Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Dan PetersonLiveScience's Sports ColumnistLiveScience.com dan Petersonlivescience's Sports Columnistlivescience.com – Sat Jul 25, 11:03 am ET
Usain Bolt, the triple Olympic gold medal sprinter from Jamaica, predicted this week that he could break his own world record of 9.69 seconds in the 100 meter sprint with a time as low as 9.54 seconds. He claimed his coach told him its possible, so he believes him. His coach, Glen Mills, may have just finished reading some new research coming out of Duke University that showed sprinters and swimmers who are taller, heavier but more slender are the ones breaking world records.
At first glance, it may not make sense that bigger athletes would be faster. However, Jordan Charles, a recent engineering grad at Duke, plotted all of the world record holders in the 100 meter sprint and the 100 meter swim since 1900 against their height, weight and a measurement he called "slenderness."
World record sprinters have gained an average of 6.4 inches in height since 1900, while champion swimmers have shot up 4.5 inches, compared to the mere mortal average height gain of 1.9 inches.
During the same time, about 7/10 of a second have been shaved off of the 100-meter sprint while over 14 seconds have come off the 100-meter swim record.
What's going on
Charles applied the "constructural theory" he learned from his mentor Adrian Bejan, a mechanical engineering professor at Duke, that describes how objects move through their environment.
"Anything that moves, or anything that flows, must evolve so that it flows more and more easily," Bejan said. "Nature wants to find a smoother path, to flow more easily, to find a path with less resistance," he said. "The animal design never gets there, but it tries to be the least imperfect that it can be."
Their research is reported in the current online edition of the Journal of Experimental Biology.
For locomotion, a human needs to overcome two forces, gravity and friction. First, an athlete would need to lift his foot off the ground or keep his body at the water line without sinking. Second, air resistance for the sprinter and water resistance for the swimmer will limit speed.
So, the first step is actually weight lifting, which a bigger, stronger athlete will excel at. The second step is to move through the space with the least friction, which emphasizes the new slenderness factor.
By comparing height with a calculated "width" of the athlete, slenderness is a measurement of mass spread out over a long frame. The athlete that can build on more muscle mass over a aerodynamic frame will have the advantage.
In swimming, legendary Hawaiian champion Duke Kahanamoku set the world record in 1912 with a time of 61.6 seconds with a calculated slenderness of 7.88. Some 96 years later, Eamon Sullivan lowered the world mark to 47.05 seconds at a slenderness factor of 8.29.
As the athletes' slenderness factor has risen over the years, the winning times have dropped.
In 1929, Eddie Tolan's world-record 100 meter sprint of 10.4 seconds was achieved with a slenderness factor of 7.61. When Usain Bolt ran 9.69 seconds in the 2008 Olympics, his slenderness was also 8.29 while also being the tallest champion in history at 6-feet 5-inches.
"The trends revealed by our analysis suggest that speed records will continue to be dominated by heavier and taller athletes," said Charles. "We believe that this is due to the constructal rules of animal locomotion and not the contemporary increase in the average size of humans."
So, how fast did the original Olympians run? Charles used an anthropology finding for Greek and Roman body mass and plugged it into his formula.
"In antiquity, body weights were roughly 70 percent of what they are today," Charles said. "Using our theory, a 100-meter dash that is won in 13 seconds would have taken about 14 seconds back then."
Bolt puts his prediction to the test next month at the track and field world championships in Berlin. His main competition is Asafa Powell, the previous world record holder, who is shorter and has a slenderness factor of 7.85. My money is on the Lightning Bolt.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I usually break a Kilo time trial at Kissena track into five segments / splits. The Kilo event starts on the red pursuit line, it is 200 meters from red line to red line. At Kissena track a Kilo takes 2.5 laps to complete. It is hard to pace yourself when you are counting laps, instead it is easier to count segments. As you circle the track and cross the red pursuit lines you count segments and it becomes easier for pacing and focus. As far as pacing, profile 'A' above would be the best profile. Profiles 'B' & 'C' would not yield your best time, considering you have to juggle the energy / lactic acid equation.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Today in the evening racing we had to do a Kilo after the points race. My time was improved over my personal best time by about one second. Not bad after racing a points race and then doing a Kilo.
Time - 1:20.98
Gear - 50 x 14 = 96"
Mavic Ellipse spoked wheels
200 meter - 20.16 - 20.16
400 meter - 35.36 - 15.20
600 meter - 50.48 - 15.12
800 meter - 1:05.39 - 14.51
1000 meter - 1:20.98 - 15.59
My goal is to get a 1:19 or better. The larger 96" gear felt better than my usual 90" gear (50 x 15). Hopefully I can shave that extra couple of seconds off by using the rear disk and front tri spoke wheel.
We also did a flying 200 meter after the Scratch race, legs felt like jello after the Kilo and the Scratch race, so with limited recovery, I only managed a 13.07 in the 96" gear. I am happy with this time and my new method of riding the flying 200 meter. I will do a faster time during States, next week. Also I have noticed the Mavic Ellipse wheels are better for this event and match sprinting, they spin up faster and feel very positive in the turns.
Temp - 82F
Humidity - 70%
Pressure - 29.77
Dew Point - 69
Wind - 9 mph
Sunday, July 12, 2009
The weather today at around noon was:
Temp - 81F
Humidity - 26%
Wind - 15 mph NW
Pressure - 29.86
- 48 x 16 = 81" Gear
- Time = 13.28 seconds
- Max cadence = 146 rpm
- Average speed = 33.6 mph
- 50 x 15 = 90" Gear
- Time = 13.00 seconds
- Max cadence = 134 rpm
- Average speed = 34.4 mph
- 52 x 13 = 108" Gear
- Time = 12.69 seconds
- Max cadence = 116 rpm
- Average speed = 35.22 mph
- 52 x 13 = 108" Gear
- Time = 12.55 seconds (12.56, 12.62, 12.47)
- Max cadence = 119 rpm
- Average speed = 35.5 mph
- 50 x 14 = 96" Gear
- Time = 12.73 seconds (12.72, 12.74, 12.90)
- Max cadence = 128 rpm
- Average speed = 35.2 mph
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
-Flying 200 meter = 16 place (88" gear)
-1600 meter four lap pursuit - 12 place (90" gear)
-Standing 400 meter one lap - 6 place (90" gear)
Why is it I can place 6th in the 400 meter one lap and only place 16th in the flying 200 meter? The only difference is the gearing which was used - I used a smaller gear for the flying 200 meter.
Would I have placed higher if I had used a bigger gear? I always seem to ride a better flying 200 with an 88" rather than a 90" gear, but maybe I need to adjust my line and use a bigger gear.
The only reasonable explanation I can come up with is that my top end speed is not as good as my standing starts and jumps. Good standing starts require total body strength which can only come from heavy weight training. So maybe I made up time in my standing start, those 1,350 lb leg presses and plyometric jumps during the winter months really paid off in the standing 400 meter event. Placing 6th in front of many good Cat 1,2&3 riders certainly shows that one has to train and specialize in certain technical timed events on the track in order to get good times.
Chris Barbaria and myself proved this point by riding good 400 meter times - Chris won the 400 meter. We were practising this event in training with Andrew LaCorte during the Tempo Cycling training series -not bad for Cat 4 over 40 year old masters.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The whistle is blown, it is your turn - you are now cruising around on the banking of the track, trying to avoid swallowing any bees which hang out by turn one, and then swiftly you focus your attention to that overhanging tree branch at turn two which could smack you off your bicycle. On the back stretch you check that the coast is clear of any slithering snakes, yes snakes, there have been a couple of small snakes doing a 100 meter dash along the back stretch every now and then. Up comes turn three and you scour the area for any slow moving baby turtles, they have been known to cross your path. At turn four you are reminded that a sewer pipe is buried beneath as you gently roll over the bump. This bump requires some finesse to negotiate at high speed, hit it wrong and your bike will fish tail or worse.
Now you are approaching the start and finish line for the second time, you are going faster and you glance nervously over to the flags to check on the wind, not that it matters, you are already committed to your effort. You jump hard as you cross the start and finish line and you are now on your way at full speed at the bottom of the track, over the same path you just scoped out. Your time is yelled out as you finish - it is slooooow. Upon checking your gearing, you had forgotten to change your warm up gear to race gear.
Dam those bloody turtles!