The aim of the present study was to investigate lower limb anthropometric and composition variables related to running economy (RE) and running performance in a homogeneous group of high level European distance runners. RE at the speeds of 14, 16 and 18 km·h-1 (189 ± 12; 188 ± 11; 187 ± 11 O2 ml·kg-1·km-1) and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) (67.3 ± 2.9 ml·kg-1·min-1) of 13 high level distance runners were determined on a motorised treadmill. Anthropometric variables and body composition were measured. The BMI was related to RE at the speed of 14 (r2 = 0.434; p = 0.014), 16 (r2 = 0.436; p = 0.014) and 18 km·h-1 (r2 = 0.389; p = 0.023). Lower leg length was negatively related to RE at the speed of 16 and showed such a tendency at the speed of 14 and 18 km·h-1. VO2max indicated a moderate relationship with RE at the speeds of 14, 16 and 18 km·h-1 (r2 = 0.372, p = 0.030; r2 = 0.350, p = 0.033; r2 = 0.376, p = 0.026, respectively) which was confirmed by subsequent partial correlation analysis. While lower leg length and the BMI presented a relationship with RE, none of the calculated body composition and anthropometric proportions were related to RE or performance. The relationship between RE and VO2max would confirm the notion that RE could be at least partly compensated by VO2max to achieve high performance results.
Keywords: DEXA scan; anthropometric characteristics; body composition; maximal oxygen uptake; running economy; running performance.