Everything you wanted to know about predicting your time in Masters Track!
The problem is all these Age-grade calculations are based on current World Records, and we know WR are all based on Outliers. Just think of Kim Collins (or even Justin Gatlin turning 40 next year) running sub 10 seconds! Names like Willie Gault or Bill Collins are familiar names in Masters circles.
The Facts – All based on WR
Take a look at the 2 charts below. There is a fallacy that “you lose speed as you get older, you also lose endurance to a lesser degree”. This is simply not true (as seen on the 2 charts below)..
At a quick glance, it appears runners peak between the ages of early 20’s to high 30’s, then declines until age 80, where it goes really downhill (most likely from a smaller sample pool)
The decline for distance races has two major causes:
Firstly, max heart rate drops as you get older, which influences the heart’s overall ability to pump blood and deliver oxygen to your muscles.
Secondly, lean body mass (or specifically muscle) decreases, thanks in part to metabolism slowing about 2 percent per year after 30… and some studies suggest that up to 35 percent of VO2 max changes can be attributed to this drop. Women’s metabolism have it worse with menopause. I’m no expert on this topic, but Lyle MacDonald is.
Craig Pickering, Dylan Hicks, and John Kiely wrote a great paper titled: Why Are Masters Sprinters Slower Than Their Younger Counterparts? Physiological, Biomechanical, and Motor Control Related Implications for Training Program Design
SUMMARY: Elite sprint performances typically peak during an athlete’s 20s and decline thereafter with age. The mechanisms underpinning this sprint performance decline are often reported to be strength-based in nature with reductions in strength capacities driving increases in ground contact time and decreases in stride lengths and frequency. However, an as-of-yet under-explored aspect of Masters sprint performance is that of age-related degradation in neuromuscular infrastructure, which manifests as a decline in both strength and movement coordination. Here, the authors explore reductions in sprint performance in Masters athletes in a holistic fashion, blending discussion of strength and power changes with neuromuscular alterations along with mechanical and technical age-related alterations. In doing so, the authors provide recommendations to Masters sprinters – and the aging population, in general – as to how best to support sprint ability and general function with age, identifying nutritional interventions that support performance and function and suggesting useful programming strategies and injury-reduction techniques.
Click here to download the paper:
Here’s Another Study: Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Aug;35(8):1419-28, they measured the following factors at 10 meter intervals of the 100 meter race:
- stride length
- stride rate
- ground contact time
- flight time during the acceleration
- peak velocity
- deceleration phase
From the study, the general decline in sprint performances with age were evident around the 65-70 year old age groups and they concluded it was primarily related to reduction in stride length and increase in ground contact time.
Simple Attrition Predictor
For 400m, add 4 sec from Peak Open age, until age 40, then add 2 seconds every 5 years.
For 200m, add 2 sec from Peak Open age, until age 40, then add 1 second every 5 years.
Open 400m = 48
M40 = 52
M45 = 54
M50 = 56
M55 = 58
M60 = 60
Another simple way to calculate attrition is your numbers drop off at about 10 percent each decade (too depressing)!
Finally, you can try to run your age in time. Age 55 = 55 seconds! Or 60 in 60!
Simple Attrition Predictor 2
Take your Open PR and the WR at the time of your open PR, and calculate the differential.
1992: 43.29 WR (Butch Reynolds), 48.36 PR, or a 5 second differential.
Then take today’s Age group WR, and add that differential or use a percentage)
M55 52.24 (Charles Allie) +5 sec = 57.24
M60 53.88 (Ralph Romain) +5 sec = 58.88
For reference, see List of world records in masters athletics.
Howard Grubb Age Grade Tables (based on 2006/2010 data)
if you use the Excel sheet, these are the target goals:
400m M55: (0.8433) 57.34
400m M60: (0.8168) 59.22
Howard Grubb’s tables were the defacto standard, until this proposal… (below)
Latest 2022 WMA Age Grade Tables (Absolute, by Year)
Age Grading factors are used to compare a master’s performance to the open world record, i.e. a male athlete with a 100% age grade in 100m means he ran an age adjusted time of 9.58 and a female ran 10.49. The Age Grade Update Committee used millions of performances to establish the factors for each event at each age for men and women. They also compared the factors with performances by individual athletes over many decades of competition to. confirm that factors were valid.
You can view the entire PDF HERE, or download here:
Download the excel spreadsheet here – WMAAgeGradingCalculator or use my (Partial) spreadsheet here:
As you can see:
400m M55: 55.88
400m M60: 57.83
You can see there is quite a difference in numbers!
|Age Group||Run your Age||Simple||Simple2||H Grubb||WMA2022|
No matter how you slice and dice these numbers, you are never going to run as fast as you did as an Open athlete. How much you decline is based a several factors, but the most important factor is staying injury free. If you aren’t in the starting blocks, you aren’t going to finish.
But as World Records improve, so will the age grade tables.