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July 27, 1984

The Runner: Energy and Endurance

Author Affiliations

Nike Sport Research Laboratory Exeter, NH

JAMA. 1984;252(4):556-557. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350040078038

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


There is much to like about this summary, intended for lay readers, of the biochemical factors that control and limit running performance. It contains many fascinating tidbits (eg, 1020 molecules of adenosine triphosphate are used for each sprint step), and the authors provide genuine insights into exercise metabolism. Particularly interesting are their artfully crafted arguments on the role of fat metabolism in limiting endurance performance.

Despite these basic strengths, however, The Runner is not without its problems. This reviewer found himself frustrated by numerous errors and omissions and flabbergasted by the lack of reference citations when data from other researchers are presented. The authors also have a disturbing penchant for presenting their speculations as if they were chiseled in stone at the national museum. We are told, for example, that "the wall"—the extreme fatigue that overtakes marathoners—is caused by the limited rate of fatty-acid oxidation. An interesting notion to