CU researchers could help elite runners break the marathon record

9NEWS@5 3/7/2017

KUSA - Researchers at University of Colorado in Boulder may be able to help marathon runners break the two-hour mark.

The world record for running is 26.2 miles is two hours, two minutes, and 57 seconds. That was set in Berlin in 2014.

CU researchers have come up with a series of mathematical calculations that could shave seconds off that time to set a new record – under two hours. They have determined, a sub two-hour marathon can be done now, however it would take a lot of planning – the right shoe weight, a slight downhill course and strategic pacing.

To reach their conclusions, they put world-class runners on a treadmill and monitored their oxygen intake. Then they combined their stats with other research, to determine the best scenario.

Wouter Hoogkamer, the researcher who led the study says, lucky for them, Boulder has several elite athletes who can help with the research.  

He’s a runner himself, but he says he runs a 2 hour and 45 minute marathon, and is nowhere close to running a sub-two hour marathon.

“The recent study we’ve been doing was actually more focused on breaking the two hour marathon and then I’m not even fast enough for that," Hoogkamer said. "We’re lucky to be in Boulder, Colorado because there are so many good runners that are able to get 18 runners, all with the same shoe size in the lab – to actually be running at very high speeds that are getting close to speeds you need to run a two hour marathon.”

Similar research has been done in the past, however Hoogkamer says “this is really exciting because we’ve been thinking about this for over a year and you know people have been saying this for years – you can use tail winds, you can use downhill, but we were the first because we were able to quantify how much tail wind you would need and how much downhill you can use and how much that would save you.”  

Although this research is for elite runners, researchers say short distance runners can use the same techniques.

One piece of advice is to run with someone who is your speed and takes turns in the lead, so you’re not spending as much energy running against the wind. That technique could help you shave a few seconds off your time.

Hoogkamer and his fellow researchers have previously done studies on the weight of running shoes and found running in a shoe that weighs 130 grams could shave 57 seconds off a marathon time.  

130 grams is just slightly lighter than the weight of a baseball.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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