Effects of three modest levels of proximal loading on marathon pace running economy

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© Western Kentucky University. All rights reserved. This study examined the effect of modest increases in proximal body mass on running economy expressed as metabolic cost (MC). External loads of 1.6 (L), 2.4 (M), and 3.2 kg (H) were added to the anterior and posterior torso region of male (n = 18) and female (n = 18) runners using a double-layered compression garment with gel inserts. MC was evaluated using stoichiometry equations of data collected via indirect calorimetry. Data was collected during four, 5-min running bouts at marathon pace for the 3 load levels and an unloaded state (CON). When data from both sexes were combined, MC for CON (13.2 ± 2.7) was lower (p < 0.05) versus L (13.5 ± 2.6), M (13.6 ± 2.6), and H (13.7 ± 2.6 kcal/min), but L did not differ from CON when data was analyzed for each sex. Male runners exhibited stepped increases in MC across loads and a weak-moderate relationship (r = 0.37; p < 0.01) between percentage change in absolute MC and increased percent body mass. A prediction model for MC (∆% kcal/min = 0.98(∆% body mass) – 0.91; SEE = ± 2.5%) was developed. For female runners, L increased MC by ~3.5% above CON, but no differentiation was found among L, M, and H, limiting the development of a prediction equation for females. Modest increases in body mass can produce detectable and potentially important levels of running economy impairment, but the relationship between changes in body mass and RE are complex, particularly in regards to sex.

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International Journal of Exercise Science

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