Running Economy: The Forgotten Factor in Elite Performance

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Running performance depends on maximal oxygen uptake (V-dotO2max), the ability to sustain a high percentage of V-dotO2max for an extended period of time and running economy. Running economy has been studied relatively less than the other factors. Running economy, measured as steady state oxygen uptake (V-dotO2) at intensities below the ventilatory threshold is the standard method. Extrapolation to a common running speed (268 m/min) or as the V-dotO2 required to run a kilometer is the standard method of assessment. Individuals of East African origin may be systematically more economical, although a smaller body size and a thinner lower leg may be the primary factors. Strategies for improving running economy remain to be developed, although it appears that high intensity running may be a common element acting to improve economy.

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