Association between dietary practice, body composition, training volume and sport performance in 100-Km elite ultramarathon runners


Background & aim: Sport performance during competitions is a central goal for athletes, and several factors have been identified that appear to have an association with better performance in different sport disciplines. However, the data are still not conclusive in ultramarathon runners. Accordingly, this study aimed to assess the potential associations between anthropometric, body composition, dietary and training factors and athletic performance in 100-Km elite ultramarathon runners. Methods: Body mass index (BMI), body composition, training volume, Mediterranean dietary adequacy score (MDAS) and "100-Km race competition record" were assessed in 10 elite ultramarathon runners from the Italian Ultramarathon and Trail Association (IUTA) of the Italian national team. Results: The study sample had a mean age of 41.1 ± 7.59 years and BMI of 21.66 ± 1.11 kg/m2. Female athletes had a lower appendicular skeletal muscle index (ASMI) and 100-Km race competition record, and a higher trunk fat percentage and MDAS compared to males. Correlation analysis revealed a significant association between the 100-Km race competition record and age, gender, ASMI, training volume, total body and trunk fat percentages. However, after correcting for confounders, partial correlation analysis confirmed only the association between training volume and 100-Km race competition record (ρ = -0.891, p = 0.009). Conclusion: Our findings provide evidence that a higher training volume expressed as Kilometers per week is an independent variable associated with better performance in 100-Km race competitions in elite ultramarathon runners. Future studies are needed to assess the usefulness of programs based on the increase of training volume as a strategy to improve athletic performance in 100-Km races in this specific population.

Journal/Conference Information

Clinical nutrition ESPEN,DOI: doi: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2021.01.029, ISSN: 24054577, Volume: 42, Issue: 1, Pages Range: 239-243,