I received what has to be one of the most ‘to the point’ emails I have ever read. Reader Josh from Nantucket wrote:
Dear Fit-Zaang: Tell me more about running. Thanks
Josh, thanks for your Tolstoyian email. Since I am not entirely sure what you want to know about running I am going to give you – in no specific order – 40 random facts about the sport and its athletes. Disclaimer: I researched these points carefully over the course of several days. I tried to use multiple sources for each point; and in many cases I linked to my source. This said, my information is only as good as what it is predicated on. If you feel any point needs correction please advise.
40 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT RUNNING AND RUNNERS:
Of the 8,000 dedicated runners surveyed in the 2007 National Runner Survey53% were male and 47% were female; 93% run at least 3 days per week, 64% at least 4 days per week, and 35% run 5 or more days per week; 35% have never completed a marathon, 64% have finished at least 1 or more, 33% have finished at least 4 or more, and 17% have finished 10 or more marathons; 94% are college educated.
At regular points during the running cycle both feet are off the ground.
The first recorded Olympic running games took place in 776 BCE.
The Tailteann Games, an Irish sporting festival honoring Goddess Tailtiu, dates back to 1829 BCE, and is one of the earliest records of competitive running.
Human feet can produce a pint of sweat per day.
Running is less efficient than walking in terms of calories expended per unit distance – though it is faster. Due to air resistance at higher speeds, running on a track requires more energy than does walking to cover the same distance. As reported by Hall et al., men on a track running at a pace of 6.3 mph use 1.20 times as much energy to travel the same distance as when walking at a pace of 3.15 mph; but when on a treadmill running 6.3 mph they use just 1.01 times as much energy to travel the same distance as when walking at 3.15 mph.
Exercise physiologists have found that stride rates are extremely consistent among professional runners – they are between 185 and 200 steps per minute.
The fastest human foot speed on record is 44.72 km/h (27.79 mph), seen during a 100 meter sprint by Usain Bolt.
9.58 seconds: The current male 100m world record set by Usain Bolt of Jamaica on August 16, 2009 at the 2009 World Athletics Championships
The marathon races in the first few Olympic Games were not of a set length. They were approximately 25 miles – roughly the distance from Marathon to Athens by the longer, flatter route.
Horst Preisler of Germany is the only person to have ever completed 1,000 marathons.
“Runner’s High” is a real phenomenon. From the Oxford Journal: Ten athletes were scanned at 2 separate occasions in random order, at rest and after 2 h of endurance running (21.5 ± 4.7 km). Binding kinetics of [18F]FDPN were quantified by basis pursuit denoising (DEPICT software). Statistical parametric mapping (SPM2) was used for voxelwise analyses to determine relative changes in ligand binding after running and correlations of opioid binding with euphoria ratings. Reductions in opioid receptor availability were identified preferentially in prefrontal and limbic/paralimbic brain structures. The level of euphoria was significantly increased after running and was inversely correlated with opioid binding in prefrontal/orbitofrontal cortices, the anterior cingulate cortex, bilateral insula, parainsular cortex, and temporoparietal regions. These findings support the “opioid theory” of the runner’s high and suggest region-specific effects in frontolimbic brain areas that are involved in the processing of affective states and mood.
The first recorded fell running (hill running) race took place in Scotland. King Malcolm Canmore organized a race in Braemar in 1040 – or perhaps as late as 1064, reputedly to find a swift messenger.
2 h 3:59 min: The current male marathon world record set by Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia on September 28, 2008 at the Berlin Marathon
2 h 15:25 min: The current female marathon world record set by Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain on April 13, 2003 at the London Marathon
In 2005 the average marathon time in the U.S. was 4 hours 32 minutes 8 seconds for men, 5 hours 6 minutes 8 seconds for women.
Runners can store about 2,000 calories worth of glycogen in their bodies – enough for about 30 km (18–20 miles) of running.
Over one billion pairs of running shoes are sold worldwide each year.
According to a study presented in 2010, running a marathon can result in decreased function of more than half the segments in the heart’s main pumping chamber – fortunately other parts of the heart take over. Full recovery is reached within three months or less. The fitter the runner, the lesser the effect.
South Africa hosts the world’s oldest and largest ultra-marathon, the 90 km Comrades Marathon. Approximately 12,000 runners complete Comrades each year – with over 24,500 competing in 2000.
Western States Endurance Run is the world’s oldest 100-mile trail run. The race began unofficially in 1974 when local horseman Gordy Ainsleigh’s horse for the 100-mile Tevis Cup horse-race came up lame. He decided to travel the course on foot, finishing in 23 hours and 47 minutes.
Dean Karnazes is one of the most prolific modern runners. He has completed a number of endurance events – most notably he ran 135 miles nonstop across Death Valley in 120°F (49°C) temperatures, and a marathon to the South Pole at −40°F (-40°C). In 2006, he ran 50 marathons in all 50 US states in 50 consecutive days, finishing with the New York City Marathon, which he completed in three hours and thirty seconds.
Since the mid-1970s, three independent groups have collected data on heart attack deaths during marathons. When the results are pooled together more than 4.5 million marathoners over the last 30 years are taken into account. Of these, 41 runners died of heart attacks – a rate of one in every 110,476 marathoners.
A 220-pound person running an eight-minute mile burns about 150 calories, while a 120-pound person running at the same pace only burns about 82 calories.
The Bay to Breakers in San Francisco is the largest US running race with well over 100,000 participants annually.
To date the oldest man to complete a marathon is Dimitrion Yordanidis. He ran the 1976 Athens marathon in seven hours 33 minutes at the age of 98.
There are upwards of 75 million runners in the USA.
Abebe Bikila ran the 1960 summer Olympics marathon barefoot in a record time of 2 h 15:16 min.
During a 10-mile run, the feet make 15,000 strikes, at a force of three to four times the body’s weight.
26 bones, 33 joints, 112 ligaments, and a network of tendons, nerves, and blood vessels – all in the feet – have to work together when we run.
During a 200-mile run Dean Karnazes kept a food log; he consumed 28,000 calories in 46 hours and 17 minutes of running – and he still lost five pounds!
Nerve impulses travel to and from the brain at 170 miles per hour when we run.
It takes 200 muscles to take a step.
When we run the human heart creates enough pressure to squirt blood 30 feet.
3 min 43.13 sec: The fastest recorded mile time for a human ran byHicham El Guerrouj of Morocco on July 7, 1999
4 min 12.56 sec: The fastest recorded mile time for a female ran bySvetlana Masterkova of Russia on August 14, 1996
The cheetah is considered the fastest land animal. It can achieve speeds upwards of 70 miles per hour.
The garden snail is considered the slowest land animal with a speed of only .03 miles per hour.