Allometric scaling of body mass in running economy data: An important consideration in modeling marathon performance

Christopher John Lundstrom, George R Biltz, Eric M Snyder, Stacy Jean Ingraham


The purpose of this study was to compare metabolic variables during submaximal running as predictors of marathon performance. Running economy (RE) and respiratory exchange ratio (RER) data were gathered during a 30 min incremental treadmill run completed within 2 weeks prior to running a 42.2-km marathon. Paces during the treadmill run progressed every 5 min from 75-100% of 10-km race velocity. Variables at each stage were analyzed as predictors of relative marathon performance (RMP) in competitive (COMP) and recreational (REC) runners. Twenty-nine runners were classified as COMP (n = 12; age 30 ± 8 years) or REC (n =17; age 20 ± 1 year) based on performance in shorter races. RMP was calculated as percent difference from predicted marathon finish time. Two methods of calculating RE were used: unscaled ( and with allometric scaling of body mass ( The COMP runners were significantly more economical than REC (p=0.005; p=0.015 with scaling). For the whole population, RE with and without scaling was significantly correlated with RMP. Within groups, RMP was not significantly correlated with RE unless scaling was used: COMP runners at 75% (p=0.044), 80% (p=0.040), and REC runners at 85% (p=0.038). Runners classified as COMP were more economical than REC, but RER was not different. The use of allometric scaling is important when assessing homogeneous groups. In this study, allometrically-scaled RE at 80-85% of 10-km velocity was the best predictor of RMP within groups.




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