At the London Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games last Sunday, Alan Oliveira ran a 10.57 100m WR on the fast London MondoTrack. (I missed this race as I was at the airport, coincidently on the same flight to Frankfurt with Michael Tinsley).
Coupled with his recent 20.66 200 meters, is that something to be concerned? The 2013 World Championships IAAF A/B standards for the 100 and 200m are 10.15/10.21 and 20.52/20.60 respectively.
Take a look at the video below, and note how he uses a 40 yard dash style crouch start!
But the start sets you up for the entire race…
Golf Talk First
Before we begin the discussion, let’s talk about Golf
In golf, there are several ways to hit a longer shot:
- longer club length
- the size, material, and angle of club head
- club head speed
- club head contact and force
(yes, I am oversimplifying this, but I’ll get to the point)
Of course, the remaining component is accuracy!
Remember the Callaway Big Bertha golf driver when they came out? The one with the 45” long shaft? Did it make you drive like Tiger Woods? Did it make you drive 20 yards further initially? Note how I say initially…
Once you figured out the sweetspot of the golf club (or any club for that matter), I am sure you were hitting the ball further. But it was a learned skill.
Back to Alan Oliveira
10.57 and 20.66 is nothing to be alarmed for elite athletes, but it is getting close to the Olympic and IAAF A/B standards. And Alan Oliveira is from Brazil, and Brazil is hosting the 2016 Olympic and Paralympics! Do you see a connection here?
But when a paralympian takes a spot in the finals over an able bodied athlete, then you will hear the complaining.
So, going back to sprinting, there are 4 ways to get faster:
- stride length
- stride frequency
- speed endurance
- force applied to the ground. There is nothing you can do while in the air EXCEPT get your legs (and arms) in the correct position for the next ground contact to maximally apply force to the ground. It’s all about ground contact & force, and the proper co-ordination to cover ground as fast as possible.
Why is Alan Oliveira so fast?
Alan Oliveira’s 3 Secret Weapons
A lot of people complain about his unfair stride length due to his unfair blade length, because the maximum allowable length is based on anthropometric estimates.
In fact, Oliveira is allowed to race at 185.4cm, but chooses blades to become 181cm. Like the Big Bertha club theory, longer is not necessarily better. Having a longer club (or lever) does not mean you can run faster to hit longer shots in golf. Try using a Big Bertha, or even a 3 iron (2 iron?)? My 3 iron sucks, but my 7 iron is deadly accurate within 130 yards, good enough to play the Senior Tour in Golf. (Okay, I am just kidding about the Senior Tour, but one can dream, right?)
But he wins based on 3 things:
- stride frequency. He has optimized his stride length and stride frequency to maximally cover ground faster than his competitors, just like my sweet spot for golf is my 7 iron. It’s not his longer strides. Lighter limbs also allow for a quicker turnover – see my arguments here.
- exceptional speed endurance. We need 10m splits to prove this… see below.
- most important, is his superior biomechanics. I hate to say this, but he has “learned how to run on blades better” compared to everyone else. Take a look at his 200m WR video and look at the action of his blades… note how the others are all over the place with the whip-like action, but Alan Oliveira pumps his legs like pistons taking advantage of his quick cadence, and positioning himself for the next stride to allow a greater forceful push.. not for a longer stride, but ready for the next stride with no wasted mechanics.
Again, I hate to say this, but he is only going to get better in the next 3 years. And the way he is running, he WILL run in BOTH Olympic and Paralympics on his home turf. Brazil will “demand” that request, and it won’t get denied.
Prove my Speed Endurance Theory
The best way to prove my speed endurance theory (along with his long acceleration time to reach MaxV) is to take 10m splits, which has proven why Bolt is superior regardless of stride length (longer accelerations to MaxV, higher top end speed @ 0.81 sec/10m, and better speed endurance which makes him appear he is still speeding up when everyone is actually slowing down)
I don’t have any high speed video of Alan’s races, so if the IPC or IAAF want to contribute to this project, I am open to it.
Until then, I will focus on my own training, my own athletes and 100m-400m sprinters around the world.
Fair play on him and an excellent record. Howeve I cant help but believe his blades are a huge advantage to him. His upper body does not even compare to the build of an able bodied sprinter athelete suggesting nowhere near the same amount of work has been put in, yet he, s just about running the iaaf b standards??? Are there any sprinters using blades that used to compete sprinting ablebodied also to compare?
You are dead on, he has learned how to run on blades. All about energy flow. No different than an able bodied sprinter.
The biggest thing they have figured out is how to start on the blades. The movement pattern on blades is not the same as able body sprinters.
I would guess he has better use of the hamstrings while other blade runners are using hips flexors and glutes.
Thanks Jimson and Adarian for your continued input and insight in educating most of us who are interested in the art of sprinting.
The sport needs to seriously address this issue. As it stands now and based solely on my very limited knowledge and understanding, I would prefer that those who compete with artificial devices be given their own events in the Olympics (logistics not withstanding) and not be allowed to compete with those who do not qualify for paralympic status. To me these two types of athletes, regardless of the similarities with respect to their talents and efforts, are training for two completely different disciplines.
Eventually, and better stated than I ever could, those that use artificial devices and aides will have an undue advantage and are not competing under the same stressful conditions as their counterparts. In essence, there are no lower limbs to subject any pressure to as well as lacking the necessity to demand superior execution from the non-existant cells whether they be neurological, circulatory, musculoskeletal, etc. The conditions will never be fair for either type of athlete.