It’s for Science

Last January I received the “January 2014 Mile marker”, an email put out by the Twin Cities Marathon group.  In it, I saw the following blurb:

A Researcher Wants You!

Patrick Wilson, a graduate student in the School of Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota, is looking for participants for a research study. This study will compare the effects of two carbohydrate beverages on metabolism and performance during long-distance running. If you take part in this study, you would complete two, 2.5-hour running tests on a treadmill while consuming one of the beverages each time. Respiratory gases, perceived exertion, blood lactate, heart rate, gastrointestinal distress, and biomechanical data will be measured during the tests. Each testing session will involve approximately three hours of lab time, for which you would be compensated $100 upon the completion of the study. You will also receive free VO2max and body composition testing.

To take part in this study, you must be aged 18-50, have completed at least one marathon in the past year with a time of 3:30 or better for men and 3:45 or better for women, have run 30 or more miles per week over the past three months, and have done one or more 20-mile runs per month over the last two months. If you are interested in participating or have any questions about the study, please email Patrick Wilson….

I thought that would be cool to do, so I offered by services.  Here’s the description of the study:

Study Purpose

You have been asked to take part in a study that aims to determine whether metabolism and performance differences exist between two carbohydrate beverages consumed during endurance running. Sport organizations recommend that carbohydrate be consumed for events lasting longer than 60-90 minutes. However, much remains to be known about the optimal composition of carbohydrate supplements. Therefore, the study will supplement runners with two carbohydrate beverages with different compositions during two submaximal 120-minute runs on a motorized treadmill. During the runs, expired gases, heart rate, psychological feelings, bllod lactate, beverage palability, and stomach distress will be measured. After each submaximal run, you will complete a 4-mile run as fast as possible to test performance. The beverage ingredients include maltodextrin (glucose), fructose, sodium chloride, lime juice, lemon juice, and aspartame (artificial sweetener).

The Process:

The first meeting, we:This is what the water weight test felt like!

  • Went over all the paper work and the purpose of the study.
  • Got my underwater weight to determine my body fat %
  • Did a VO2Max Test on the treadmill – about a 2 mile run on the treadmill as the speed goes up, then the incline goes up.
Test #1

To prep for this, I did the following:

  • Five days before I started logging all my workouts.
  • Two days before I started logging all the foods I ate
  • The night before I ate the meal provided, which consisted of a cup of rice, two bags of pretzels, a clif bar, apple juice and gatorade
  • The morning of I ate the breakfast provided, which consisted of apple juice, a clif bar and two packets of oatmeal – NO COFFEE!
  • Right before the run I was weighed with a dry set of clothes

Then run on the treadmill for two hours at a set speed, 7.7 mph at 0 degrees (this was based off a percentage of my marathon time).

Patrick provided me with a drink (unknown to both of us at the time which drink it was – I later found out it was the glucose+fructose mix) at set intervals and he did some testing which included:

  • High speed video of my feet running
  • Measuring the gases I was breathing out via a big tube I’d put in my mouth
  • Drawing blood samples
  • Asking me questions on how I was feeling

Finally after that, I got to control the speed and run four miles as fast as I could, but the time was covered up, so I didn’t know what my time was.

Afterward, I put on the same set of dry clothes and got re-wieghed.  I lost 6.2 pounds.

This was the logo on the wall I stared at on the treadmill.

Test #2 – Two weeks after Test #1

To prep for this, I did the following:

  • Five days before I did all the same workouts I did before test #1 (or at least as close to it as I could)
  • Two days before start eating the same foods I ate before test #1
  • The night before I ate the same meal provided – a cup of rice, two bags of pretzels, a clif bar, apple juice and gatorade
  • The morning of I ate the breakfast provided- apple juice, a clif bar and two packets of oatmeal  – NO COFFEE!
  • Right before the run I was weighed with a dry set of clothes

Then, again, run on the treadmill for two hours at a set speed, 7.7 mph at 0 degrees (this was based off a percentage of my marathon time).

Patrick provided me with a drink (the other mix this time) at the same set intervals.  He also did the same testing as test #1

After the two hours, again, I got to control the speed and run four miles as fast as I could without knowing the time.

Finally I was weighed with my same set of dry clothes.  This time I lost like 5.3 pounds.

Conclusions:
  • I was impressed with Patrick’s process and how everything was the same for the two tests.
  • There were 19 other people in the study, who volunteered to run on a treadmill for over 5 hours
  • I haven’t heard any official word from the study’s findings.  I will update this post when I do.
  • My time was 9 seconds faster for the four miles on the test #2.
  • I had to use the bathroom after about an hour into test #2
  • My legs felt dead during test #2.
  • I was a bit unaggressive with the start of the four miles both times.  I got at least 2.5 miles in before I really started huffin’ and puffin’.
  • My theory is that I absorbed the carbohydrate and water in test #1 better, which is why my legs felt better and why I didn’t have to use the bathroom in test #1.
  • The nine seconds faster on test #2 was because I was more aggressive, I had never practiced running two hours, then running four miles as fast as I could.
  • I bought a running Camelbak Ultra LR Vest with the money I got from doing this, so now I can run extra long!
This is where it all took place.  I only had a tube though - no mask

Not me, but this is where it all took place.  I didn’t have the spectators or the full mask – only a tube for 5 minutes total.

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