The Effect of Training on Running Economy and Performance in Recreational Athletes


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Abstract

Purpose:To analyze the effect of an 8-wk training program on the energy cost of running (C) and the performance of 16 recreational males.Methods:A training group (TG, N = 8, 25.3 ± 2.9 yr, 183.6 ± 7.3 cm, 80.9 ± 9.6 kg) and a control group (CG, N = 8, 24.3 ± 3.7 yr, 179.3 ± 6.1 cm, 75.5 ± 8.0 kg) performed three two-stage tests (TST) at weeks 0, 4, and 8 (W0, W4, W8). Speeds of the first (v-slow) and second stage (v-fast) were 2.4 ± 0.3 vs 2.5 ± 0.4 m·s−1 and 3.7 ± 0.3 vs 3.9 ± 0.4 m·s−1 (TG vs CG), respectively. Maximum running time at v-fast (T) served as the measure of performance. C was calculated from oxygen uptake above rest, blood lactate concentration, and speed. The TG trained 3–5× wk−1 at an HR of ±10 beats of the HR measured at v-slow at W0 (161 ± 12 bpm). The CG did not train.Results:At W0, there were no significant differences between the groups in T (377 ± 47 vs 335 ± 34 s) and C (v-slow: 4.1 ± 0.3 vs 4.3 ± 0.4 J·kg−1·m−1; v-fast: 4.2 ± 0.4 vs 4.0 ± 0.4 J·kg−1·m−1). In the CG, T and C remained almost unchanged at W4 (363 ± 38 s, 4.0 ± 0.4 J·kg−1·m−1) and at W8 (342 ± 49 s, 4.0 ± 0.3 J·kg−1·m−1). In the TG, T increased (P < 0.05) at W4 (469 ± 45 s) and at W8 (591 ± 109 s). At v-fast, also C increased (P < 0.05) at W8 (4.6 ± 0.4 J·kg−1·m−1), whereas at v-slow, C decreased (P < 0.05) at W4 (3.7 ± 0.4 J·kg−1·m−1) with no further change at W8 (3.7 ± 0.4 J·kg−1·m−1).Conclusion:The training successfully increased running performance in terms of T. During the initial training period, C could be reduced at the speed predominantly used in training. However, at high running speeds, C may even increase if the corresponding running time is largely increased.

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