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J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2016 Dec;56(12):1433-1438. Epub 2016 Feb 2.

Respiratory function is associated to marathon race time.

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Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Camilo José Cela University, Madrid, Spain.
Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Camilo José Cela University, Madrid, Spain -



The purpose of this study was to analyze the relationship between marathon race time and expiratory pulmonary parameters in a heterogeneous group of amateur marathoners.


A total of 110 marathon runners (age=41.9±9.4 yr, body mass=74.0±9.1 kg, height=175.0±8.0 cm) volunteered to participate in this study. First, they completed a questionnaire about running experience and best performance time in the 10-km, half-marathon and marathon competitions. Then, they performed a maximal spirometry test following guidelines for standardized spirometry. Measurement included peak expiratory flow (PEF), forced expiratory volume in the first second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC). All these expiratory variables were normalized for the participant's body mass. Within 3 days of the spirometry test, participants competed in an official marathon and race time was measured by a chip-timing. After this, participants were grouped by their marathon race time as follows: <210 min, N.=33; between 210 and 240 min, N.=31; and >240 min, N.=46).


Marathon race time correlated to the FVC·kg-1 (r=-0.41; P<0.001), to FEV1·kg-1 (r=-0.40; P<0.001), and PEF·kg-1 (r=-0.50; P=0.005). However, self-reported running experience did not show significant correlations to FVC·kg-1 and PEF·kg-1 (P>0.05). The group of faster marathoners (e.g., <210 min) had greater FEV1·kg-1 (<210 min group: 0.064±0.009; 210-240 min group: 0.058±0.008; >240 min group: 0.057±0.009; P<0.001) and higher FVC·kg-1 (<210 min group: 0.081±0.011; 210-240 min group: 0.075±0.012; >240 min group: 0.072±0.010; P<0.001) than the other two groups of slower runners.


These results suggest a significant relationship between individual pulmonary function and marathon race time. Thus, a higher lung capacity per kg of body mass might be a key variable for marathon performance in amateur runners.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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