Philostratus, Gymnasticus 32-33

Philostratus describes the ideal bodily build for a runner:

To be an excellent dolichos-runner one should have shoulders and a neck about as strong as those of a pentathlete, but he should have slender and light legs as a stadion-runner. These bring their legs into a sprint with their hands, as if their hands give them wings. Dolichos-runners do this only in the final sprint, the rest of the time it is almost as if they stride, with their hands in a fist, for which they need strong shoulders.
As stadion-runners - this is the lightest event - proportionate people are very well suited, but even better are tall people, not the very tall, but those who are just a little taller than the proportionate ones, for extraordinarily tall people lack stability, like overgrown plants. They should be build firmly, because the start of a goed sprint is a good posture. The proportions of their body should be as follows: the legs should be in equipoise with the shoulders, the chest smaller than the average and with healthy organs, they should have swift knees, straight shins and hands bigger than the average. The should have proportionate muscles, for excessive muscles are like chains for speed.
The contestants in the diaulos should be build stronger than stadion-runners, but lighter than contestants in the race in armour.


© KU Leuven, 2012