The Metabolism of a Marathon

Running 26.2 miles.

The human body wasn’t exactly designed to accomplish this, let alone very easily.

The toll a marathon takes on a body cannot be taken lightly: the inflammatory storm caused in the body can wreak havoc, affecting myriad bodily functions. In order to achieve this feat of athleticism. one must prepare, with months of training and strategic planning.

Hormonal shifts resulting in increased nutrient needs begin as early as mile one or two. To keep propelling toward the finish line, athletes must replenish their energy and fluid losses every 15-20 minutes. According to Runner’s World, the average marathon time is just over 4 hours and 30 minutes, meaning that some runners are fueling over a dozen times throughout the race!

Mile by mile, runners continue to push, and their carbohydrate, fluid, and protein needs increase. Athletes strive to prevent a drop in blood glucose (and thus avoid fatigue) through the ingestion of individually calculated sports drinks, energy gels and bars, and whole foods.

Join us as we explore the physiological challenges and surprising sights along the 26.2 mile route of a marathon, including the occasional goofy motivational sign.

Kelly Kester is an Account Executive at HDMZ, a life science and healthcare agency. She started her career in Clinical Research as a Registered Dietitian after graduating with her master’s in Clinical Nutrition from Rush University Medical Center. A self-proclaimed “RunNerd,” Kelly qualified for the Boston Marathon during the 2015 Chicago Marathon. She has completed marathons from Athens Greece to her hometown of Chicago.