Comparison of physiologic and performance variables in male and female cross?country runners during a competitive season

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Sports Medicine, Training and Rehabilitation


Exercise Science


Five men and five women from a university cross?country team were tested during the first 2 weeks and at the conclusion of a 7?week cross?country season. Maximal and submaximal cardiorespiratory responses, body composition, and performance variables were compared for seasonal and gender differences by analysis of variance and analysis of covariance. Male runners had significantly less (p ?0.05) body fat, more fat?free body (FFB) mass, a larger cardiorespiratory capacity, and ran more economically and faster than female runners. The difference in cardiorespiratory capacity and performance may have been due to a larger FFB (muscularity) and the increased training volume practiced by the male runners. Several gender but no seasonal differences were observed during a running economy test (214 m·min?1). A difference in oxygen uptake (VO2; ml·min?1?kg BW?1) during the running economy test between male and female runners was unexpected and may have been due to fatigue in the female runners since their late season performance relative to early season worsened by 5%. A moderate negative correlation (ranging from an r = ?0.48 to r = ?0.71) was found between body weight (BW), FFB, or height and running economy. Consequently, as BW, FFB, or height increased, VO2 measured in subjects running at 214 m·min?1 decreased.