Does Muscle Mass Affect Running Times in Male Long-distance Master Runners?

Institute of General Practice and for Health Services Research, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Asian Journal of Sports Medicine 12/2012; 3(4):247-56. DOI: 10.5167/uzh-73608
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The aim of the present study was to investigate associations between skeletal muscle mass, body fat and training characteristics with running times in master athletes (age > 35 years) in half-marathon, marathon and ultra-marathon.
We compared skeletal muscle mass, body fat and training characteristics in master half-marathoners (n=103), master marathoners (n=91) and master ultra-marathoners (n=155) and investigated associations between body composition and training characteristics with race times using bi- and multi-variate analyses.
After multi-variate analysis, body fat was related to half-marathon (β=0.9, P=0.0003), marathon (β=2.2, P<0.0001), and ultra-marathon (β=10.5, P<0.0001) race times. In master half-marathoners (β=-4.3, P<0.0001) and master marathoners (β=-11.9, P<0.0001), speed during training was related to race times. In master ultra-marathoners, however, weekly running kilometers (β=-1.6, P<0.0001) were related to running times.
To summarize, body fat and training characteristics, not skeletal muscle mass, were associated with running times in master half-marathoners, master marathoners, and master ultra-marathoners. Master half-marathoners and master marathoners rather rely on a high running speed during training whereas master ultra-marathoners rely on a high running volume during training. The common opinion that skeletal muscle mass affects running performance in master runners needs to be questioned.

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    • "As in running, the age of peak speed grew with the length of the race. Physiological (45) and training (46) characteristics played an important role. Gent and Norton (45) investigated the impact of age on anaerobic and aerobic power in cyclists. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated performance trends and the age of peak running speed in ultra-marathons from 50 to 3,100 miles. The running speed and age of the fastest competitors in 50-, 100-, 200-, 1,000- and 3,100-mile events held worldwide from 1971 to 2012 were analyzed using single- and multi-level regression analyses. The number of events and competitors increased exponentially in 50- and 100-mile events. For the annual fastest runners, women improved in 50-mile events, but not men. In 100-mile events, both women and men improved their performance. In 1,000-mile events, men became slower. For the annual top ten runners, women improved in 50- and 100-mile events, whereas the performance of men remained unchanged in 50- and 3,100-mile events but improved in 100-mile events. The age of the annual fastest runners was approximately 35 years for both women and men in 50-mile events and approximately 35 years for women in 100-mile events. For men, the age of the annual fastest runners in 100-mile events was higher at 38 years. For the annual fastest runners of 1,000-mile events, the women were approximately 43 years of age, whereas for men, the age increased to 48 years of age. For the annual fastest runners of 3,100-mile events, the age in women decreased to 35 years and was approximately 39 years in men. The running speed of the fastest competitors increased for both women and men in 100-mile events but only for women in 50-mile events. The age of peak running speed increased in men with increasing race distance to approximately 45 years in 1,000-mile events, whereas it decreased to approximately 39 years in 3,100-mile events. In women, the upper age of peak running speed increased to approximately 51 years in 3,100-mile events.
    Clinics (São Paulo, Brazil) 03/2014; 69(3):203-11. DOI:10.6061/clinics/2014(03)11 · 1.19 Impact Factor
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    • "The main strength of our investigation is the large sample size. However, variables such as anthropometry (Knechtle et al. 2012), physiology (Murray and Costa 2012), previous experience (Hoffman and Krishnan 2013), training (Rüst et al. 2012), psychological considerations (Krouse et al. 2011), nutrition (Machefer et al. 2007), and nationality (Cejka et al. 2013) were not considered. This might have had an influence on the results. "
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    ABSTRACT: It has been assumed that women would be able to outrun men in ultra-marathon running. The present study investigated the sex differences in running speed in ultra-marathons held worldwide from 50 km to 1,000 km. Changes in running speeds and the sex differences in running speeds in the annual fastest finishers in 50 km, 100 km, 200 km and 1,000 km events held worldwide from 1969-2012 were analysed using linear, non-linear and multi-level regression analyses. For the annual fastest and the annual ten fastest finishers, running speeds increased non-linearly in 50 km and 100 km, but not in 200 km and 1,000 km where running speeds remained unchanged for the annual fastest. The sex differences decreased non-linearly in 50 km and 100 km, but not in 200 and 1,000 km where the sex difference remained unchanged for the annual fastest. For the fastest women and men ever, the sex difference in running speed was lowest in 100 km (5.0%) and highest in 50 km (15.4%). For the ten fastest women and men ever, the sex difference was lowest in 100 km (10.0 ± 3.0%) and highest in 200 km (27.3 ± 5.7%). For both the fastest (r(2) = 0.003, p = 0.82) and the ten fastest finishers ever (r(2) = 0.34, p = 0.41) in 50 km, 100 km, 200 km and 1,000 km, we found no correlation between sex difference in performance and running speed. To summarize, the sex differences in running speeds decreased non-linearly in 50 km and 100 km but remained unchanged in 200 km and 1,000 km, and the sex differences in running speeds showed no change with increasing length of the race distance. These findings suggest that it is very unlikely that women will ever outrun men in ultra-marathons held from 50 km to 100 km.
    SpringerPlus 02/2014; 3(1):97. DOI:10.1186/2193-1801-3-97
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    • "Changes of body composition with aging have been previously described, such as a decreased skeletal muscle mass,42 a decreased fat-free mass, a decreased appendicular skeletal muscle mass, a decreased body cell mass, and a decreased total body potassium with increasing age.43 These age-related changes are described to be associated with decreased performance where a positive correlation between body fat and race times in masters half-marathoners44 and between body mass and race performance in ultraendurance runners have been shown.6 In addition, Tanaka and Seals reported on the decreased VO2 max with aging and on the association with a decline in endurance running performance.45 "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the study was to examine finisher and performance trends of ultrarunners in the Marathon des Sables, the world's largest multistage ultramarathon. The age and running speed was analyzed for 6945 finishes of 909 women and 6036 men between 2003 and 2012 at the Marathon des Sables covering about 240 km in the Moroccan desert. The number of finishes increased significantly for both women and men from 2003-2012. The annual number of finishes increased in age groups: 30-34 years (r(2) = 0.50; P = 0.021), 45-49 years (r(2) = 0.81; P = 0.0004), and 50-54 years (r(2) = 0.46; P = 0.029) for women and in all age groups older than 35 years for men (35-39 years: r(2) = 0.64, P = 0.0054; 40-44 years: r(2) = 0.67, P = 0.0036; 45-49 years: r(2) = 0.77, P = 0.0007; 50-54 years: r(2) = 0.72, P = 0.0018; 55-59 years: r(2) = 0.42, P = 0.041; and 60-64 years: r(2) = 0.67, P = 0.0038). The fastest running speed was achieved by runners in the age group of 35-39 years for both sexes. The mean age of overall finishers was 41.0 ± 9.1 years for women and 41.3 ± 9.5 years for men. For men, running speed improved for athletes in the age group of 35-39 years (r(2) = 0.44; P = 0.036) and of 40-44 years (r(2) = 0.51; P = 0.019), while it decreased for athletes in the age group of 30-34 years (r(2) = 0.66, P = 0.0039). For women, running speed remained stable during the study period for athletes in all age groups. These data suggest that the number of finishers of masters runners older than 40 years increased for both sexes at the Marathon des Sables, as has been previously observed for single-stage ultramarathons. In contrast to women, men aged 35 to 44 years improved running speed during the study period. Future studies are needed to investigate the reasons for the growing numbers of masters athletes in endurance sports and their improvement in performance.
    International Journal of General Medicine 06/2013; 6:427-38. DOI:10.2147/IJGM.S45265
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