This weekend I went to Vegas. You might be waiting in anxious anticipation for photos to appear documenting the wild times to be had in such a city over Halloween weekend, but I’m sorry to say that I have nothing to share in that regard. To be fair, I’m sure the city was quite wild and in my younger days I would have loved to be right in the thick of it, but while my signs of aging don’t take the form of grey hairs or sagging chins, they definitely are starting to reveal themselves when I think of having to miss out on sleep, listening to music entirely too loud, and aching feet for no good reason.
But I wasn’t in Vegas to party so I felt okay being the Grandma. A group of athletes and coaches were there for the annual USATF jumps summit, and one of the things that stood out to me during a particular presentation was the idea that what we are doing on the elite level of our sport is trying to achieve performances that are on the edge of human achievement. We are trying to accomplish things that are pretty much the best of what is capable from a human being at this point. At the very least we are trying to accomplish better marks than anyone competing in this day and age– sometimes it’s hard to compete with the 80’s. So, instead of hitting the strip, I studied numbers. Specifically all the numbers I need to change so that I can be a better jumper than I was last year, and do everything I can possibly do to be a better jumper than anyone else lacing up their spikes this season. And because i know you’re dying to know all this crazy, exciting information is that I was dissecting, I’ll share a little bit with you.
I need to elongate my 2nd to last step by about 0.2 centimeters… (Some of you novices thought all I needed to worry about was hitting the board, huh? I wish.) When I correct these stride length issues in my last few steps while I am running as fast as I possibly can, I need to figure out a way at takeoff to be on the board approximately .04 seconds longer… After I actually leave the ground, my vertical velocity needs to be at least 1 meter per second more than it currently is… This will hopefully cause my angle of takeoff to increase by 7-10%, which will make my center of mass travel of further distance, thereby making me a phenomenal jumper. The end.
To me, this is great news. I know. I have real data telling me what I need to do to be the best. When I wake up every day and go to practice I have clear objectives in mind on what I’m trying to accomplish and work towards. Of course I don’t have the time (nor do you probably care to read), explaining how I go about trying to fix my problem areas, but this is what you focus on when you are concerned with the difference between eating from a cereal box and being on one. (