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.
Speaking of Michael, the greatest example of someone running the perfect race with minimal slowdown is his 200m WR of 19.32 seconds in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
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.
MJ would have run 42 point, before Jeremy Wariner does it.
Jimmie R. Markham says
I’d love to see Jeremy Wariner move up to the 800m. I think he’d go under 1:40.00 using the same principle of even or negative splits.
Nice site, Jimson! I’m definitely adding it to my blogroll. And thanks for visiting mine!
i don’t like math in the track and field! a friend of mine ran 11.03s of 100m and 22.73s for 200m. The other one ran 10.45/22.0s for the same distance…… wheres your conversion in this case? help us to find out.
Jimson Lee says
@rock – conversion from hand time to FAT? 22.0 HT converts to 22.24