Relative Running Economy

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Because Running Economy is so important but so hard to measure, I've developed this simple alternative. This Relative Running Economy is based on how many heart beats are used for the distance covered as described in Running Economy.

1 Online Calculator

Assuming you know the distance you ran, your average Heart Rate and the time it took, you can calculate your efficiency. If you know your Resting Heart Rate, enter that as well to optimize the calculation.


Hours Minutes Seconds
Average Heart Rate
Resting Heart Rate
Distance (miles)

2 Suunto Ambit App

I have developed two apps that calculate Relative Running Economy for the Suunto Ambit. One calculates a moving average and the other a smoothed current value.

3 Garmin Utility

If you have a Garmin GPS, this utility will analyze the TCX files to calculate efficiency.

Screen shot of the Garmin Efficiency Calculator.

You can download it from Look for the tooltips that pop up when you hover over an option; they'll provide some help.

An example tooltip that gives help.

4 A more impressive alternative

Alternative Efficiency Calculator uses age, gender, and weight to calculate Calories consumed, and therefore estimate the absolute efficiency. While this is more impressive and allows for comparison between runners, it makes quite a few assumptions in the calculations. If you know your VO2max, this calculation becomes somewhat more accurate, but should still be considered only a rough approximation. Overall, I believe the simpler approach is better.