Running economy (RE) means runners’ energy utilization when they are running at aerobic intensity. There are multiple factors, which plays the role of the running economy. The most direct method to measure the running economy is oxygen consumption. Runners who consume less oxygen while running at a given velocity have a better running economy.
factors affecting running economy
There are many genetics factors, which you can’t affect much. Some of these also change a little bit over the years, especially if the running has started at a young age. For example neural signalling, motor programming, muscle fiber type, core temperature, body type and limb lengths. Some of these changes due to the impact of training, but limb lengths are quite difficult to change.
Still, there are many things which we can affect. Runners with a good economy have low body fat percentage. Overall body mass is closer to the hip, while low leg morphology is thin. Also, they have better use of elastic energy and good cardiorespiratory efficiencies, such as VO2max, low heart rate and high minute ventilation.
Kinetics and kinematics are also huge factors. Things like low peak ground reaction force, no additional arm movement, less upright movement make running effective. Also less range of movement, but the great angular velocity of toe-off and acute knee angles during swing-phase safe energy and improve running economy.
Shoes and surface are external factors, which also plays the role of the running economy. Shoes should be light weighted and proper cushioning to its purpose. A firmer terrain generates a more energetic return. But also firm grass terrain generates greater return than soft terrain as its rebound properties.
Training can improve all of these. The main thing is to focus on the proper running technique to improve speed and save energy. Keep sure there is enough variety on the training, include also strength training to the program, as it increases muscle power.