Which one of these track and field records will be easiest for me to break?
November 14, 2011 4:09 AM   Subscribe

Which one of these track and field records will be easiest for me to break?

In relation to this question, I'd like to break one of my school's records (here in China) for the track and field event they host every year.

I am of a slightly heavier build, even if I wasn't chubby, and i'm 5 foot 8 and 3/4 inches. I'm 28 years old.

So which of the following records would be relatively most feasible for me to break? (we get to sign up for 2 events)

100 meters: 10.6
200 meters: 22.3
400 meters: 50.4
800 meters: 1:56.9
1500 meters: 4:06
5000 meters: 16:16

My personal bests in these are as following:

100 meters: 13.8
200 meters: 27.6
400 meters: 59.7
800 meters: 2:21.3
1500 meters: 5:06
5000 meters: 19:48
posted by crawltopslow to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How long have you got before the race? 3 months since August (ie, now)?

If my maths is right, you'd have to go about 25% faster to hit any of those records - that's a hell of a difference without a lot of time and training...
posted by twine42 at 4:15 AM on November 14, 2011

Are these your only choices?

I'm no track expert, but it seems to me that a less popular event might have an easier record to break--maybe you could try to learn the hammer throw or the triple jump or something.
posted by box at 4:58 AM on November 14, 2011

Given your age, build and disparity between your personal bests and the school records, you've got next to no chance of breaking any of them. You can't take 3 seconds off your hundred metres time or a minute off your 1500 metres best, it's just not going to happen.
posted by joannemullen at 4:59 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: The track meet is held every November. And Ifigure the earliest I can break the 5000 meter record is 2013. I think almost any reasonably fit 28 year old who dedicates his life to running 5000 meters in 16:16. I might have to drop forty lbs. The biggest obstacle would be injury, but I think that with enough base build up, Pre-hab, injury prevention, rest, healthy diet, and a good workout schedule, the injury obstacle can be overcome.

I am only interested in competing in the running events running events.
posted by crawltopslow at 5:12 AM on November 14, 2011

Response by poster: Oh yeah. I can compete even after I graduate.
posted by crawltopslow at 5:14 AM on November 14, 2011

Unless your personal bests were done when you were in only fair condition I do not think you stand a significant chance of breaking any of these track or field records. Those are very significant improvements in performance over your personal bests. You might expect a consistent 10% improvement with regular training--a bit more if you really push it. If those PBs were when you were in good to excellent shape I wish you luck. if I were going to try it I would pick the two events I most enjoy but focus on either sprints, intermediate or the 1500 and 5000. Wishing you the best
posted by rmhsinc at 5:20 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're going to dedicate your life to this? Train for a year? Lose 40 pounds? To break a school record in China? In that case, the longer the distance, the more chance you've got I suppose.
posted by joannemullen at 5:21 AM on November 14, 2011

Response by poster: I imagine it will take two years, bu other than that yes. I am starting with hamstring surgery in Finland from Dr. Orava and then living in Colorado Springs, and finding an elite coach or training partners for a year or two.
posted by crawltopslow at 5:27 AM on November 14, 2011

OK crawltopslow, don't be too discouraged. These are all not bad records, but the longer ones are better.

100 meters: 10.6
200 meters: 22.3
400 meters: 50.4
800 meters: 1:56.9
1500 meters: 4:06
5000 meters: 16:16

You can probably improve on your 5000m time of 19.48 - which is only OK - but moving that down below even 18m requires a different kind of training than you were doing when you set your personal best.

16:16m for the 5000m is several minutes off the world record, but it is still smoking fast. Don't look lightly on this.
posted by three blind mice at 6:22 AM on November 14, 2011

Based on your current times, your best bet is the 400m - you're only 18% over the record on that but I agree with the others that its very unlikely.
posted by missmagenta at 6:41 AM on November 14, 2011

If time is not a factor, then distance is your best bet. A 16:16 5k on a track is a good time, but beatable. Not knowing much about track, I would also say that looking at the numbers, the 800 meter number is at a considerably slower pace than the 400 (more than double) and should be within grasp if you have any natural speed. You have no chance at the 10.6 100 meters unless you are naturally very fast. That is a legit time that is closer to world record time than you are to it.

I would focus part of my training on strategy. You will be running against other runners and against the clock. If there is no one in your heat that is competitive with those times, you do not want to be dragged down with time. You need to learn to pace yourself for your own splits and your own abilities.

I also think training at altitude will help you in time.

Good luck.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:45 AM on November 14, 2011

If training time...
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:46 AM on November 14, 2011

Response by poster: I do have the means and determination, and I love training, and feeling the burn.

Injuries are the only real obstacle.

Anyway I just found this guy did it!

Thanks for the encouragement Rodrigo.

I also admit, maybe I will "fail", which will mean, I will be a lot fitter, healthier, slimmer, and probably first place in the track meet.
posted by crawltopslow at 7:45 AM on November 14, 2011

I was something of a track star in high school, the fastest guy there, and my personal bests were significantly slower than all of the records you're trying to beat. Yet I was considerably faster than your current PR's at the outset. There were a couple of instances where I took significant chunks off my PR, like dropping my mile time from 4:48 to 4:39 or my 5K (off-track) time from 17:12 to 16:45. Those were memorably painful experiences, but the gains were tiny compared to how far you need to go.

Discouraging, I know, but I salute your goal and like the idea of "failing" into awesome fitness. Here are some tips that might help.
  • Lose weight. The fastest way to get fast is to have less of you to propel. And it tends to be easier to drop fat than to build muscle, though much of both will be required for you to meet your goal.
  • Figure out where your body type will work for you. Look at pictures of successful athletes in the various distances and decide which body type is closest to how you would look if you got in shape.
  • Your PR's indicate you have some good base material to work with. Your times are actually pretty respectable around 400m, but an attempt at the 5K sounds much less likely to succeed.
  • Get some coaching. You need somebody who can guide you through a ton of different training techniques & concepts, like intervals, weights, plyometrics, speedplay, stretching, and nutrition. A good coach will be really helpful in maximizing your gains per effort expended, and avoiding injury.
Good luck!
posted by richyoung at 8:18 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

You don't have enough natural speed to break the 100 or 200 record, most likely, and your 800 and up times seem like they have too far to go. The 400 seems most feasible, but it's totally possible that you'll similarly get yourself into amazing shape, as good as you can be, and not be able to get under 53 seconds, which is still a fast time. When I was in amazing shape, I couldn't get under 55 seconds, no way no how.
posted by Kwine at 10:07 AM on November 14, 2011

Kudos on the goals! If you dedicate yourself to them you may be surprised at what you can achieve. Especially if you have the resources, the physical durability, and the mental focus to keep at it for years. One key will be setting a number of small, achievable intermediate goals. Another is consistency in training--what elite runners all share is a consistent base of years and years of training. It's hard to keep mentally focused on training (every day, rain or shine) over a period of years, but it is critical. Finally, take care to address also your nutrition and sleep. Find a good coach and training group, and take it slow.

As for the records, it's hard to say which you have the best shot at without knowing more behind your PR's. When did you set those marks? Were you training for a specific event at the time? Where is your fitness now? Honestly, I would write off the shorter events (100 - 400). Those records are pretty legit. The 1500 converts to a 4:26 mile, not world-record territory but still pretty quick. There are some performance conversion calculators that might help to give a rough sense of the relative strength of those records. I might play around with one and post the results, cause I'm dorky like that.

That said, I personally think you have the best shot at the 5k. But it will not be easy. I am about your age. I probably am about at your fitness level now. And I have in the past run in the mid-14s for 5k. So I have a pretty good sense of what it takes to get back to 16 minute fitness. And my friend it is a loooong and difficult road! Regardless, best of luck!
posted by bepe at 11:55 AM on November 14, 2011

Best answer: So by way of update, here are your performances and the records in terms of "Purdy Points," which is one way of ranking the relative strength of running times across different distances. The point values agree with my initial assessment that the 5000m records is the weakest of the bunch. To be equivalent to the shorter distances, that record would have to be about a 15:10 or so, which seems about right. At the same time, your performances as a percentage of the records are about the same strength from 400 through 5000. So it all depends I think on how you got your PRs and through what kind of prior training. Again, good luck!

The Records in purdy points

100 meters: 10.6 = 880
200 meters: 22.3 = 810
400 meters: 50.4 = 803
800 meters: 1:56.9 = 804
1500 meters: 4:06 = 784
5000 meters: 16:16 = 709

Your PRs

100 meters: 13.8 = 369
200 meters: 27.6 = 418
400 meters: 59.7 = 516
800 meters: 2:21.3 = 511
1500 meters: 5:06 = 469
5000 meters: 19:48 = 448

Your PRs as a % of the record

100 meters: 42
200 meters: 52
400 meters: 64
800 meters: 64
1500 meters: 60
5000 meters: 63
posted by bepe at 12:12 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

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