The Rio Olympics has come and gone so quickly, and for as long as I can remember have always been fascinated with these elite athletes and the countless hours that goes into their sport and their own bodies. The most noticeable, even though both athletes compete in running, are the body type of sprinters and long distance athletes.
The differences in speed and body types

Long distance runners are lean, which suites them for covering ground. Sprinters are powerfully built and are explosively fast for shorter distances.


Long distance runners carry little weight. Carrying  too much weight is a burden for distance runners, as it also allows their speed. Distance runners burn alot of calories in training and races, so excessive weight gain is never a concern them. Most of the weight sprinters carry are muscle. Being heavier allows them to run with power.

Muscle Mass

This is one of the first things you’ll notice about these two athletes. The distance runner has longer muscles mainly in  the lower area. Sprinters have thick muscles which make them jump explosively from the starting line. Sprinters have muscular arms which help them achieve maximum speed and balance. Both runner’s do aerobic training to prepare for races, with the sprinter incorporates weight training into their workout as well to add muscle. Have you noticed the muscle definition in a sprinter’s body? It’s because their running is more of a complete body workout, incorporating legs, tightening abs/core and upper body which accelerates at high speeds!

Physical Risks

Both of these runners run different type of races, so they are likely to pick up different type of injuries. Distance runners often pick up shin splints, stress fractures and muscle cramps due to dehydration cause by these long distances. Sprinters tend to be more wary of muscle and hamstring pulls because of the quick acceleration in their races. Both athletes however are prone to back,ankle and knee injuries because of training and competition.

How does their training differ?

Sprinters focus on developing fast twitch muscle fibres which you develop from plyometric exercises and strength training, thus improving speed, strength and power. Long distance athletes focus more on cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular endurance and stamina.