Difference between a Sprinter and a Marathoner
By Laura Lee - April 17, 2023

Sprinting and Marathon running are worldwide respected kinds of athletics, with many household names such as Usain Bolt and Eliud Kipchoge achieving celebrity status. Both athletic activities require very different kinds of conditions. A major and widely known difference between a sprint and a marathon is that sprinting requires covering a relatively shorter distance as quickly as possible. Speed is less of a factor in a marathon, as compared to endurance. This difference is not where it ends, however.

Chart Summary
  1. Low VO2 Max and strong fast twitch muscle fibers
High VO2 Max and strong slow twitch muscle fibers
  1. Complements muscle building for agility
Complements fat/calorie burn for endurance
Runner on tartan track starting

Getty images/ Westend61/ Westend61


Sprints (or dashes) are short-distance races. They are among the earliest running contests, having been documented in the Ancient Olympic Games. The contemporary Summer Olympics and outdoor World Championships have three sprint events: 100m, 200m, and 400m.

The marathon is a long-distance foot event with a distance of 42.195 km (26 mi 385 yards), which is often raced as a road race but may also be completed on trail routes. Running or a run/walk technique can be used to accomplish the marathon.

Sprint vs. Marathon

Marathon runners have a greater VO2 Max compared to Sprinters. A VO2 Max measures a person’s maximal oxygen intake while performing increasing-intensity exercise. They train to run great distances while remaining reasonably slim with little body fat. Many marathon runners rely on mental toughness more than physical toughness, employing positive affirmations to keep them focused on their objectives.

Sprinters train to improve their agility, stamina, and explosive force. They have noticeable muscle mass and train with free weights and bodyweight plyometric workouts, which are complex explosive motions that increase power and speed. Sprinters have a low VO2Max requirement since most of their runs are short. Sprinters do not have to encompass diet advice because it depends on the athlete’s physiology and whatever food and training regimen works best for them. However, marathoners may require more carbs 36-48 hours before race day.