Be it a race during your sports day or a marathon held in your city, a common goal that most runners have is to keep getting faster. A study published in the journal Current Biology late in April 2022, however, suggests that speeding up might require defying our natural biology.

A research group consisting of scientists from Queens University in Ontario and Stanford University in California have been studying the mechanics of running in labs for 15 years. They were able to combine their lab data with data obtained from runners running in the wild.

Conserve caloric loss

For data of runners running in the wild, the scientists accessed 37,000 runs that were recorded on wearable fitness trackers. The combined data helped scientists find out that humans’ natural tendency is to run at such a speed that conserves caloric loss.

The researchers were surprised at the consistency that they found across the combined data sets. As opposed to the popular assumption that people run faster for short distances and would slow down for longer distances, the scientists were able to show that most runners who were analysed maintained the same speed, irrespective of the distance they ran for a particular activity.

Reasons for running have changed

While this technique makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, it does not in the modern world. Caloric conservation and running at a speed that uses the least amount of energy would have greatly helped our hunter-gatherer ancestors. With the link between running and survival diminishing, the reasons for running have changed dramatically in today’s world.

Even though the goal of running faster defies our natural biology, it is still achievable. Picking faster running partners gives a boost to your own running speed. Even when running alone, listening to music with faster pace speeds up stride frequency, which in turn leads to increased running speed.

Picture Credit : Google 

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