I don’t need to eat during a marathon

I don’t need to eat during a marathon?! That is what one expert told me! Gasp.

After reading the Feed Zone Portables cookbook, I e-mailed them this question:

In Table 5 of the introduction describing Running a Marathon: Estimating Carbohydrate Deficits, it shows that a person running a 5:30 marathon needs to eat -88 calories of carbs. Is the conclusion then, that the athlete in the scenario running a 5:30 or 6:30 hr marathon does not need any carbs?

This is the response I received:

That is correct. Someone running at 14:53 min/mile pace (walking) does not need to eat. Their metabolism at that speed is fueled by stored body fat and they don’t need supplemental carbs. Same with the 5:30 finish time runner. Counter intuitively, you’ll note that a very fast runner needs to eat less than a moderate speed runner because they are running for less time and burning less energy.

Wow. My jaw is on the floor. This is the first time I’ve heard this suggested, and I will be looking into it more.

It might not be that crazy, especially knowing my own body. I’ve already stressed over the fact that with PCOS, my body is sensitive to carbs and insulin. Eating fewer carbs is better for my body – based on my own experience and based on PCOS research. I’ve already been stressing over the fact that this way of eating is not compatible with the routine nutrition and fueling standards for distance running. General knowledge also tells us that fat energy lasts much longer than carb-based energy; and I’m still chubby so I have a lot of body fat to spare! I need to do some more digging. On the other hand, I don’t know if I should try and mess with my metabolism with two months before my marathon.

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One thought on “I don’t need to eat during a marathon

  1. You need salt. I’d consider taking like 3 or 4 of the dixie cups of gatorade along the way. I only drank water and my fingers were bloated like sausages. Seriously, they had to be 3x as large as they normally are. It was like a catcher’s mitt. Totally freakish and weird. Towards the end I just took a handful of salt and licked it off my hand. I’m pretty sure the gatorade would’ve been tastier.

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