A Running Start

Two studies at the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) 54th annual meeting examined individual marathoners and overall marathon performance, giving further insight into what makes a great runner.

One of the studies examined the physical and training characteristics of all marathon runners and how they are affected race outcomes. Some of the greatest predictors of race success depended on the marathoner’s gender, body size, and training miles. Typically, male runners had faster race times than female runners, mostly due to men’s greater aerobic capacity. Some of the most successful marathoners were also very lightweight in proportion to their height. The third key factor to race success was training mileage; more miles ran per week increased the runners fitness and usually led to faster race times.

The other study looked into weather conditions for optimal performance and noted that the fastest marathon times were run in cool conditions of approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers believe that cooler temperatures allow for sufficient dissipation of metabolic heat and maintenance of thermal equilibrium during a race.

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