Figures Lie: Liars Figure


In a new Danish study, recreational runners who ran 10 miles per hour versus a slow jog of five miles per hour put 80 percent less stress on their knees. ‘Although running faster increases the load on your knee with each step, you take longer strides, so you need fewer steps to cover a certain distance,’ says study author Jesper Petersen, a researcher at Aarhus University in Denmark. ‘This lowers the cumulative load at the joint.'

As a runner who’s had knee problems, this article seemed insightful. But that was only until I looked at the theory with a more jaundiced eye. While the article’s basic premise is that running faster may be better for your knees, there’s no further information on why the studied runners were performing at a faster pace.

In a perfect laboratory both the faster runners and the slower runners would have exactly the same physical attributes so the test results could be isolated to just the effects of speed and stride. But of course it’s unlikely that that’s what happened.

Instead the slower runners were probably slower because they’re older, heavier, or simply not as gifted as their quicker peers. And so the reasons for their increased knee pain might have more to do with the slower runners’ physical condition or previous injuries or weight than their ultimate speed. And figures lie.

I’m a slow runner and I’m sure a few of the reasons are that I’m just a donut or two shy of 190 pounds and my years of youthful indiscretions are long behind me. My left knee aches because of an unfortunate skiing accident when I was a reckless 19-year old and I’ve come to accept that running faster is neither possible nor a panacea for what ails me.

Of course the important question is why do you care about any of this…?

Bruce Turkel


Bruce is the CEO of Turkel Brands, the company that exists to make their clients' brands more valuable.

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