Training and weight-control methods among elite female runners competing at the 2020 Olympic marathon trials


Sophia Berg

Faculty Mentor(s)

Kelly Pritchett (Other), Dana Ogan (Nutrition)


Athletes participating in aesthetic sports, such as endurance sports, report more frequent attempts to lose weight and greater training volumes than athletes participating in non-aesthetic sports. Various training styles, weight periodization, and presence of an eating disorder (ED) can affect energy availability. Purpose: This study investigates the relationship between presence of ED with training and weight-control methods among elite female endurance athletes. Methods. Female runners (n=151) who participated in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials Marathon completed an online questionnaire (34 questions) examining training volume, weight-control methods, and self-reported history of/current ED (AN, BN, BED and EDNOS). Participants were grouped according to responses on incidence of ED. Chi-square test indicated statistically different when p ≤ 0.05. Results. Roughly 31% reported experiencing an ED. Incidence of ED was significantly associated with weight dissatisfaction (χ23,151=8.362, p<0.039) and restricting or reducing food (χ25,151=15.688, p<0.008). Current struggle with an ED was associated with less hours of cross-training per week (χ2149=20.04, p<0.045). Conclusion. One-third of participants reported history of an ED which is consistent with previous literature. This investigation reveals that past or current ED may affect weight control methods and increase feelings of body dissatisfaction in elite female runners. Keywords: Sports nutrition, Eating disorders, Female athlete triad


1 thought on “Training and weight-control methods among elite female runners competing at the 2020 Olympic marathon trials”

  1. Sophia,
    This was a very interesting presentation to watch. As someone that was a wrestler in high school and currently am very much into the endurance sports of running and cycling, I made a lot of personal connections while watching. Although I am not anywhere near elite level in any of the activities I am involved in, wrestling is a sport where you participate in groups solely determined by weight. With this, I saw and experienced for myself, food restriction and body dissatisfaction on a daily basis. Cycling is another sport where weight is in the back of every competitors mind as they are seeking a power to weight ratio.
    It would be interesting to see a similar study of athletes from different high level competitions like pro level cycling and wrestling as these sports add in the factor of weight being the goal outcome for energy restriction. I wonder if there would then be a means of comparing performances from athletes when they were at different competition weights to see if there is a difference in performance.
    Once again, this was a very interesting presentation and I enjoyed watching.

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