By Ted Werth
Sprinting can be a good thing. If a child wanders into the street. If you are running from a fire. If you are being chased by a bear. But the thing about sprinting is you can only only do it for a short while. Yet, too often we schedule our lives like we can sprint for hours or even days on end. The idea that we can do this effectively is an illusion.
I recall attending the 1976 Olympic trials in Eugene. My seat was about 30 yards from the starting blocks for the 100 meter race. What you don’t see on TV is the preparation that goes on before the race. The sprinters would show up 45 minutes before their race and go through extensive stretching and miniature 10 yard sprints. Finally the starter would call them to the starting blocks; the gun would fire and all their energy would be poured into a race of less than 10 seconds. In the elimination rounds a sprinter might have two races in one day but generally their day was centered around that one race.
The 100 meter race is the premier track and field event of the Summer Olympics. The winner receives the title of “fastest man in the world.”
As the race evolves there is often one runner that appears to dig deep for a final burst of speed allowing the runner to either blow past, or pull away from, the other runners on the way to victory. This, however, is an illusion.
It’s an illusion because sprinters reach their top speed between 50 and 60 meters. From that point they maintain their top speed until the 80 meter mark. Over the last 20 meters it literally becomes a race to see who can slow down the least.
The idea that we can schedule our life as a full time sprint is also an illusion. You may appear to be going full speed, but in reality you are probably slowing down quickly. There is a time to sprint. Just recognize that you can’t do it all the time.
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