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Des Davila, and learning to increase your carb intake

December 31st, 2011

Great in-depth profile of Desiree Davila in the current Runner’s World, leading up to the U.S Olympic Marathon Trials later this month. One passage that caught my eye, referring back to the 2008 Trials:

Davila ran her plan, clocking 5:48 mile splits. At mile 21, she was eight seconds behind eventual third-place finisher, Blake Russell. “And then I just completely fell apart,” Davila says.

It was a fueling issue. As a track runner, competing in the 1500, the 5000, and the 10,000, Davila never had to take fluids. More to the point, she couldn’t. When she tried, everything came up. “I thought, Well, I don’t want to lose breakfast, too, so I’ll just stop drinking fluids on the course.”

That doesn’t work over 26.2 miles. Or at least not for her. She struggled to cross in 2:37:50, for 13th place.

The fueling issue would be addressed—directly. During long workouts, Davila would force herself to drink. Her system, well, rejected it. “It was actually kind of disgusting,” she says. But week after week, her body eventually adapted. “Gross,” she says, “but necessary.”

Every time I write about carbohydrate intake during long endurance races (e.g. here), I get comments from people who say “Well, that may be true for the subjects in that study, but unfortunately that doesn’t work for me. My stomach can’t handle that.” Good thing Davila didn’t just accept that as an unchangeable fact of life.