I take it back…Weyand was right and Bolt can run 42.80

I made a statement in my last post that I now consider wrong.  I said “Weyand suggested you could use his equations for up to 240 seconds. I disagree with this.”  After making some adjustments, I now think the equations works perfectly well (97% accurate) with a few caveats.  These caveats are where I made my mistakes.

First caveat, you must use flying times (thanks Chris).  I knew this, but I fell victum to the example in Weyand’s own study.  In the study, as a side-sample, he uses Michael Johnsons 200m and 400m world records to create a speed curve.  I likewise used Usain Bolt’s 100m and 200m times from Bejing to estimate what he might run in the 400m.  But Weyand results are really based on average speed and thus including block starts throws it off, especially for shorter distances.  Taking this caveat into consideration, I should have used something like Bolt’s split between 30m and 60m in his 100m and something like his final 180m in his 200m.

Second caveat, your timing must be accurate.  Especially at the shorter distances, an error in timing accuracy will have a large effect on predictions at longer distances.  This is where products like FreeLap are extremely helpful.  I recently got my hands on a FreeLap setup and I now can’t live without it.  If you are considering using Ross’ training system, then you really MUST get FreeLap.  I will do a full product review in the future.  For now, see the freelap website: www.freelaptrackandfield.com

Third, you must have good race modeling and running technique.  This is where my own times fail to fit the curve.  I was a horrible 1500m runner.  My race modeling wasn’t bad (I basically just tried to hit even 75s splits), but my running technique was not at all tuned for the 1500m.  In 1984, Jack Daniels PhD found that all distance runners have a cadence between 185 and 200 (steps per minute).  This has become a standard for aerobic style running.  For a good laugh, here’s a link to my 1993 race (to come).  My cadence in this race was below a paltry 160 and look how I flop my arms 🙂 — definitely not a distance runner.

Fourth, the athlete must be in descent shape for the sprint distance.  This will be controversial to some and I’m not completely convinced of this.  But my gut still says that you have to train at longer anaerobic distances to face at longer anaerobic race (e.g 400m).  I’m still researching this and will do another post soon.

Finally, the athlete must be relatively fresh.  Obviously, someone who has done a large workout or done several races already won’t be able to perform at their best.

Now, let’s do a few samples:

My 1993 Decathlon times:

100m – 11.05.  Adjusted to 9.95 for flying time (using 1.1 seconds as adjustment 100m/200m).

400m – 50.10.  Adjust to 49.10 for flying time (using 1.0 seconds for 400m+ races).

Calculated 1500m time — 4:36.3, which means about 4:45 is the upper error.  With better running cadence, I believe I could have easily run 4:45 (even just being fresh…remember, it was at the end of the decathlon).

Ashton Eaton 2012 World Record times:

100m – 10.21.  Adjust to 9.11 for flying time.

400m – 46.70.  Adjusted to 45.70 for flying time.

1500m – This estimates a time of 4:45 — what???  He ran 4:14.48.  Well, here’s where caveat #5 comes to play.  His 400m time is at the end of day one, after a full day of taxing work.  If we assume Ashton could have run 45.3 on fresh legs, instead of 46.70 on extremely tired legs, then the 4:14 is the predicted time.  Even if you think Ashton could only run 46.00 on fresh legs, with the 3% error, you are still right around the 4:14 mark.  I should probably do the same adjustment for all decathletes (including my own above), but you get the point.

Usain Bolt 400m Estimate:

40-80m split (from 2008 world record): 3.27

200m fly from Berlin – 19.19.  Adjust to 18.09.

400m Prediction: 42.80 — aka, a World Record.

However, this is where several caveats come into play.  First, the accuracy of his times are extremely sensitive.  Small changes to any of Bolt’s time made widely different predictions.  Using 15.25 for a 170m (taking 19.19 and subtracting his 30m start in the 100m) suggested a 44.7 time.  Second, is the “in shape” for the correct distance.  And, of course, race modelling…

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Categories: Coaching, Sprinting | 1 Comment

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One thought on “I take it back…Weyand was right and Bolt can run 42.80

  1. Pingback: Anaerobic Speed Reserve — ASR Spreadsheet « Sprint 42

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