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Aging and Factors Related to Running Economy

Quinn, Timothy J1; Manley, Michelle J1; Aziz, Jason2; Padham, Jamie L3; MacKenzie, Allison M4

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: November 2011 - Volume 25 - Issue 11 - pp 2971-2979
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318212dd0e
Original Research

Quinn, TJ, Manley, MJ, Aziz, J, Padham, JL, and MacKenzie, AM. Aging and factors related to running economy. J Strength Cond Res 25(11): 2971–2979, 2011—The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship that age has on factors affecting running economy (RE) in competitive distance runners. Fifty-one male and female subelite distance runners (Young [Y]: 18–39 years [n = 18]; Master [M]: 40–59 years [n = 22]; and Older [O]: 60–older [n = 11]) were measured for RE, step rate, lactate threshold (LT), V̇O2max, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, power, and body composition. An RE test was conducted at 4 different velocities (161, 188, 215, and 241 m·min−1), with subjects running for 5 minutes at each velocity. The steady-state V̇O2 during the last minute of each stage was recorded and plotted vs. speed, and a regression equation was formulated. A 1 × 3 analysis of variance revealed no differences in the slopes of the RE regression lines among age groups (y = 0.1827x − 0.2974; R2 = 0.9511 [Y]; y = 0.1988x − 1.0416; R2 = 0.9697 [M]; y = 0.1727x + 3.0252; R2 = 0.9618 [O]). The V̇O2max was significantly lower in the O group compared to in the Y and M groups (Y = 64.1 ± 3.2; M = 56.8 ± 2.7; O = 44.4 ± 1.7 mlO2·kg−1·min−1). The maximal heart rate and velocity @ LT were significantly different among all age groups (Y = 197 ± 4; M = 183 ± 2; O = 170 ± 6 b·min−1 and Y = 289.7 ± 27.0; M = 251.5 ± 32.9; O = 212.3 ± 24.6 m·min−1, respectively). The V̇O2 @ LT was significantly lower in the O group compared to in the Y and M groups (Y = 50.3 ± 2.0; M = 48.8 ± 2.9; O = 34.9 ± 3.2 mlO2·kg−1·min−1). The O group was significantly lower than in the Y and M groups in flexibility, power, and upper body strength. Multiple regression analyses showed that strength and power were significantly related to running velocity. The results from this cross-sectional analysis suggest that age-related declines in running performance are associated with declines in maximal and submaximal cardiorespiratory variables and declines in strength and power, not because of declines in running economy.

1Department of Kinesiology, Robert Kertzer Exercise Physiology Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire; 2Department of Cardiology, Concord Hospital, Concord, New Hampshire; 3Department of Physical Therapy, Husson University, Bangor, Maine; and 4Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, University of Buffalo, Buffalo, New York

Address correspondence to Dr. Timothy J. Quinn,

© 2011 National Strength and Conditioning Association