I just wanted to chime in here and say that although the thoughts are great I think we’re dealing with some very loose correlations here. Several of which overlap and potentially lead to flawed conclusions of causation. For example, times and distances are going to be so closely related that we can barely separate them without serious analysis. 6 sec in for a high schooler will put them at ~50m. For an advanced athlete they’ll be at ~56m. That’s not all that big of a difference on the surface. The high schooler has finished accelerating and is well on the velocity downslope. The advanced athlete is probably still accelerating. So while they seem very much the same at this point, there heading in completely opposite directions in terms of acceleration. So step count differentials for the entirety of the race won’t tell the story until MUCH later in the race (unless you’re doing more detailed analysis than we’re doing here). Hopefully that makes sense what I’m getting at…basically, things don’t REALLY differentiate between elites and intermediates until the latter half of the race so using step counts to guide acceleration distances won’t have as much of an impact as you might think. This becomes clearly obvious when we compare hurdlers….through 15 yd (hurdle 1) I’ve seen plenty of 18.5 second high schoolers take 8 steps to the first hurdle (without reaching) which is the same number of steps a 13.4 second hurdler takes (likewise without reaching***).
***when you get much faster than 13.4 it seems that things begin to differentiate enough that SOME people will benefit from taking ONE less step.
Despite the paper mentioned, there’s no way in hell everyone accelerates through 6-7 seconds. I’m guessing the study looked at a very homogenous pool of individuals in which case this would be the case. Lesser athletes (let’s say a 14 second 100m runner) would be accelerating much shorter (in both distance AND time).
Similarly, most football athletes (even pro speedsters) accelerate much shorter time frames. Often times they reach their top end speed and a given distance faster than their track counterparts but they can no longer accelerate. How would we explain this?
To accelerate the extreme distances you’re seeing top elite sprinters do today, you need extreme power / speed capacities, you need to be able to stay in a forward position longer to apply the horizontal force needed for continued acceleration (because although acceleration doesn’t end once upright it sure as hell marks the beginning of the end), you need to know how much gas to give the engine.