Running Economy – What’s the big deal?

Simply put, running economy is equivalent to fuel per kilometer in a car. The old cool kid on the block for measuring running capacity was VO2 Max – which is the maximum volume of oxygen that can be used. The problem being, most running events don’t occur at anywhere near maximal intensity; and therefore, a more important measure is how much oxygen an individual uses at a sub-maximal speed – Running Economy.

Factors that Affect Running Economy

Just like anything else in sports, there are factors that you can’t control (ie. Intrinsic factors – height, foot size, pelvis shape, etc) and factors that you CAN control. Here are some of the factors that you CAN control:

– Minimal Vertical Displacement (ie. How high you are in the air between each stride)
– Arm Movement (the more arm movement, the more inefficient the run)
– Ground contact time (Varies with speed – but generally, the more time you are in contact with the ground in-between strides; the more inefficient the run)

–> All 3 of these factors can be modified with Strength Training – and specifically, the research has pointed to PLYOMETRICS

1. Run more!
Remember the first time you tried to squat with a bar? How efficient would you say you were at generating force? One would predict that when learning a new skill, you tend to be inefficient. However, as the skill matures, we learn to be more economical. Regular running will improve running economy – specifically, higher volume, slower running – which shows the largest increased in mitochondria – which means more effective use of oxygen by the muscle; as well as a learned neuromuscular response to decrease a runner’s vertical displacement when they run. This equates to – better energy utilization, and less time going up and down à More energy saved = increased fuel economy!

2. Strength Training & Plyometrics

The research absolutely proves that strength training improves running economy – not because of the increase in strength, but because of the improved function of the neuromuscular system. Let’s break it down:

When you are running, a great deal of muscle activity occurs just BEFORE your foot lands o the ground, as the muscle “pre-activates” to increased stiffness of the joints before landing – which absorbs shock, but helps the muscle-tendon unit to store more energy. This muscle-tendon unit behaves like a spring, and as you push off, the energy stored in this tendon results in a more forceful push-off. So basically, if we can train this cycle (the “stretch-shortening cycle”), we can use less oxygen and do the same job, by relying on the elasticity of our tendons.

In running, this stretch-shortening cycle is crucial to performance. Fatigue over the course of the race has been shown to INCREASE contact times, resulting in more force needed to be generated vs “stored” during each stride. Picture a bouncy ball off the wall – imagine it gets softer every time you bounce it. Eventually, you’ll need to throw it much harder for it to bounce back the same distance.

The solution = PLYOMETRIC TRAINING – which is a form of power/strength training using hopping/jumping/bounding. The entire premise of plyometrics is to improve the stretch-shortening cycle (NOT cardio, which we unfortunately see too much….). The end result = improved efficiency in the stretch-shortening cycle = the body can produce the same force with less energy demand; while also increasing the tendon’s ability to generate stiffness and bear load.


  1. Plyometric training should ALWAYS be preceded by a proper warm-up
  2. Plyometric training should ALWAYS go before strength/hypertrophy exercises
  3. 48-72HRS of rest between Plyometric training sessions

Plyometric workouts are graded by the amount of “foot contacts” in a session:
               – Beginner: 80-100 contacts
               – Intermediate (some plyo experience): 100-120 contacts
               – Advanced (lots of experience): 120-140 contacts To make Plyometric exercises more difficult, you DON’T just do more jumps!!
               1. Decrease contact points (ie Single-leg)
               2. Increase the speed during each movement
               3. Increase the height of the jump (AS LONG AS YOU CAN LAND PROPERLY)
               4. Add weight to the jump

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Thomas Lalonde

Doctorate of Chiropractic

Dr. Thomas Lalonde is a Chiropractor with nearly a decade of experience in the Fitness/Rehab Industry. He holds a Diploma in Fitness and Health Promotion with honours from Humber college, a Bachelor’s Degree with Honours from Brock University, and a Doctorate of Chiropractic from The Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College.

Dr. Lalonde has an extensive background in treating sport injuries, specifically specializing in Golf Performance Therapy. In 2021, he traveled with the Toronto Players Tour as their Head Therapist, He took on the role of Head Performance Therapist for an Ontario based Golf Program and  continues to serve as the Head Therapist for the Osprey Valley Open on the PGA Tour Canada.

Throughout his education, Dr. Lalonde has spent time furthering his knowledge and is also Certified in Integrated Needling Acupuncture, Integrated Assessment + Integrated Patterning, Titleist Performance Institute, Active Release Technique as well as, Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization. He is also one of the Lead Instructors for Integrated Seminar Series – an innovative, evidence-informed courseware in mobility, movement patterning, rehabilitation, and Acupuncture for other healthcare providers taught around the world.

  • Doctor of Chiropractic
  • Bachelor of Kinesiology with Honours
  • Diploma of Fitness & Health Promotion
  • Integrated Needling Acupuncture Certified
  • Integrated Assessment
  • Integrated Patterning
  • Lead Instructor for Integrated Seminar Series
  • Titleist Performance Institute Level 1&2 Medical
  • Active Release Technique
  • Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization A&B
  • Certified Personal Trainer

Riley Dane

RMT, Hons. BA Kin

I started out in this field because I was inspired by the care and sports rehab that I received when I was an athlete. From competitive gymnastics to soccer to varsity track and field, I’ve been in and out of my fair share of clinics!

I have a passion for helping people return to doing what they love. Whether that be sports, recreational activity, or returning to a pain-free everyday life. I want to work as a team with each individual to create a treatment that fits their mental and physical needs. I believe that exercise and activity is an essential component of wellbeing and want my clients to be able to engage in these activities without compromise.

Education-wise I went to Western (GO STANGS!) for my undergrad, earning a Honours Bachelor of Arts with Specialization in Kinesiology and followed that with a Diploma of Massage Therapy from Sutherland-Chan.

In my spare time, I like to lift weights, read, play volleyball and spend time with family. I’m a huge sports fan, especially the Leafs, Raps and Jays!