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13-04-2011, 09:33   #1
acurno
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Do tall people have a running advantage?

Just talking to a colleague of mine about marathon running. Now she's 5 foot while I'm 6'2. Obviously my natural stride is far longer than hers, so would I be right in assuming if two people had the same level of fitness, but at different heights, then clearly the taller person would run a quicker marathon?Or any distance really?

Anyway of calculating how to negate this handicap!? Is my 3.08 marathon pb for a 6'2er comparable in energy spent to a 3.30 5 footer?
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13-04-2011, 09:50   #2
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I was just about to agree with you, and then checked Haile Gebrselassie's height. He's only 5'5", so I don't know. I guess the length of your legs (as opposed to simple height) is one of many factors that affects ability. But, then some people say that it's all down to work, rather than talent. Interesting question though.
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13-04-2011, 10:02   #3
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You have to factor in rate of stride turnover as well as stride length. I suppose if both were equal then a trained 7-footer would be unbeatable But I don't see that happening generally.
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13-04-2011, 10:06   #4
Venjur
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It's not really a rule - but taller people tend to have slower turn over than smaller people and spend more time in the air between strides (bounce).

If you think about it, your stride may be covering more ground, but you are touching down less often and propelling yourself at a slower rate. Importantly, you are also likely heavier.

I've never known it not to balance out and I've never seen a trend that favours height or a lack of it. That said - African atheltes tend to be shorter so the opposite of what you are saying might be true!

Last edited by Venjur; 13-04-2011 at 10:23.
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13-04-2011, 10:07   #5
YFlyer
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Kenenisa Bekele is 5'4''.
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13-04-2011, 10:09   #6
plodder
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Venjur View Post
Importantly, you are also likely heavier.
That seems to be a bigger factor allright. article
Quote:
Distance running is different. Tall people naturally have longer strides, but stride length, it turns out, does not determine speed. Running requires that you lift your body off the ground with each step, propelling yourself forward. The more you weigh, the harder you have to work to lift your body and the slower you will be.

Last edited by plodder; 13-04-2011 at 10:38.
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13-04-2011, 10:17   #7
acurno
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Good points and an interesting article. It's clearly not black and white so!
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13-04-2011, 10:17   #8
ThisRegard
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Didn't one or two sports scientist type guys on the James Cracknell MDS episode say that someone his size wasn't suited to being a long distance runner at all ?

Last edited by ThisRegard; 13-04-2011 at 10:19.
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13-04-2011, 10:19   #9
BornToRun88
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For sprinting, I would say yes. The vast majority of the top Irish sprinters, bar Chris Russell and Dean Adams, are tall fellas. I know a guy in my club, short guy around 5'3, great stride when starting to sprint but gradually loses his speed past 50m. His short legs fail to keep him consistent over 100 or 200m etc.

For running in general, I notice small people have an advantage in indoor competitions over tall people.
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13-04-2011, 10:21   #10
ManFromAtlantis
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re stride turn over. i've often heard it said ' incraese stride turn over' as if it was a simple option. is it just not another way of saying ' get fitter' ?
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13-04-2011, 10:28   #11
YFlyer
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Originally Posted by ThisRegard View Post
Didn't one or two sports scientist type guys on the James Cracknell MDS episode say that someone his size wasn't suited to being a long distance runner at all ?
Cracknell has a high level of fitness with alot of grit and determination which is well suited for ultra distance (high endurance) events. Can't see him doing well in shorter distances, such as the marathon and shorter, since running at a fast tempo would be required.

Last edited by YFlyer; 14-04-2011 at 21:26.
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13-04-2011, 10:32   #12
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It;s generally proven that shorter guys are much more suited to top class marathon running due to the likelihood of a more economical style and less pressure on joints due to less weight.

Paul Tergat was considered 'too tall' for the marathon and he is only 5'11. Guys around the 5.4-5.8 mark (Geb, Bekele, Tadese, Wanjiru, Baldini, Goumri, Kebede, Kirui and dozens more) appear to have the natural physical advantage.
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13-04-2011, 10:50   #13
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The article above refers to small people (short and slight) and big people (tall and muscular). There's no reference to those of us who fit neither category. What short would my body type have been best suited to? I'm tall-ish 6'1 but swimming and rowing certainly wouldn't suit due to my pathetic girl-like arms (71kg-ish)!
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13-04-2011, 10:54   #14
myflipflops
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BetterThanHoyte View Post
The article above refers to small people (short and slight) and big people (tall and muscular). There's no reference to those of us who fit neither category. What short would my body type have been best suited to? I'm tall-ish 6'1 but swimming and rowing certainly wouldn't suit due to my pathetic girl-like arms (71kg-ish)!
Asbel Kiprop is 6'2 and probably weighs less than you. He's Olympic champ over the 1500.
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13-04-2011, 10:57   #15
RunForestRun
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I think it probably all evens out. Smaller guys have shorter stride but less weight to be dragging along. Look at Tsegaye Kebede. The guy is only 5 foot 2 so his stride is fairly short. But he's only 50kg so he has very little mass to be carrying along.

I know there's probably more of the elite East Africans who are small but look at some of these guys:

Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, a four time winner in the Boston marathon and winner of Chicago is 6 foot 3!!! However, he is 70kg in weight versus 52kg for the likes of Wanjiru, Haile, etc who are around 5 foot 5.

Paul Tergat as mentioned is 5 foot 11 and was a world record holder and considered one of the all time greats on the road and the track.

David Rudisha at 6 foot 3 is head and shoulders above most of his fellow 800m competitors.

Sprinting would seem to favour taller athletes in general. Tyson Gay looks tiny on the track but he's actually 5 foot 11 and 75kg. Alongside Bolt and Powell at 6 5 and 6 3, he appears lightweight but again it seems to even out. However, I can't think of any high profile successful sprinter who was less than 5 foot 10, and certainly there are none who were 5 foot 5 or under.

Body Mass Index would seem to be more important than height. All of the long distance guys probably have BMIs of 17 or 18 so they're extremelly light weight for their relative heights. The sprinters BMIs are probably more like 22 or over as their muscle mass is much greater.

Last edited by RunForestRun; 13-04-2011 at 11:00.
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