Physiological correlates of middle-distance running performance

A comparative study between men and women
  • S. Padilla
  • M. Bourdin
  • J. C. Barthélémy
  • J. R. Lacour


To compare the relative contributions of their functional capacities to performance in relation to sex, two groups of middle-distance runners (24 men and 14 women) were selected on the basis of performances over 1500-m and 3000-m running races. To be selected for the study, the average running velocity (\(\bar v\)) in relation to performances had to be superior to a percentage (90% for men and 88% for women) of the best French\(\bar v\) achieved during the season by an athlete of the same sex. Maximal O2 consumption (\(\dot V{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} \)max) and energy cost of running (CR) were measured in the 2 months preceding the track season. This allowed us to calculate the maximal\(\bar v\) that could be sustained under aerobic conditions, νa,max. A\(\bar v\): νa, max ratio derived from 1500-m to 3000-m races was used to calculate the maximal duration of a competitive race for which\(\bar v\) = νa,max (tνa,max) In both groups νa,max was correlated to\(\bar v\). The relationships calculated for each distance were similar in both sexes. The CR [0.179 (SD 0.010) ml · kg−1 · m−1 in the women versus 0.177 (SD 0.010) in the men] andtνa,max [7.0 (SD 2.0) min versus 8.4 (SD 2.1)] also showed no difference. The relationships between\(\dot V{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} \)max and body mass (mb) calculated in the men and the women were different. At the samemb the women had a 10% lower CR than the men; their lowermb thus resulted in an identical CR. In both groups CR and\(\dot V{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} \)max were strongly correlated (r=0.74 and 0.75 respectively,P<0.01), suggesting that a high level of\(\dot V{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} \)max could hardly be associated with a low CR. These relationships were different in the two groups (P<0.05). At the same\(\dot V{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} \)max the men had a higher νa,inax than the women. Thus, the disparity in track performances between the two sexes could be attributed to\(\dot V{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} \)max and to the\(\dot V{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} \)max/CR relationships.

Key words

Middle-distance running velocity Sex Body dimensions Energy cost of running Maximal oxygen consumption 


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Copyright information

© Sprinper-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Padilla
    • 1
  • M. Bourdin
    • 2
  • J. C. Barthélémy
    • 3
  • J. R. Lacour
    • 2
  1. 1.Neudigonoza Amadeo Garcia Salazar S/UCentro Medicina DeportivaVictoria-GasteizSpain
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Physiologie - GIP ExerciceFaculté de Medecine Lyon-SudOullins CédexFrance
  3. 3.Laboratoire de Physiologie - GIP ExerciceUniversité de Saint-Etienne, Centre HospitalierSaint-Jean-BonnefondsFrance

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