Running economy : the forgotten factor in elite performance

Sports Med. 2007;37(4-5):316-9. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200737040-00011.


Running performance depends on maximal oxygen uptake (VO(2max)), the ability to sustain a high percentage of VO(2max) 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 (VO(2)) at intensities below the ventilatory threshold is the standard method. Extrapolation to a common running speed (268 m/min) or as the VO(2) 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.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Running / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*