Tall runners

I'm a somewhat taller person than average at 6'8". I always always led to believe that people of my height are disadvantaged in long distance running because of something to do with their centre of gravity. Recently someone else told me that's not true. Does anyone know if there is any scientific proof either way?


  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭
    No idea about the gravity thing but common sense suggests to me that you're at a disadvantage with regard to running efficiency as you've got some big, long levers to try and move back and forth, and the heart has to pump blood to muscles that are further apart.  Look at all the elite marathon runners, they look like little jockeys!  You certainly get some pretty good tall runners, I'm guessing those that do well have very good cardiovascular systems and a bit of luck avoiding injury from all the pounding the joints take.
  • I am 6ft 3ins and a shave under 16st since I spent the past year weight training.

     I have entered the world of running since the beginning of 2012 and progressing steadily. 

    The only thing that I feel is a disadvantage is the added weight that comes with being taller. Even at my most slender I am around 15st. I have to wear heavily cushioned shoes to avoid shin problems but apart from that I have no gripes. 

     Though there is still a fair difference between 6ft 3 and 6ft 8.

  • Craig Mottram is an elite distance runner and is over six foot, although that does seem to be the exception

    I think there's something in "Lore of Running" about it being harder to cool down as colume goes up faster than surface area.

    The only other thing that springs to mind is some very tall people may have Marfan's syndrome which can affect joints and possibly circulation.

  • I'm 6ft 4in and I think the only real disadvantage is that you are bound to weigh more than someone who is shorter.

    I also tend to think that it is harder to run at very low heart rates because your stride becomes too short and inefficient, but I am probably just using this as an excuse! I think with long legs there is a point where it is more efficient to walk fast than run slow.

  • I'm 5ft 6in, surely I'm doing more strides to cover the same distance as you giants,  so even though I have less weight to shift my lighter frame I'm having to do that more frequently over the same distance, therefore in my very unscientific conclusion i'd say there are disadvantages of being tall and short as well as advantages,  therefore we're all equal.  .  .  .  apart from you can probably see the finishing line before me ? - I may also have short man syndrome but thats another story.
  • I watched a program about James Cracknell doing the Marathon Des Sables last night. They tested him and Mohamad Ahansal, the previous winner of MDS, in the lab and they both had the same VO2 Max. But James is 6ft 4 and the other guy was 5ft 2; guess which one is better at running? During the test Mohamed lost 0.5kg in sweat and Cracknell lost 3.5kg!

    Being tall is not a big disadvantage, but is a disadvantage none the less. Still its better to be tall and skinny than medium height and built like a rugby player on steroids.

  • I can't find a height profile to back this up, but watching the Seoul marathon the other day Wilson Loyanae won in a time of 2:05:37 and he sure wasn't the shortest man in the field.

    (He was also slim, young and KENYAN, so I don't think height is everything!)

  • YoungPupYoungPup ✭✭✭
    I think it's relative and depends a bit on which distance you plan to compete in - for anything over 10miles, I personally think a "good little 'un" will beat a "good big 'un"....

    As such IKFY, I suspect that at 6ft 8 you probably are at a disadvantage compared to a person of more average height.

    Having said that, I'm 5ft 9 and run occasionally with a guy who is 6 ft 4' and the difference in our stride length and cadence is extraordinary. He lollops along, I'm working hard, and the only time I feel smug is on the hills as I find them a lot easier than he does (probably down to lower weight and lower centre of gravity)...
  • compo 1compo 1 ✭✭✭
    I am 6f 2 and can run 22 miles non stop done 5 marathons but not non stop
  • Fair point about the weight thing Kryten. I'm 17 stone and after a year of running my body might be a bit thinnner but the weight hasn't changed at all. The only time I was lighter than this in adult life was when I spent 6 months unable to afford more than half a sandwich a day to eat. I've no idea what my "ideal" weight actually is as the charts don't run up to my height.
  • 6 foot 2, 27 marathons started age 36 (PB 3:52 at age 38), 1 ultra.  Age affects you more!  Speaking as a mathematician/scientist that stuff about centre of gravity seems specious.  Forget all this... if you want to do your marathon, in your time, and your place, then do it!  Go enjoy your running.


  • 6ft3 here too, biggest disadvantage for us is weight i think, i dont want to look like a skinny distance runner and i climb too so i need upper body strength, so i weight train to maintain a physique and all over fitness, this makes me too heavy for running, its hard to find a perfect balance of the 2, Since i'm not a competitive runner it doesnt really matter, i'm not racing anyone else for times. but i do have to think more about things like minimal footwear not being enough for me since i pound the ground with perhaps upto 50lbs more than some of the people running in them
  • Im 6ft 7 and have been running on and off for about 10 years - nothing serious. 18st 1 30 days ago and now 17st 1 and I can comfortably say that it is a disadvantage - being taller meaning probably heavier-meaning more demand on the machine - more impact on the joints, especially feel that more when you get around my age 37 - but just stay consistent and take notice - taller guys probably have to spend more time warming down - because of this I am better now at running than ever - averaging around 1K per every 5 minutes which isn't bad for me - the body will adapt as long as you are not taking the p1ss.
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