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During a marathon, runners draw heavily on their internal reserves of glycogen (carbohydrate) and triglyercides (fat) to fuel muscle contraction.

During a marathon, runners draw heavily on their internal reserves of glycogen (carbohydrate) and triglyercides (fat) to fuel muscle contraction. Initially, energy is derived mostly from carbohydrates, with increasing amounts of fat being used as the race progresses. If runners use up their muscle glycogen reserves before they finish the race, they hit what is known as ‘the wall’, a point of diminished performance that arises because fatty acids from triglyceride breakdown cannot be delivered to the muscles quickly enough to sustain maximum effort. One trick that marathon runners use to avoid the wall is to drink a cup of strong black coffee an hour or so before the race begins. Coffee contains caffeine, which is an inhibitor of cylic AMP phosphodiesterase. How do you suppose inhibition of this enzyme helps them avoid the wall?
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