UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Structural characteristics of female distance runners of different proficiency levels Fernyhough, Jane Lee


The purpose of this investigation was to look at the structural characteristics of recreational, adult female distance runners. The subjects were divided into two different speed categories: group one consisted of eleven women who averaged a velocity of seven minutes per mile or faster over a race distance of ten thousand meters or longer; and group two consisted of twelve women who averaged seven and one half to eight and one half minutes per mile over this distance. The two groups were compared using anthropometrical measures, body composition, age of menarche, training practices and athletic background, and iron stores. The anthropometrical and body composition measures were compared with those of a reference group of university females (group three). Anthropometrical measures were appraised using absolute values and Phantom Z-values of group means. The Phantom Z-values were plotted on graphs plus and minus one standard error. Differences were found in hand length (group one was smaller), sitting height (group three was larger), foot length (group three was smaller), and transverse chest width (group three was smaller). The trend was for group one, the faster runners, to be smaller in absolute values and smaller in girth Z-values. Group one was found to have lower density values, lower sum of skinfolds, and less adipose mass. Proportional Z-values for skinfolds were significantly lower in group one than group three and lower than group two at all sites but front thigh. Age of menarche was not significantly different between group one and two but group one had a significantly greater number of later maturers than group two when compared using chi-square analysis. Questionnaires determining training practices and activity in adolescence were used with chi-square analysis to determine frequency distribution. The women in group one trained more frequently and had been running a greater number of years than those in group two. Although activity in adolescence was not significantly different, a greater number in group one had been 'active' in adolescence compared with those in group two. Iron stores for both groups fell within normal value ranges. Due to the small sample size of the two running groups definite conclusions are not warranted. Nevertheless, tentative ones based on the group means seem to indicate that the superior group of runners was smaller in structure, had lower body fat, a greater amount of time devoted to training, a larger number were later maturers, and more were active in adolescence. While some measures cannot be changed with training it seems that training plays a large role in running proficiency and extensive training can influence body fat and muscle mass.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.