Dear Editor Carol,
I am a fifth-grade student. My Science Fair Project is "Does height affect
how fast you run?"
Can you help me find information on this topic?
Ashley, Run for a lifetime,
Coincidentally, I was just reading something about this, last night, in the book
Training for Young Distance Runners by Larry Greene and Russ Pate.
On page 125 they state that, "Although both short and tall individuals can be successful distance runners, tall individuals with long strides tend to perform better at middle distances, such as 800 meters. And, although it's certainly not always true (see my note below), shorter runners tend to perform better at long distances, such as 3,000 to 5,000 meters."
In this same book there is information from a study by Burke and Brush in 1979 (Physiological and anthropometic assessment of successful teenage female distance runners. Research Quarterly 50: 180- 187.) It includes a chart on the height and weight percentiles of young (average age of 16.2 years) elite female runners. Basically the information is interpreted to say that the girls were of average height (equal to or taller than 50 percent of all females in the study) and of the 10th to 25th percentile in weight (heavier than only 10 - 25 percent of the females in the study).
You may want to try to find the original article by Burke and Brush and perhaps do an internet search with the help of your parents or teacher to see if Burke and Brush have done more work on this subject.
BTW, the word 'anthropometric' is a new word for me. It has something to do with 'body measurements' so it may be a good word to input for a search on this topic. You could also input 'genetics', and 'elite runners'. An Olympic fact book may have some measurements of the different body types of the athletes.
Good luck with this project. Please let us know how it turns out. Maybe you can write up your results for KidsRunning.Com and send us a photo of your project.
Note from the kid's editor:
I will be happy to point any students to Web pages to help with homework and projects, when I can. I do believe that kids' need assistance sometimes, just to get started with their research, but that the bulk of the research should be done on their own.
This is the fourth request I've had this week for something of this nature. Please keep those requests coming.
Amby Burfoot, RW and Carol Goodrow, KR at the Manchester Road Race, November, 2000.
Amby is a marathon runner and is very tall. We often describe someone like Amby who also has long legs as being 'all legs'. He is light in weight and small boned with little body fat. He is another profile of an elite runner.
That's me, standing next to Amby (he's sitting). See our bib numbers? They are inversely proportional to our running speed in mph (smile). I run too, but I wasn't blessed with the 50th percentile of height and the 10th percentile of weight described in the study of elite female runners. I am short but not light and my bones are not small. I work hard and love running, but due to my genetics probably could never have been an elite runner. Does that stop me? Of course not. See you on the roads.
Do you have any questions about a child's running program? Feel free to email the kid's editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.