1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Exercise your brain for a moment

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by FireJimTressel.com, May 7, 2007.

  1. I've been dealing with a lot of high school track recently, and I discovered a phenomenon that fascinates me to no end. It's the progression and limits of world records. This could go for any sport that deals with timed events. We're going to use the 1-mile run in track. The world record is 3:43.13 by Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj set in 1999.

    If Guerrouj ran 3:43.13, I submit that it is realistic for someone to run 3:43.12. If you give me that, I submit it is realistic for someone to run 3:43.11. If you give me that, I submit that it is realistic for someone to run 3:43.1. Perhaps you see where I'm going with this.

    In 1954, Roger Bannister ran the first sub 4-minute mile when he clocked 3:59.4. So, in the 45 years between Bannister's fete and Guerrouj's standing world record, the time dropped 16.27 seconds. In the mile, that's quite drastic. So now we've established big drops over a period of time are possible. Does this mean we can assume the world record will drop 16 more seconds over the next 45 years? That would leave it at 3:27.

    If you know a lot about track, you have a hard time seeing anyone running the mile in 3:27. That's fine, but common sense (as stated above) suggests it has to be possible at some point. If it's possible for someone to run 3:43.13, you must think it's possible for someone to run 3:43.12. Let's skip the argument that it seems downright preposterous for someone to run the mile in 2 minutes flat. We all must agree that it is physically impossible for someone to run the mile in 0 minutes, 0.01 second.

    But if you go by the common sense idea that you reasonably can take 0.01 second off every world record time, then it must be possible to get to 0 minutes, 0.01 second at some point.

    Now you're going to suggest there is a flaw in that reasoning. That's fine. But if you can't take 0.01 second off every world record and still make it reasonable, where do you draw the line?

    At 3:27.85? At 3:27.84? At 3:27.83?

    At 3:00.56? At 3:00.55? At 3:00.54?

    That right there is the puzzling thing about this whole phenomenon. It seems logical that a human can only take so much time off the world record, but it is illogical to be able to pick an exact time as the lowest limit.

    By the time the world record got that low, all of us would be dead. Our children would be dead, and our great grandchildren likely would be dead.

    That doesn't make the phenomenon any less fascinating.

    Any other thoughts? This is not a trick question or a brain teaser. I have as many questions as you do.
  2. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    There are physiological limits, though, to how fast a runner can run. Those come into play at some point.
  3. Mayfly

    Mayfly Active Member

    The human body cannot be pushed to that extreme by any stretch of the imagination. El G is a freak of nature with his 3:43.13. If it gets lowered any more, I can only see it going to 3:41.XX, there is no way that it will break into the 3:30s.
  4. PaperDoll

    PaperDoll Well-Known Member

    I asked an Olympic hopeful (and current high school) swimmer a question like that during the winter.

    Her reply: "We can’t even go our fastest time all the time. If we all got faster every time we swam we’d be down to double-zeros by now, 50 free in no time at all. We’re only human."
  5. I'm not agreeing or disagreeing, but that's purely opinion. Do you think back in the 1950s people thought the record ever could break into the 3:43s?
  6. Mayfly

    Mayfly Active Member

    I would say that they would think it was far-fetched. But the human body can only go so far, and El G almost died after his mile record, he was spent. If a runner ever gets into the 3:30s, I expect him to die.
  7. That's absolutely correct. I'm saying using the logic above, though, it could happen at some time. And if you don't believe that, where do you draw the line?
    You're right, not everybody can swim/run their fastest every time, but maybe someone in the race does.
  8. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    He set the record eight years ago and no one has shaved .01 off the mark since. There are limits. I, too, would be surprised if it got below 3:40.
  9. That would suck, but at least we'd have an answer to the question, eh? A human can only run "this" fast before he dies.
  10. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    All these records are in trouble in the future when we all have jetpacks and flying cars.
  11. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    The fact, tressel, is that you can't apply logic to track and field world records.
    El Guerrouj is a freak. no one has come close in the past 7 1/2 years

    Look at Bob Beamon ... no one had even approached 28 feet in the long jump when he jumped 29-2 1/4 at he [high altitude] Mexico City Olympics. That stood for 23 years until Mike Powell [29-4 1/2] and Carl Lewis [29-3 1/4] surpassed it on the same day at the 1991 WorldChampionships in Tokyo... no one has come close since

    Same goes for Michael johnson's 19.32 ln the 200 in Atlanta in '96
  12. Mayfly

    Mayfly Active Member

    What about Tim Montgomery's 100 meter record? :p
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page