Rethinking the 100-meter dash

What’s the smallest unit of time that you can perceive. How much does it change throughout the day? At what points does time fly? 

I’ve noticed is that as I relax my mind and see better, my “now” becomes longer. I think it’s why if you focus on a single point when you’re running or working out, you perform better. Because the more “nows” between me and my destination, the worse I’m going to run. Counter-intuitively, the choppier the curves of now, the smoother the time feels. So the fewer points that time stops, the faster time flies. 

Is there any math behind this theory? Yes. Simple calculus. Integre_area37115

Calculus is the math behind finding the exact area of the curve. Take a look at this curve. For a moment, I want you to imagine the curve as time it takes you to run 10 meters. The chops of the curve are your instantaneous now. As you stress your mind and body, these shorten. And you run slower, and you use more energy. The key to your fastest race is the thickest bars under the graph [after you get going]. 

Think about the 100-meter dash. Let’s assume that everyone has perfect running form, and a perfect start. Usain Bolt takes 41 strides, Justin Gatlin takes 42.5, Johan Blake takes 46. Why does that matter? The person that wins the 100-meter dash is the person that slows down the least. Everyone slows down. And if everyone has the same top speed, and gets to that speed in the same amount of time, the only difference between Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin is that Gatlin slows down a little more over the course of the race. His relative “now” is slightly shorter than Bolts, meaning that he’ll need more strides to complete the race. And more energy. And more time. 

There’s one more important thing to discuss about the 100-meter dash. The acceleration phase. The portion of the race where the runner accelerates to top speed. This portion rewards those that compress time the most. The harder you push, the shorter the amount of time between strides, the faster you accelerate. 

So before you write off the 100-meter dash as a simple display of athleticism, remember the delicate balance of rest and relaxation. The race pits runners against each other, and against themselves. Push too hard, and you’ll come up short. Don’t push hard enough, and you lose. Transitioning two opposing mindsets is key as the runners changing their perception of time throughout the race.