TRAINING AND NUTRITION DIFFERENTIATION BETWEEN ELITE RUNNERS AND AMATEURSTzanetakis Giannis
There are several differences in the training and nutritional approaches of elite runners and amateur runners. These differences arise from the fact that elite runners have a higher level of fitness and are able to manage a greater volume and intensity of training than amateurs. Here are some key differences:
Training volume: Elite runners typically have a higher training volume than amateur runners. Most elite runners tend to run more miles per week, which helps them build endurance and strength. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance found that elite male marathon runners ran an average of 133 kilometers per week, while their amateur runners ran an average of 51 kilometers per week (1).
Similarly, a study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences found that elite female middle-distance runners ran an average of 84 km per week, while their amateur counterparts ran an average of 36 km per week (2).
Elite athletes can both allocate the time needed to realize the increased training volume , but also have the ability to recover from the increased training loads that result from it.
Training intensity: Elite runners also train at a higher absolute intensity than amateur runners. This means they run at higher speeds, which helps them improve their running speed and economy.
A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that elite male runners ran at an average pace of 3:14 per mile during interval training, while amateur runners ran at an average pace of 4:21 per mile (3).
Nutrition: Elite runners also have different nutritional needs than amateur runners. They require more calories, protein, and carbohydrates to fuel the high volume and intensity of their training. A review published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that elite endurance athletes require a daily intake of 1.6-2.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, compared to 1.2-1.4 grams per kilogram for sedentary individuals (4). Similarly, a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that elite male distance runners consumed an average of 7.1 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight per day, while amateur runners consumed an average of 5.1 grams per kilogram per day (5).
- Mujika, I., & Padilla, S. (2000). Detraining: loss of training-induced physiological and performance adaptations. Part II: Long term insufficient training stimulus. Sports Medicine, 30(3), 145-154.
- Mujika, I., & Padilla, S. (2003). Scientific bases for precompetition tapering strategies. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 35(7), 1182-1187.
- Billat, L. V., Flechet, B., Petit, B., Muriaux, G., Koralsztein, J. P., & Laursen, P. B. (2010). Interval training at VO2max: effects on aerobic performance and overtraining markers. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 42(2), 258-266.
- Phillips, S. M., & Van Loon, L. J. (2011). Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. Journal of Sports Sciences, 29(sup1), S29-S38.
- Tarnopolsky, M. A., Atkinson, S. A., MacDougall, J. D., Chesley, A., Phillips, S., & Schwarcz, H. P. (1992). Evaluation of protein requirements for trained strength athletes. Journal of Applied Physiology, 73(5), 1986-1995.
Access to high quality training support and laboratory/ergo-physiological evaluation: Access to high quality coaching support and laboratory ergometric assessment/exercise physiology laboratory can certainly be a differentiating factor between elite and amateur runners.
Elite runners often have access to resources that amateur runners may not have, such as coaches, sports scientists, and specialist facilities such as exercise physiology laboratories. These resources can help elite runners optimize their training plans and maximize their athletic potential. In an exercise physiology lab, for example, runners can undergo a variety of tests to assess their fitness levels, including tests to determine their maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max), lactate threshold tests and body composition analysis. This information can be used to design personalized training programs that target specific areas for improvement.
Similarly, elite runners may have access to specialized training facilities, such as altitude training camps, which can help improve their endurance and performance as well as provide them with the expertise of thermo-acclimation protocols, and altitude acclimatization. Management of biosensor data by their coach.
While access to these resources can certainly give elite runners an advantage over amateur runners, it is important to note that physical talent, dedication, and hard work are also critical factors in being successful as a runner.
- Smirnaul, B., Delecluse, C., & Meeusen, R. (2013). Enhancing endurance performance by optimal pacing strategies: placebo controlled study. PloS one, 8(5), e64142. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064142
This study investigated the effects of an individualized training program on endurance performance in well-trained runners. The program included laboratory tests to determine individual lactate threshold and VO2max and training based on these values. The results showed significant improvements in endurance performance in the group receiving the individualized training program compared to the control group.
- Micklewright, D., St Clair Gibson, A., Gladwell, V., Al Salman, A., & Al Atiya, A. (2017). Development and validation of a pacing strategy scale for endurance athletes. Journal of sports sciences, 35(4), 371-377. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2016.1168888
The present study developed and validated a pacing strategy scale for endurance athletes. The scale was based on laboratory tests of lactate threshold and VO2max and was found to be a valid tool for predicting performance in endurance racing.
- Bougault, V., Turcotte, G., Gagné, R., & Boulay, M. R. (2004). Specificity of treadmill and cycle ergometer tests in triathletes, runners and cyclists. European journal of applied physiology, 92(4-5), 387-394. doi: 10.1007/s00421-004-1068-2
This study compared the results of ergometer and cycle ergometer tests in triathletes, runners, and cyclists. The results showed that the tests were sport- specific, suggesting that laboratory tests can be an important tool for optimizing sport-specific training programs.
These studies suggest that access to laboratory testing, superior coaching services and high-quality coaching support can be important factors in optimizing training programs and maximizing the athletic potential of elite runners.