Saturday, February 04, 2006

How come the Kenyans run so fast??

I just finish a documentary to explain how come the Kenyans run so fast? There were a lot of ideas that tried to explain how come the Kenyans run so fast. Some suspect of their diet. Some suspect of the high altitude they live in (2,000 m above sea level).

The scientists disproved those theories. They did a comparison to Swedish runners. What they found that compare to the Swedes, the Kenyans are not genetically better in everyway. The number of slow muscles and enzymes are the same in both group of runners. They ran a 12 week training session for both groups and found that the Kenyans are more 10% more efficient than the Swedes.

What they found was the way the Kenyans were built. Specfically their small and light feet structure. The research showed that a mere 50 grams is added to the ankle, it increases oxygem consumption by 1%. As the weight move higher up, the consumption increases as well. They found that overall, the Kenyans are 5 cm shorter in height than the Swedes. But the Kenyan's legs are 2 cm taller. Their body structure (skinny legs and a light, short, body structure) makes them more economical in running.

The conlusion also indicates that this is not only applicable to Kenyans, as long as one's structure is similar to the research, he/she can be trained to run as effectively (or efficiently) as well.

It was a good documentary to watch. I am surprise as how little amount of weight can affect oxygen consumption. This morning, I rode 3 hr 15 min on the trainer. It is always the last 10 minutes that was the struggle. Watching every seconds tick by is like an eternality. I watched The Professional and last half of Black Hawk Down. Unlike last week, my stomach have no issues with bloating. I believed last time I must have been mixing too much stuff for my stomach to handle. This time I only took a bottle of gatorade in the beginning and switch to gel and water. I will need to experiment to find a way to replenish my electrolytes.

Going to do laundry and take a nap. Depending how i feel, tonight I might go for a quick swim.

9 comments:

'Zilla said...

Hey, thanks for the Kenyan info... I always wondered that. :) Good job on the trainer!

bunnygirl said...

The role of biomechanics is huge. Given all the issues I've had in the last few years, I'm not the least surprised that excellent biomechanics is what makes the Kenyans so good.

Adeel Ahmad said...

This is a topic that you can easily beat to death, mostly because just about everything you say is true concerning Kenyan dominance (really East African dominance, Kenya isn't even as good as Ethiopia) and Western stagnation.

There are so many conditions, so many things that are going right for the East Africans: they train hard, they have incentives to run fast, their culture makes them fitter, etc.

As far as genetics are concerned, Marius Bakken (13:06 5k runner from Norway) once said that he genuinely believes that you could take just about any young, healthy male with the right body type living at altitude in Kenya and turn him into a low-13 guy in the 5,000.

robtherunner said...

Sounds like an interesting documentary. Nice job on the trainer.

Kewl Nitrox said...

Thanks for that, that's one of life's great mysteries solved for me. It probably also helped that they started running at 5. :) I once read that one of the current Aussie women Ironman champs (currently based in Austria) used to run 5km to school everyday since the age of 5 - imagine the base miles that has been built up over the years!

We once studied the Kenyan's Marathon pace and discovered that even if we put a different average reserve (i.e. over the hill) soldier every 2.4km, the Kenyan will still beat us to the marathon finish line! That's how FAST they are. They RUN the marathon, not jog it.

Steve said...

Very interesting Cliff. Good post. Training sounds like its going well. Now back to watching the Super Bowl....

IMmike said...

What was the name of that documentary on kenyan runners?

If you are really interested in this topic I suggest you look at Noakes, Lore of Running. He does a very good analysis of the genetic selection behind Kenyan runners.

qcmier said...

So where do the short Asians fit in to all this =) I think we would rank highly in the determined to try category.

Anonymous said...

I have been looking for sites like this for a long time. Thank you! ford e450 floor mats Oldsmobile intrigue colors http://www.hummer-broken.info/yasmin_control_pill_side_effects.html Diy car navigation system Cosmetic surgery liposuction chicago The butts Novaform and mattress and king prozac tablets side effects Mount airy car rentals