Last Updated on
This is Part 1 of a 2 part series. Click here for Part 2 with 10 meter splits
Honestly, I didn’t expect Usain Bolt to run sub 9.60.
I felt a WR was imminent after watching his SF, and I knew his chest thumping slowdown in Beijing showed me he could run low 9.60.
But a 9.58?
Now, in all fairness, I added Tyson Gay’s splits, just to show what it will take to beat Usain Bolt. I mentioned his 9.68 +4.1 wind aided race winning the 2008 USATF Olympic Trials in a previous post.
You can also thank Tyson Gay for making Bolt push though the race. Bolt came to Berlin to win. The World Record was bonus.
Note: The 2008 Olympic Trials splits are courtesy of the USATF Women’s Sprint Development with the HPC. 2009 World Championships splits courtesy of the IAAF which can be found here. (PDF)
Quick Facts for Usain Bolt:
- His reaction time was almost 0.02 seconds faster than Beijing, but his first 20m split was still 0.02 slower!
- His 20-40 was faster by 0.03
- His 40-60 was the same (most likely 0.85 and 0.82 seconds), thus his 60 meter en route split in Beijing was 6.32, compared to 6.31 in Berlin.
- His 60-80 was faster by 0.03
- His last 20 meters was faster by a whopping 0.07 which is no surprise from his chest thump in Beijing.
So, in terms of hundredths of a second, we have –2, +3, 0, +3, +7, a net gain (or loss, depending on how you look at it) of 11 hundredths (9.69 vs. 9.58)
How Fast Can Usain Bolt Run?
Just using simple math, if he had the same 20m start as Beijing, that would give him a 9.56.
If he improved 0.03 on his first 20m, considering he improved 0.03 from 20-40m and 60-80m, that would give him a 9.53.
So it really looks like Coach Glen Mills was right after all, as he once claimed Usain could run 9.52!
10 meter splits
If 0.82 seconds per 10 meters was the fastest recorded, then his 60-80 segment of 1.61 can be averaged out to an incredible 0.805. Even Tyson Gay recorded a 1.63, which is a 0.81 + 0.82! No one else comes close.
0.83 sec/10m was once the Holy Grail for top end speed for a 100 meter sprinter.
So while most WC 100m sprinters reach their top speed at 50-60m, all the athletes reached their top speed between 60-80 meters according to the data, which makes sense considering they are still accelerating from 40-50m. Don’t let the 20m segments fool you, as it really skews the curve.
Bolt’s last 1.66 20 meter split is a result of a partial slowdown, most likely 0.82 + 0.84.
This leads me to the final part of the article: who gets the credit for the improvement? Top end speed, or speed endurance?
We know his training was delayed twice, so what is he doing that is helping set World Records?
The Secret? Speed Endurance!
My theory is his speed endurance training sessions from 80-150m is actually helping his top end speed. You want to “delay” your top speed as long as possible. You want a smooth acceleration.. the longer, the better.
Those workouts of 4x30m, 1x60m, 1x80m, 1x100m, 1x120m, 1x150m on a short to long training plan session with full recovery are aimed directly for speed endurance (i.e distances from 8-15 seconds) but they will teach you to stay relaxed while utilizing your top end speed.
In the above workouts, we don’t even use starting blocks (except for the 4x30m). A simple falling start or rolling start is all that is required. Block work can be saved on days when you have a technical block workout.
In a similar way, Clyde Hart likes to “train slower to race faster” which I’ve covered in several articles on this Blog.
Bring on the 200 meters.
Click here for Part 2 with 10 meter splits.