Running Economy

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  • #41948

    I really enjoyed the Free Speed: Faster without Training zoom talk today. Scott Johnston gave a great example of a client doing bounding and pick-ups to boost stride efficiency and Scott Semple explained his personal experience with improving running economy with transitioning to forefoot striking from heel striking.

    I am curious if you have any other strategies for improving running economy/efficiency?

    I have already employed the strategies mentioned above and have been reading some excellent and lengthy articles on running form from by Steve Magness, but would love any other recommendations. Thanks!

Posted In: Mountain Running

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    Anonymous on #41950

    Thanks! I’m glad it was helpful. In addition to the excellent information on Magness’ site, check out Bobby McGee videos. This one, in particular, was what helped me switch to a forefoot strike.

    As I mentioned in the Zoom session, be patient! It can take a long time for your legs to adapt to the new pattern. Don’t rush it.

    Anonymous on #41969


    Thanks for attending our talk yesterday. I’m glad you found it helpful.

    Lots of studies have been done to determine the factors that correlate best with running performance. They are in order of importance:

    Speed at the anaerobic/lactate threshold tops the list with an r of around .8 next comes running economy (the energy cost) at that speed with a similar or slightly lower correlation. A very distance third place goes to the much vaunted maxVO2 about which I have written extensively here

    Speed at AnT and Running Economy are the ones on this list that the majority of runners will affect the most with their training. MaxVO2 will have required enough forethought on your part to have chosen your parents very well. Not an easy task unless you are into selective breeding like is done with racing dogs and horses.

    One study that really caught my interest years ago showed that the vertical jump, standing broad jump and 40m sprint speed were the best predictors of 5km race times among a cohort of similar level runners.

    From there it is easy to make the leap that leg power is an important component of stride length. Listen to the Tim Ferris podcast #238. Ryan Flahrety trained Olympic Marathon medalist Meb Keflezighi to improve his running economy through strength training.

    The reason that works is that power is a measure of how much strength you can produce in how short of a time. Improve the strength and there is a good chance you can improve the power. Improve the power and there is a good chance the running stride length and economy will improve.

    While flat sprints are a good way to improve leg power they also entail significant injury risk because of the high impact forces. Hill sprints allow good gains in leg power with much less risk. Strides or what we call pick ups done during a longer run are done at 80-85% max speed but still have a profound effect on improving running economy. You can read about those on p168 of our book Training for the Uphill Athlete

    I hope this helps.


    Diana on #41970

    Thank you Scott and Scott. I really appreciate the resources, and look forward to working on these technique and power skills to gain some free speed. Thank you for what you do!

    Anonymous on #41971

    While flat sprints are a good way to improve leg power they also entail significant injury risk because of the high impact forces.

    …and increased range of motion, especially in hip extension. I’ve pulled groin and hamstring muscles more than once in flat sprints, but never during steep uphill sprints.

    andrew-keogh on #42022

    Really interested to listen to this zoom talk. Unfortunately missed it due to time zone miss calc. Will it be up on YouTube soon? Cheers

    Anonymous on #42094

    It is! It’s on our YouTube channel at:

    It’s on my to-do list to watch it, but I’m worried how I’ll sound… Hopefully it’s helpful!

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