If you follow a scientific nutritional strategy, this can reduce your marathon result for almost 11 minutes.
Sport scientists from Denmark suggest that scientifically calculating your race-day nutritional and hydration requirements could cut a very valuable 10 minutes and 55 seconds from your marathon time.
Their research in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism describes the performance gains of adopting a scientifically-based rather than a freely chosen nutritional strategy. The research examined non-elite runners in the build up to the Copenhagen Marathon. Each runner was paired with another of a similar fitness and ability, which was based on their results in a 10km time trial before the race.
One person in the pair was free to choose their own race refueling requirements, while the other adopted a scientifically-based nutritional strategy – they had to consume 0.75- liter of water and gels delivering 60g maltodextrin and glucose, 0.06g sodium and 0.09g caffeine per hour.
The findings were stunning: the average marathon times of the free-choice fueling group were 3:49:26 (± 0:25:05), while the group with scientifically-based nutrition strategy averaged 3:38:31 (± 0:24:54).
In other words, non-elite runners crossed the finish line on average 10:55 minutes/4.7% faster by following a scientific rather than a freely chosen nutritional strategy.