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The Science of 1/100 of a Second: July 31, 2012

Sports trainers view it as a science - the science of 1/100th of a second. The idea is to break down every facet of performance so athletes can better their best. Many of their methods are available to you and me.

Seconds don’t count anymore; it’s fractions of seconds that make the difference between gold, silver and bronze.

“By the time these athletes get to an Olympic level, they’re all in peak physical condition. So the differences are going to be small” says Dr. James Bynum, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

Aimee Lafond ran her first half-marathon last year.

“I never put one foot in front of the other for more than about four miles when I did it,” says Lafond.

She wants the most from her moves and works at besting her best time.

“There’s a whole layout you can do. You do speed work, you do pace work, you do long distance work.  So you get a lot of mixtures in there, which will help you with your speed,” says Lafond.

Lafond is on the right track, using a regimented training approach. It creates a roadmap for success as more of us dive into sports.

“Most people should start slow and make sure they’re in good enough physical condition for that sport to begin with, so they don’t injure themselves. And to listen to their body,” says Dr. Bynum.

You don’t have to be an Olympian to get the star treatment anymore. Sport nutrition plans are widely available and so are top notch training techniques.

“We’ve found more and more that cross training, doing other exercises such as weight lifting or endurance training, regardless of your sport, is going to help you in the long run,” says Dr. Bynum.

Aimee is making an art out of the science of running as she counts the miles for her first full marathon.

“I know I can finish 13.  Now I’m trying to hit 18, 19, 20” says Lafond.

These sports mechanics are helping athletes shave fractions off time and set new records in the process.

“There has to be a theoretical wall, but nobody knows where it is or when we’re going to reach it,” says Dr. Bynum.