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Running Economy - Essay Example

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Running economy is the relationship between running speed and the amount of oxygen required to exercise at that intensity. In comparing two runners, the runner who can exercise at a given speed while using less oxygen has a better running economy. An improvement in running economy would allow a runner to run faster over a given distance or to run for longer at a constant speed because of the reduced oxygen consumption.
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Running Economy
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Download file to see previous pages Unfortunately the authors did not report the extent of the improvements in running performance. Yet it is well known that even a small increase in running economy dramatically improves running performance.
Secondly in a study by Paavolainen et al, (1999) found that 9 weeks of explosive resistance training (plyometrics) improved running economy by 8.1% and this resulted in a 3.1% improvement in 5km running time without an increase in VO2max. The authors claim improved neuromuscular characteristics lead to this improvement.
Running economy can be improved with resistance training and all endurance athletes studied performed resistance training without causing a reduction in VO2max or other endurance measures, thereby dispelling the myth that resistance training will hinder aerobic performance. However more studies are needed in this area to support these observations in already highly trained runners. All future studies should also always include a measure of performance e.g. Improved race time or time trial performance.
It is well documented that the main physiological prerequisites for success in endurance events are VO2max, lactate threshold and running economy (in running events). In elite athletes, the VO2max has been found to be the dominant factor of success in endurance events. Traditionally, the training in endurance events such as long distance running and cross-country skiing has been targeted to improve the function of the cardio respiratory system to increase the VO2max, aerobic and anaerobic thresholds. There has been little attention to the anaerobic performance ability in endurance events. It is well documented that explosive strength and speed training cause specific adaptation to the neuromuscular system improving explosive force production ability such as rate of force development, increased rate of activation of motor units, improved anaerobic energy production and neural adaptation. When endurance athletes (runners, cross-country skiers) have engaged in explosive strength and speed training, it has been found that the endurance performance was improved significantly. Also, it has been noted that endurance athletes performing well in explosive strength tests outperformed their fellow athletes in endurance tests.
Paavolainen et al. (1991) reported that national level cross-country skiers who engaged in explosive type strength training in addition to their normal training, were able improve their force-times i.e. improve their ability to produce a given amount of force in shorter time. This was also described by a significant improvement of jump heights in both static and counter movement jumps, whereas their counterparts in control group did not. The authors concluded that the explosive type strength training is beneficial to the cross-country skiers, which improves their force production ability without reduction in aerobic capacity.
In another study, Paavolainen et al. (1999) studied the effects of explosive-strength training on 5-km running performance. In this study, the endurance athletes were able to improve their 20-m sprint time, 5-jumps and maximal isometric force in leg extensors as a result of explosive-strength type training. What was interesting, these athletes were also able to improve t ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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