Wouldn’t You Love to Run at the Speed of Light?

The Question

The article title pretty much says it all — how much fun would it be to run at the speed of light?

The Answer

Let me preface the rest of this article by saying that, if you were ever to run at the speed of light, you’d probably rip every muscle in your body and hit something so quickly and with such force that you’d be squashed like a bug. It’s also important to note that you can’t run at the speed of light. But just for kicks, let’s assume neither of these are problems and that we can run at the speed of light.

First things first — how much food would you have to eat in order to keep running at the speed of light without dying of malnutrition? Well, light travels at 186,000 mi/sec or 669,600,000 mph. So you’d be running at a lovely 669,600,000 mph. Splendid. Now, let’s assume you’re going to be running at the speed of light for an hour (because why not, right)? Well, according to this random treadmill calculator I found on the internet (and we all know everything on the internet is accurate), running at that speed would cause a 180 pound male to burn 88,230,305,606 calories. So you’d be burning 88 billion calories. Lovely. Now, I don’t know how many of you have been to the Cheesecake Factory, but they sell a cake they call the Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake (it’s actually quite amazing in every possible way). One slice is 1,680 calories (totally worth it), and an entire cake is 12 slices, or 20,160 calories. In order to keep up with your caloric burn, you’d need to eat 88 billion/20 thousand calories per hour, or 4,376,503 cakes per hour. That’s 1,216 cakes per second.


That is ABSURD. That’s more than 16 times what blue whales eat in a single day. Not to mention that due to the extreme stress you’d be under while running that you’d probably vomit the food back up at the same rate at which you ate it.

Fine, you’d have to eat, like, a lot. So how far could you run in that hour (or a little bit longer)? If you ran for 67 minutes (assuming you ran in a straight line and had something to run on), you would be able to run from the Earth to Jupiter… and back.

Remember how in the last article, I said that the average family consumed approximately 920 kWh of energy per month? Well, in 2013, the entire United States consumed approximately 25,451 TWh of energy, or 25,451,000,000,000 kWh of energy (25 trillion kWh, if that wasn’t clear). Performing all the calculations, if you could harness the energy produced from your run, you would produce enough energy to power the entire United States for a solid thirty seconds.

In conclusion, light (and the Flash) move really, really, REALLY fast.