Eli5: Outer lane VS inner lane


During track and field, doesn’t the runner on the outer lane have a slight advantage over the runner on the inner lane? The distance is exactly the same, but the runner on the outer lane has to turn less than the one on the inner lane. So doesn’t the runner in the outer lane lose less energy in turning compared to the inner lane, therefore getting a slight advantage?

In: 1

Cited from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9348673/

“there is no evidence of lane advantages in the 100m. Contrary to popular belief, the data suggest that outside lanes in the 200m and 400m produce faster race times. In the 800m, which is unique in having a lane break, there is some weak evidence that outside lanes producer slower race times, possibly reflecting the advantage of inside lanes having an established position on the track at the lane break. Given that these results do not support common convictions on lane advantages, they also serve as an interesting case study on false beliefs.”

TL:DR – somewhat inconclusive, but there is some weak evidence

Each runner has their own preference. Some prefer getting to run a straighter line, but the downside is that everyone is behind you so it’s less motivating. Most prefer the middle because it’s easier to get amped up being in the middle of the pack. Some like to chase and don’t mind the tight turns.

The person on the inside line has a shorter distance to run, whereas the person on the outside line has a lower turning angle. Not sure how these factors affect time