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Fitness & Health

20th Feb 2017

There could be a ridiculously easy way to shave some vital time off your next run

Simple as that.

Darragh Murphy

Has your personal best running time plateaued?

Give this little trick a whirl and see how much time you can shave off your next run because a study conducted by the University of Georgia has discovered an unfathomably simple way of improving your athletic performance.

Researchers from the University of Georgia in collaboration with researchers from Texas Tech University found that athletes who swished a sucrose solution around their mouths, but didn’t ingest it, showed a marked improvement in their running times.

On average, there was a 5 per cent improvement in runners who swished their mouths with the sugary solution compared to those who used water.

“It was surprising to us how drastic the improvement in times was,” said Jamie Cooper, an associate professor in the department of foods and nutrition in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “These were endurance-trained individuals, so to see a 5 per cent improvement in performance – almost three minutes on average – was huge.”

You might have thought that you’d have to swallow fluids in order to benefit from their nutritional properties but this study would suggest otherwise as the presence of energy in the mouth alone was enough to boost athletic performance.

The study involved 16 runners (nine men and seven women) between the ages of 18 and 45, who were told to complete a 12.8 km run on an indoor track while swishing and spitting different mouth rinses eight times during each run.

Four time trials took place with three different solutions being used – a sucrose (table sugar) solution, a low-intensity sucralose (artificial sweetener that tastes sweet but provides no energy) solution and water.

The sucralose solution and water swishes showed no real boost in times but those who allowed the sucrose solution to wash around their mouths saw an average of 3 minutes come off their time.

It supposedly works as the sugar solution stimulates “reward areas” in athletes’ brains which can boost performance.

So if you’re interested in improving your time on your next run, why not try swishing a solution with a little bit of table sugar in it because, apparently, it works a treat.

But it should be pointed out that this training tip is only helpful for shorter runs and one shouldn’t expect to be able to run a marathon using sugary water. That would just be silly.

“If someone is doing a marathon, this is not going to help them – they need to take in carbohydrates because they need the calories in their body,” Cooper added. “But if someone is going to run a 10K or 15K or they’re a cyclist who’s doing a 20-mile time trial or even a sprint triathlon, if they do a mouth rinse with a sweet-tasting carbohydrate, they should see some improvements in performance.”