Is there a limit to how fast a mile can be run?

John Brenkus in The Perfection Point: Sport Science Predicts the Fastest Man, the Highest Jump and the Limits of Human Performance covers this for a variety of sports.

His technique is to break down the components of a run or jump or whatever and look at them as a series of standards to be matched. In a sprint, e.g., the reaction time to the gun is highly variable and the fastest runners are generally not the fastest reactors. The first couple of strides out of the blocks until full speed is reached also varies. After that stride length and swiftness of stride becomes important. If some human could be fastest in all these individual areas, then records would shatter. And that’s in addition to optimal size and strength, conditioning, stamina, and other personal bodily effects.

His perfection point for the mile is 3:18.87. Don’t argue with me about that; I’m merely reporting. But if you’re seriously interested in this discussion this is the book you have to read.

That’s pretty interesting. Still, you have to avoid Oxygen toxicity at elevated O[sub]2[/sub].

I was thinking of John Brenkus when the OP was posted, but didn’t see any immediate references and couldn’t come up with the name. I was aware of his book when it came out. I think he is somewhat optimistic, but time will tell, I guess.

Footprints found in Australia would seem to suggest that someone 20,000 years ago was faster than Usain Bolt. If true, it’s not improbable that people of that time could faster times over a mile than in the modern era.

Whether anyone can run that fast again is another matter.

No, it suggests they’d have been faster “with access to modern advantages”.

I remembered the story and looked at several websites before deciding that this cite probably gave the story fairly clearly and concisely.

I’m not even a layman, let alone an expert in these things but two other points were put forward:

He was accelerating at the time.

He was running barefoot through mud.

If you want to be pedantic i could cite that the World’s Greatest Ever Golfer is North Korean.

That includes acceleration, though, which will be a smaller proportion of a mile. Usain’s top speed is apparently 27.3 mph, which gives a mile time of 2:12. Add acceleration back in and you’re probably at 2:15.

Anyway, the question is impossible to answer without some rules set in advance. Strong nanotechnology in the bloodstream and muscles to dispense oxygen or recover waste products would obviously have a hugely beneficial effect. I see no reason why a sufficiently modified human couldn’t sustain Usain’s pace, or even a pronghorn’s.

Use one capable of being a giant altitude chamber. Fill it with pure O[sub]2[/sub] at 3.1 psia, which will give you the same partial pressure of O[sub]2[/sub] as sea level, but an effective pressure altitude of 37000 feet. Same O[sub]2[/sub] content as sea level air, but wind resistance as 8000 feet above the top of Mt. Everest. You get the best of both ideas. Just don’t let anyone light a match.

But you are still left with matching the ‘logistic curve’.


Am I being whooshed or did you have some idea in mind, besides those jackets?

I presume you’re speaking of the Dear Leader, but I don’t get it in your context.

Wow, two :smack::smack:s coming up from one post.

I need to apologize for the last two lines in this post I did last night. They are a cut-and-paste error from a reply to a different post that I had open in another tab. I was trying to avoid two posts in a row by combining them, and in the process, I managed to lose most of the second portion, including the post I was quoting, a quote from one of the articles linked in this thread, and several sentences of my comment.

It was NOT intended as what it looks like, a total non sequitur, followed by an insult to posters here. It was supposed to be an insult to the people in the article I lost the quote to.

Again, I sincerely apologize for the way my screwup looks. I guess I should read my posts before I go to bed, so I can edit the screwups, instead of seeing them when I get to the computer again in the morning.