When you’re tall, the questions of playing basketball or volleyball can sometimes feel constant. However, has anyone mention your long stride and ask if you are a runner? We are here to find out if height has anything to do with increasing running speed.
First, what causes one to be able to run fast? Speed is determined by stride length and stride rate. It seems that those with longer legs would have the upper hand with stride length. However, stride length is also impacted by flexibility. If a runner with shorter legs has more flexibility than a runner with longer legs, they could match the taller runner’s stride in a race.
Stride rate is determined by the force and frequency your foot hits the ground to propel you forward. Those who have the advantage with stride rate tend to be those who weigh less since physics teaches us it is harder to move a heavier object forward compared to a lighter object. It would seem that shorter runners may have the advantage here since those who are shorter have less body mass to propel forward than taller runners.
However, there was a study shared at livescience.com (link: https://www.livescience.com/7819-taller-athletes-faster-study-finds.html) that takes on another aspect of speed and that is aerodynamics. Jordan Charles, a grad from Duke University, studied the recorder holders in both swimming and running over the past century and found that there is a slenderness factor that can assist with aerodynamics in a race.
The slenderness factor was described as, “Comparing height with a calculated “width” of the athlete, slenderness is a measurement of mass spread out over a long frame. The athlete that can build on more muscle mass over an aerodynamic frame will have the advantage.”
According to this study, those who benefit from the slenderness factor are those with a long frame or in other words those who are tall. This would explain why Usain Bolt, who stands at 6’ 5’’and according to this study has a very high slenderness factor, has dominated the sprinting world records for years.
Happy running, friends! It seems your height may just come as an advantage.