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So it really IS true -- running is harder for some of us!

emily_in_nc2010-05-02 00:53:53 +0000 #1
Finally...some validation of what has been discussed and debated on here before! I always had a gut feeling that taller people were better runners (or just ran with greater ease), and there may be something to it after all:

From www.drmirkin.com

Dr. Gabe Mirkin's Fitness and Health e-Zine

October 28, 2007

Longer Lower Legs More Efficient

People who have longer lower leg lengths (the distance

from knee to ankle) will usually have greater endurance during

running or walking than those with shorter lower leg lengths.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin showed that people

with longer lower legs use less energy when they run (Journal

of Human Evolution, August 2007).

In a previous paper in the same journal, these authors

showed that people with longer lower legs are better able to

prevent heat build-up, which slows you down and makes you

tired. When you exercise, almost 80 percent of the energy that

you use to power your muscles is lost as heat. So the harder you

exercise, the more heat you produce and the harder your heart

has to work to get rid of the extra heat. You prevent heat buildup

by your heart pumping hot blood from your muscles to the skin

where it is cooled by sweat and conduction and radiation.

People with longer lower limbs use up less oxygen and

produce less carbon dioxide for the same energy expenditure.

Therefore they are more efficient and can go further because

their bodies require less oxygen.

--

Emily, very short in the lower leg and always have a tough time running


velogirl2010-05-02 01:05:49 +0000 #2
Isn't this referring to the proportion of lower leg to upper leg length? Not that someone is necessarily taller. Just my take on it.

Taller athletes are actually less efficient as runners -- they have more body weight to carry and more body mass to move through space.

Taller athletes are built to be swimmers.
Jolt2010-05-02 01:40:08 +0000 #3
Quote:

Originally Posted by velogirl

Taller athletes are built to be swimmers.

Hmm...maybe THAT was my issue on the swim team!!
rocknrollgirl2010-05-02 01:55:13 +0000 #4
I don't know about that...my DH is 6'6" tall and the swim does not come easy to him....but he runs like the wind.

Now before you say it..yes he can swim. He is a very good swimmer and trained with me in the pool all summer. But those long legs just sink......
VeloVT2010-05-02 02:01:54 +0000 #5
Huh, interesting. Isn't it the opposite for cycling (relatively long femurs are advantageous)?
emily_in_nc2010-05-02 02:25:50 +0000 #6
Quote:

Originally Posted by velogirl

Isn't this referring to the proportion of lower leg to upper leg length? Not that someone is necessarily taller. Just my take on it.

Hmmm, I can't tell. The word "proportion" is not used, so I took it to mean the actual lower leg length -- the area of that part of the body, as it were. And since taller folks tend to have taller lower legs.... but I haven't read the original study, just the blurb in the Mirkin newsletter.

If your interpretation is correct, I'm still running-challenged as I have long femurs for my (short) height!

Emily
HappyAnika2010-05-02 01:59:53 +0000 #7
I think the article is valid, if all other things are equal. The arguments alone don't really hold. If it was a simple matter of having more skin to dissipate heat, then it would reason that large people would be more efficient runners. But as someone already pointed out, larger = more mass = more work.

I'm above average height for a female (5'7"), but I have relatively short lower legs. (And I have a hard time with running). Like Emily, I seem to have long femurs for my height. DH is 6'5", is an average runner, below average swimmer, and above average cyclist. He has pretty long lower legs, but he weighs 204 which is just a lot of mass to move.

It would be interesting if the study looked more at the proportion of lower leg to upper leg (and to overall height). . . .

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