Perspectives of Health and Eating Behaviors in Marathon and Half-Marathoners Original Research

Main Article Content

Laurie Stickler
Isaac Harding
Michelle Koetje
Heather Minder
Barbara Hoogenboom

Keywords

Nutrition, Runners, Survey

Abstract

Introduction: Marathon and half-marathon runners are a growing population of athletes who have unique training and nutritional demands that put them at risk for health issues. The purpose of this study was to investigate perspectives regarding sport-related health and factors impacting eating behaviors in adult marathoners and half-marathoners.


Methods: The Runners Health Choice Questionnaire was deployed online and distributed via a snowball sampling approach. Participants were adult runners who had completed a marathon or half-marathon in the previous three years and planned to participate in another marathon or half marathon in the next 24 months. Collegiate athletes were excluded.


Results: Five hundred male and female marathon and half-marathon runners ages 18-79 completed the survey. The relationship between sex and diet classification was significant (χ2 [1, 500]= 7.2194, p= 0.0072); males were significantly more likely to select an atypical diet when compared to females. Time to prepare meals (83.40%) and training run/race that day (81.00%) had a moderate to high impact on daily meal decisions. If provided new nutrition education, 77.24% of runners reported being very likely or somewhat likely to change their diet.


Conclusions: Health and eating behaviors and decisions are complex and impacted by several variables: time, training, and an athlete's age and sex. However, runners have a desire to be healthy and a willingness to change with new nutritional  information.

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