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5 Reasons Tall People Are Faster Runners
1. Tall People Have Longer Legs
This genetic structure reason may seem fairly obvious but only if you think about it greater detail. A tall person has longer legs than a shorter person, therefore they can cover more ground than a shorter person.
Right? Well, that’s part of it. You could just as easily look at the short person and say that because their legs are shorter that they could move them faster, and as a result, cover more ground more quickly. However, this just isn’t the case, and here’s why.
Tall people tend to weight more than short people. And while this does give them more weight to carry, potentially slowing them down, most tall people are use to their weight. So they have built up the ability to move around normally despite it.
More weight means stronger legs in general. And stronger legs mean faster leg movement. Following this line of reasoning we can conclude that a tall person can move their legs just as fast as a shorter person, maybe even faster in some cases. This, combined with the fact that they cover ground much faster, makes them naturally faster runners.
Force Behind Ground Contact – Tall vs Short Runners
While stride distance and the speed of your strides play a crucial role in your running speed, there’s one more factor to consider when it comes to short peoples legs vs tall peoples legs. That is the amount of force your feet impact with the ground.
The greater the impact the slower you may run. Less force is created when the distance between foot to ground is minimized. Tall people may have the disadvantage here because the foot to ground distance is greater than a short persons.
#2. Taller People Are More Energy Efficient
Now, let’s talk about another genetic structure reason that tall people are faster: energy efficiency. As you probably know, your muscles are basically like batteries in the fact that they store energy. Larger muscles store more energy, this is a fact that any power-lifter can tell you.
Now, let’s think about a small person’s body vs a tall person’s body, which has more muscle? You guessed it, the taller person in most cases. Which is why a tall persons considered stronger by comparison.
Since tall people naturally have more muscle mass, they are able to bring out more energy when they run. This extra energy allows them to move their legs with greater velocity, out pacing their smaller counter parts.
It isn’t just leg speed though, it’s also the fact that taller people can bring out greater endurance in their bodies as well, so long as they’ve trained themselves to minimize the lactic acid that builds up as a fatigue toxin.
With that problem out of the way, a tall person can gain a huge edge when it comes to long distance running in addition to short sprints. However, as documented on runnersworld, the number of tall runners over 6 feet is considerably rare. It appears as tho the longevity of a marathon runner lays with the shorter runners.
#3. The Flexibility Factor
Did you know that tall people are generally more flexible than short people? It’s true. A short or average person doesn’t have to move their limbs anywhere near as far as a tall person when walking, running, swimming, or just moving about day to day. This natural flexibility allows taller people to “open their gait” as they run, stretching their legs further, and hitting longer strides.
In addition to longer strides that cover more ground, having a longer gait also helps to conserve energy as well. Think of how a cheetah runs, covering ground so fast that half the time it’s legs aren’t even touching the ground. This is how it saves energy, and maintains its crazy fast speed. Tall people are the same. By having a longer gait, they conserve more energy which can be converted into raw speed, as well as enhancing their overall endurance.
#4. Heat Dissipation Factor
One argument that people make when they want to say that short people can run faster than tall people is that shorter bodies have greater heat dissipation than tall people. They say this is because a smaller body has less heat to get rid of than a large body, but let’s look at the true facts here.
A tall body has more surface area, and more surface area means more sweat glands. More sweat glands mean more sweat. And more sweat means less body heat building up internally.
So what does all this mean? This means that since a tall body will build up less heat less quickly thanks to its greater surface area, a tall person doesn’t have to worry about “overheating” while sprinting, or running long distance as much as a shorter person. This is not only a physical advantage, but also a mental one as well, as the fear of heatstroke is less prominent in tall people, allowing them to be more aggressive in their running style.
The final factor when it comes to tall people being able to run faster than short people is inertial. Now, inertia is a basic concept, but gets confusing for some people if they don’t have a general understanding of physics. Everyone knows that an object in motion tends to stay in motion, but many forget that heavier objects retain more movement speed/energy than smaller objects. This is the basic idea of inertia.
So, let’s apply this to tall runners vs short runners. Due to their greater mass, a tall runner will build up more inertia than a small runner. While it is true that it takes longer to get that inertia going, it becomes much greater when it does.
This means that tall runners can let this inertia do some of the work for them as they run, lessening the burden on their bodies and enhancing their speed and stamina. On the other hand, a short person will gain inertia quickly, but have to work much harder at maintaining it as it doesn’t benefit them as much once they have it.
Tall Olympian Runners
There have been many tall Olympian runners who have proven the fact that tall people run faster than people who are short. But obviously this is not an exhausted comparison, just to show that if you’re tall, you can be a great Olympian. Let’s go over a few examples.
Jack Bacheler from the USA – Stood a massive 6 foot 7 inches tall and placed 9th in the 1972 Olympic Marathon.
Derek Clayton from Australia – Was a moderate 6 foot 1.5 inches tall and was the first to break the 2:10 mark.
Usain Bolt from Jamacia – Tallest sprinting champion in Olympic history at 6 foot 5.
Don Kardong from the USA – Came in an impressive 4th at the 1976 Olympic Marathon. He stands a big 6 foot three inches tall.
Jessie Maduka from Germany – Standing an impressive 6 foot tall, this female athlete won a silver medal in the 4 x 100 relay in the 2012 World Junior Championships. She was also a successful sprinter before moving onto the triple jump.
Being Tall Doesn’t Make You A Slow Runner
If you’re a tall person and you want to be a sprinter, marathoner, or some other kind of runner, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. You have many natural, biological, and scientific advantages over shorter individuals, and there is no reason you shouldn’t use them to pursue your dream. If you like running, start training, and get to it. You’ll be glad you did.
While the debate over short runners vs tall runners will most likely continue until the end of time, the truth of the matter is some people are just faster runners regardless of their height. Unless you compare to people of different heights who live the exact same lifestyle with the exact amount of training, it’s near impossible to prove otherwise.