Factors Associated With Half- and Full-Marathon Race-Related Injuries: A 3-Year Review

Clin J Sport Med. 2021 Sep 1;31(5):e277-e286. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000775.


Objective: To better evaluate the relationships between training, demographics, and injury, this study sought to define race-related injury risk factors for half- and full-marathon runners.

Design: This 3-year, observational cross-sectional study included adults who participated in a half or full marathon. Prerace and 2-week postrace surveys collected data on demographics, training factors, and injuries.

Setting: This study took place during a nationally recognized marathon affiliated with a local hospital.

Participants: Runners were recruited during the Expo in the days before the race. Postrace surveys were returned by 1043 half marathoners and 624 full marathoners (response rate, 83%).

Interventions: This was an observational study; independent variables included demographic data and race year.

Main outcome measure: The primary outcome was race-related injury that occurred during the race or within 2 weeks after the race.

Results: Race-related injuries were reported by 24% of half marathoners and 30% of full marathoners. For half and full marathoners, respectively, significant factors for injuries were previous injury, lower peak weekly training mileage, and lower weekly mileage before race training. Factors significant for only half-marathon injuries were younger age, female sex, shorter distance of longest training run, and no formal training program. Factors significant for only full-marathon injuries were higher body mass index, fewer days running per week, and fewer years of running experience.

Conclusions: Previous running injuries, undertraining, and inexperience increased race-related injury risk; women had higher risk than men. Decreased risk of injury was associated with training loads of greater than 23 miles/week for half marathoners and 40 miles/week for full marathoners.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marathon Running* / injuries
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires