Doktor Spinn’s Acceleration Theory For Self Improvement
I find life easier to cope with by having guiding principles. Or theories, if you will.
The “acceleration theory” is a guiding principle of mine and it has served me exceptionally well for several years now.
It’s a very powerful lifehack and I’m positively sure that you could put it to good use in your life as well.
How I Stumbled Upon It
A few years ago, I was living in Greenwich outside London and I was disturbingly poor. It might sound awful, but a good thing with having little money for food, was that I was eating only the necessary stuff. This in turn had positive effects on my physique, so I felt pretty fit and lean at the time.
So, training in Greenwich Park, home of the GMT date line, became a daily hobby. Back in high-school, I was a pretty decent 100 meter dash sprinter, so I decided to see if I could beat my personal own personal record. For a couple of weeks I ran intervals uphill in steep slopes to revive some of that explosiveness.
Soon I felt ready to give it ago. I measured the sprint distance and after a couple of test runs I quickly learnt that I could barely match my personal best. As disappointing as this was, I got back to interval training and tried again, but still no real results.
Ambitious as I was, I did what I always do when things aren’t progressing they way I want them to. I got going with some extensive research. And here’s what I found:
If we assume that the friction between your foot and the ground is a constant and that running on two feet is a given (yes, four-legged animals are better equipped for speed), then the perfect super human would theoretically be able to run 100 meters in between 4,5 to 5 seconds.
Faster than that is physically impossible as long as we don’t alter ground-contact friction or our physique. At least here on earth where we can regard gravity to remain constant over 100 meters.
But here’s the really interesting part;
The sprinter’s speed during a 100 meter dash varies quite a lot. Instinctively I thought the secret to a great finish time was to reach maximum velocity as quickly in the race as possible.
Now, running at maximum speed is quite a known science. You should run tall and strive for as little friction (ground contact) as possible. Ideally, the front end of your foot should only touch the ground for a split second straight under your upright body. And so on.
But here’s the problem; running at maximum speed doesn’t only depend on your explosiveness and your technique. Running at maximum speed is all about keeping the momentum for as long as possible, i.e. preserving your top speed.
Because it’s extremely difficult to accelerate once in upright position.
Plus, human beings can’t maintain maximum velocity for even 100 meters. If you reach your upright position at 20 meters into the race, then that’s the momentum you have to work with. If you don’t reach your top speed before reaching upright position you might be able to keep the pace for 80 meters, but it won’t do your finish time any good.
This is partly why sprinters are so muscular; they are masters at pro-longing their acceleration. The best of the best reach full maximum around 60 meters into the race and they then manages to keep that speed for 20-30 meters before they start loosing speed. And this is why reaction time at the start is less important than one might think. You don’t have to be the fastest around 20 meters, you need to be the person with the most acceleration left in your body.
This is also why it’s so difficult for the leader at 80 meters to counter if there’s someone coming up from behind at a slightly better speed.
To be able to keep accelerating, you need to be working yourself from the ground up with your entire body leaning forward at almost a 45 degree angle. This is hard work and it feels quite unnatural. Your’e not exactly running as much as using the muscles in your legs to push diagonally upward to constantly accelerate.
Putting The Knowledge To Use
I went back to the park and I marked 60 meters along the 100 meter track. I quickly noticed how much hard work it was to accelerate and accelerate and accelerate. I felt like an elephant rather than a graceful and ultra-light sprinter. I managed after some practice to prolong my acceleration to 40 meter and decided to go for it and time myself.
I didn’t have any starting blocks, so I felt how much traction and push I lost in the start as the ground gave way. I felt clumsy and all over the lane and it felt like it took forever to reach the upright position. Once I passed the 100 meter mark, I felt as if I had been running for a lifetime.
Now, I don’t remember what time I got exactly, but I remember that I thought that it would be awful. But strangely enough, I did a faster 100 meter dash than ever before in my life, almost a second better than my all-time record.
Doktor Spinn’s Acceleration Theory
What did I learn from this? I learnt that the Acceleration Theory has something to teach us about performance and accomplishments in our daily lives.
1. Know How Long The Race Actually Is
If the race is 100 meters, don’t bother too much about who happens to be ahead at 40 meters. Chances are that they peaked to early and that it will be difficult for them to accelerate any more. This makes it less tempting to take shortcuts in order to get ahead.
2. Always Pace Yourself
Focus on getting down on the ground and build your momentum from the ground up. Chances are your competitors might think that they have you beat, but it can actually be a good thing if they think you’re out of the picture.
3. Get Down And Dirty
Everyone can run upright with the wind in their face and with very little resistance. But the real fight, the real foundation for victory is won early in the race when you’re down in the trenches sweating and pushing all your raw power into the ground.
4. Run Your Own Race
Some people just aren’t striving for elite speeds which allows them to reach their “cruising altitude” much quicker. And that’s okay as long as you don’t compare yourself with anyone but yourself.
5. Build Your Raw Acceleration Power
What good does it do you to have quick feet if you don’t have the ability to prolong your acceleration? I can try for years to hone my skills in managing development projects in digital—or I take a year to actually learn how to to basic coding and then use this skill to accelerate past all competitors.