Self-optimization of Stride Length Among Experienced and Inexperienced Runners

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International Journal of Exercise Science, ISSN: 1939-795X, Vol: 10, Issue: 3, Page: 446-453

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Hunter, Iain; Tracy, James B; Ward, Jared
running; economy; leg stiffness; oxygen uptake; Biomechanics and Neural Control; Exercise Physiology; Kinesiology
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International Journal of Exercise Science 10(3): 446-453, 2017. Experienced runners appear to naturally select a stride length which is optimal for minimizing oxygen uptake. However, whether this ability is naturally built into the human body or whether it is learned through experience has not been previously tested. This study investigated whether inexperienced runners are as capable as experienced runners of self-optimizing stride length to minimize oxygen uptake. Thirty-three subjects (nineteen experienced and fourteen inexperienced) ran for twenty-minutes while preferred and economical stride lengths were measured. A t-test checked for differences between the experienced and inexperienced groups in the percent increase of oxygen uptake due to not running at the most economical stride length. No difference was found between groups with the increase in oxygen uptake due to not being optimized (p=0.47). The average percent increase in oxygen uptake above the most economical for inexperienced and experienced runners was 1.8% and 1.2% respectively. We concluded that inexperienced and experienced runners are equally capable of matching preferred stride length to economical stride length, thus athletes and coaches do not need to alter runner’s stride length when economy is the main concern.