Running economy is a measure of how efficiently a person uses oxygen while running at a given pace. Expressed as the rate of oxygen consumption per distance covered (ml/kg/km), running economy is the energy required running submaximally at a given velocity. Those who are able to consume less oxygen while running at a given velocity are said to have a better running economy. Running economy takes into consideration one's body mass and oxygen consumption at a steady state within his aerobic range.
In distance running, an athlete may attempt to improve performance through training designed to improve running economy. Running economy has been found to be a good predictor of race performance; it has been found to be a stronger correlate of performance than maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) in trained runners with the same values (Saunders, 2004). The literature relating to RE is vast and the determinants of RE supported by empirical data.
Factors affecting running economy
In The Lore of Running, Tim Noakes, a professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town, and also recreational runner, describes a number of variables that may affect running economy: vertical motion while running, the ability of the muscles to absorb energy during the shock of landing and transfer it to push-off, biomechanical factors, technique and type of activity, fitness and training, age, fatigue, gender, race, weight of clothing and shoes, and environmental conditions.
Various studies have shown marathon runners to be more economical than middle distance runners and sprinters at speeds of 6–12 miles per hour (10-19 kilometers per hour). At those speeds, film analysis has shown that sprinters and middle distance have more vertical motion than marathoners.
- Noakes, Tim. 2003. The Lore of Running. (4th edition) Oxford University Press ISBN 0-87322-959-2
- Kenney, W. Larry; Wilmore, Jack H.; Costill, David L. (May 2011) . "Energy Expenditure and Fatigue". Physiology of Sport and Exercise (5th ed.). Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-7360-9409-2. Retrieved May 12, 2012.