A FORMER FELLOW FACULTY MEMBER made the statement that he was "too tall to run" when we were talking at a University function recently, upon learning of my involvement with EarnedRuns. I had never heard someone use this excuse, and was amazed when he justified his reasoning by saying that his orthopedic surgeon son had advised him on this subject.
It seems other people have had this opinion. On the "ASK THE COACHES" page of RunnersWorld.com, a 6’2” runner asks whether he is too tall to be a distance runner, since most of the great runners he knows of have been shorter. The longer the race distance he thinks, like a marathon, the slower the performance of taller runners. The answer by Coach Benson is “no way” (my interpretation). The RW coach provides an example of a 6”6” Olympian marathoner and advises the question-writer that in runners with good cardiovascular conditioning, the need is to become stronger to run faster.
To back up the coach's opinion there's an article from RunnersConnect.com, “Are You Too Big To Run An Ultra?” by John Davis. It is not dated, but must have been posted during or after 2013, as indicated by his quotation of research findings from that year. Essentially the article says research indicates that 1) height does not predict performance in an ultra-marathon in any of the studies referenced, 2) body mass may correlate with slower finish times in the longest multi-day races, and 3) faster personal best time in a marathon was associated with a better finish time in a 1 day /24 hour race (a “shorter“ race by the crazy ultra-marathon standard). If the research pertains to ultra distance racers, surely it applies to shorter distance runners.
Another reason given for not running by people who claim their bodies are not designed for it is that their “size” predisposes to injury. Again, John Davis, is the author of a piece from RunnersConnect “More Weight = More Injuries?" Why this Is NOT True”, that analyzes some research on the topic. He concludes “on balance, the scientific research appears to show that being overweight is not associated with a higher injury risk.” You might be slower, possibly due to self-limitation of running and training activities, he reports, but not more prone to injury. He ends by raising an unanswered question of whether the individual who GAINS weight, and is larger, is at greater risk of injury compared to their former smaller self.
Finally, a recent MyFitnessPal blog item by Sarah Wassner Flynn “4 Things People Get Wrong About Running” attempts to bust a few myths that may prevent some wanna-be-runners from getting out and trying to run. The four myths include:
- “Running is bad for my knees”
- “I’m going to lose a ton of weight as soon as I start running”
- “I don’t need to do any other exercise if I run”
- “I’m not SKINNY or young ENOUGH to start running”
Considering the above discussion, the last myth, that one must be thin to run, has been busted; weight alone should not be an excuse! Although just one portion of her article is mentioned here, the entire piece is thoughtful and encouraging.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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