What sense(s) does a person use to tell how fast he is running?

  • Thread starter pantheid
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  • #1
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I know this isn't really a physics-focused question, but this is still the best science forum that I know of.
 

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  • #2
Drakkith
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Are you asking about the 5 senses of the body? Sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste?
If so, then probably a combination of visual and touch I'd say. Touch meaning that the person's nervous system knows that they are running at X speed because of how hard they have to work and how fast they are moving their legs and such. But I'd say most of it comes from visually seeing things go by you.
 
  • #3
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Maybe so, but if you close your eyes you can still tell how fast you are going. I originally thought it was hearing the sound of your steps and the wind rushing past you.
 
  • #4
turbo
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You can get a feeling of how fast you are running from how your respiration is going. If the air is cool and dense and you are not comfortable, you might not win your race.
 
  • #5
Drakkith
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You use a combination of most of your senses, sure.
 
  • #6
russ_watters
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People know their own bodies, but are taught incorrectly in school that there are 5 senses and then don't think about the issue (but you are, which is why you are asking the question!). Well, there are way more than 5 senses and you use other senses besides just the 5 commonly cited ones in this case. You can feel your heart beating, feel yourself getting warm from the inside, feel your muscle exertion, feel your lungs struggle (all with senses that monitor such things) and feel the bobbing motion with your inner-ear inerial senseors. Most of these senses are quiet during normal operation of your body, but start sending alarms out when they go out of "normal" parameters. For example, most of the time you aren't even aware of your breathing, but hold your breath for a while and your body will start to loudly demand that you start again! Another easy example of that, of course, is your stomach level monitor (probably two separate sensors, actually).
Human beings have a multitude of senses. In addition to the traditionally recognized five senses of sight (ophthalmoception), hearing (audioception), taste (gustaoception), smell (olfacoception or olfacception), and touch (tactioception), other senses include temperature (thermoception), kinesthetic sense (proprioception), pain (nociception), balance (equilibrioception) and acceleration (kinesthesioception). What constitutes a sense is a matter of some debate, leading to difficulties in defining what exactly a sense is.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense

This actually brings up possibly the most direct sense of running, which I forgot about (duh): kinesthetic sense is body position sensors that tell you where the parts of your body are and what they are doing. This is what enables you to touch your nose with your eyes closed.
 
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  • #7
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Its BS to cite "heating up", and "breathing" as an indicator of how fast you are running. You can run for 3 meters and you can hold your breath doing it.

The biggest indicator is from the motion of your legs: the faster you take one step the faster you are running. You know when you take a step because you can feel your legs and you know where your feet are at, its called coordination.
 
  • #8
russ_watters
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Its BS to cite "heating up", and "breathing" as an indicator of how fast you are running. You can run for 3 meters and you can hold your breath doing it.
I guess I was thinking as a guy who runs for exercise, running for half an hour at a time. I am very aware of such things during a run.
 
  • #9
I like Serena
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People know their own bodies, but are taught incorrectly in school that there are 5 senses and then don't think about the issue (but you are, which is why you are asking the question!). Well, there are way more than 5 senses and you use other senses besides just the 5 commonly cited ones in this case.
[...]
I like your explanation!
 
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  • #10
turbo
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Its BS to cite "heating up", and "breathing" as an indicator of how fast you are running. You can run for 3 meters and you can hold your breath doing it.

The biggest indicator is from the motion of your legs: the faster you take one step the faster you are running. You know when you take a step because you can feel your legs and you know where your feet are at, its called coordination.
Anaerobic running (sprinting) is a special instance. Yes, you can run in this fashion for a short distance, but if you wish to run any real distance, you must rely on rely on your senses to let you know what level of exertion you're experiencing, and that is not BS. As a former state-level Cross-Country runner, I can guarantee you that you need a lot more than BS to to gauge your performance during a race and avoid burn-out while turning in your best possible performance. Once I was on-pace (and that might be different for every race), I used to synch my pulse and breathing to my stride to get my best output, but that optimization could not achieved without some reliable expectation of the exertion that would be required. If I hadn't run a particular course before, I could only hope that our team bus got to the venue early enough to allow a brisk walk-through. That was good for a warm-up, and good for a mental tune-up regarding the demands of the course.
 
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