Marathon running remains an ever-popular sport with no signs of slowing down. In fact, in 2019, the London Marathon saw a record number of participants, with 42,906 runners taking to the streets of the UK capital.
However, injury incidence rates have been reported to be as high as 90% in runners of all experience levels, although more running experience is likely to give you a better chance against injuries.
Marathon runners are at an increased risk of developing joint lesions. There’s a strong correlation between joint cartilage lesions and the development of osteoarthritis.
While running, lower limb joints – the knees in particular – will naturally take most of the strain. Some evidence points to the patellofemoral joint being particularly affected, showing increased degenerative changes after a single marathon.
It’s a similar story with the ankles, with various issues observed in MRI imaging of marathon runners who participate in regular competition.
The Role of Collagen in Sports Nutrition
Nutrition remains an important component to the preparation of a marathon. Current thinking supports that nutrition may influence the physiological adaptation to training, which is paramount in both injury prevention and performance.
Collagen is a protein that makes up multiple structures in our bodies, including our bones, tendons, cartilage and joints. We therefore need an adequate supply to ensure we have enough of this crucial protein in our bodies, especially as we age.
The modern diet has, on the whole, moved away from eating connective tissue – the more collagen-rich body parts of the animals. Additionally, collagen has to be broken down by our digestive systems, as do other proteins. So, aside from the declining natural production, maintaining collagen levels requires ongoing ingestion of amino acids that constitute collagen.
Then comes some more bad news – with age, collagen production starts to decline.
Collagen production can decline from our mid-20s onwards. Age-related changes to the proteins of the extracellular matrix (ECM) can have far-reaching consequences, potentially disrupting many different aspects of healthy function in the human body.
The interest in collagen supplements as part of a nutritional strategy of prevention and aiding repair is subsequently increasing.
Do Collagen Supplements Work?
There’s a growing body of evidence on the effects of supplements containing collagen peptides on collagen synthesis. Collagen peptides supplements are derived from the connective tissue of animals and contain high amounts of collagen-specific amino acids.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that, following ingestion, these amino acids are markedly elevated in the blood. They also found that collagen synthesis was augmented after exercise with this dosage protocol.
This is of high clinical interest, as it demonstrated a high absorption rate by the human gut and availability to tissues for biological functions.
Should I Use Collagen Supplements?
When it comes to sports nutrition, before any supplementation, an athlete should ensure that both their regular diet and hydration are up to scratch. In many cases, you can take in considerable amounts of collagen if you’re able to eat significant amounts of animal products, including connective tissues.
However, marathon runners may find sustaining a well-balanced diet challenging, especially as their training loads begin to push personal boundaries. Marathon runners are also exposed to environmental conditions like rising temperatures, which may affect appetite.
Nutritional insufficiency can lead to a poor extracellular matrix is produced in our tissues that’s unable to withstand the mechanical demands of normal activity.
In these cases, it makes sense for marathon runners to optimise their nutrition with an easily ingested, tolerable form of collagen supplementation.
For example, TRR Nutrition offers an easy-to-drink PRO Advanced Collagen, which comes as a 50ml cherry-flavoured shot.