First impressions of the leading perfomance and recovery focused glucose biosensor
This is the first time I am using the Supersapiens biosensor and my experience with it is still fairly limited. It is not a review of the device and app but just my first impressions. I am not going to dive deep into the data. Instead I will focus on my background, fueling strategy for the Chicago marathon and take a look at the data provided by the biosensor
Kiprun KD900x – Specs
Weight: Official: 221g in US9 – Actual: 251g (8.8oz) in size US11 / EU45
Stack height (forefoot/heel): 37/29mm
Durometer score (0 to 100, soft to hard): 26.1/100 for the PEBAX-based VFoam midsole compound
A few days before the Chicago Marathon I received the Supersapiens biosensor developed by the U.S. health care company ‘Abbott Laboratories’. The glucose biosensor is attached to the arm and provides glucose data for 14 days. Data is shown in real time in the Supersapiens app, band and even some popular third party fitness systems like Garmin and more recently Wahoo.
Preparing for the race
I live in Copenhagen and arrived in Chicago a few days before the race. As a 46 years old family man living a normal and busy everyday life with many obligations, I do not consider myself a performance athlete by any means.
My focus on nutrition is fairly limited. However, I do monitor my overall health to some extent using the Garmin Epix and the Oura ring. Despite my obvious limitations I am ambitious with my running and constantly strive to improve as much as possible.
My eating habits leading up to race day
My main intake leading up to a marathon usually contains increasing amounts of quite simple carbs. In general I try to avoid too much fat, vegetables and dairy products as my body does not respond well to it during tougher workouts and competitions.
Being warned about the large portions of quite greasy food in Chicago, I found myself a little worried beforehand. However, I was happily surprised that it was actually fairly easy to find good Italian restaurants which didn’t go all-in with the cheese and oil. The jetlag had somehow increased my appetite, but I managed to keep it simple with lots of pasta dishes and a bit of protein from leaner cuts of meat, such as chicken.
I don’t like to feel hungry going into a race and probably eat more than generally advised, despite carrying a bit of extra weight. Of course you shouldn’t go overboard with abnormally large portions the day before. But like most others my carb intake is higher than usual. In particular I try to make sure to get plenty of fluids the day before a race. Preferable sugar heavy sports drink as it typically also contains plenty of electrolytes.
Race day strategy
The race in Chicago starts really early at 7:30. I am not much of a ‘morning runner’ and I usually prefer to get up at least 4 hours before a major race starts. The thought of getting up around 3:30 didn’t really appeal to me. But the Supersapiens site also advises to eat the last (carb heavy) meal 4 hours prior to racing. With an optional top-up within the last half hour. In general, a lot of great advice can be found on the Supersapiens platform.
Despite the advice, I decided to spread out the intake by having a bit of carbs (such as bread, bananas, energy bars/drink) continuously every 20-25 minutes all the way until the start of the race. That is what I usually do and I was afraid to experiment too much this time around.
I believe the idea behind just having one big meal 4 hours prior is to stabilise the glucose levels in the last hours leading up to the race. Regardless of my rather alternative strategy, my glucose levels were not all over the place, albeit on a higher level. I took in a bit extra within the half hour window just before entering my corral and felt energised. But not heavy at all.
Fueling during race
A lot of runners prefer gels during races. Personally, I prefer the energy drinks stations and water from the aid stations. I do not like carrying the gels and it also happens that my stomach does not always respond well to gels. Chicago has 20 aid stations. That is a lot compared to most races here in Europe. So plenty of opportunities for different strategies which I definitely appreciated.
I decided to take advantage of the many aid stations and probably took in about half a cup of energy drink and a cup of water at most stations. I never passed by 2 stations without any energy intake. And at no point during the 2h:39m race did I feel depleted. I usually experience a few ups and downs and also get a bit fed up with energy drinks. That did not occur to me during this race. Whether it is due to the more frequent intake or just that I respond well to the energy drink provided (Gatorade) is hard to say.
My glucose level during the race is shown in the app*. Here you also find a more in-depth overview of different zones within the so-called Performance Zone during the event and even trailing averages 4 hours and 24 hours leading up to and during the event. All very interesting to analyse. But at this point I need a bit more experience with the biosensor, both during training and racing, to make any real conclusions.
I was just happy to discover that I managed to stay in the Performance Zone all the way throughout the race and depletion was “timed” fairly well in the end. However, being a bit curious about why the glucose level increased about an hour into the race. I did take a caffeine pill around that time, but not sure yet whether it had an actual impact. That is just one example of how much I need to dive into, to really understand a product like this.
I can say for sure that this is definitely not the last time I will be experimenting with a biosensor. There is so much to be gained from monitoring the glucose levels. Not only for pro athletes. But also ambitious everyday runners. I foresee that sometime in the not too distant future, a lot of us use this extra piece of information. Just like driving the car and having a glimpse of how much fuel is left in the tank.