Ivana Petrovic, Marjan Marinković

DOI Number
First page
Last page



Running is a popular form of physical activity and can be carried out through several different distances. Morphological characteristics, such as skin fold thickness, limb girth and length, body weight and body fat percentage have an impact on endurance running. The objective of this systematic review study is to collect and analyze studies about the influence of morphological characteristics on running performance of endurance athletes.  Based on an analysis of electronic databases and the inclusion criteria set, 20 studies were included in the analysis. The highest statistical significance as the predictor has the length of the extremities and the sum of the skin folds thickness. The results of the analyzed studies indicate that slim limbs, longer legs, lower total skin fold thickness and lower body fat percentage are some of the characteristics that can be good predictors for competitive success and a model to be tended during the preparation period of male and female endurance runners.

Keywords: anthropometry, body composition, endurance, running.

Full Text:



Anderson, T. (1996). Biomechanics and running economy. Sports medicine, 22 (2), 76-89.

Arrese, A., L., & Ostáriz, E., S. (2006). Skinfold thicknesses associated with distance running performance in highly trained runners. Journal of sports sciences, 24 (1), 69-76.

Bale, P., Bradbury, D., & Colley, E. (1986). Anthropometric and training variables related to 10km running performance. British journal of sports medicine, 20 (4), 170-173.

Ball, S., Swan, P., D., & Desimone, R. (2004). Comparison of anthropometry to dual energy X-ray absorptiometry: a new prediction equation for women. Research quarterly for exercise and sport, 75 (3), 248-258.

Barandun, U., Knechtle, B., Knechtle, P., Klipstein, A., Rüst, C. A., Rosemann, T., & Lepers, R. (2012). Running speed during training and percent body fat predict race time in recreational male marathoners. Open access journal of sports medicine, 3, 51.

Carter, J., L. (1984). 6. Somatotypes of Olympic Athletes from 1948 to 1976. In Physical Structure of Olympic Athletes (Vol. 18, pp. 80-109). Karger Publishers.

Claessens, A., L., Hlatky, S., Lefevre, J., & Holdhaus, H. (1994). The role of anthropometric characteristics in modern pentathlon performance in female athletes. Journal of sports sciences, 12 (4), 391-401.

Davis, D., P., Videen, J., S., Marino, A., Vilke, G., M., Dunford, J., V., Van Camp, S., P., & Maharam, L., G. (2001). Exercise-associated hyponatremia in marathon runners: a two-year experience. The Journal of emergency medicine, 21 (1), 47-57.

Dellagrana, R., A., Guglielmo, L., G., Santos, B., V., Hernandez, S., G., da Silva, S,. G., & de Campos, W. (2015). Physiological, anthropometric, strength, and muscle power characteristics correlates with running performance in young runners. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 29 (6), 1584-1591.

Fahey, T., D, Insel, P., M, Roth, W., T. (2001). Fit and Well: In Core concept in physical fitness and wellness. 4 th ed. California: Toronto Mayfield publishing company.

Gilliat-Wimberly, M., Manore, M. M., Woolf, K., Swan, P., D., & Carroll, S. S. (2001). Effects of habitual physical activity on the resting metabolic rates and body compositions of women aged 35 to 50 years. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 101(10), 1181-1188.

Gómez-Molina, J., Ogueta-Alday, A., Camara, J., Stickley, C., Rodríguez-Marroyo, J., A., & García-López, J. (2017). Predictive Variables of Half-Marathon Performance for Male Runners. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 16, 187-194.

Hergenroeder, A., C., & Klish, W., J. (1990). Body composition in adolescent athletes. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 37 (5), 1057-1083.

Hagan, R., D., Smith, M., G. & Gettman, L. R. (1981). Marathon performance in relation to maximal aerobic power and training indices. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 13 (3), 185-189.

Heath, B. H. & Carter, J. E. (1967). A modified somatotype method. American journal of physical anthropology, 27 (1), 57-74.

Herbst, L., Knechtle, B., Lopez, C. L., Andonie, J. L., Fraire, O. S., Kohler, G., ... & Rosemann, T. (2011). Pacing strategy and change in body composition during a Deca Iron triathlon. Chin J Physiol, 54 (4), 255-263.

Hoffman, M., D. (2008). Anthropometric characteristics of ultramarathoners. International journal of sports medicine, 29(10), 808-811.

Hoffman, M., D., Lebus, D., K., Ganong, A., C., Casazza, G., A., & Van Loan, M. (2010). Body Composition of 161-km Ultramarathoners. International Journal of Sports Medicinе, 31(2): 106-109.

Jackson, A., S., & Pollock, M., L. (1985). Practical assessment of body composition. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 13(5), 76-90.

Jürimäe, T., & Jürimäe, J. (2000). Growth, physical activity, and motor development in prepubertal children. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Karp, J., R. (2007). Training characteristics of qualifiers for the US Olympic Marathon Trials. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 2 (1), 72-92.

Knechtle, B., Knechtle, P., Schulze, I., & Kohler, G. (2008). Upper arm circumference is associated with race performance in ultra-endurance runners. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 42 (4), 295-299.

Knechtle, B., Duff, B., Welzel, U., & Kohler, G. (2009). Body mass and circumference of upper arm are associated with race performance in ultraendurance runners in a multistage race—the Isarrun 2006. Research quarterly for exercise and sport, 80 (2), 262-268.

Knechtle, B., Wirth, A., Knechtle, P., Zimmermann, K., & Kohler, G. (2009). Personal best marathon performance is associated with performance in a 24-h run and not anthropometry or training volume. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 43 (11), 836-839.

Knechtle, B., & Rosemann, T. (2009). Skin-fold thickness and race performance in male mountain ultra-marathoners. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 4(III).

Knechtle, B., Knechtle, P., Barandun, U., & Rosemann, T. (2011). Anthropometric and training variables related to half-marathon running performance in recreational female runners. The Physician and sportsmedicine, 39 (2), 158-166.

Kong, P. W., & De Heer, H. (2008). Anthropometric, gait and strength characteristics of Kenyan distance runners. Journal of sports science & medicine, 7 (4), 499.

Lee, R. C., Wang, Z., Heo, M., Ross, R., Janssen, I., & Heymsfield, S. B. (2000). Total-body skeletal muscle mass: development and cross-validation of anthropometric prediction models. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 72(3), 796-803.

Legaz, A., & Eston, R. (2005). Changes in performance, skinfold thicknesses, and fat patterning after three years of intense athletic conditioning in high level runners. British journal of sports medicine, 39 (11), 851-856.

Lepers, R., & Cattagni, T. (2012). Do older athletes reach limits in their performance during marathon running? Age, 34 (3), 773-781.

Lucia, A., Esteve-Lanao, J., Oliván, J., Gómez-Gallego, F., San Juan, A. F., Santiago, C., & Foster, C. (2006). Physiological characteristics of the best Eritrean runners—exceptional running economy. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism, 31 (5), 530-540.

Maldonado, S., Mujika, I., & Padilla, S. (2002). Influence of body mass and height on the energy cost of running in highly trained middle-and long-distance runners. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 23 (04), 268-272.

Marti, B., Abelin, T., & Minder, C. E. (1988). Relationship of Training and Life-Style to 16-km Running Time of 4000 Joggers. International journal of sports medicine, 9 (02), 85-91.

Mooses, M., Jürimäe, J., Mäestu, J., Mooses, K., Purge, P., & Jürimäe, T. (2013а). Running economy and body composition between competitive and recreational level distance runners. Acta Physiologica Hungarica, 100 (3), 340-346.

Mooses, M., Jürimäe, J., Mäestu, J., Purge, P., Mooses, K., & Jürimäe, T. (2013b). Anthropometric and physiological determinants of running performance in middle-and long-distance runners. Kineziologija, 45 (2), 154-162.

Morgan, D., W., Martin, P., E., & Krahenbuhl, G., S. (1989). Factors affecting running economy. Sports Med, 7 (5), 310-330.

Muth, N., D. (2009). What are the guidelines for percentage of body fat loss. American Council on Exercise (ACE). Ask the Expert Blog.

Myers, P., & Steudel, K. (1985). Effect of limb mass and its distribution on the energetic cost of running. Journal of Experimental Biology, 116 (1), 363-373

Nettleton, S. & Hardey, M. (2006). Running away with health: the urban marathon and the construction of ‘charitable bodies’. Health, 10 (4), 441-460.

Onywera, V., O. (2009). East African runners: their genetics, lifestyle and athletic prowess. In Genetics and Sports (Vol. 54, pp. 102-109). Karger Publishers.

Pate, R., R., & O’neill, J., R. (2007). American women in the marathon. Sports Medicine, 37 (4-5), 294-298.

Ramírez-Vélez, Argothy-Bucheli, Sánchez-Puccini, Meneses-Echávez, & López-Albán (2015). Anthropometric and functional characteristics of Colombian elite long-distance runners. Iatreia, 28 (3), 240-247.

Rüst, C. A., Knechtle, B., Knechtle, P., Wirth, A., & Rosemann, T. (2012). A comparison of anthropometric and training characteristics among recreational male Ironman triathletes and ultra-endurance cyclists. Chin J Physiol, 55(2), 114-24.

Saunders, P., U., Pyne, D., B., Telford, R,. D., & Hawley, J., A. (2004). Factors affecting running economy in trained distance runners. Sports Medicine, 34 (7), 465-485.

Siri, W., E. (1961). Body composition from fluid spaces and density: analysis of methods. Techniques for measuring body composition, 61, 223-44.

Šolaja, A., Milankov, A., Pejakovic, S., & Stokic, E. (2017). Body composition of the serbian national track and field team (original study)/Telesna kompozicija clanova atletske reprezentacije srbije. Medicinski Pregled, 70 (3-4), 87-95.

Spiriev, B. (1998). IAAF scoring tables of ahletics. MONACO: IAAF.

Tanaka, K., & Matsuura, Y. (1982). A multivariate analysis of the role of certain anthropometric and physiological attributes in distance running. Annals of Human Biology, 9 (5), 473-482.

Vučetić, V., Babić, V., Šentija, D., & Nekić, B. (2005, January). Anthropometric and morphological characteristics of runners. In International Scientific Conference on Kinesiology (4; 2005).

Vučetić, V., R., Matković, B. & Šentija, D. (2008). Morphological differences of elite Croatian track-and-field athletes. Collegium antropologicum, 32 (3), 863-868.

Yang, X., G., Wang, Y., Bao, D,. P., & Hu, Y. (2015). Anthropometric Characteristics of Chinese Professional Female Marathoners and Predicted Variables for Their Personal Bests. Coll. Antropol, 39(4), 899-905.

Zillmann, T., Knechtle, B., Rüst, C., A., Knechtle, P., Rosemann, T., & Lepers, R. (2013). Comparison of training and anthropometric characteristics between recreational male half-marathoners and marathoners. Chin J Physiol, 56 (3), 138-146.

Williams, C., & Nute, M., L. (1983). Some physiological demands of a half-marathon race on recreational runners. British journal of sports medicine, 17(3), 152-161.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN   1451-740X (Print)

ISSN   2406-0496 (Online)