I Am a Novice Marathoner: Sources of Energy for the Big Race

I Am a Novice Marathoner: Sources of Energy for the Big Race




Norliza Bt M.Yusof
Biology teacher 
SM Sains Seri Puteri
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 

Mardiana Bt Yusof
Biology teacher 
SM Sains Hulu Selangor Btg Kali 
Selangor, Malaysia

Airin Bt Abu Bakar
Biology teacher
SM Sains Tuanku Munawir
Seremban, Malaysia

Dr Zaleha Abdullah and Dr. Mahani Mokhtar 
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Johor Bahru, Malasyia

Lesson Feedback


This lesson focuses on energy production in the body through the digestion of food. The scene is a group of three novice runners preparing to run a marathon. During a marathon, energy is produced through cellular respiration in order for the muscles to contract. Students will learn that muscles use the stored chemical energy of food, converting it to heat and kinetic energy. The source of this energy used to power working muscles is adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – the body’s biochemical way to store and transport energy. The concepts covered here involve the expenditure of energy from nutrition and cellular respiration, with a particular focus on the strenuous energy demands of marathon running. For the learning activities, students will design their own menu to prepare for the big race, with careful attention to prevent a “hitting the wall” situation – caused by depletion of a glycogen source in the body during extreme activity. They will also be challenged to explain the Glycemic Index (GI) and the use of energy during “carbo-loading.” As prequisites to this lesson, students need prior knowledge on respiration, ATP, nutrition and digestion. The lesson will take about 60 minutes to complete but teachers may want to divide it into two class sessions if the activities require more time. 

Instructor Biography

Norliza Bt M.Yusof is a Biology teacher at SM Sains Seri Puteri, Kuala Lumpur, while Mardiana Bt Yusof is a Biology teacher at SM Sains Hulu Selangor Btg Kali, Selangor. Airin Bt Abu Bakar is also a Biology teacher at SM Sains Tuanku Munawir, Seremban. They have been teaching Biology for more than 10 years in Malaysia secondary schools.

Both Dr Zaleha Abdullah and Dr. Mahani Mokhtar are lecturers at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. They helped Norliza, Mardiana and Airin to prepare a good BLOSSOMS lesson for students’ learning.

For Teachers

Additional Online Resources

BLOSSOMS video lesson: ATP: The Fuel of Life
This is the url of the MIT BLOSSOMS lesson entitled “ATP: The Fuel of Life”. The goal of this lesson is to introduce students who are interested in human biology and biochemistry to the subtleties of energy metabolism through the lens of ATP as the primary energy currency of the cell.

Britannica: Human nutrition
This site, sponsored by the Encyclopedia Brtitannica, provides an extremely comprehensive discussion of human nutrition and digestion.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Your Digestive System & How it Works
This site, entitled “Your Digestive System and How It Works”, is sponsored by the National Institute of Health and provides a very detailed overview of the human digestive system.

Khan Academy: Cellular respiration introduction
This website is the Khan Academy “Introduction to Cellular Respiration”.

Wikipedia: Cellular respiration
This site is a Wikipedia overview of Cellular Respiration.