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FUELING: A World Record Marathon

December 4, 2013

Runner's World published the nutrition plan Haile Gebrselassies used to set his World Record marathon time in 2007. This information was provided by sport scientist Trent Stellingwerff. Some surprising stats:
  • He consumed about 60-80 grams of carbs per hour per 1.1 Liters of water. This is a crazy amount of carbs. Previously it was thought runners couldn't handle to digest this much, but he used a combination of carbs so they'd be absorbed in his body differently. With this new plan you can digest up to 90 grams of carbs per hour.
  • He lost 9.8% of his body weight. Generally it is believed that performance declines after 2%. If Geb tried to replace the 6kg of body weight he lost, his body would have not been able to literally stomach the sloshing. Geb seems to focus on minimizing losses, but he is making no attempt to minimize his sweat loss to 2%. At 9.8% of body weight lost, us mere mortals would be crumbled on the floor.
  • He has a recorded sweat rate of  3.6 mg per hour. This is ridiculously high and probably why he can compete in a marathon, but  would not be able to do back-to-back marathons, or even longer events. On average elite marathoners  sweat about 2.3 mg per hours.
Haile Gebrselassies' World Record Fueling Plan: [sports drink = 1 scoop of hydration mix mixed in 250mL of water] Three hours before race:
  • wake up. have breakfast including one bottle of orange sports drink
  • 1 hour before race: another bottle of sports drink plus a banana-flavored sports bar
  •  a few minutes before the start: one gel
During the race:
  • 5K: 250 ml sports drink
  • 10K: 250 ml sports drink
  • 15K: 250 ml sports drink
  • 20K: 250 ml sports drink plus one gel
  • 25K: 250 ml sports drink plus one gel
  • 30K: 250 ml water plus one gel
  • 35K: 250 ml water plus one gel
  • 40K: 250 ml water plus one gel
How does this plan compare to your own?