Why running efficiency and resilience go so well together

Why running efficiency and resilience go so well together

Unless you’ve stood atop an Olympic podium or broken tape at a major road race, your running efficiency is likely on par with most other runners. This means that only about 20% of the energy you expend while running is actually used to propel yourself forward. The other 80% is lost – wasted – as a result of heat produced by muscle contractions and energy loss from up/down motion you can’t recover for forward movement.1,2

The science behind running motion and efficiency is fascinating, but we’ll spare you the details for now and jump straight to the punchline: Recapturing even a portion of this lost energy while running can help you improve your time and distance capabilities and get more enjoyment every time you run.

Consider two runners with the same work capacity, or maximal oxygen consumption (also known as peak oxygen uptake or VO2 max). They can be the same age with the same healthy background, and train together every day for weeks leading up to any given race. Yet, on the big day itself, their race times can vary up to 20% due to differences in their efficiency.3,4

To look at it another way, this 20% efficiency variation is the difference between running a 3-hour and 3.5-hour marathon with the same fitness level!

For most runners, even a mere 5% efficiency increase translates to more than one minute’s difference over a 5K. So any improvements you can make in this area essentially equate to “free speed.” You’ll move faster at a given level of effort.

There are many strategies for improving efficiency that are easily realized through specific training, technique and gear-selection strategies (among other things). And we will cover these methods in-depth elsewhere in this site. However, there is one training strategy that dominates the rest.

It’s pretty obvious too. Run more!

The more you run, the more efficient you become. This is why running resilience pairs so well with running efficiency.

Yet this “pretty obvious” training strategy does come with its risks. Because, in order to run more consistently over many weeks, months and years, you must defend against pain, injury and fatigue. And that’s easier said than done.

Studies repeatedly show that runners have very high rates of injury – about 37% to 56% in a given year depending on which exact study you read.5 Then there are the setbacks that come due to lesser levels of pain, fatigue or lack of motivation.

Those hurdles are the enemies to consistency… and consistency is what brings the biggest long-term gains in running performance.

As such, resilience against any and all anti-consistency factors is clearly needed to improve your running time and capabilities.

Why resilience?

Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”6 And running tends to break down both body and mind over time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however.

In fact, this breakdown and repair process is exactly how we get stronger and faster. So preparing your- self – your whole self – to be more resistant to injury, fatigue and demotivation is critical to running success!

This requires practice. It is definitely one of those things you want to work on before you need it.

In return, you become a better athlete and a faster runner. You’ll feel better, have more confidence and have a better shot at avoiding the dreaded pitfalls so many other runners face both on and off the track, country road or early-morning cityscape.

That’s the purpose of this site. We want you to experience the joy of becoming a faster, stronger and more confident version of the runner you already are!

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