ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Long Distance Running Efficiency, Economy Does not Decline with Age

Updated on November 17, 2016
janderson99 profile image

Dr John applies his Biochemistry & Physiology research background (PhD) to develop reviews of exercises, training, run, walk, workouts, gym

It would seem obvious that the efficiency shown by older runners would decline with age and that this would partially explain the decline in performance with age.

Studies have shown that the performance of senior male and female athletes declines about 3.4% per year , initially slowly from age 50 to 75 years and more dramatically after and age or 75 years.

Men showed no difference in decline of sprint and endurance events, whereas the sprint decline was greater than in endurance events for women, especially after the age of 75 years.

However recent research has shown that this decline in performance was not due to a deterioration in the efficiency with which older runners ran.

Maintaining the ideal stride length for your age is also very important.

Research Study Findings

Investigators studied a total of 51 competitive athletes, who ranged in age from 18 years to 77 years of age.

The study was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Each runner was super fit and trained regularly and was the best of the best, with a top three placing in their age group for the local 10-kilometer or 5-kilometer road races.

Their running efficiency was measured by how much oxygen an athlete consumed to run at a particular speed. The key findings were:

► Economical and fit runners will be less constrained by restrictions in oxygen uptake rates and will outdistance and run faster over long distances.

► Contrary to expectations, efficiency did not decline with age. Older athletes consumed similar amounts of oxygen at the same speed as younger athletes.

Exercise economy (i.e. metabolic cost of sustained sub-maximal exercise) does not change with age in endurance-trained adults.

► However, older runners are slower overall than younger runners.

Performance Limitation of Older Athletes

Their VO2 max, which is a measure of the body's capacity to use oxygen during exercise and transport it, was significantly lower in older athletes as was their maximal heart rates.

These two things set limits on their maximum performance.

► At moderate speeds they are just as efficient, but they cannot sustain the higher speeds that they used to do as young athletes.

The progressive reduction in VO2max with age appears to be the primary mechanism accompanied by decreases in the maximal stroke volume and heart rate. See: Endurance exercise performance in Masters athletes: age-associated changes and underlying physiological mechanisms.

► Older athletes cannot maintain the same level of training as they did when they were younger.

► This applies to the intensity (speed) and volume of the exercise that can be performed during training sessions.

Other Causes of Declining Performance with Age

The researchers also looked at other factors that may contribute to the decline in performance with age – power, strength and flexibility, to see whether these factors could perhaps explain why running performance declines with age, despite overall efficiency and economy at sub-maximal performance levels being independent of age. Their findings were:

► The older runners showed significantly worse results for all three of these measures.

► Strength in the upper-body is required to help drive runners uphill and to maintain leg turnover.

► Muscle power, which is how fast the strength is developed determines how well runners can change pace or direction or run up hills.

► Flexibility determines step frequency and stride length.

These findings should not be regarded as negative. Strength does declines with age, but the decline can be minimized and delayed by strength training.

Retention of Muscle Mass

Other studies have shown that older athletes do not show the decline in muscle mass that occurs with most people as they get older.

► It appears to be a matter of "If you don't use it - You will Lose it". See Muscle Loss with Age | If you Don't Use it You Will Lose It!

► It appears that the maximum performance of older athletes is far below their potential.

► The average finishing time for the fastest group of men older than 60 in the New York Marathon has dropped by more than seven minutes over the last few years.

► For older women, the race times have declined by more than 16 minutes.

► Older runners have probably not yet reached their limits in marathon performance.

Decline in Strength with Age
Decline in Strength with Age
Decline in Muscle Mass with Age
Decline in Muscle Mass with Age
Endurance performance and Masters athletes
Endurance performance and Masters athletes | Source

© 2011 Dr. John Anderson

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • CyclingFitness profile image

    Liam Hallam 

    6 years ago from Nottingham UK

    Nice article. Would have liked to have seen the actual article you have extracted the information cited somewhere instead of just a link to your link to the pdf of the info.

    You may need to consider a little editing of your images as it leaves a huge white gap on the left side

  • bloggernotjogger profile image

    bloggernotjogger 

    6 years ago from La Cala de Mijas, Spain

    Great article! I´m 48 years old and just started running again. I haven´t run in years, but it´s coming back very quickly. My aim is to run the Málaga marathon in a couple of years, when I turn fifty. I´ll probably run it the year before as well just to prep. I want to win my age category, so I have lots of training ahead. Btw, excellent use of graphs. I´m going to have to look at this a few times.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)