“In this world there are two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. The last is much the worst.”
Incredible displays of super-human power-to-bodyweight ratios will be on display this week, as The IAAF World Track and Field Championships take place in Berlin, Germany, beginning this weekend. The marquee matchup,or course, is in the men’s 100 meter race, where Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and American Tyson Gay will go head-to-head for the title of “World’s Fastest Man.”
It’s interesting to note how the body types of the winners of the “World’s Fastest Man” title have changed over the years, spreading out my favorite indicator of athleticism — the power-to-bodyweight ratio — over more and more slender, aerodynamic frames. Check out this interesting blogpost, from Dan Peterson of the very cool blog, Sports are 80 Percent Mental, for a more in-depth look at this phenomenon.
And for those interested, here’s the television schedule (courtesy of the Versus network) for the week’s events. If you get a chance, take in some of the competition. Track and Field is a most beautiful and elegant sport, and I wish that it (along with bicycle racing) were as big here in the US as it is in Europe and the Caribbean. And while you’re at it, consider the body types of these athletes in relation to their chosen events. Consider the yin-yang of the nature-nurture confluence here. While it’s true that genetics, for the most part, chose at birth the events in which these athletes would excel — no one would argue that Usain Bolt or Tyson Gay, even with the best in training techniques available, would become world champion shot-putters — there is a certain aspect of the desired phenotype that can be trained for. We may be born with a marathoner’s or a shot-putter’s physique, but we can certainly influence our end phenotype by training, for example, like a 100 meter athlete (if this is the phenotype you desire). Short bursts of high-intensity work done in an intermittent and infrequent fashion, coupled with a Paleo-like diet will influence your body to drop bodyfat and manufacture and retain a high predominance of fast-twitch muscle fiber. The rest, as I like to say, is mere commentary.
Have a great, and I’m sure, well-deserved, weekend.