In the sport of track and field, runners excel at their events due not only to physiological characteristics but aspects in their form. Characteristics in form help runners achieve the goal in completing their event in the least amount of time possible. For sprinters, this is done by having a shorter swing phase and ground time along with greater power and a longer stride length. Distance runners accomplish the goal of quicker speeds by balancing it with running economy by spending greater time on the ground with shorter stride lengths compared to those in shorter distance running events. Middle distance runners must find a balance between power and running economy for greater success in the 800 meter and 1600 meter runs. If these characteristics are true for runners while competing in their event, would they also be seen at speeds slower and faster than what they compete at? Purpose: This study was conducted to determine if sprinters, middle distance runners, and distance runners running at the same speeds would exhibit different characteristics in their form which aid them in their events. Methods: Thirty female Division I collegiate runners participated in this study. Runners were separated into categories based on the events they were currently training in: 10 sprinters, 10 middle distance runners, and 10 distance runners. All participants were asked to run for twenty two steps at 3.17 m/s (8:27 min/mile), 3.58 m/s (7:30 min/mile), 4.11 m/s (6.31 min/mile), 4.87 m/s (5:30 min/mile), and 5.95 m/s (4:30 min/mile) pace. Motion analysis was captured at each speed recording knee angles, ground time, center of mass separation, and stride length at 240 Hz. Data was then processed using ANOVA and a Tukey post hoc analysis. Results: Significant differences (p < .05) occurred between distance runners and the groups of middle distance runners and sprinters in knee range, ground time, center of mass separation, and stride length while running at the same speed for all of the five speeds. All groups displayed similar liner slopes as speeds increased with no interactions occurring between groups. As the speed increased, all three groups decreased in knee range measurements and ground time measurements. Increases in speed displayed and increase in center of mass separation and stride length among all three groups. Conclusion: While running at the same speeds, runners exhibit specific characteristics in their form that benefit them in their event. These are even seen in speeds that are faster or slower that what the athletes are used to training at or competing at. In addition, middle distance runners display aspects of form that are between distance runners and sprinters in all variables. By understanding these differences, coaches and athletes can analyze current performance and make needed adjustments.
College and Department
Life Sciences; Exercise Sciences
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Cunningham, Ruthann, "Variations in Running Form Among Female Sprinters, Middle, and Distance Runners" (2009). Theses and Dissertations. 1884.
biomechanics, running form, female runners