Running & Body Types

Body types can, to a certain degree, determine your running ability and can serve as an indicator of the type of running at which you may excel. In general, distance runners are short and light, while sprinters can be tall and bulky. The difference between the two types of running lies in the workload associated with each running style. In the end, your body type should not discourage you from the running style you most enjoy.

woman on runner's track (Image: Steve Mcsweeny/iStock/Getty Images)

Traditional Body Types

Body types fall into three categories: ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. Traits of a traditional ectomorph include difficulty gaining weight, narrow shoulders, lean muscle mass, thin stature and high metabolism. A mesomorph is typically athletic and can gain muscle and fat easily. Endomorphs have a rounder physique with soft muscle tissue, and generally have a low metabolism that makes it hard to lose weight. While each body type is generally best at a particular type of running, very few individuals are a pure body type, but rather a combination of two or more body types. Height, not specific to either body type, also figures into the characteristics of body type and running type match.

Big Body Types

Big body types should not necessarily be automatically classified as mesomorphs. There are various big body types that also have ectomorph or endomorph traits. This is significant in terms of running because a big body type that is an ectomorph or mesomorph is more inclined to be a sprinter. Ectomorphs weigh the least out of the three classifications and mesomorphs are the strongest. In their own right, these traits allow for a runner to be a potentially good sprinter. The traits of a mesomorph can make sprinting very difficult, primarily because of weight.

Small Body Types

Short, thin body types tend to make the best distance runners. Speed is not necessarily affected by leg length. According to Dr. Niels Secher, an anesthesiologist, exercise researcher and rower at the University of Copenhagen, shorter runners make better distance runners than taller runners. Long and large legs make it more difficult to lift and propel a body forward. In comparison, shorter stride lengths and less weight tends to result in greater speeds over long distances.

Everybody Can Run

Your body type should not keep you from taking part in the type of running you enjoy. No matter if you are short and thin and prefer sprinting, or tall and overweight and like distance running, as long as you are having fun and are staying physically active, you are contributing to your overall health and fitness. Even though certain body types are genetically inclined to excel at a certain running style, these styles are not exclusive and can be enjoyed by anyone. Many overweight individuals take up distance running because it is part of their fitness routine to lose weight. performance.

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