Female marathon runners and triathletes have marked differences in their body composition, according to a study that will be published in the Chinese Journal of Physiology.
To gather data, Swiss researchers gathered training information and took skinfold readings of recreational female athletes competing in either the Basel Marathon or the Ironman Switzerland race. Recreational athletes were identified as those who had a regular job, trained in their leisure time and were not sponsored.
Scientists found that triathletes were leaner, with an average body fat around 23.8 percent, as opposed to 26.7 for marathoners. The difference could likely be due to the triathletes’ higher training volume. On average, triathletes worked out 14.1 hours each week, compared to the 5.2 hours marathons put in. Their triathletes’ training also included cycling and swimming.
The areas where the women carried their fat also varied. While marathoners had more body fat in the chest, underarm and the backs of their shoulders, skinfold readings of their calves were 75 percent smaller than in triathletes.