Statisfaction

Power of running world records

Posted in Dataset, R, Sport by Julyan Arbel on 8 August 2011

Following a few entries on sports here and there, I was wondering what kind of law follow the running records with respect to the distance. The data are available on Wikipedia, or here for a tidied version. It collects 18 distances, from 100 meters to 100 kilometers. A log-log scale is in order:

It is nice to find a clear power law: the relation between the logarithms of time T and of distance D is linear. Its slope (given by the lm function) defines the power in the following relation:

T\propto D^{1.11}

Another type of race consists in running backwards (or retrorunning). The linear link is similar

with a slightly larger power

T\propto D^{1.13}

So it gets harder to run longer distances backwards than forwards…

It would be interesting to compare the powers for other sports like swimming and cycling.

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8 Responses

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  1. Jérôme Lê said, on 9 August 2011 at 10:37

    Nice and impressionnant!

  2. Brendan said, on 9 August 2011 at 14:37

    There’s a nice paper on power laws like this listed below. It appears that race time predictors like McMillan’s one use a power law similar to the one that you found.

    “Approximate Law of Fatigue in the Speeds of Racing Animals” A. E. Kennelly
    Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 42, No. 15 (Dec., 1906), pp. 275-331.

    • Julyan Arbel said, on 10 August 2011 at 10:07

      Thanks for the reference. This is indeed a well-known relation, as studied in this paper:
      “Power laws and athletic performance”, JS Katz and L Katz
      Journal of sports sciences, 1999, 17, 467-476
      The authors analyzed the evolution of c and n in T=cD^n along time (and show that the power n is decreasing with epoch)

      • Brendan said, on 10 August 2011 at 17:25

        Thanks for that reference. The paper looks very interesting.

  3. [...] here (statisfaction [...]

  4. john said, on 9 August 2011 at 20:07

    http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/weblog/491.html

    In particuar: “Lots of distributions give you straight-ish lines on a log-log plot. “

  5. Ken said, on 31 August 2011 at 22:12

    Savaglio, S. and V. Carbone (2000). “Human performance: Scaling in athletic world records.” Nature 404(6775): 244-244.


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