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Interesting ways to improve economy here. I can attest that the VoMax workouts you mentioned in the first study do seem to help economy on the bike as well.

I just finished a short block of VoMax work (6 days total, consisting of 7 VoMax workouts spaced over 5 of those days) and can tell my efficiency has gone up. The training benefits of the workouts will only become realized as the recovery week I am in progresses, but I can already tell that my pedal stroke and cadence has improved, even though I was doing specific work on my pedal stroke before.


It's interesting that in Part I and Part II you state that economy is not as critical at the shorter distances, but the research studies cited all use 5k or shorter distances and demonstrate significant differences in performance. As a grad student involved in studies of running economy at similar distances (sub 10k), the differences of running economy make a huge difference. Extrapolated over a longer distance, the time differences would be larger, but the percentage of difference made at shorter events are substantial.

Relatedly, running economy seems to stem from contributions of muscle fiber type and morphology (unchangable), but also neuromuscular coordination and biomechanics (gait characteristics; both somewhat trainable). The studies noted largely address the neuromuscular coordination. While running form may be beyond the scope of these articles, differences in gait can have significant impacts on running economy, too, including stride rate, foot contact/airborne time, and the braking/acceleration phases of a stride.


I am helping to coach a group of ladies, 20-40 yrs old. Many haven’t run since school, some primary school. There are plenty of calf shufflers! The increase in running activity has led to several with calf and Achilles soreness. Advice from an Olympic level 200/400m runner is ‘they need to re-learn how to sprint first, to get their upper leg muscles, the big muscles, working particularly Gluts, subsequently learning the efficiency and economical techniques described in your Bible’.
But calf shuffling actually looks economical, low height, close to CoG, but with huge emphasis on lower leg muscles, some with ball of foot, very few heel. All your running drills focus on lower leg. Are Gluts, Hamstrings and Quads dominant, even necessary, in endurance running?
What would you recommend for turning the novice of all novices into endurance runners?

Joe Friel

Paul--My answers to your 2 questions: 1. The primary mover in running is the calf muscle. The other muscles play a 'supportive' role. 2. The only thing that will turn novices with a given level of talent into advanced runners is time and training.


There will be an uprising in Europe if you don't give us "Part 3" pretty soon ;)

Joe Friel

Johan--Sorry, but there are only 2 parts. No revolutions, please. :)

pulse oxmeters

But there are also others over which you do have some control. In other words, you may be able to do certain things in your training to boost your economy.


Have you ever tinkered with your aero position to try to get the most out of the aerodynamic advantages? This study researched the following ideas that you might be interested in: 1) constant tire pressure, a change in body position would alter measures of aerodynamic resistance but not rolling resistance and 2) in a single body position, changes in tire pressure would alter measures of rolling resistance but not aerodynamic resistance .

Mike Bresnahan

How does one measure cycling economy? Is it possible to measure it in the field?

Joe Friel

Mike B--In the lab it's usually done as the oxygen cost of producing a submax wattage. Hard, if not impossible, to measure with any decent degree of accuracy in the field.

Dorian Wrigley

Hi Joe, In a recent press conference with Robbie Mcewen he commented on Why Cavendish is the top sprinter in cycling today. He spoke about his body shape - short arms and legs which put him into the ideal aerodynamic position when in the drops "a time trial helmet shape on a bicycle".
He concluded that as a result he needs to put out fewer watts to maintain the same speed as his rivals thus giving him a significant edge in sprints.
Clearly these occur at neuromuscular levels and not between AT and VO2max but would this be another example of economy benefit?

Joe Friel

Dorian--Economy also includes aerodynamics. More specifically, low drag. That's what I believe he is referring to.

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