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The easiest way to take 10 minutes off your marathon time

The easiest way to take 10 minutes off your marathon time

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A recent study published in IJSNEM has showed that using a scientific approach to nutrition in a marathon takes, on average, 10 minutes and 55 seconds off a non elite runners marathon time.

Hanson et al matched participants by age, body mass, and running ability in a 10km time trial, which was undertaken seven weeks before the Copenhagen marathon. The study sample size included 14 matched pairs. Each participant undertook their own training program, with the authors reporting that they did not interfere with what each individual had planned. One of the groups freely chose their nutritional strategy, whereas the other group were provided with individualised nutrition advice, based on scientific evidence. Race performance, nutritional intake and gastrointestinal comfort were assessed as outcome measures.

The major findings reported were:

  • Those who freely chose their program consumed significantly less carbohydrates than runners using the scientific strategy
  • Similar amounts of fluid were consumed
  • GI symptoms were similar between groups
  • Those in the scientifically chosen group performed, on average, nearly 5%, or 10 minutes and 55 seconds better in the marathon than the freely chosen nutrition group
The data shows that both groups performed very similarly for the first half of the race, however a clear difference in performance can be particularly seen from 25km onwards.
 
From my perspective, this particularly highlights the importance of having a definitive plan to follow, as freely making decisions in the later stages in the race, when you are feeling tired, may not be the best from a performance perspective.
 
How would you like to achieve a 5% improvement in your performance?
 

Reference: Hanson Et.al, International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2014, 24, 645-655 http://dx.doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.2013-0130
© 2014 Human Kinetics, Inc

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