RUNNING TRAINING DOES NOT NECESSARILY CHANGE MECHANICS
Lake, M. J., & Cavanagh, P. R. (1996). Six weeks of training does not change running mechanics or improve running economy. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 28, 860-869.
Male runners were assigned to a training (N = 8) and a control (N = 7) group and examined before and after a six-week training program. An incremental treadmill test and filming on a treadmill at 3.36 m/s were performed.
The training group improved in VO2max (57.7 to 61.3 ml/kg/min) and performance. VO2submax, a measure of running economy, was worse (more oxygen was consumed to perform at the set pace after training than before) in the training group. Heart rate and measures of relative intensity for the training group were significantly lowered.
Performance improved in the direction of training stimulation, that is, at paces faster than the submaximal test velocity. It is possible that the trained runners' economy was adversely affected because the slow test velocity felt like "running with brakes on." It is well known that performing above and below a personally preferred tempo and velocity increases inefficiency.
Since running is a very "natural" activity, it is likely that many biomechanical features are ingrained in individual's techniques. Very concerted efforts and effective instructional techniques would need to be employed to produce technique alterations.
". . . individuals adopt running techniques that are best suited to their own anatomical and physiological constraints, and running economy associated with an individual depends on the influence of a large number of mechanical variables, of which some would be economical and others would be uneconomical." (p. 867)
Implication. In activities where movement patterns are developed naturally and very frequently stimulated by life-style demands, it is unlikely that a relatively brief exposure to training will alter mechanical properties. However, when physiological adaptations support performing at a higher velocity in a more economical manner, it is likely that slower speeds not accommodated by training will regress in economy.
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