The super-human times recorded by athletes such as Usain Bolt, Paula Radcliffe and David Rudisha over 100m, marathon and 800m are far beyond the reach of the mere mortals like you or I.
But it doesn't necessarily mean we are destined never to boast the title of world-record holder. With a little imagination and some unconventional training, it is surprising what some regular Joes are able to achieve.
Just recently, a new beer mile world record was broken by 22 year old Josh Harris in Melbourne. Yep, that's right, the beer mile world record. The object is to run one mile - at 1609m, just a smidge over four laps of a regular athletics track - glugging down one bottle of beer after the first, second and third laps before sprinting or staggering to the finish on lap four. There is a penalty lap for anyone who empties the contents of their stomach during the race.
Aussie Harris set a surprisingly impressive new best of 5mins, 4.9secs in April. It has to be said, it's not an achievement that brought the sporting world to a standstill, yet you still feel like tipping your cork-brimmed hat to the new record-holder.
There are plenty of other world records out there for those with and creativity to match their ambition. The Virgin London marathon regularly attracts record seekers within the race pack as well as at the front of the field. The recent 2013 event saw 23 successful record attempts over the 26.2 mile distance which included the fastest time whilst dribbling a football (Alan Simeoni - 5:10:46), the longest scarf whilst running a marathon (Susie Hewer - 2 metres in 5:54:23) and fastest time whilst carrying an 80lb bag (Roscoe Nash - 5:58:58).
Even less conventionally German Achim Aretz holds the fastest ever marathon time for running backwards with a pretty nippy 3:42:41 clocked in Frankfurt in 2010. For the unusual discipline, there are also records over every other standard athletics distance, perhaps most bizarrely in the 4x100m and 4x400m relay.
Not restricting his record-breaking to two limbs, the self-styled 'Monkey-Man' Kenichi Ito of Japan holds the world record for 100m on all fours, covering the distance in 17.47secs. It's unlikely that the likes of Usain Bolt will ever make his own bizarre attempt at the record.
But elite athletes share one philosophy with their more eccentric brethren; medals are for life, but as for records, they are there to be broken.