The aim of this study was to determine glucose uptake patterns in exercised skeletal muscles of elite male long-distance and short-distance runners. Positron emission tomography (PET) using 18F-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose (FDG) was performed to determine the patterns of glucose uptake in lower limbs of short-distance (SD group, n=8) and long-distance (LD group, n=8) male runners after a modified 20 min Bruce treadmill test. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to delineate the muscle groups in lower limbs. Muscle groups from hip, knee, and ankle movers were measured. The total FDG uptake and the standard uptake value (SUV) for each muscle group were compared between the 2 groups. For the SD and LD runners, the 2 major muscle groups utilizing glucose during running were knee extensors and ankle plantarflexors, which accounted for 49.3 +/- 8.1% (25.1 +/- 4.7% and 24.2 +/- 6.0%) of overall lower extremity glucose uptake for SD group, and 51.3 +/- 8.0% (27.2 +/- 2.7% and 24.0 +/- 8.1%) for LD group. No difference in muscle glucose uptake was noted for other muscle groups. For SD runners, the SUVs for the muscle groups varied from 0.49 +/- 0.27 for the ankle plantarflexors, to 0.20 +/- 0.08 for the hip flexor. For the LD runners, the highest and lowest SUVs were 0.43 +/- 0.15 for the ankle dorsiflexors and 0.21 +/- 0.19 for the hip. For SD and LD groups, no difference in muscle SUV was noted for the muscle groups. However, the SUV ratio between the ankle dorsiflexors and plantarflexors in the LD group was significantly greater than that in the SD group. We thus conclude that the major propelling muscle groups account for approximately 50% of lower limb glucose utilization during running. Thus, the other muscle groups involving maintenance of balance, limb deceleration, and shock absorption utilize an equal amount. This result provides a new insight into glucose distribution in skeletal muscle, suggesting that propellers and supporters are both energetically important during running. Furthermore, for each unit muscle volume, movers of ankle are more glucose-demanding than those of hip.