Last Updated on April 10, 2013 by Jimson Lee
I recently read Jimmie R. Markham’s blog on The Limits of Human Potential. He used an example of extrapolating a World Record in the mile from the maximum speed of a 40 yard dash.
I had discussed a similar example on my previous post where a mediocre 100m sprinter could theoretically break the open WR for 400m in an earlier speed endurance posting:
So, how can a guy who’s PB is 11.54 sec for the 100 meters run a world record in the 400m of 43.18? In theory, it’s possible.
11.54 is about 10.54 if you take in account 1 sec for acceleration out of the blocks. This translates to an average speed of 9.48m/s, or about 42.18 sec for 400m. Add 1 sec for acceleration, and voila, you have 43.18!
Everyone slows down after reaching maximum velocity, approximately 7 seconds or 60 meters in men, in a 100m, 200m, and of course the 400m. The rest is speed endurance. I’ll talk about negative splits or even splits in a future article on 400m race strategy.
You’ve heard the expression: In a 100m race, the person who slows down the least wins the race. It may appear the sprinter is speeding up, but in reality, the others are slowing down.
I love numbers, math, conversions, fantasy sports, and being the armchair Quarterback. Here are accepted conversion factors to calculate potential for the 200m and 400m:
100m to 200m: double 100m time +/- 0.2 seconds
200m to 400m: double 200m time +3.5 to 4.0 seconds
Most seasoned 200m sprinters slow down about 0.5 sec between the first and second 100m when you take in account 1 sec for acceleration out of the blocks.
Take for example Namibia’s Frankie Frederick’s 100m PB of 9.86. This translates to a potential of 19.52 – 19.92 and his PB for 200m is 19.68. Even if he ran the first 100m in 10.1, well within his means, his second 100 with a running start would be 9.58. Thus:
19.68 = (1 + 9.1) + 9.58 = a slowdown of 0.48
By the way, you can’t take a 100m time and double it to determine the worlds fastest man compared to a 200m sprinter, because the 2nd 100m has a running start. Memories if the 1997 Skydome match race between Donovan Bailey/Michael Johnson come to mind.
His 100/200m splits was recorded at 10.12/19.32. If you factor in 1 sec for acceleration out of the blocks, we get:
19.32 = (1 + 9.12) + 9.20 = a slowdown of 0.08 between his first and second 100m.
Absolutely phenomenon! That race still gives me the chills when I see it.
Since his PB for the 100m is 10.09, I truly believe he ran within his human potential limit for a 200m. I shiver and wonder if he didn’t hurt his hamstring in that 200m, what would he have run in Zurich for the 400m a few weeks later? 19.32 doubled plus 4 equals…
You do the math.