What is Running Economy?
Running Economy refers to the amount of energy that your body uses to run a certain distance. If you run with a better Running Economy then you use less energy for a given distance or, looked at a different way, you can cover a longer distance per unit of energy.
Running Economy is considered as one of the most important physiological factors for runners due it to being the best predictor of long-distance running performance in groups of otherwise similar runners.
At NURVV, we express Running Economy as distance per calorie (in meters/kcal or feet/kcal), where more distance covered for each calorie corresponds to increased Running Economy.
Monitoring Running Economy
In the NURVV app, Running Economy is always reported in:
- Run Summary for all run types
After a run has been completed, your Average Running Economy will be shown in the list of summary metrics
- Running Economy Profile
By tapping the Running Economy tab in Run Summary, you will see how your Running Economy changed over the course of your run and the average Running Economy for each split. You will also be able to toggle pace onto the graph to see how and if your Running Economy changed when you changed your pace and also what the relationship was between Cadence, Step Length and Running Economy when you toggle RE + form button.
- Workout Summary for Cadence and Step Length Workouts
After a Cadence or Step Length Workout is completed, the Running Economy metric will be available to view on the graph in the Workout Summary. There, you will be able to analyse its relationship with pace and relevant metrics throughout each section of your run.
Improving Running Economy
Having a good Running Economy will make it easier for you to run longer or run faster for the same effort.
If you are an experienced runner, there is a good chance that you are already quite economical at the pace you typically run at. However, if you wish to improve your Running Economy metric at any other pace, say Race Pace or long runs, you should start training at those paces more frequently and re-optimize your running technique (using the data from Form Coach) to help make improvements in Running Economy.
Strategies to help you improve your Running Economy:
- Optimize your running technique
For each individual runner, in each of their pace “ranges” there is a combination of technical parameters that will maximize their Running Economy for that pace. Some technique factors that can be manipulated to reduce the energy cost of running include Cadence, Step Length, and Footstrike.
- Add strength training to your workout routine
Focusing on single leg activation whilst performing both explosive and high resistance exercises will improve muscle and tendon stiffness, enhancing the utilisation of elastic energy and minimising the amount of energy lost during initial ground contact.
- Perform plyometrics
Introducing plyometrics (rebound exercises) to your training schedule will strengthen your muscles and tendons and aid the transfer of elastic energy during motion and reduce the energy expenditure required to stabilise your joints. Always build up the amount and intensity of plyometric exercises gradually into your training schedule, giving your body a chance to adapt.
- Work on your balance
Good balance and stability will prevent you from using too much energy on unnecessary movements (especially side to side) and developing compensatory motion pathways.
- Ensure a steady and consistent progression in running mileage
Literature suggests that runners are more likely to run more economically when they regularly engage in distance running rather than just perform short and/or intense sessions. However, when building up mileage, always try to stay in your optimal Training Load and train consistently - rapid changes to your weekly mileage can lead to under and overtraining and lead to injuries.