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It’s a common conception that tall people can run faster than others. Before answering the question, “do tall people run faster?” let’s figure out why many people carry this opinion.
The assumption that height adds speed to a person’s movement comes from the understanding that taller people usually have a longer stride, which means fewer steps are required to cover a particular distance.
However, it’s important to understand that apart from longer strides, there are numerous other factors at play when it comes to determining the speed of a sprinter. More often than not, the advantages of height in running are overshadowed by the other factors involved. It’s safe to say that being taller doesn’t make you run faster, and it’s only a myth.
Do Tall People Run Faster? Analyzing Speed, Distance, and Height
One of the major reasons to believe that height has a role to play in one’s running speed also seems to develop from the success of Usain Bolt as a sprinter. This 6-foot-5-inch Jamaican sprinter’s success should rather be attributed to rigorous training, strong willpower, and unsurpassed ability to perform the best.
However, research does say that running distance does have a bearing on whether tall people perform better or not. Let’s understand this through the point of view of different running disciplines.
Contrary to popular belief, sprinting is extremely tough to do for people who fall on the taller end of the spectrum.
This can be attributed to the fact that taller people, on account of their heavier body mass, have to provide more inertia in order to get their bodies moving. In other words, it takes a lot of force to move their bodies as they’re bigger and, therefore, heavier.
However, it’s also true that sprinters usually need some amount of body mass in order to produce the explosive force that’s important for a good start. So, if we were to put extremely short people in comparison to those who are tall and bulky, the latter would have an edge.
Even though it seems that taller people have an advantage when it comes to long-distance running, it’s usually the opposite, as research shows.
There’s plenty of time to take advantage of long strides, but the heavier weight of taller people comes off as a major disadvantage. It’s found that significantly shorter people tend to perform better when compared to taller people.
Taller people find it difficult to match others when it comes to endurance – the ability to sustain a required speed over a length of time.
As commonly seen, smaller runners usually have the upper hand in distance running, and Olympic distance runners are found to be shorter and lighter than 100-meter sprinters.
This is the only form of running in which taller people might have an advantage, thanks to the medium distance of the run.
In medium-distance running, taller people get enough time to overcome the relatively slow start and gain back as much speed as they can. Moreover, longer strides help the taller person in covering the end distance with fewer steps.
Taller people can finish with maximum speed, thereby making sure it plays to their advantage here. Medium-distance runners, usually in the 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, etc., are usually on the taller side.
An important factor to consider here is that weight can be a big disadvantage, which is why extremely tall people might still face some form of disadvantage. This is because the higher the height, the higher the weight of a person, and the higher the difficulty of maintaining a maximum speed for a particular time period.
What Are Important Factors When it Comes to Running Speed?
One can point out numerous factors that are important when it comes to determining a person’s running speed. It’s important to remember that no matter what height a person is, every runner is unique – depending on that, they must train accordingly.
Every athlete has different weights, bone densities, body fat percentage, muscle mass, etc. However, one common factor is the ability to intake the maximum amount of oxygen for a longer time period.
The more an athlete trains his/her body, the higher the capacity to intake large amounts of oxygen, increasing endurance. Taller people have bigger muscles to store more fuel, thereby generating more power – on the other hand, shorter people are found to be more efficient.
Practice makes everything perfect, especially when it’s coupled with strength and body flexibility. Holistic training is super important when it comes to increasing running speed.
Strength training and running practice are both equally important when it comes to increasing one’s speed and agility. High-intensity interval training, cross-training, and the incline treadmill, among others, are some core exercises that help with improving running speed and endurance.
Stretching is also important to relax tense muscles and make sure you can properly train your body without straining your joints. Yoga is another great form of flexibility-enhancing practice that can be incorporated periodically or into your daily routine.
Cadence Is More Important Than Leg Stride
If leg stride was that important, you wouldn’t find so many short marathon runners or Olympians. This is because fast cadence, also known as foot turnover or stride rate, is way more important than leg stride when it comes to running.
Quicker steps are more crucial than longer steps. Fast steps usually help runners complete a race in a much shorter length of time. However, longer strides don’t necessarily mean quicker strides.
The best way to improve your cadence is by including hill sprints in your running routine. This will help you get faster, and also make you feel much lighter. Incline sprints can easily be incorporated into your daily treadmill routine.
Do tall people run faster? This is not backed by scientific data. A sprinter’s height might actually come off as a disadvantage, but with proper training, it’s possible to overcome that.
Remember, success in a sport like running is dependent on multiple factors, height not being one of them. With the right determination, mindset, and training, everyone can learn to run at their top speed.
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