Regeneration After Ultra-Endurance Exercise

  • Mike I. Lambert
  • Alan St. Clair Gibson
  • Wayne Derman
  • Timothy D. Noakes


Most of the research on endurance exercise has focussed on the physiological and metabolic demands during an event and on factors causing fatigueFatigue during and after prolonged submaximal running may have many origins. The conventional explanation for fatigue after running a marathon or ultra-marathon is that glycogen is depleted in the skeletal muscles, thus reducing their ability to produce force. This form of fatigue may occur only when the muscle glycogen concentrations fall below a critical level perhaps causing impaired sarcoplasmic reticulum function. Fatigue, particularly after prolonged exercise exceeding 4 hours, may also coincide with the development of hypoglycaemia. There is some evidence to suggest that this fatigue may be delayed if carbohydrate is ingested during the event. The fatigue associated with hypoglycaemia probably has its origins in the central nervous system (CNS). Another mechanism underlying CNS fatigue after prolonged exercise proposed by Newsholme et al. (1992)} is that as the duration of exercise increases, more plasma free-tryptophan crosses the blood brain barrier and is converted into serotonin, which increases the perception of fatigue.Fatigue after prolonged exercise, particularly in hot, humid environments may also be caused by factors affecting the CNS arising from sustained elevation of muscle and possibly brain temperature . Studies have also identified a type of neuromuscular fatigue which occurs during and after a marathon and which accounts for the decrement in running performance. The above discussion highlights some of the metabolic issues and aetiology of fatigue associated with prolonged submaximal exercise.


Muscle Damage Muscle Glycogen Prolonged Exercise Marathon Runner Delay Onset Muscle Soreness 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Askter HA, Granzier HIM and Focant B (1989) Differences in the I band structure, sarcomere extensibility, and electrophoresis of titin between two muscle types of the perch (Percafluviatilis 1). J Ultrastruct Mol Struct Res 102: 109–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Baringa M (1995) Titanic protein gives muscles structure and bounce. Science 270: 236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bosch AN, Dennis SC and Noakes TD (1993) Influence of carbohydrate loading on fuel substrate turnover and oxidation during prolonged exercise. J Appl Physiol 74: 415–423.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Carlson BM (1995) Factors influencing the repair and adaptation of muscles in aged individuals: satellite cells and innervation. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med 50: 96–100.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Carlson BM and Faulkner JA (1983) The regeneration of skeletal muscle fibers following injury: a review. Med Sci Sports Exerc 15: 187–198.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chambers C, Noakes TD, Lambert EV and Lambert MI (1998) Time course of recovery of vertical jump height and heart rate vs running speed after a 90 km foot race J Sports Sci 16:645–651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Costill DL (1979) A scientific approach to distance running. Track and field News, 1979 Los Altos, California, USA.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Costill DL, Pascoe DD, Fink WJ, Robergs RA, Barr SI and Pearson D (1990) Impaired muscle glycogen resynthesis after eccentric exercise. J Appl Physiol 69: 46–50.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Davies CTM and Thompson MW (1986) Physiological responses to prolonged exercise in ultramarathon athletes. J Appl Physiol 61: 611–617.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Derman W, Schwellnus MP, Lambert MI, Emms M, Sinclair-Smith C, Kirby P, and Noakes TD (1997) The “worn-out athlete”: A clinical approach to chronic fatigue in athletes. J Sports Sci 15: 341–351.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Derr M (1995) The end of the road. Is a new malady afflicting elite athletes? Scientifica America April, 10-1.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Dubowitz V (1985) Muscle biopsy: a practical approach. Bailliere Tindall Eastbourne, England, 2nd ed.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Erickson HP (1997) Stretching single protein molecules: titin is a weird spring. Science, 276: 1090–1092.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Faulkner JA and Brooks SV (1995) Muscle fatigue in old animals. Unique aspects of fatigue in elderly humans. Adv Exp Med Biol 384: 471–480.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Fridén J, Kjörell U and Thornell L-E (1984) Delayed muscle soreness and cytoskeletal alterations: an immunocytological study in man. Int J Sports Med 5: 15–18.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Gollnick PD, Korge P, Karpakka J and Saltin B (1991) Elongation of skeletal muscle relaxation during exercise is linked to reduced calcium uptake by the sarcoplasmic reticulum in man. Acta Physiol Scand 142: 135–136.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Goodman C, Henry G, Dawson B, Gillam I, Beilby J, Ching S, Fabian V, Dasig D, Kakulas B and Morling P (1997) Biochemical and ultrastructural indices of muscle damage after a twenty-one kilometre run. Aus J Sci Med Sport 29: 95–98.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hikida RS, Staron RS, Hagerman FC, Sherman WM and Costill DL (1983) Muscle fiber necrosis associated with human marathon runners. J Neuro Sci 59: 185–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Ker JA and Schultz CM (1996) Respiratory muscle fatigue after an ultra-marathon measured as inspiratory task failure. Int J Sports Med 17:493–496.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kirwan JP, Hickner RC, Yaresheski KE, Kohrt WM, Wiethip BV and Holloszy JO (1992) Eccentric exercise induces transient insulin resistance in healthy individuals. J Appl Physiol 72: 2197–2202.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Komi PV, Hyvärinen T, Gollhofer A and Mero A (1986) Man-shoe-surface interaction. Special problems during marathon running. Acta Univ Oulu, 179: 69–72.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Kuipers H, Janssen GME, Bosman F, Frederik PM and Geurten P (1989) Structural and ultrastructural changes in skeletal muscle associated with long-distance training and running. Int J Sports Med 10(Suppl 3): S156–S159.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Lambert MI and Keytel L Training habits of top male and female Two Oceans runners. Two Oceans Marathon Programme, 1998.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Lieber RL, Thornell L-E and Fridén J (1996) Muscle cytoskeletal disruption occurs within the first 15 min of cyclic eccentric contraction. J Appl Physiol 80: 278–284.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Matin P, Lang G, Carretta R, Simon G (1983) Scintigraphic evaluation of muscle damage following extreme exercise: concise communication. J Nucl Med 24: 308–311.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Maud PJ, Pollock ML, Foster C, Anholm JD, Guten G, Al-Nouri M, Hellman C and Schmidt DH (1981) Fifty years of training and competition in the marathon: Wally Hayward, age 70 — a physiological profile SAMJ 59: 153–157.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    McComas J (1996) Skeletal muscle — form and function Human Kinetics Champaign IL USA.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Newsholme E A, Blomstrand E and Ekblom B (1992) Physical and mental fatigue: metabolic mechanisms and importance of plasma amino acids. Br Med Bull 48: 477–495.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Newsholme EA, Leech T and Duester G (1994) Keep on running—the science of training and performance John Wiley and Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Nicol C, Komi PV and Marconnet P (1991a) Fatigue effects of marathon running on neuromuscular performance I Changes in muscle force and stiffness characteristics. Scand J Med Sci Sports 1: 10–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Nicol C, Komi PV and Marconnet P (1991b) Fatigue effects of marathon running on neuromuscular performance II Changes in force, integrated electromyographic activity and endurance capacity. Scand J Med Sci Sports 1: 18–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Nielsen B, Strange S, Christensen NJ, Warberg J and Saltin B (1997) Acute and adaptive responses in humans to exercise in a warm, humid environment. Pflügers Archives 434: 49–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Noakes TD (1992) Lore of Running. Oxford University Press, Cape Town.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    O’Rielly KP, Warhol MJ, Fielding RA, Frontera WR, Meredith CN and Evans WJ (1987) Eccentric-induced muscle damage impairs muscle glycogen repletion. J Appl Physiol 63: 252–256.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Patel TJ, Lieber RL (1997) Force transmission in skeletal muscle: from actomyosin to external tendons. Ex Sports Sci Rev 25: 322–363.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Rauch HG, Hawley JA, Noakes TD and Dennic SC (1998) Fuel metabolism during ultra-endurance exercise Pflügers Archives 436:211–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Roberts TJ, Marsh RL, Weyand PG, Taylor, CR (1997) Muscular force in running turkeys: the economy of minimising work. Science, 275: 1113–1115.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Sherman WM, Costill DL, Fink WJ, Hagerman FC, Armstrong LE and Murray TF (1983) Effect of a 42.2 km footrace and subsequent rest or exercise on muscle glycogen and enzymes. J Appl Physiol 55: 1219–1224.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Sjödin B and Svedenhag J (1985) Applied physiology of marathon running. Sports Med 2: 83–99.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Sjöström M, Fridén J and Ekblom B (1987) Endurance, what is it? Muscle morphology after an extremely long distance run. Acta Physiol Scand 130: 513–520.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Sjöström M, Johansson C and Lorentzon R (1988) Muscle pathomorphology in m. quadriceps of marathon runners. Early signs of strain disease or functional adaptation? Acta Physiol Scand 132: 537–542.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    St Clair Gibson A (1997) Neural and humoral control of muscle atrophy. PhD Thesis, University of Cape Town.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    St Clair Gibson A, Lambert MI, Weston AR, Myburgh KH, Emms M, Kirby P, Marinaki AM, Owen EP, Derman W and Noakes TD (1998) Exercise-induced mitochondrial dysfunction in an elite athlete. Clin J Sports Med 8: 52–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Strachan AF, Noakes TD, Kotzenberg G, Nel AE and De Beer FC (1984) C-reactive protein levels during long-distance running. Br Med J 289: 1249–1251.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Tidball JG (1995) Inflammatory cell response to acute muscle injury. Med Sci Sports Exerc 27: 1022–1032.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Warhol MJ, Siegel AJ, Evans WJ and Silverman LM (1985) Skeletal muscle injury and repair in marathon runners after competition. Am J Pathol 118: 331–339.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Waterman-Storer CM (1991) The cytoskeleton of skeletal muscle: is it affected by exercise? A brief review. Med Sci Sports Exerc 23, 1240–1249.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mike I. Lambert
    • 1
  • Alan St. Clair Gibson
    • 1
  • Wayne Derman
    • 1
  • Timothy D. Noakes
    • 1
  1. 1.MRC/UCT Bioenergetics of Exercise Research UnitSport Science Institute of South AfricaNewlandsSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations