“Weyand doesn’t see a future where records stop being broken; there are just too many different ways to legally influence performance through better training and better technology.”

Science writer Jacqueline Ronson tapped the expertise of SMU biomechanics expert Peter Weyand for an article on the news web site Inverse.com that examines the possibility for humans to continue running faster and faster — and faster.

Ronson cites physiologist Weyand’s numerous research findings, which have explored the mechanics of how sprinters like Usain Bolt and other world-class athletes are able to run so fast that they continually break speed records. The article “There is no limit to human speed” published Aug. 11, 2016.

Weyand, director of the SMU Locomotor Performance Laboratory, is one of the world’s leading scholars on the scientific basis of human performance. His research on runners, specifically world-class sprinters, looks at the importance of ground forces for running speed, and has established a contemporary understanding that spans the scientific and athletic communities.

In particular, Weyand’s finding that speed athletes are not able to reposition their legs more rapidly than non-athletes debunked a widespread belief. Rather, Weyand and his colleagues have demonstrated sprinting performance is largely set by the force with which one presses against the ground and how long one applies that force.

Weyand is Glenn Simmons Centennial Chair in Applied Physiology and professor of biomechanics in the Department of Applied Physiology & Wellness in SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

Read the full story.


By Jacqueline Ronson

Usain Bolt seems to run impossibly fast: His record time of 9.58 seconds in the 100-meter sprint seems unbeatable — yet that’s what was said about so many of the record holders before.

But surely there must be a hard limit to human speed, after which no more records will be broken? Humans, after all, cannot run infinitely fast.

Peter Weyand, a physiologist who has studied the biomechanics of running for two decades, says no.

“You can always be confident, no matter how fast somebody runs, it’s possible to go faster,” he tells Inverse. “You’re never going to have absolutely perfect conditions and an absolutely perfect person and an absolutely perfect race all come together at the same time.”

Here’s a neat fact: If you can sprint, you can be as fast as Usain Bolt. Back in the late 1990s, Weyand and a team of researchers measured a bunch of different people running at their top speed, and they had something in common: Within a very small margin, they all took the same amount of time to swing a leg through the stride from back to front. “Whether you’re fast, slow, or in between, the repositioning time for the limb at top speed is basically the same,” he says.

Read the full story.

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