Can You Biohack Your Way to a Better Marathon?

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Training for a marathon takes as much mental strength as physical ability, and anyone who has ever attempted the infamous 26.2 miles knows it takes numerous strategies to make it to the end. So why not try biohacking?

Biohacking is a broad strategy for improving physical and mental performance through the use of supplements, meditation, superfoods and other approaches like fasting or exposure to cold that are designed to enhance our body’s natural abilities. In that way, we’re “hacking” our own biology in an effort to make us mentally and physically superior. And the fact is, we all use biohacks—even if it’s just grabbing a cup of coffee in the morning to get focused. Sport-specific biohacking, then, could be the breakthrough you need to get past that marathon training plateau, boost your times and transform your race.

Fast for Focus

If you’re curious about biohacking, the easiest way to test its efficacy is to start with familiar tools. As mentioned above, coffee can help drive focus, but since it’s a diuretic, it’s not ideal for training. A better focus hack for runners might be intermittent fasting (IF).

IF actually has two main benefits for marathon runners: improved cognitive function and decreased inflammation. But how are you supposed to run if you’re not eating? IF puts the emphasis on the intermittent aspect, meaning you aren’t fasting for long periods of time. In fact, scientists have shown even leaving 14 hours between one night’s dinner and the next morning’s breakfast (for example, dining at 7 p.m. one night then forgoing food until a 9 a.m. breakfast the next day) a few times a week is enough to modulate hormone production, stabilize insulin levels and improve cell repair. IF is a simple approach for more focused, more body-friendly training.

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