Physical and performance-related profile of elite male South African distance runners

  • S. Semple
  • N. Neveling
  • R. Roussouw


Profiling the physical and performance related characteristics of sportsmen and women is an integral component of research within a particular sport. The purpose of this study was firstly to obtain a physiological profile of elite male South African distance runners. Secondly, to verify the correlation between peak treadmill velocity and distance running performance. Thirdly, to determine if a correlation exists between leg strength (quadriceps/hamstrings) and peak treadmill velocity. Anthropometry, isokinetic strength and endurance and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) evaluations were performed on male (n=23) distance athletes. The means and standard deviations of the parameters are as follows: Percentage fat 8.0% (±1.3), percentage muscle 46.2% (±2.9), VO2max 70.1ml/kg/min (±5.2), peak RER 1.03 (±0.04), peak heart rate 187bpm (±10.8), peak velocity 20.2km/h (±1.4), peak lactate 8.25mmol.l-1, peak torque (PT) ft-lbs 60°/s right extensors 118.18 (±26.81), PT ft-lbs 60°/s left extensors 110.27 (±25.34), PT ft-lbs 60°/s right flexors 63.05 (±14.43), PT ftl-bs 60°/s left flexors 59.68 (±12.87), flexor/extensor ratio 60°/s right 53.91% (± 9.05), flexor/extensor ratio 60°/s left 53.27% (±11.02). Importantly, a significant (p<0.05) correlation was found between isokinetic strength of the quadriceps and peak treadmill velocity. Since peak treadmill velocity has been identified as a strong predictor of performance it seems tenable that enhancing muscular strength of the quadriceps could result in benefits for the endurance athlete.
Key words: Distance runners, strength, VO2max, peak treadmill velocity.

(Af. J. Physical, Health Education, Recreation and Dance: 2003 9(2): 238-249)

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