Recharging through Running?

During my usual daily visit to r/running  I came across this infographic  posted by Alex Enberg of Running.com and thought I’d share.

Note: After reading the comments in the r/running thread, It appears most of these numbers are way, way off, but it’s still interesting to think about.

The Power of Running Infographic

If you’re having trouble reading it here’s the Infographic as text:

  • Total calories burned by core runners in one year equals 4,234,278,397,440
  • That’s enough to power the electricity needs for 1,771,622 homes for a year.
  • That is equivalent to all the homes in Los Angeles and San Francisco combined
  • Total energy used by all core runners is equivalent to 177,162,208 gallons of gasoline
  • That’s enough to power a Boeing 747 around the world 1,093 times
  • That’s also equivalent to the energy expended by 177 atomic bombs the size of Little Boy, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
  • Calories a man runner burns per year of running equals 175,386 which is enough to power an LCD TV for 107 days
  • Calories a woman runner burns per year of running equals 119,574 enough to power a clothes washer for 6 months
  • An average woman running a marathon will burn enough calories to power a 60 watt bulb for 8 days
  • An average man running a marathon will burn enough calories to power a laptop computer for 8 days
  • For a half marathon, a woman runner will burn enough calories to charge cell phone for more than 21 days
  • For a half marathon, a man runner will burn enough calories to run a clock radio for over 3.5 days
  • The total calories burned by all finishers of the New York City Marathon equals 145,154,457, that is enough to light up NYC for 7 .5 hours

Disregarding the sexism of some of the power choices (I find it annoying that women are powering washing machines while men are charging TVs), It’s a really interesting thing to think about all the work we do as runners and how much could be done in the world if it was somehow harnessed.  Some people are in fact already trying to harness the power runners produce:

  • In 2010 a team of engineering students made a rough prototype Energy Harvesting Running Shoe , it wasn’t very efficient, effective, or good looking but it worked as a proof of concept.
  • A quick Google search yielded multiple Faraday principle  based devices, that work similar to a pedometer except for the fact that rather than counting the steps/calories it’s using the swinging magnet to generate an electric charge.

I don’t think either of these technologies are going to be mainstream any time soon (if ever), but just like the Running.com post they present an interesting thought experiment, because it’s pretty cool to finish a race and realize that you did more work running that marathon than your laptop does in a week.

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