Well lookit this. Maybe humans ARE each individually unique…

We are all different. Individuals. Each unique and (dare I say) special. No two human beings are exactly alike in size, shape, body or mind. Our experiences WILL differ. And yet, this simple, seemingly (at least to me) glaringly obvious observation of humanity never fails to come as a shocking surprise to those reporting on medical findings.

This article on a study of human running paces makes the “startling” revelation that pre-conceived beliefs might have been trumped by a bit of science (emphasis mine):

“For years, it has been thought that humans have a constant metabolic energy rate. It was assumed that you would require the same total energy to run one mile, no matter if you ran it in 5 minutes or 10 minutes. Even though your energy burn rate would be higher at faster speeds, you would get there in half the time.  [Yet a] new study reveals that each person has an optimal running pace that uses the least amount of oxygen to cover a given distance.”

What I wanted to especially draw your attention to is the actual study upon which these results were based (study report can be found here [you will need access to ScienceDirect if you want to see more than the abstract]). It was done ON HUMANS firstly, which is always encouraging after hearing much wilder claims being made from extrapolations of data pulled from bird studies or rat research. Secondly, the study was done because the researchers found all previous studies to have been poorly designed to address the topic of an optimal running speed. A direct quote from the study abstract states:

We found that individual humans do, in fact, have speeds at which running is significantly less costly than at other speeds (i.e., an optimal running speed).

Hear that?  A study is indicating that everybody could be DIFFERENT and might actually have a unique speed that is optimal for their body.  Huh.  Well go figure. Now, call me crazy (crazy!) but some might therefore conjecture that every BODY is therefore DIFFERENT?  Right?  Different optimal speeds, different bodies and NONE is better than the other, right?  That perhaps this also leads to the logical “jump” that each body has optimal levels of nutrient intake and fuel-burning (metabolisms), right? Optimal levels at which their body can and should function that is NOT THE SAME as every other person on the planet?  That maybe, just maybe, individuals are INDIVIDUAL in the way their bodies react to and process food as fuel for energy to access this optimal speed we’re discussing?

Now I know that any study, no matter how rigorous, can at most lead to drawing results of correlation, not causation.  That there is always a chance that some variable, unaccounted for, might have affected the results.  And while I do not have access to the actual study and would leave analysis of that to others more adept at pulling apart Science-ese; I can’t help but feel that even taking a moment to ACKNOWLEDGE the idea that humans are not all running at the same metabolic rate is a step in a good direction.

Racing towards body acceptance...

Racing towards body acceptance...


8 thoughts on “Well lookit this. Maybe humans ARE each individually unique…

  1. You ARE crazy! CRAZY I tell ya! Obviously, everyone has an optimal running speed, but some of these optimal speeds are BETTER than others!

  2. Everyone’s optimal speed is more optimal-er than mine, since I have cerebral palsy & I am incapable of running. Is that variation permitted or am I doing it wrong & making excuses for being too lazy to run, according to the science-y types? I do walk, however, more than 90 minutes so far today, & I still have to spend about an hour walking around the grocery store later, plus another hour taking care of groceries & clean laundry when I get home. I hope that makes up for me being too unmotivated to find my ‘optimal running speed.’

  3. I’m shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you. Everyone is different? *faints*

    I can send you a copy of that article for you if you like. Just buzz me at my email address which you should be able to find in your blog admin area.

  4. Who cares about what is better or not! Let´s just learn more about each other! Cse we all are different and that´s great! Everyone is unique, special and THE ONE of the kind!
    Cool post!

  5. But that’s just it Patsy, what is OPTIMAL for your body ISN’T a typical running speed; just as for me running like a gazelle is not in the cards. If we can broaden perspectives enough to allow that there are a range of “optimal” speeds, perhaps eventually we might get to the point when we realize that even the allowable “range” is at best a loose guideline…or something like that.

  6. Pingback: And then I come back with ramblings « I AM in shape. ROUND is a shape.

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