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


Beat Knechtle 2 , * , Christoph Alexander Rst 1 , Patrizia Knechtle 2 , Thomas Rosemann 1

2 Gesundheitszentrum St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland

1 Institute of General Practice and for Health Services Research, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

How to Cite: Knechtle B, Rst C A, Knechtle P, Rosemann T. Does Muscle Mass Affect Running Times in Male Long-distance Master Runners?, Asian J Sports Med. Online ahead of Print ; 3(4):34547. doi: 10.5812/asjsm.34547.


Asian Journal of Sports Medicine: 3 (4); 247-256
Published Online: November 30, 2012
Article Type: Research Article
Received: March 12, 2012
Accepted: July 18, 2012


Purpose: 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.

Methods: 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.

Results: After multi-variate analysis, body fat was related to half-marathon (?=0.9, P=0.0003), marathon (?=2.2, P<0.0001), and ultra-marathon (?=10.5, P<0.0001) race times. In master half-marathoners (?=-4.3, P<0.0001) and master marathoners (?=-11.9, P<0.0001), speed during training was related to race times. In master ultra-marathoners, however, weekly running kilometers (?=-1.6, P<0.0001) were related to running times.

Conclusions: 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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