If I had 2 words to describe a 100m sprinter, that is:
A good start sets you up for the entire race, but don’t forget all the parts of the race.
Reaction time. First step clearance. Drive phase. Transition. Max Velocity. Speed Endurance.
You may have a good start or drive phase, but you better have all the elements in place.
You need to “connect the dots”, therefore, you need to race, and race often, up to 5 – 7 races before the big race. There’s a lot going on in that 10 seconds!
The Key to Peaking
The key to peaking for the big meet is simple. I have always said you need at least 5-7 100m races before you can find your peak form. (400m sprinters need a bit less, like 3-5 races)
After the 2008 Olympic 100 meter semi-final where Tyson Gay did not advance to the finals, he quoted,
“I may have needed more races, but I don’t really have any excuses. I just didn’t make it. My hamstring feels good; it’s not bothering me.” – Tyson Gay
(NOTE: Tyson was the clear favourite after the 100m trials, then got injured in the 200m trials 2 days later)
I personally tried to run the Canadian 400 meter Masters Championships as my second 400m race of the year after focusing on the 200 meters all year. I went out too hard, probably on sheer excitement and misjudging my competition. I simply ran out of gas with 100 meters to go, and ended up 3rd (similar to Sanya Richards in Beijing 2008 without the hamstring cramp). I had no excuses. I just did not execute properly. I just needed to race a few more races to know the different zones to execute the 400m properly.
Usain Bolt’s Track Record
Here is an infographic from the French paper, L’Equipe:
Yes, it’s in french, but the key points are:
- red dashed lines show number of races that year
- blue line & performance shows his best race before the major race
- the “medal” shows his time and performance from the major (2011 WC notwithstanding)
With only 2 races under his belt, and a SB of 9.87 from the fast Mondo track of London (albeit windy and wet), it’s clear Bolt can shave 1/10 of a second with the right peaking based on his track record. But did he race enough? Can Usain Bolt pull off a 9.7 or 9.6 in order to beat Justin Gatlin?
Yes, we all have muscle memory, but we can forget as well!
I don’t know about you, but I’ll be glued to the television (or Internet) for the 100m World Championships final!