Aging and Factors Related to Running Economy


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Abstract

Quinn, TJ, Manley, MJ, Aziz, J, Padham, JL, and MacKenzie, AM. Aging and factors related to running economy. J Strength Cond Res 25(11): 2971–2979, 2011—The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship that age has on factors affecting running economy (RE) in competitive distance runners. Fifty-one male and female subelite distance runners (Young [Y]: 18–39 years [n = 18]; Master [M]: 40–59 years [n = 22]; and Older [O]: 60–older [n = 11]) were measured for RE, step rate, lactate threshold (LT), O2max, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, power, and body composition. An RE test was conducted at 4 different velocities (161, 188, 215, and 241 m·min−1), with subjects running for 5 minutes at each velocity. The steady-state O2 during the last minute of each stage was recorded and plotted vs. speed, and a regression equation was formulated. A 1 × 3 analysis of variance revealed no differences in the slopes of the RE regression lines among age groups (y = 0.1827x − 0.2974; R2 = 0.9511 [Y]; y = 0.1988x − 1.0416; R2 = 0.9697 [M]; y = 0.1727x + 3.0252; R2 = 0.9618 [O]). The O2max was significantly lower in the O group compared to in the Y and M groups (Y = 64.1 ± 3.2; M = 56.8 ± 2.7; O = 44.4 ± 1.7 mlO2·kg−1·min−1). The maximal heart rate and velocity @ LT were significantly different among all age groups (Y = 197 ± 4; M = 183 ± 2; O = 170 ± 6 b·min−1 and Y = 289.7 ± 27.0; M = 251.5 ± 32.9; O = 212.3 ± 24.6 m·min−1, respectively). The O2 @ LT was significantly lower in the O group compared to in the Y and M groups (Y = 50.3 ± 2.0; M = 48.8 ± 2.9; O = 34.9 ± 3.2 mlO2·kg−1·min−1). The O group was significantly lower than in the Y and M groups in flexibility, power, and upper body strength. Multiple regression analyses showed that strength and power were significantly related to running velocity. The results from this cross-sectional analysis suggest that age-related declines in running performance are associated with declines in maximal and submaximal cardiorespiratory variables and declines in strength and power, not because of declines in running economy.

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