Marathon running: physiological and chemical changes accompanying late-race functional deterioration

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1992;65(6):485-91. doi: 10.1007/BF00602353.


Twenty-one experienced runners were studied before, during and immediately after a marathon race to ascertain whether either depletion of energy substrate or rise in body temperature, or both, contribute to late-race slowing of running pace. Seven runners drank a glucose/electrolyte (GE) solution ad libitum (Na+ 21 mmol l-1, K+ 2.5 mmol l-1, Cl- 17 mmol l-1, PO4(2-) 6 mmol l-1, glucose 28 mmol l-1) throughout the race; 6 drank water and 8 drank the GE solution diluted 1:1 with water. Although average running speeds for the three groups were not significantly different during the first two-thirds (29 km) of the race, rectal temperature was significantly higher (P < 0.05) and reduction of plasma volume was greater (P < 0.05) in runners who replaced sweat losses with water. During the last one-third of the race, the average running pace of the water-replacement group slowed by 37.2%; the pace slowed by 27.9% in the 8 runners who replaced their sweat loss with GE diluted 1:1 with water (1/2 GE) and 18.2% in runners who replaced fluid loss with full-strength solution (GE). Eleven runners (5 in the water group, 4 in the 1/2 GE group and 2 in the GE group) lapsed into a walk/run/walk pace during the last 6 miles of the race. Ten of these had a rectal temperature of 39 degrees C or greater after 29 km of running, and plasma volume in these runners was reduced by more than 10%.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Blood Volume / physiology
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Electrolytes / blood
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Male
  • Running*
  • Sweating / physiology


  • Blood Glucose
  • Electrolytes
  • Insulin