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Running inefficiency - the key to ultra distance?

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Running inefficiency - the key to ultra distance?

Post  Mark B on Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:33 pm

An interesting item in an article about what makes a successful ultramarathon runner.  


One aspect could well be... biomechanical inefficiency? 

"For ultramarathons, one idea is that running economy (an index of efficiency) is less important in extreme endurance events. Surprisingly, inefficient running form may lead to less mechanical wear and tear, allowing these athletes to succeed when the distances increase."


http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/outside-fitness-center/-Are-Ultra-Distance-Athletes-Special.html?page=1
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Re: Running inefficiency - the key to ultra distance?

Post  Nick Morris on Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:58 pm

That's an interesting theory, but I still think that inefficiency over an even greater amount of time would lead to more wear and tear.  Wouldn't efficiency make things easier over a longer period of time?
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Re: Running inefficiency - the key to ultra distance?

Post  Mark B on Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:25 pm

Nick Morris wrote:That's an interesting theory, but I still think that inefficiency over an even greater amount of time would lead to more wear and tear.  Wouldn't efficiency make things easier over a longer period of time?
Easier, as in using less energy, perhaps. But in this instance, I think the notion is that, if you are efficient, your bones, tendons and muscles are following nearly exactly the same course of motion with every step -- so the repetitive stresses will be focused on one specific area.

Inefficiency means that each step is slightly askew compared to the one before, so the wear is more evenly distributed.

This may be yet another one of those paradoxical things I love so much. Smile

It also suggests to me that optimum efficiency is more important to top-end speed than long-term endurance.
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Re: Running inefficiency - the key to ultra distance?

Post  mul21 on Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:18 pm

Mark B wrote:It also suggests to me that optimum efficiency is more important to top-end speed than long-term endurance.
I'll disagree with this slightly, but only to say that I might revise that to say efficiency is more important to top end speed than extreme endurance.  At the marathon distance, you still need exceptional efficiency to execute the fastest race you're capable of since it's not a distance to the point of exhaustion like the 100 milers are.
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Re: Running inefficiency - the key to ultra distance?

Post  Mark B on Wed Oct 09, 2013 10:53 pm

mul21 wrote:
Mark B wrote:It also suggests to me that optimum efficiency is more important to top-end speed than long-term endurance.
I'll disagree with this slightly, but only to say that I might revise that to say efficiency is more important to top end speed than extreme endurance.  At the marathon distance, you still need exceptional efficiency to execute the fastest race you're capable of since it's not a distance to the point of exhaustion like the 100 milers are.
Fair point. When I wrote "long-term," I really meant "extreme."
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