How fast can humans run? Profeet ask the most interesting questions...

He shaved just under 90 seconds off the previous time of 2:02:57, to make the new record an astonishing 2:01:39 and elusively closer to the magical sub 2.

We know in the contrasting distance the legend himself, Usain Bolt, holds the record for the fastest 100m of all time at an eye watering 9.58 seconds. But the key question remains, how fast really can we go? How long until the sub 9.5 second and sub 2hr barriers are broken? We’ve been looking into some research journals and the thought is at the rate at which Eluid Kipchoge is going not too long!

Eluid took such a huge chunck of time off that it basically blew the scientist predictions on what was capable from humans when. The issue that affects how quick the elite will go is the contact time on the ground and the amount of force they are able to apply during that contact time. Research carried out and published in the 2010 Journal of Applied Physiology, found that:

‘…in elite sprinters, foot-ground contact times are less than one-tenth of a second, and peak ground forces occur within less than one-twentieth of that second for the first instant of foot-ground contact’.

The researchers carried out further tests using some high-speed treadmills and analysed differing gaits- running forwards, backwards and even hopping! The results showed that from hopping we have higher ground forces acting on us than when in forward running (by over 30%), this shows we can handle and create greater forces than two-legged running at top speed. The research also found that even though speeds of forward and backward running obviously differed, minimum periods of foot ground contact were identical!

Therefore, we can essentially deduce that there is a physical limit to how fast muscle fibres can work to get our feet off the ground.

But still that doesn’t answer the question – when will sub 2 be broken for the marathon? Well as you know, we can never tell the exact time and date, but before Kipchoge’s stellar run last week this graph was a tracker of all marathon WRs over the years. The prediction is sub 2 won’t be broken until around 2025-2030 which looks plausible. However, if Kipchoge has anything to do with it that 100 seconds may vanish a lot quicker!

What do you think?


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