What makes elite runners elite? (Part 1)

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Do you ever wonder what makes elite runners like Usain Bolt and Eliud Kipchoge so extraordinary? Sure, their physiological qualities play a major role, but it’s also their effortless, smooth-running technique that allows them to break records and achieve historic world performances. In this post, we will compare the running biomechanics data of three elite and three recreational runners at various running speeds.

Comparing runeasi running quality

‘Runeasi Running Quality’ is an overall score from 0 to 100 that captures the overall movement quality during running. It is assessed using a running gait analysis at one or more speeds. It is based on three crucial biomechanical components: dynamic stability, impact loading, and symmetry. These objective measures are linked to both running injury risk and biomechanical performance (Schütte et al. 2017; Pla et al. 2021; Melo et al. 2020; Johnson et al. 2020).

When we dive deeper into the above graph, it is clear that there is a distinct difference in performance between elite and recreational runners. The elite runners demonstrate an improvement in running quality as the speed increases, while two of the recreational runners show a decline in running quality with increasing speeds. Only one recreational runner is able to maintain his running quality from 10 to 14 km/h and has the highest running quality score at 13km/h among all runners. This is not surprising as elite runners are typically accustomed to running at higher speeds, while the recreational runner may have honed his technique at this specific speed. Beyond 14,5km/h, a clear distinction can be seen between the recreational runner and the elite runners.

Dynamic stability, a major discriminating factor
It is apparent that elite runners exhibit superior running quality performance at higher running speeds compared to recreational runners. But, which specific biomechanical parameter do elite runners excel in? Upon further examination, it is clear that dynamic stability stands out as the area where the most prominent difference occurs. Dynamic stability, which measures the side-to-side movement of the Center of Mass (CoM) and reflects the ability to control the pelvis during running, has been shown to discriminate elite runners from recreational runners and partially explains why elite runners have a superior running economy (Schütte, et al., 2017; Winter et. al, 2018).

*Illustration of the side-to-side movement of COM during the stance phase of gait

Furthermore, research has shown that fatigue can also significantly impact dynamic stability, as it reduces inter-muscular coordination and the ability to control the Center of Mass (Schütte et al., 2017; Cowley et al.,2017). While all three elite runners were still running within their comfortable running speed, the recreational runners reached their physiological limits in the last speed interval, but the decrease in dynamic stability score was already visible during the first speed intervals. it is therefore hard to state that fatigue was the primary driver for worsening dynamic stability with running speed. In conclusion, better coordination and the ability to control the hip through stabilizing muscles likely explains why the elite runners were able to maintain their stability during these running intervals.
In Part 2, we will delve deeper into impact loading and why elite runners achieve an additional biomechanical advantage in the way they absorb the impact load.

Get powerful insights in Running Performance

Speak to a member of our Runeasi team, and learn how Runeasi can help you add value to your performance assessments. 

If you already have a full picture of Runeasi, go for a 15min call to quickly chat about the possible next steps. Do you want to go more in detail and learn about our parameters, schedule a 45 min demo.


1. Global movement quality

Track and improve your client’s Runeasi running quality. Identify their weakest link with our advanced visualisation.

2. individual recommendations

Get individual training and cueing recommendations to improve your client’s weakest link.

3. Real-time feedback


4. Session trends

Learn more about your client’s running quality during daily training. Our session trends show when and where the quality drops with fatigue.

5. Quick comparisons

Compare pre-post data to show intervention effects on the movement quality. 


1. No motion artifacts. The Runeasi belt is secured tightly against the body and the skin to capture the actual movements of the body’s center of mass. Attaching or clipping the sensor directly to the pants would allow the sensor to wobble from side to side (i.e., measuring the wobbling of the pants, and not the human body.

2.  Easy to standardize the sensor’s positioning. The Runeasi belt makes it easy to consistently position the sensor close to the center of mass. Attaching the sensor directly to the pants would dramatically affect the reliability of the outputs as the height and tightness of the pants will affect the results. Moreover, these pants attachments often shift sideways while running which further decreases the data quality. 

 3. Comfortable to wear.  Hundreds of runners confirmed that they immediately forget about our belt while running. This allows them to move without any restrictions and allows us to capture movements that are representative of a client’s true biomechanics.



Accurately captures full range of motion and kinetic parameters by leveraging wide sensing range (16 Gs) & high sampling frequency (1000 Hz)


Built to withstand high intensity training and sweating. Suitable for the outdoor elements, come rain or shine. Robust to handle the repetitive and ruthless impact shocks of running.

Lightweight & SLIM

Seamlessly integrates onto the body to support movement without restrictions. Weight: 9.4g/0.33oz with battery. Dimensions (36.6mm/1.44” dia. X 10.6mm/ 0.42” thick)

No charging wireless

Replaceable coin-cell battery with operating time up to months, depending on the usage. Bluetooth® 5.0 radio for effortlessly transmitting data real-time or post-session.