 31, 2010, 10:40 am
  2. Personally, I love the Cliff shot blocks but for a gel, my hands down favorite is the honey stinger gels. Of course you have to like honey. They aren’t as thick as other gels and they’re natural. Give a nice controlled energy boost after mile 8 or so. I’ve done my first 1/2 of the season with them. Curious to see what they do for me in an ultra.

    Posted by Marianna | March 25, 2010, 6:25 pm
  3. Cliff Shot Blocks is my favorite, not only they taste good but gives me an awesome energy boast….

    Posted by Energy Shot | August 19, 2010, 7:32 am
  4. My gym instructor advised me to take Power Bar Energy Gels for getting more energy and I adopted it ad I like its taste.He also advised me to take some Vitamin Supplements so that my mussel and bones will become strong.

    Posted by ajay | November 21, 2010, 5:55 am
  5. It was great reading this blog and the comments. I have another energy shot for you guys to consider. It is called XIMO. It is a 1oz concentrate gel in a foil pack. Just shake, zip off the top, and squeeze it down. There are currently 2 flavors available; Mango & Junk (Lemon Lime). Please visit my website to find out more information about the company and the product.

    It is a superior product that is much less expensive than what you find in the market today, and you can only purchase it through independent distributors, so it cuts the cost considerable – $1.00 per serving.

    Everyone from pro athletes, to doctors, to truck drivers, to home makers are taking this, because it flat out works.

    If you are interested in a free sample please contact me through my website.

    Have an awesome day!


    Posted by Terri Mumm | May 30, 2011, 6:44 pm
  6. Gu does not work for me.
    No more Gu for me. Ran a marathon yesterday , I
    Cramped up terrible mi. 23.
    Worked it out and finished,
    but cramped worse at end.
    I believe the stuff dehydrated me
    big time. Before I used gu
    in first half I was on track
    for a PR. Its all natural for me
    from now on.

    Posted by Steve | February 19, 2012, 11:20 pm
  7. I like what you guys are usually up too. This
    type of clever work and coverage! Keep up the wonderful works guys I’ve included you guys to my personal blogroll.

    Posted by Chitesh Ramroop | August 28, 2012, 7:30 pm


  1. Pingback: 2010 in review: Runner’s Illustrated is Moving Forward « Runners Illustrated Blog - January 3, 2011

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