Pre-race dietary carbohydrate intake can independently influence sub-elite marathon running performance

Int J Sports Med. 2011 Aug;32(8):611-7. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1273739. Epub 2011 May 17.


We examined whether selected anthropometric and nutritional factors influenced field-based marathon running performance. An internet-based data collection tool allowed competitors in the 2009 London Marathon (n=257, mean ± SD age: 39 ± 8 years, finish time: 273.8 ± 59.5 min) to record a range of anthropometric, training and nutritional predictors. Multivariate statistical methods were used to quantify the change in running speed mediated by a unit change in each predictor via the 95% confidence interval for each covariate-controlled regression slope ( B). Gender ( B=1.22 to 1.95 km/h), body mass index ( B=-0.14 to -0.27 km/h), training distance ( B=0.01 to 0.04 km/h) and the amount of carbohydrate consumed the day before the race ( B=0.08 to 0.26 km/h) were significant predictors, collectively accounting for 56% of the inter-individual variability in running speed (P<0.0005). Further covariate-adjusted analysis revealed that those competitors who consumed carbohydrate the day before the race at a quantity of >7 g/kg body mass had significantly faster overall race speeds (P=0.01) and maintained their running speed during the race to a greater extent than with those who consumed <7 g/kg body mass (P=0.02). We conclude that, in addition to gender, body size and training, pre-race day carbohydrate intake can significantly and independently influence marathon running performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Body Size
  • Data Collection
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Running / physiology*
  • Sex Factors


  • Dietary Carbohydrates