The 100 meter sprints on Tuesday have stirred my curiosity as to what I could do on the track in an all out 100. Today was not quite the best day to do it, but there will never be a best day. So I decided to give it a shot. Ted and I warmed up to the Provo High track. Then I did a few accelerations to get ready. Then Ted timed me from a standing start. In two attempts I managed 14.8 and 14.6. Nothing unusual - just about what I used to get in the past, although I had never tried them in the dark before, or at least never ran that fast in the dark and that early in the morning. It felt awkward to run from a standing start.
I can think of a few reasons why the sprinting felt a lot better on Tuesday. One, is I had not done it on Tuesday yet. Two, I had not done the 400s the day before. Three, they were not from a standing start, which I think for me makes a lot of difference - having to accelerate that fast tenses me up for 60 meters or so before I can finally get into the groove.
Ran with the kids in the afternoon. My cold got a bit worse during the day, and I've even considered skipping the 10 miler, but then I attacked it with large doses of garlic and fluids with electrolytes (EmerenC) and it got quite a bit better.
Now what is the big deal about 100 meters? I believe regardless of what distance you train for, if you are a runner you need to know how to run. 100 meter sprint is a good home test of your running form. Let us think of a bike for an analogy. Let us say we have untrued wheels. Riding a slow speed will take more energy, but you can still do it. However, riding at a high speed will be impossible even if we try to do it for a very short period of time. If your distance performance suffers, there is an equal probability that the problem is endurance or biomechanics. However, if your sprint performance suffers, the endurance factor is eliminated. The element of natural or trained explosiveness comes into play, but I believe it is not as important as the endurance for a long distance event. It is not unusual to find men that do not do squat for exercise of any kind, and can still run a 12.0 100 meters or faster. That is only 20% slower than the world record. 20% slower than the world record in a marathon is 2:30. How many guys can run a 2:30 marathon with no training?
Thus, training in a marathon can obscure or compensate for the effects of bad biomechanics. But it is much more difficult to do it in a sprint. And it is nearly impossible to do it for somebody with dominant slow twitch fibers. On top of the untrued wheels bike effect, he has another problem. If you train him to sprint, he has very little he can train. Therefore, it is reasonable to suppose that if a slow twitch dominant runner can do a decent 100 meter sprint, he is doing it mostly off good form. And, if the sprint is slower than a certain threshold, the problem is biomechanical.
So I would roughly put people into the following groups (some adjustment might be needed, it would be nice if somebody did a research on this):
| Group||Identifying Qualities |
| Sprinters||With proper biomechanics, 100 meters under 11.0 for men, under 12.5 for women. Trained for distance, slow down way more in longer distances than what McMillan calculator estimates.|
| Middle-distance runners||With proper biomechanics, 100 meters under 12.0 for men, and 13.6 for women. Trained for distance, slow down according to the McMillan calculator from 100 to the mile, then a bit more towards 5000 meters, then much more after that.|
| Regular distance runners||With proper biomechanics, 100 meters under 12.7 for men and 14.4 for women. Trained for distance, slow down a little bit less than the McMillan calculator curve from 100 meters all the way to the marathon.|
| Distance runners with unusually high proportions of slow twitch fibers|| With proper biomechanics, 100 meters under 14.0 for men, and 15.8 for women. Trained for distance, hardly any slow down from 100 meters to 800 meters - can almost run 800 in 8 times their 100 meter PR. However, the slow down from 800 to the marathon matches that of the Regular distance runners.|
I would be a regular distance runner with bad biomechanics. Sometimes we explain away the poor performance in 100 meters of a regular distance runner by saying he just does not have a lot of fast twitch muscles. I think it is a mistake. First, if he does not run 100 under 14.0, he either has biomechanical issues, or some form of mild muscular dystrophy or some other health issue otherwise. Second, if he indeed is so slow twitch, when properly trained, he will very closely approach his 8x100 PR time in 800 meter race.
The above is an expression of my intuition I've gained from 22 years of running experience. I would really, really like to see some research on this, though. If anybody has any feedback on this, feel free to comment. I am very much open to correction/clarification of my ideas.