Five Ways to Boost your Running Economy

Get the best out of your body by boosting your running economy

by Garth Fox

running economy, increase running economy, strides, running efficiency
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VO2 max - the measure of how much oxygen your body can get to your muscles - has tended to  grab all the headlines when it comes to evaluating endurance running performance. After all, it's relatively straightforward to measure, gives quantifiable data and is a decent starting point for gauging an athlete's overall endurance potential.

But any event over about 3000m is too long to sustain at 100 per cent of our maximum oxygen uptake. So marathoners and 10K fans alike need to know not just how much oxygen they can take in, but how efficiently they can use it when barrelling along at race pace. This is known as your 'running economy'.

To some extent running economy is genetic, but it can be improved. Early in Paula Radcliffe's career, she was tested consistently for VO2 max and running economy. Her VO2 max declined by eight per cent  over five years, but she improved her economy by over 10 per cent and took 46 seconds off her 3000m time.

Scientists say the two most important factors are wasting less energy through vertical movement and reducing the braking forces generated when your foot lands. Varying the speed, terrain and distance will help improve your economy via these two means. The following drills will be of particular benefit.

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