Anthropometric determinants of economical runners
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Running economy is one of the most important factors in predicting performance in distance running, especially in elite runners. A substantial difference, (e.g.; 30-40%) in running economy can be seen even among elite runners. While economy has traditionally been tested at 240-268 m/min, these paces are slower than those of elite runners in competition. It was hypothesized that various anthropometric and flexibility variables, previously evaluated in the scientific literature, would more strongly correlated with running economy at speeds in excess of 268 m/min. Considering the link between elastic energy storage and return and the metabolic cost of running, variables that allow for increased storage might be correlated with enhanced running economy. In a group of nine well-trained male runners these variables were examined in relation to running economy measured as oxygen consumption in ml/kg/min during treadmill running at 268 m/min, 290 m/min, 310 m/min and 320 m/min. At 268 m/min, Achilles tendon moment arm and arch stiffness both displayed moderate correlations (r=0.69, p<.05) and (r=-0.673, p<.05), respectively) with oxygen consumption. Also, proportional leg length showed a strong negative correlation (r=-0.85, p<.05) with oxygen consumption at 320 m/min. In conclusion, the present study found smaller moment arms of the Achilles tendon, stiffer arches, and relative leg length to be related to reduced oxygen consumption while running at submaximal paces.