Stanford study reveals human thrives at a pace that conserves energy- here’s how to trick your body into running faster – Sporting News

Stanford study reveals human thrives at a pace that conserves energy- here’s how to trick your body into running faster  Sporting News

A recent study conducted by Stanford University and Queens University in Canada reveals that optimal human running speed is limited by the body’s biological desire to conserve energy. The research suggests humans are more regulated by our biology than by external factors like training. “Human runners prefer a particular running speed independent of task distance and are consistent with the objective of minimising energy expenditure,” the research cites. 

However, there are potentially ways to beat biology and run faster with a bit of external help.

#Get in the groove

#Pace yourself with someone faster

#Stay nourished

The study examines data from over 37,000 run records logged through digital wearable devices and found that energy expenditure largely regulates running speed. Regardless of how far one runs, the body’s natural desire for caloric conservation is a key determining factor of speed. 

Despite the widely accepted notion that we tend to be able to run faster when we run shorter distances, the study found there’s no correlation between how fast you run and for how long. 

The study suggests humans have an energetically optimal running speed, and this speed remains the same for all run distances. However, it’s also key to bear in mind it is unclear how the nervous system senses energy expenditure and that perceived effort when running is higher for females, the obese and the elderly.

So should you give up on beating your biological speedometer if you’re training for your next marathon? Will your body always try to minimise your energy expenditure at the cost of speed? 

The study cites that endurance training can increase a runner’s critical power and anaerobic threshold, thus maximising performance.

Despite our biological limitations, there are ways we can trick our bodies into working a little harder. 

Studies have found that listening to music has a positive impact on running speed. Photo: Shutterstock

The myriad of running playlists on Spotify are there for a reason. A 2020 study published in a The Sport Journal reveals a positive correlation between increased running speed and music listening. 

But it might be worthwhile to look at what music you listen to when you run. Another study published in 2021 found that listening to some songs boosted run time while others had the opposite effect; Beyonce’s music pushed runners faster by an average of 33 seconds per kilometre, while rapper Drake’s beats slow run time by 21 seconds on average. 

Running with a pacer is a tried and tested method for pushing one’s speed limit, and that’s why the likes of Nike Run Club and running groups have gained popularity over the years. It not only makes your run a bit more fun when you’re suffering alongside friends but having a professional pacer lead your run can be the motivation you need to push yourself just a little harder.

Ensure your body has enough fuel to burn. The body naturally kicks into conservation mode, but if you’re eating a high quality, high-fat, well-balanced diet, it’ll be less inclined to kick into fight or flight mode. 

In short, if you have more to burn, your body will have less of a need to save.