4 Secrets to Beat Usain Bolt at the 100 meters

Usain Bolt is still the fastest man on earth, he owns the world record for the 100 meters at 9.58 seconds, he also owns the second best time at 9.63  seconds and wait for it…. yes, he also owns the third best time at 9.69 seconds. At the last Olympic games in Rio 2016, 9.81 seconds were enough for him to become a legend, impressive but still far from his best time in Berlin 2008. He is not as fast anymore and he is not getting any faster as age hits him like any other mortal. We will analyse the world 100 meters record and find the strong as well as the weak areas to improve on the Lighting Bolt, are you ready to be the new and improved fastest man alive?

Step 1. Morphological Bolt

bolt-measuresBolt is one of the tallest sprinters in the world,  almost 20 cm taller than the average height of the other finalists, he is also heavier, about 12,3% heavier than the other finalists in Berlin

Physical Characteristics of Bolt and finalists at Berlin 2009 100 m sprint

ParametersBoltAverage Finalist
Age (years)2326.7
Body mass (kg)9079
Body height (m)196177.3
BMI (kg/m2)23.422.5
data from www.trackandfield.about.com/profiles

It is clear that his physical attributes influence his running style, he has a longer stride and is able to maximize the time his shoe is on the ground by applying an enormous force to it, but it still is a simplified explanation for his superiority, there must be something else that distinguishes Bolt from the rest. So even if you are not as tall and strong you can still break the record.bolt-stride

His height and long extremities may also be perceived as a disadvantage given the fact that he is slower than his opponents at the acceleration phase.

Secret #1: You have to be taller and stronger, try to get a longer stride and apply greater force to the ground. If step 1 does not apply skip to step 2.

Step 2 – Starting Block Phase

Usain starting block

At a 100 meter race the start is critical and sprinters are known to have impressive reaction times. Bolt’s reaction time during his world record was 0.146 seconds, this time is actually the third slowest reaction time of all finalists. According to the rules, a reaction time of less than 0.100 seconds is considered a false start, so we could start by shaving at least 0,046 seconds off Bolt’s time just as the start.

Secret #2: Get your reaction time better than Usain. Go ahead, beat his reaction time in Rio.

Step 3 – Speed

Speed in sprinting is defined as a factor of the frequency and the length of strides (1). An increase in speed can be achieved by increasing the length of steps or the frequency, increasing both at the same time is actually very difficult as an increase in frequency will result in a shorter stride length. There is still controversy as to which factor is a more important contributor in increasing speed, but most authors believe that an increase in stride length is more effective than an increase in frequency.

At the world record, it took Bolt 40.92 strides to complete the race, his stride frequency was 4,23 strides every second, so his stride length is greater than the competition, but his frequency is lower. Bolt bases his speed on stride length and sacrifices stride frequency which gives him an advantage over his rivals.

100 m Sprint Berlin. Bolt vs finalists

ParametersUsain BoltFinalists
Time (s)9.589.91
Velocity (m/s)10.4410.09
Stride frequency (Hz)4.234.68
Stride Length (m)2.472.23
data from IAAF - Berlin 2009

Secret #3– Try to beat Bolt at his own game, work on longer strides even if it means a lower frequency, take the time to put greater strength into each step.

Step 4 – Limits

We are probably nearing the limits of the human body. It is unlikely that Bolt’s record will be broken by a mile. On the other hand we are getting better at technology, running shoes, running surfaces and specially time measurements. It is not unlikely that in the near future the 100 meter dash will be measured in the thousands of seconds.

Secret #4– It is easier to shave a thousand of a second than a hundred.

It is not an easy task beating Usain Bolt, nonetheless is worth the try, even if you end up miles behind him, just by trying is worth it if you can beat your self. Sooner or later his time will be beaten.

Sources

  1. Ferro et al. Biomechanical analysis of the 7th IAAF World Championhships in Athletics – Seville 1999. New Studies in Athletics, 2001
  2. Krzysztof Mackala, Mero Antti. A kinematics Analysis of Three Best 100 M Performances Ever. Journal of Human kinetics 36/2013

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