On Running Efficiency, or.... Why I'm Not a Bad Runner But Really Suck At Cycling...

There's an interesting article in the Times about running efficiency.

To sum, there are 3 factors that determine success in running. They are:
* Your VO Max. I know from my glory days that I am every so slightly above average in this area.
* Your lactic threshold - how well you hold off lactic acid production. I know from my sucky performance in such workouts and the fact that I seem to sweat lactic acid on the bike that I'm nothing special here, either.
* Your running efficiency - how well you take running energy and turn that into miles. This seems to be the only area where I have any talent since a. I finish in the top quarter of my age group so I must have some genetic juice somewhere and b.The workouts designed to stimulate improvements in this area are the long runs - the only workouts in the FIRST program I can easily accomplish.

But here's the money quote from the Times article:
He recently studied runners and measured their economy when they ran. Then he measured it when they cycled, when they walked uphill at three different inclines on a treadmill, when they stepped up and down on a step, and when they cranked an ergometer with their arms. There was no relationship between being economical at one activity and being economical at another.

In other words (as I've long felt and feared), the thing that makes me a barely good runner will not make me a better cyclist. This is why after a year of training, my running is going well and I'm still Mr. 16mph on the bike.

Understand, I'm not throwing the bike away - I think the cross-training has done wonders for my recovery and running. But I'm thinking that if I care about performance (and let's face it - I do), there might not be many triathlons in my future. And the article does say that an abundance of slow-twitch fibers tend to lead to cycling economy and trust me - I've got plenty of slow twitch fibers. At least I must, because I certainly don't have fast twitch fibers, so unless I'm full of packing peanuts, they must be slow twitch fibers....


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