Physiological and training characteristics of recreational marathon runners

Open Access J Sports Med. 2017 Nov 24;8:231-241. doi: 10.2147/OAJSM.S141657. eCollection 2017.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine the physical and training characteristics of recreational marathon runners within finish time bandings (2.5-3 h, 3-3.5 h, 3.5-4 h, 4-4.5 h and >4.5 h).

Materials and methods: A total of 97 recreational marathon runners (age 42.4 ± 9.9 years; mass 69.2 ± 11.3 kg; stature 172.8 ± 9.1 cm), with a marathon finish time of 229.1 ± 48.7 min, of whom n = 34 were female and n = 63 were male, completed an incremental treadmill test for the determination of lactate threshold (LT1), lactate turn point (LT2) and running economy (RE). Following a 7-min recovery, they completed a test to volitional exhaustion starting at LT2 for the assessment of [Formula: see text]. In addition, all participants completed a questionnaire gathering information on their current training regimes exploring weekly distances, training frequencies, types of sessions, longest run in a week, with estimations of training speed, and load and volume derived from these data.

Results: Training frequency was shown to be significantly greater for the 2.5-3 h group compared to the 3.5-4 h runners (P < 0.001) and >4.5 h group (P = 0.004), while distance per session (km·session-1) was significantly greater for the 2.5-3 h group (16.1 ± 4.2) compared to the 3.5-4 h group (15.5 ± 5.2; P = 0.01) and >4.5 h group (10.3 ± 2.6; P = 0.001). Race speed correlated with LT1 (r = 0.791), LT2 (r = 0.721) and distance per session (r = 0.563).

Conclusion: The data highlight profound differences for key components of marathon running ([Formula: see text], LT1, LT2, RE and % [Formula: see text]) within a group of recreational runners with the discriminating training variables being training frequency and the absolute training speed.

Keywords: aerobic capacity; endurance running; maximal oxygen uptake; nonelite; running economy; workout structures.