The study shown below concluded that the runners over 60 were just as economical as even the youngest ones in the study. Oxygen utilization was just a efficient. The obvious problem is that as we age the other parts are not quite as youthful. Muscular strength, muscle mass, tissue elasticity, cartilage pliability etc all reduce and so power output and other parameters reduce. The good thing is that with sensible training, all areas can be improved which when combined with a system that is still economical into our aging years, we can all still see some pretty bright days ahead of us. Sure the parts are going to be more apt to breakdown and tolerate less, but even into the golden years, our discussions about training smarter, not harder still hold true.
Aging and factors related to running economy.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship that age has on factors affecting running economy (RE) in competitive distance runners. Fifty-one male and female subelite distance runners (Young [Y]: 18-39 years [n = 18]; Master [M]: 40-59 years [n = 22]; and Older [O]: 60-older [n = 11]) were measured for RE, step rate, lactate threshold (LT), VO2max, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, power, and body composition. An RE test was conducted at 4 different velocities (161, 188, 215, and 241 m·min(-1)), with subjects running for 5 minutes at each velocity. , , ,
Bottom line from the study: The results from this cross-sectional analysis suggest that age-related declines in running performance are associated with declines in maximal and submaximal cardiorespiratory variables and declines in strength and power, not because of declines in running economy.