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The metabolic recovery of marathon runners: an untargeted 1H-NMR metabolomics perspective

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posted on 2023-05-12, 15:04 authored by Rachelle Bester, Zinandré Stander, Shayne Mason, Karen M Keane, Glyn Howatson, Tom CliffordTom Clifford, Emma J Stevenson, Du Toit Loots

Introduction: Extreme endurance events may result in numerous adverse metabolic, immunologic, and physiological perturbations that may diminish athletic performance and adversely affect the overall health status of an athlete, especially in the absence of sufficient recovery. A comprehensive understanding of the post-marathon recovering metabolome, may aid in the identification of new biomarkers associated with marathon-induced stress, recovery, and adaptation, which can facilitate the development of improved training and recovery programs and personalized monitoring of athletic health/recovery/performance. Nevertheless, an untargeted, multi-disciplinary elucidation of the complex underlying biochemical mechanisms involved in recovery after such an endurance event is yet to be demonstrated.

Methods: This investigation employed an untargeted proton nuclear magnetic resonance metabolomics approach to characterize the post-marathon recovering metabolome by systematically comparing the pre-, immediately post, 24, and 48 h post-marathon serum metabolite profiles of 15 athletes.

Results and Discussion: A total of 26 metabolites were identified to fluctuate significantly among post-marathon and recovery time points and were mainly attributed to the recovery of adenosine triphosphate, redox balance and glycogen stores, amino acid oxidation, changes to gut microbiota, and energy drink consumption during the post-marathon recovery phase. Additionally, metabolites associated with delayed-onset muscle soreness were observed; however, the mechanisms underlying this commonly reported phenomenon remain to be elucidated. Although complete metabolic recovery of the energy-producing pathways and fuel substrate stores was attained within the 48 h recovery period, several metabolites remained perturbed throughout the 48 h recovery period and/or fluctuated again following their initial recovery to pre-marathon-related levels.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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Frontiers in Physiology




Frontiers Media


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© Bester, Stander, Mason, Keane, Howatson, Clifford, Stevenson and Loots.

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This is an Open-Access article published by Frontiers Media and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. See https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Dr Tom Clifford. Deposit date: 9 May 2023

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