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Improved Performance in Master Runners Competing in the European Championships Between 1978 and 2014

Schneider, Anaïs L.1; Nikolaidis, Pantelis T.2; Knechtle, Beat1,3

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: September 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 9 - p 2559–2569
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002548
Original Research

Schneider, AL, Nikolaidis, PT, and Knechtle, B. Improved performance in master runners competing in the European championships between 1978 and 2014. J Strength Cond Res 33(9): 2559–2569, 2019—The performance trends in elite runners have been well investigated, but we have no knowledge about performance trends and the difference between the sexes in elderly runners competing at a high level in varying distances. The purpose of this study was to investigate the performance of these age groups. Data from 17 European Championships held between 1978 and 2014 were analyzed for various race distances (i.e., 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,500, 5,000, 10,000 m, and marathon). Running speed for the top 8 female and male finalists for each age group (35–99 years, split into 5-year gaps) and each race distance were included. A 2-way analysis of variance compared the effects of sex, race distance, age group and calendar year on speed. Subsequent comparisons between race distances, age groups, or calendar years were performed using a post hoc Bonferroni’s test. Our analysis shows that men were faster than women in all distances, and the difference between the sexes was greater in the shorter distances. Speed was higher for shorter distances than for longer distances. Younger participants were faster than older ones, and the effect of age group was the largest for the 200 m. There was a minor effect of calendar year on speed in the 100, 20, 1,500, 10,000 m and marathon, and a minor calendar year × sex interaction on running speed was shown for the 200 m. For athletes and coaches, the current study demonstrates that both male and female athletes improved their running performance over time and that the sex gap may have reached its limit.

1Institute of Primary Care, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland;

2Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Nikaia, Greece; and

3Medbase St. Gallen Am Vadianplatz, St. Gallen, Switzerland

Address correspondence to Beat Knechtle,

Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.