Running Mastery: Sports Stat of the Week

Running Mastery-Sports Stats of the Week

So you probably thought you’d hear about hockey this week given that preseason begins . . . now, but instead how about a diversion to running.

In tandem with my research on the non verbal, environmental cues that foster the growth of super stars I get to look at super stars themselves. It’s really amazing to watch a fast runner. Fluid movements, precision.

As a little girl I dreamed about having both the speed and style of Jackie Joyner Kersee and FloJo. They were magically fast and yet wildly stylish – the best of both worlds.

So is it true that competing with someone great will make you greater? For this weeks statistic I pull the records from record breaking running events. Did second place also beat a record? Did second place set a personal best running against the record setter?

Of the 23 world record breaking times sampled, over 50% of the time second place either broke the previous record as well or recorded a personal best. There’s also a very strong trend of peak years when the record is broken multiple times in a year – usually between May and August. For the Men’s 100M dash, peak years are 1968, 1987, 1988, 1991, 2006, 2008 and 2009. Often it is a competitive back and forth for the eventual breaker with his main #2.

Have just a second? Really, that’s all you’ll need to see Usain Bolt’s fantastic race in Berlin, August 2009. The new world record. Watch the poor camera guys try to catch him post race…

9 thoughts on “Running Mastery: Sports Stat of the Week”

  1. Yes, I believe that “hanging with” champions makes those that do the hanging better. They pick up the champ’s habits. If they are too much of a drag on the champ, the champion will disassociate him/herself with the person.

  2. Man that guy is fast! I find competing with people who are better than me automatically increases my skill level. It is like my brain is picking up techniques faster than I even realise what is happening. Awesome stuff!

    Conversly I’ve noticed that when I play against someone with a lower skill set for a long period of time my skill suffers just a little bit. Not that noticable until you have to go back playing at your level again.

    Keri Eagan.

  3. Your observations about times of peak performance reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” where the whole book is devoted to the same kind of observations. More important are your ideas about fostering excellence in children. Thank you!

  4. From my experience:

    If you play tennis with someone who has higher skill than you, then you will eventually increase your skill too.


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