Running economy, preferred step length correlated to body dimensions in elite middle distance runners

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1996 Mar;36(1):7-15.


The purpose of this research was to study the relationship between running economy, step length, and body dimensions. Elite middle distance runners were tested for one high submaximal volocity very close to usual training speeds, near the anaerobic threshold (15 km.h-1) and one low submaximal velocity very different to usual training speeds, near the speed transition between walking and running (9 km.h-1). All the subjects were selected after a maximal protocol to be homogeneous on VO2max (65.7 +/- 2.3 Then they were monitored during two submaximal tread-mill tests at 54.4 +/- 2.2% (9 km.h-1) and 78.5 +/- 3.9% VO2max (15 km.h-1). Body weight, body fat, height, sitting height, low extremity length (height - sitting height), relative low extremity length, leg length, thigh length, foot length were determined. The results indicate an effect of the running speed on the relationship between body dimensions, step length and VO2. The relation was inverse between running economy, body dimensions at 9 and 15 km.h-1 and no significant correlation was found for running economy between these two speeds. Furthermore, the mode of expressing VO2 in affects these relations. Thus, this result allows us to make the assumption that mechanisms of adaptation can be different according to the running speed, and the specific constraints that it represents for each subject.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Body Weight
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Running / physiology*