The experiment

Posted by Tom Shand on 2 September 2013 | 0 Comments


Blog 2 – The experiment

In my last blog I introduced the idea that I was going to be blogging about my experiences training for a marathon, specifically in terms of nutrition. I have devised a basic experiment to give this some structure so that we can take more away from this exercise.

Due to the small number of subjects (n=1!) this is never going to stand up in scientific analysis, but it will be a fun way of seeing what happens when we take nutrition seriously. In saying that, if you want to increase the sample size and get involved yourself, feel free to get in touch and I can let you know the details.


I spend a bunch of time reading journals and making recommendations based on the findings of scientific studies. Using the raw data from these studies we have learnt a lot about what works best, what doesn’t work, and of course what might work.

What we don’t hear however is the voice of the subject. How did they tolerate 90g of carbohydrates per hour for 3 hours, did increasing their fluid consumption make a difference to the way that they felt? And what about the real life practicalities, did the added weight of the camelpack offset the advantage of more fluid and fuel?

When creating a plan I mix scientific findings with my own experiences and experiences of other athletes I talk to, or hear about in more anecdotal scenarios such as podcasts, biographies, and books. This blog will be a systematic analysis and comparison of many of the anecdotal scenarios that us everyday athletes need to deal with.

The method

First, get a spot in the London marathon. I’ve always wanted to do a big city marathon, so what better marathon than the London marathon. Watch this space.

During training I am going to mix up my nutritional approach to each of the typical marathon training sessions (long run, medium run, intervals, short sharp run), and carefully record various observations so that I can understand the affect that the various approaches have.

I am going to primarily focus on carbohydrate consumption before, during, and after the various sessions, and also hydration. There is some very interesting research around hydration and electrolytes creating a lot of controversy, and I intend examining this at a personal level.

I am going to measure my performance through time, heart rate, rate of perceived exertion, recovery, plus some anthropometric measurements such as weight, body fat %, and muscle mass.

So that is the outline, I'm currently busy running and getting some data to talk about. First up, you'll see an examination of my day to day diet and what I am going to change in that.