The Correlation between Running Economy and Maximal Oxygen Uptake: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Relationships in Highly Trained Distance Runners

A. J. (Andrew) Shaw, Stephen A. Ingham, Gregory Atkinson, Jonathan P. Folland

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    Abstract

    A positive relationship between running economy and maximal oxygen uptake (V̇O2max) has been postulated in trained athletes, but previous evidence is equivocal and could have been confounded by statistical artefacts. Whether this relationship is preserved in response to running training (changes in running economy and V̇O2max) has yet to be explored. This study examined the relationships of (i) running economy and V̇O2max between runners, and (ii) the changes in running economy and V̇O2max that occur within runners in response to habitual training. 168 trained distance runners (males, n = 98, V̇O2max 73.0 ± 6.3 mLkg-1min-1; females, n = 70, V̇O2max 65.2 ± 5.9 mL kg-1min-1) performed a discontinuous submaximal running test to determine running economy (kcalkm-1). A continuous incremental treadmill running test to volitional exhaustion was used to determine V̇O2max 54 participants (males, n = 27; females, n = 27) also completed at least one follow up assessment. Partial correlation analysis revealed small positive relationships between running economy and V̇O2max (males r = 0.26, females r = 0.25; P<0.006), in addition to moderate positive relationships between the changes in running economy and V̇O2max in response to habitual training (r = 0.35; P<0.001). In conclusion, the current investigation demonstrates that only a small to moderate relationship exists between running economy and V̇O2max in highly trained distance runners. With >85% of the variance in these parameters unexplained by this relationship, these findings reaffirm that running economy and V̇O2max are primarily determined independently.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Volume10
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2015

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