Even in space, running a marathon is an uphill battle

 作者:宦刭     |      日期:2017-11-18 03:02:11
By Kelly Young and Phil McKenna (Image: NASA) Sunita Williams may not have to face the Boston Marathon’s dreaded Heartbreak Hill, but she will have challenges of her own while running the 42.2-kilometre (26.2-mile) race. Chief among them is a harness she will have to wear to keep her from floating off her treadmill when she runs the famed marathon on 16 April from inside the International Space Station (ISS). The harness causes shoulder and hip pain even when worn for shorter runs. Williams says she plans to take regular breaks during the race to give her shoulders and hips a chance to rest. “It really is kind of a torture device,” says ISS commander Michael Lopez-Alegria. All crew members exercise about two hours a day to try to slow down the loss of muscle and bone mass in microgravity. Williams first tried working out on the station treadmill about two weeks after she arrived in space on 9 December 2006, and by that time her muscles had already lost some of their tone. “The first time I got on there, I couldn’t even do a mile; my legs were wobbling back and forth,” Williams says. Now, she has worked up to a 24-kilometre (15-mile) training run. Another problem with running a marathon in space is that perspiration does not fall; it just hangs around the body until globs of it coalesce and float away. Williams says she plans to change her clothes midway through the race to fight the problem. Also, to prevent the treadmill from jostling the station when crew members are using it, the device is not tightly bolted to the station’s wall. But Williams says the treadmill’s slight movement makes it that much harder to use. To fight the boredom of running such a long race on a treadmill without changing scenery and crowds to cheer her on, Williams says she may play a movie on one of the station’s laptops, or perhaps watch a Boston Red Sox baseball game. Williams ran another marathon in 3 hours, 29 minutes, to qualify for the race. She anticipates her in-space time to be much slower. She averages 10 minutes per mile on the treadmill. However, if marathon officials factor in that the ISS is moving at about 27,000 kilometres per hour (17,000 miles per hour), Williams will technically travel the race distance in record time – 5.4 seconds. Guy Morse, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, which hosts the annual race, says the course record is always improving. Even so, he says the 5-second finish will not guarantee a win. “She’s obviously competing on a different course,” he told New Scientist. In addition to her crew mates, ISS commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and flight engineer Mikhail Tyurin, there will be a small crowd on the station when Williams runs the race. A Soyuz spacecraft is arriving with new ISS commander Fyodor Yurchikhin, flight engineer Oleg Kotov and space tourist Charles Simonyi on 9 April. Lopez-Alegria says he and the other people aboard the craft may playfully elbow and jostle Williams as she begins the race to simulate a true marathon start. Williams says she challenged her friends and family to work out on Earth during her six-month stay in space. Her sister will be running the actual marathon in Boston. She also challenged them to give up beer and alcohol,