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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: October 1986


KYLE, C. R. and V. J. CAIOZZO. The effect of athletic clothing aerodynamics upon running speed. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 18, No. 5, pp. 509–515, 1986. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of the wind resistance of athletic clothing upon running speed in sprinting and in distance running. Wind tunnel tests of clothing materials, hair, and shoes show that it is possible to lower the wind resistance of a runner from about 0.5% to over 6% by improved aerodynamics. Mathematical models of sprinting and distance running are developed to predict the effect of lower wind resistance upon race times. By lowering the wind resistance of a runner 2%, the models predict time savings from 0.01 s in the 100-m dash to 5.7 s in the marathon. This is the equivalent of lead distances of about 0.1 to 31 m. The sprint model may be used to predict the effect of altitude upon running speed. At the altitude of Mexico City, the model predicts an improvment of 0.08 s in 100 m and 0.16 s in 200 m. This is conservative compared to actual time savings. The results show that it is possible to lower the wind resistance significantly by improving clothing or by trimming or covering the hair, and that a small aerodynamic drag reduction can result in a significant performance increase.

©1986The American College of Sports Medicine