What is running economy?

Training Tip: What is Running Economy?

Running Economy: The relationship between your energy consumption and your running speed.

Let's talk about running economy (RE) with ZOOMA Run Club's Coach Carola! In simple terms running economy is how much energy it takes for you to run a certain speed.

Think of a car's fuel efficiency. Runners who require LESS energy to run X speed are MORE EFFICIENT than runners who require more energy to run the same speed. RE is more than just VO2max or oxygen uptake: it's the "energy cost," which includes both aerobic and anaerobic systems.

MANY factors influence and determine your RE.

  • Some of these factors are TRAINABLE, meaning you can improve them (to a point) through proper training and other interventions; often there is a limit on how trainable these factors can be, determined by your genetic makeup.
  • Some of these factors are ENVIRONMENTAL, meaning that they're influenced by your environment (running surface is a good example of this).
  • Some factors are GENETIC.

RE is a good example of why running and training are HOLISTIC endeavors, meaning these different factors are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.

If VO2 max is your upper limit of oxygen consumption (your aerobic capacity) and lactate threshold is the level of your aerobic capacity that you can sustain for a long time, then running economy (RE) is your efficiency at converting that oxygen consumption into forward motion. For any given pace, the less energy and oxygen you use, the better.

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