Thursday, April 21, 2011

Short-Sighted Runner

I'm a little short... for words.

I don't feel that way at home, but once I step out into the public, I see that I am not blessed in the height department.  When I tell people I am 5-feet, 1-inch tall short, I understand why it's hard to find pants that fit my legs properly. 

Besides having to find "short"-length pants, one thing that frustrates me is when I am running on the treadmill, someone much taller than me can be running at the same speed and seemingly put in less effort.

Is this in my imagination?

This New York Times article claims that bigger runners are not better, but this is only because shorter people weigh less. 
Distance running is different. Tall people naturally have longer strides, but stride length, it turns out, does not determine speed. Running requires that you lift your body off the ground with each step, propelling yourself forward. The more you weigh, the harder you have to work to lift your body and the slower you will be.
I don't really buy it.  My legs seemingly have to go through 3 strides when a taller person just takes a step.  I have to put in three times more footstrikes to get where I need to go.  And my disproportionately short legs have to haul my torso (which I feel is of normal length) with less muscle.

Yes, elites are not that tall, but then again, they are often very, very thin.  Some of the best track and field athletes are TALL.

Long Beach Half-Marathon (2009)
I had always thought I'd end up a few inches taller than I actually am.  A nice 5'4" (the extra inches in my legs) would have been great.  I think I'd be proportionally better suited for running and be able to get pants in normal lengths without tailoring them and not feel like a dwarf when I don't wear heels.  Most of all, I would get more for my training buck, right?

Also, another good thing about being taller is higher metabolic needs = can eat more food without gaining weight.

P.S. Last chance to enter the Sun Chlorella giveaway!  I will draw winners on Monday!


  1. i'm guessing it doesn't help that desiree (2nd at boston) is 5'2"? it was really interesting to see her running along side the keyans. she's the same height, but the difference in their leg lengths was pretty incredible.

    i hear you on the pants thing though. i hate getting thing altered, but nothing seems to fit just right. it was nice, before i ran, i used to wear a lot of high heels and that seemed to make it all work out fine...but lately that just hurts too much. so i've taken to just wearing dresses. :)