Exogenous Ketones in Marathon Running


(Jay Erdahl) #1

I’ve been fat-adapted and in ketosis in my running for the past 3 years - with race distances ranging from 5K races to 100 milers. I’ve used gels made of Generation UCan, Coconut Oil and Water for fueling.

Recently I’ve been trying to qualify for Boston, which is quite a bit quicker than I normally run, and am going to experiment with exogenous ketones. My “natural” pace is about an 8:30, and my MAF time (pace below my anaerobic threshold) is 10:00. I ran a 3:31 marathon (an 8:03 pace), but really ran out of gas toward the end. I need to run a 3:22 to get into Boston.

Has anyone experimented with exogenous ketones on longer pace runs or faster races? Anything to share?

2/16/18 edit: there’s another topic with stories on this here: First Ketone Ester for sport Below my experiments (and another’s) are documented, and @ianrobo has some great info on his training as well!

First Ketone Ester for sport
Distance Running on Keto
Low energy while exercising
Running links


(Steve Leverton) #3

I listened to an interesting podcast from a year or so ago, I assume I’m ok to post that here? Touches on a few things, including exogenous ketones, barefoot running and other delights.

Hope this helps a little, but interested to see other responses.

(So much bacon . . . so little time . . .) #4

If you are fully fat-adapted, you really have no need of carbohydrate gels except, as Dr. Phinney suggests, perhaps for psychological reasons. There are quite a few endurance athletes who, as I understand it, can run a hundred-mile race solely on endogenous ketones.

(Jay Erdahl) #5

Thanks, @KetoLevvy, I’ll check that one out, as well as the podcast as a whole!

(Jay Erdahl) #6

So, I can say, after listening to quite a few episodes of The Ketogenic Athlete, that it is PACKED with good Keto Athlete info - including the really great episode 15 with Tim Noakes. The interesting thing that I took out of the episode is that the benefits are proven, and that many of them may come down to the mental benefits. Having just read the book “The Brave Athlete” which discusses the brain’s role in controlling our athletic output, I’m more excited about the mental acuity side than any physical benefit.

That said, I’m going to try some Keto/OS fuel on my long Sunday run. It’s at a minute slower than GRP and it’s only for 2.5 hours, but I hope to see some benefit by taking some at the mid-point of the run… I’ll keep you all posted as to what I find.

(ianrobo) #7

Will be very interesting to see what you find out. I say this because @richard discussed this very same topic on last podcast.

My view is simple, you want extra power either eat more fat before the race - fat load or take some carbs and cycle them in as many are starting to do for specific targets.

Especially if you want to go faster rather than further.

(Jay Erdahl) #8

Thanks @ianrobo - I did listen to @richard’s excellent Break Nutrition podcast, and my favorite part was the beginning when he said, in essence, that the jury was still out. It’s actually one of the reasons I’m experimenting - I want to be one of the jury.

Have you seen good results from consuming fat in your running? If so, which fats? I’ve been running with a tablespoon of coconut oil each hour during my longer runs for the past 3 years, and have seen great results. I am just looking to ratchet the running up to the next speed level, and because of that I need to run above my anaerobic threshold, which in my studies means something other than fat.

(Jay Erdahl) #9

Oh, and for anyone else following, the exogenous ketone discussion went from 8:00 to 30:00 of the Break Nutrition episode and was all solid gold stuff!

(ianrobo) #10

I cycle but principle is exactly the same and when you consuming fat in running ? You mean during a run ? Well I am so fat adapted I do fasted 4 hour rides as training, and can do 100 miles at a fair lick fasted …

That is just how beneficial it is

(Richard Morris) #11

I’d be very interested in your results. I don’t know personally about athletic perf with Ketones.

I have to take on it’s face value, the data from the British rowing team that they were getting a 2% improvement in PBs. If that is true (and given the nature of competitive sport it could just be misdirection or other shenanigans) then WOW … 2% is AMAZING in an olympic athlete.

(ianrobo) #12

it is Richard if we ignore the other cuckoo in pro sport :slight_smile:

(Jay Erdahl) #13

@ianrobo - thanks for the great info - which fats do you use to fuel your racing? Are you racing above your anaerobic threshold?


(Jay Erdahl) #14

@richard - thanks for the encouragement - I’m 6 minutes away from qualifying for Boston, and am hoping that the exogenous ketones will push me over the top. I’ll update this thread with what I find.

(Richard Morris) #15

Right. Pay no attention to the possibility that we are doping to get a 2% increase in PBs, “It’s ketones, baby”.

(ianrobo) #16

sort of Richard, I am so cynical about pro sport that I find the claims difficult to sustain for any kind of treatments ! Would be good to see a study done and maybe Phinney and Volek will look at one but has to be for amateurs who are less likely to be doping !

(ianrobo) #17

good question and only when I put in a few efforts ! so this was my ride for today

5 hours, decent amount of climbing and cold !! - https://www.strava.com/activities/1343487264/segments/33295793167

and more important totally fasted, as I sit here an hour or so afterwards feel hungry but nowhere like I used to feel on carbs and counting down time to have my indian takeaway (fairly low carb of course !!).

These are my zones for today for HR (which is more important than power) and note only up to Z4. OK it was a training ride but this means of that 5 hours then 4.5 in the fat burning zone, which we know from FASTER if fully fat adapted is higher than a carb burner. Traditionally Zone 2 was fat burner and once in Zone 3 or tempo it would be carbs, yes if you eat the bloody things it is !!

I am not a pro but looking at this I would be shocked if any pro in endurance sport - marathon or cycling is actually a big carb burner and certainly in training eat few carbs …

As for amateurs, yes they eat a lot of carbs and it shows as Brad Kearns in his last excellent podcast had a great guest on who as an ironman easily passed people who were bonking !

Oh not a single bit to eat during this ride :slight_smile:

(Jay Erdahl) #18

I have an update, but it’s not a great one. I’ve tried Keto/OS for two runs - one on a treadmill and one long run outside.

Treadmill - drank some Keto/OS before a 6 mile run on the treadmill at 6a on Saturday the 6th. Ran at 9:15 pace. Noticed an energy boost, but my mind was also INCREDIBLY distracted during the run, causing me to become impatient with my treadmill time - more so than usual, anyway.

Long run - drank some Keto/OS at 1:15 of a 2:30 hour run on Sunday morning. Ran at 8:45 pace.
Noticed an increase in energy, but the feel of 12 oz of water sloshing in my stomach was annoying, and I kept burping up the product.

I’m normally a pretty happy, contented runner, so the impatience and annoyance was new to me. It might be the caffeine that came in the Keto/OS, as I am normally decaffeinated.

I will be attempting a Building Pace run tonight - running 15 minutes at 7:42, then the next 15 at faster-than-7:42. I will also try it before my resistance training on Thursday morning and report back. Hoping for better results…

(Jay Erdahl) #19

I finally have a good update! Using Keto/OS for the Building Pace run was truly amazing - I felt like I was using rocket fuel, and during the run I figured something else out!

Building Pace run - drank some Keto/OS slowly over 15 minutes, concluding 30 minutes before the start of the run. After 1 mile warmup ran at 7:35, 7:32, 7:29 and 7:09 paces during each mile of the 4 mile building pace run. Didn’t experience the sloshing and burping. Didn’t get annoyed or distracted, and could have run faster if not for my running partner who was feeling sick.

Oh and the “duh” idea I had during the run: put the powder in a gel like I do with my Generation UCan. Will try that this weekend after doing some research on if any others had this idea.

I am in the middle of a planned 33 hour fast leading up to my 6a resistance training workout tomorrow, and plan to follow the same Keto/OS protocol as yesterday, so hope to have more results to post tomorrow.

(Jay Erdahl) #20

More good news - did my resistance training today, with good results.

Resistance training - drank some Keto/OS slowly over 30 minutes, concluding 15 minutes before the start of the workout. Set # of reps record for each of the applicable resistance training exercise, and on the manual resistance workouts my trainer seemed impressed, using words such as “wow” and “outstanding.” Didn’t get annoyed or distracted, despite being at the end of a 34 hour fast.

I have one packet of the (5) pack of Keto/OS which I got for Christmas, and I’ve seen enough that I’m going to buy some more - particularly so I can experiment with making it into a gel for better running results. Next use will be this Sunday’s long run.