How fast must a
person run in the 100 meters to run a 20.20 200 meters? Is the 200m athlete
ready to move to the 400 meters? These are all questions I have heard myself and
other coaches ask, but have never been able to answer
In 1995, during a phone conversation with Dave Hunt, we began to discuss a way to assess the specific fitness of our student athletes.
Before long, I was embarking on a project gathering data to find an accurate formula to project the potential of sprinters in the 100m, 200m and 400m races. By using various world and NCAA rankings, U.S. high school state meet results, and Canadian high school and club results as raw data, I attempted to accurately formulate a simple equation to assess the relative Speed Endurance and Special Endurance fitness of sprinters. This simple equation has value in enabling a coach to assess quickly an athlete's race-specific fitness for a sprinting distance but also to project the potential of an athlete based on his/her speed or speed endurance component.
Definition of Terms: for all the training terms please assume the athlete is running at 95-100%.
Speed Endurance: 60-150 meters
Special Endurance 1: 150-300
Special Endurance 2: 300-600 meters
Elite high school athlete: Any
high school aged athlete listed in the top 25 for his/her respective
World elite athlete: Any athlete listed in the top 25 in the world
A simple formula
was devised by taking an athlete's best 200m time and dividing it by the
athlete's best 100m time-or an athlete's best 400 time and dividing it by his
best 200 time.
In Figure 1 are a few examples of the sprint specific fitness of various athletes from around the world.
In a preliminary
search for trends Dave Hunt used the Canadian all-time rankings for women. He
found that women could expect the average quotients for the 100m and 200m to be
2.006 and for the 200 and 400 to be 2.22. This preliminary search only used ten
women, so more work had to be done.
I set out to crunch hundreds of numbers and find quotients that could be used to estimate performances for other athletes. Because much of the high school results were gathered from various state meets, this study did not take into consideration the fatigue factor that occurs during the course of a meet The athletes used may have been involved with relays or jumps that may affect the result of the differentials.
This study also did not take into account the differences in body types, fiber types or training of all the individuals studied. The study was limited to 100, 200 and 400 performances, as found in various lists.
To give more examples, I used world leaders in an attempt to find how the best in the world handle the different sprinting events. These are shown above, also in Figure 1.
For interest sake we can project how fast Michael Johnson may be able to run the 400 meters. If we use Michael's 1996 Olympic Trials to come up with a quotient the result is: 43.44 seconds divided by 19.66 seconds = 2.209.
Now let's take Michael's world record 200 and multiply it by the 1996 Olympic Trials quotient: 19.32 x 2.209 = 42.69 seconds!
What this preliminary information tells us is that, if Michael could have maintained his Special Endurance 2 as demonstrated at the Olympic Trials, his projected performances at the 1996 Olympics may have been even faster! In fact the 400 world record could have been lowered by more than a half-second.
The aspect of projecting where athletes true potential may lie was so intriguing I began to tabulate hundreds of meet results in pursuit of creating a reliable average quotient The result differed slightly between the sexes, ages and levels of athletes.
The women's study revealed the best quotient for the 200 meters divided by the 100 meters to be 1.963 and the best 400 meters and 200 meters quotient to be 2.136. Both values were accomplished by Canadian Juniors.
*This result is skewed slightly as a result of the 1992 and 1995 Ontario High School Provincial Meets. These meets had young men running 200 and 100 meters sub-2.00 differentials.
During the course of the men's study, it was not
unusual to come across values of 1.99 or lower with the 100 meters and 200
meters. The best men's 100 and 200 quotient was 1.959 (unless Michael
Johnson's 10.09 and 19.32 is used; then the best value
becomes 1.914). The best quotient the 200m and 400 was 2.152, accomplished by a
NCAA Division III athlete during the 1995/1996 campaign.
The results allow coaches to make rough estimates to how athletes might perform in the various events. I now can make a rough estimate how a university woman running 24.50 seconds might perform (with proper training) in the 400 meters. Based on my findings I can estimate she will run 54.93 seconds for the 400 meters: 24.50 x 2.242 = 54.929.
Although the concept and formula for estimating the possible performances is quite simple, they may have some far-reaching ramifications. Do faster 200m performances mean faster 400m performances? Can we gauge how close an athlete is to peaking, based on the differential between his 100 meters and 200 meters or 200m and 400times? If we can raise the specific 400m fitness of a 20.10 200m sprinter will he be able to run 44.22 seconds? If an athlete's quotient falls outside of the norms is the athlete in the appropriate event? Is the athlete's training appropriate for the requirements of the event?
By using this simple formula, we have been able to estimate future performances, make decisions on training and gauge peaking of the athletes at our schools. Have fun with the formula and try it out on your own athletes. You may find some surprising values. That average 200m athlete may have the potential to be the next 400m world champion.
Editor's note: In Run With The Best, a book recently published by Tafnews Press (Book Division of Track & Field News), the authors, Tony Benson and Irv Ray, use this quotient concept, which they refer to as Stamina Indicators, in predicting the potential of middle and long distance runners in events they don't ordinarily run. To them, Stamina Indicators provide an important index to the coach to determine whether the athlete needs to work more on speed rather than endurance, or vice versa.
FROM: TRACK COACH 145