Physiological factors associated with middle distance running performance

Sports Med. 1995 Apr;19(4):268-77. doi: 10.2165/00007256-199519040-00004.


Middle distance running involves popular race distances with performance dependent on a number of physiological factors. The physiological characteristics of successful runners are different from those of sprinters and long distance runners. Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), running economy and the anaerobic threshold are variables that have been shown to limit performance during long distance running, and rapid velocity and anaerobic variables have been shown to limit performance during sprinting. Success with middle distance running is dependent on an integrative contribution from aerobic and anaerobic variables which allows a runner to maintain a rapid velocity during a race. The relative contributions of the 2 energy systems are functions of distance, intensity and the physiological abilities of the runner. Middle distance runners can be successful with physiological profiles that include a variety of aerobic and anaerobic capabilities, and this characteristic separates them from long distance runners.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobic Threshold
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Humans
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Running / physiology*