Friday, November 6, 2009

Usain Bolt v.s Cheetah

Have you ever wondered just how fast Usain Bolt really is? We all know he has just broken his old world record by running a 9.58 second 100 meter dash, but if you’re like most then you don’t really have a category for that kind of speed. How does his speed compare to athletes of other sports, or for a closer comparison maybe a cheetah?

The easy explanation to this question is, Usain Bolt can run 23.09 mph or 33.86 ft/s but for me numbers just aren’t quite good enough to describe Bolt’s speed. I like to think about the fact that Usain Bolt could run for a first down in .89 seconds (if starting at max speed) or run a 40 yard dash in roughly 4.13 seconds (over .1 seconds faster than the NFL combines fastest ever). So how does he compare to animals? While he is no match for the cheetah which has been clocked at 70 mph, a white tailed deer would make a great training partner for Bolt seeing as at top speed Bambi runs only 5 mph faster than him. Maybe the Olympic committee should look into allowing animals to enter into the 2012 games…

So how does Usain Bolt compare to the average human. An accurate analogy might Usain Bolt is to humans as Bobby Fischer is to Simon Birch. Usain Bolt is truly a physiological freak show, and while there are athletes who have had equally impressive individual athletic characteristics as him no human that we know of has ever encompassed so many of these characteristics that combine to make such raw speed. So you can’t really compare him to one athlete, but to a host of different dominant athletes most of whom are currently residing at your local zoo.

-Will Hawkins

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Give it 110%

When performing Vo2 Max testing on athletes it is almost always the case that an Athlete will reach his or her ventilatory threshold and somehow push past this threshold. This begs the question what energy system is responsible for allowing the athlete to keep on working harder even though they are taking in no more oxygen (the energy source for aerobic work). The obvious answer to this is that another energy system picks up the slack of the aerobic energy system. Physiologist have determined that anaerobic glycolysis is how the body supplies its self with the additional ATP. They have determined this by tracking lactic acid levels which is a byproduct of muscle and liver glycogen breakdown. This lactic acid production is why training in this zone is so taxing on the body. So is it possible to give it 110%? I suppose it all depends on your point of view.

-Will Hawkins