Running economy (RE) is defined as “the oxygen uptake required at a given submaximal running velocity”. If you want to improve your running performance, this is thought to be the key parameter that will affect your endurance. But how can we efficiently improve our RE? The cited article – a systematic review with meta-analysis – sought out to find the optimal method.

Athletes that performed concurrent training of any type had a small improvement in RE (circa 4%) in comparison to those only engaging in endurance training or light resistance training. However, different types of concurrent training had varied effects on RE. In fact, isometric training had no significant effect on RE, while explosive or heavy weight training gave an average of 4-5% improvement.

The best result was seen in a randomized controlled trial where the training program consisted of six heavy weight lower limb exercises performed twice a week for 14 weeks, in addition to endurance training. In comparison to subjects doing only endurance training, this tested program gave a 12.5% improvement in RE.

Finally, and unsurprisingly, the review also showed that longer training duration gave increased improvement in RE, but what it really highlights is a method to improve RE within a few weeks. And in more practical terms, this review indicates that higher volumes of strength training would reduce the needed volume of endurance training. Try it out when you’re preparing for your next race!


Denadai et al. Sports Med. 2017. 47:545-554. .
Content provided by team EBT member Sarah Warsi, BSc, MSc, medical student and PhD student.

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