Physiologic Comparison of Adolescent Female and Male Cross-Country Runners

in Pediatric Exercise Science

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Lee N. Cunningham
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To compare the physiologic differences between adolescent male and female cross-country runners, 12 male and 12 female high school nonelite distance runners who had competed successfully at the All State 5-km championship cross-country meet were tested in the laboratory. Data were analyzed in relation to maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), ventilatory threshold (VT), and running economy (RE). Male runners were taller, heavier, had less body fat, and ran faster by 2 minutes and 18 seconds than female runners. Running economy was similar between gender. VO2 at a 215 m•min−1 pace was 46.7 ml•kg−1•min−1 for male runners and 47.8 ml•kg−1•min−1 for female runners. At the VT, males demonstrated a higher VO2 and treadmill velocity than females. Heart rate, percent HR max, and percent VO2 max at the VT were not different between gender. Males demonstrated a higher VO2 max of 74.6 versus 66.1 ml•kg−1•min−1 than female runners. The fractional utilization of VO2 at race pace was not different between males (90%) and females (91%). In conclusion, the primary physiologic determinant for performance differences between nonelite, competitive male and female adolescent distance runners is associated with VO2 max.

Lee N. Cunningham is with the Department of Physical Education at Fitchburg State College, Fitchburg, MA 01420.

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