The Aging Athlete (6) – Men’s 1500m

Photo Courtesy Doug Shaggy Smith

Based upon the previous post, we have learned that 1500m Male runners’ performance after age 35, on average, tends to decline about 1/2% per year until M50. Then the erosion in time increases to about 1% annually until age 60. From there it jumps to over 1% a year.

Comparing the “average” male’s declining times versus the declines seen in the World Record (which form the basis of the age-grading curve) is a bit of a two-step process. Bernard Legat holds the the WRs for M35 (3:32.51 at age 36) and M40 (3:41.87 at age 40), followed by the UK’s Anthony Whiteman (M45), and David Heath (M50) and Australia’s Keith Bateman (M55) and the US’s Nolan Shaheed (M60).

It’s interesting to track the “gap” between Mr. Average and the WR. All through the M30s, M40s, and M50s, the “gap” (as measured by the percent the average is slower than the WR) is a pretty consistent 33%. From M60 on the average man slows down at an increasing rate vs the Legats of the world so that by age 85 we are 63% slower. You can see this in the chart below.

Click    Mens1500m                          to blow it up to full size and look at the pinkish bars on the bottom of the chart. They track in percentage terms how much slower the average is than the WR.

But let’s dig a bit deeper. Let’s look at the 90th percentile*. These are the top 10% of 1500m runners in the world in their age group. The 90th percentile for M55 1500 is about 4:37.65. How well does the 90th percentile of 1500m runners (essentially those who could possibly medal at an Outdoor World Championship … see here how I arrived at that conclusion) fare? Well blow up that chart again.    Mens1500m

Below the pink bars tracking Mr. Average’s greater times than the WR you will see a line called “90th PC Diff (%)” … the percentage slower than the WR of the 90th percentile runner across the age-groups. Note how consistent it is right up to M85 … 11%-14% slower right through time. The top 10% runners really are different! Right through until their mid 80s they hold their relative performance versus the absolute best in the world.

So if the 90th percentile pretty well tracks the WR decline in performance, where does the “royal jelly” in endurance begin to slip? On the chart, just below the 90th percentile you can find the 75th percentile, which is about 5:25.59 for M60. The 75th percentile is about what it takes to qualify for a World Championship final in the 1500. For the 75th percentile, the difference vs the world record also tracks pretty darn consistently until M60. From there the percentage behind the WR increases by 2 points or so every age group. The royal jelly is seeping out. It is somewhere around here at M60 that tracking the WR begins to no longer truly reflect “everyman’s” changing performance in an endurance event through time.

Where does that leave us? I suggest you find out exactly where YOU are. What percentile is your 1500m? To find out just just click below, select your age-group from the drop down menu, select event (e.g. 1500m), and then enter your time in minutes, seconds, and hundredths of seconds. Then click the green “Ok … Done … Go” and see your standing.

Track DE

Once you know your percentile, peruse the following table. It gives the average ANNUAL decline in performance over time for the 90th percentile, the 75th, and the 50th (the average man). Your standing is probably close to one of those, so you should be able to roughly establish what kind of decline in your 1500m time you can expect over the next few years. (One proviso. I suspect that you will decline less in the first year or two of an age group, and then probably a greater percentage loss as you get to the latter years of the age-group.) After age 60 you probably should not be upset if your age grade no longer is holding with previous years. You likely are maintaining your standing among your non-elite peers.

Men's 1500m Trends and Average Annual Decline in Performance

Age-GroupWorld RecordAvg WR Decline in Performance/YearAvg 90th PC Decline in Performance/YearAvg 75th PC Decline in Performance/YearAvg Male 1500 (50th PC) Decline in Performance/Year
M353:32.51
n/an/an/an/a
M403:41.87
0.88%
1.18%
0.81%
0.47%
M453:50.55
0.78%
0.72%
0.63%
0.54%
M503:58.26
0.67%
0.60%
0.80%
0.99%
M554:12.35
1.18%
0.63%
0.88%
1.12%
M604:24.00
0.92%
1.35%
1.32%
1.30%
M654:39.87
1.20%
1.16%
1.50%
1.80%
M704:52.95
0.93%
1.31%
1.50%
1.67%
M755:22.40
2.01%
1.46%
1.82%
2.13%
M805:47.35
1.55%
1.53%
2.35%
3.11%
M856:27.30
2.30%
4.11%
3.74%
3.40%

Good luck!

Next up more information on Women’s 1500m.

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  • * It is important to realize that when I refer to “90th and 75th percentiles” these are statistical reference points and do not necessarily refer to actual performances or averages of actual performances.

The Numbers on Charles Allie

Charles Allie winning gold in the 400m Malaga, 2018

Photo credit courtesy of Rob Jerome

I’ve done a couple of posts on Canada’s W65 superstar Karla Del Grande, who won 3 Sprint golds at Malaga. And in the same stratosphere I would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the U.S’s unequalled M70 Sprint king Charles (Onespeed) Allie. Charlie, too, ran off with all the gold hardware in the 100-200-400 trifecta in Malaga with incredible 12.81 (in the semi) 100, 26.29 (also in the semi) 200, and a world record 57.26 (in the prelim!) in the 400.

That 12.81 100m  was only off equaling the current WR (Bobby Whilden 2005) by 4/100 of a second (note the average blink of an eye is 3-4 TENTHS of a second)..

As of this writing (December, 2018) Charles holds Outdoor World records in the 200m (M65, 24.65; M70, 25.75), 400m (M55, 52.24; M65, 56.09; M70, 57.26) and Indoor World in the 200m (M70, 26.45), 400m (M55 [coholder], 53.20; M70, 59.43). A former WMA Best Masters Athlete of the year (2013), Charlie was USATF Masters Male Athlete of the year this year (2018). He’s had quite a year!

So how do Charlie’s best times look in terms of his duncanSCORES?. His M70 times are incredibly high … 200m yields a 974score /97 percentile … 400m 978 score /98 percentile … and a 12.81 in the 100m in Malaga gives a 989 score and 99 percentile!

Beyond the analysis of the numbers, Charles’ 400m time (57.26) at age 71 is quite simply stunning. When (for a male) running your age (in years) in the 400 (in seconds) is a remarkable feat (only 23 M70s across the globe have accomplished it this year according to mastersrankings.com), running 14 seconds below your age is mind blowing!

Congratulations Charlie on a phenomenal year and great health and running in 2019!

You can find out how you rate versus your age group peers in your track event by clicking on the this link (sorry Mile and 3000m not yet available)

Track DE

UPDATE: Charlie  has been nominated for WMA Athlete of the year (and Karla Del Grande as Female Sprinter of the year) by NCCWMA (North America/Caribbean) . You can find the complete list of nominations for WMA AOTY and Categories here

And if you are unfamiliar with the concept behind the duncanSCORE and how it’s derived, go here

And don’t forget, you can get updates on the blog posts automatically by just clicking on the “follow” button on the bottom of your screen.

Karla Kontinued

Karla W65 400 Final Malaga Rob JeromePhoto courtesy of Rob Jerome

Now, I think, is an appropriate time to update what’s been happening at the World Champs in Malaga for Canada’s W65 Sprinter Karla Del Grande. I wrote a few weeks ago about her newly established record times, and compared the results duncanSCORE vs Age Grading. You can refresh your memory here.

Karla set a hot Malaga on fire. If you check the results, they list her gold medal time of 14.04 in the 100m, and her 28.83 gold medal winning time as world records. These performances are actually slightly slower to times posted earlier this season, and the applications for these times to be world records are pending. Karla ran a 100m in 13.91 at the NACAC (North/Central America/Caribbean) meet and a 200m in 28.53 at the Canadian Masters Championships. In winning the gold in the 400m in Malaga, she just missed equally the existing WR. Karla ran 68.22.

For the record, this Outdoor season Karla set 2 W65 World Records (pending) in the 100m (13.91) and 200m (28.53), and just missed (0.01 seconds,1:06.22) equaling the World Record in the 400m.

Also for the record, those times have Age Grades of 96.84% (100m), 98.13% (200m), and 96.89% (400m). AG rates her 200m as the best, and 100m and 400 near equal.

The duncanSCORE evaluates these performances slightly differently. 967/97 percentile (100m), identical 967/97 percentile for the 200m, and 952/95 percentile for the 400m. That’s an equal performance in the 100m and 200m and and a 400m about 2% less.

As well, these new W65 world records are rated by AG as inferior to her W60 world records from 5 years ago. Karla’s duncanSCORES on the other hand rate them significantly superior.

I’m biased I admit. But I think the dSCORES are a better evaluation.

And don’t forget, you can get updates on the blog posts automatically by just clicking on the “follow” button on the bottom of your screen.

Distance (Track), Hurdles, & Steeplechase

Note: photo sourced from http://potchefstroomherald.co.za, Photographer unknown

 

It’s time to finish out this series with the track events away from the Sprints and Middle Distance.

Specifically the Sprint Hurdles, Long Hurdles, Steeplechase, and 5000m and 10000m.

As before for the Sprints, and Middle Distance,  I am going to try and estimate what duncanSCORE percentile you likely need to reach the podium at a WMA World Championship. And like previously, I am using the results from the last 4 WMA Outdoor Championships (Sacramento 2011, Porto Alegre 2013, Lyon 2015, and Perth 2016). Results have been tabulated from M/W 35 up to and including M/W 75. (If you are unfamiliar with the duncanSCORE as an alternative to age-grading, you can get a quick briefing here.

There is certainly a lot more variation in these events than in the mainstream Sprints and Middle Distance. As well, getting to the final is automatic in the Steeple and 5000 and 10000, and a much lower duncanSCORE percentile is needed to get to the final in Sprint Hurdles (69%) and the Long Hurdles (65%). ,

Ah, but climbing on the podium you ask? What does that take? You might remember that to win at least a Bronze medal in the Sprints, you probably need to be able to run the distance at a 92 percentile. 800 or 1500 usually means 90-91 percentile. And remember too, that the Steeple and  5000m and 10000m are single off events … no prelims or semis … so weather can be a big factor. What I’m saying is there is more variation in the Hurdles and Steeple. Estimating the requirements for a medal is not as consistent as the other running events. But based on the last 4 WC, to medal in the Sprint Hurdles, you will need an 85 percentile. Long Hurdles 82%. And all you Steeplers out there … 81%!

Lots of numbers to remember … so here is a table summarizing all these key dSCORES by event. Just click here! (in MS Excel)

dSCORE Summary by Event

And to get your personal duncanSCORE and percentile for these events, go here for the calculation

 

Final? Even Podium? 800m & 1500m

In the last post A WC Medal or Final Maybe? What It Takes – the Sprints  we talked about the percentile level of duncanSCORE it would take to make the final, or maybe even win a medal at a WMA Outdoor Championship in the Sprints (100m, 200m, 400m).

In general for the Sprints, you need a 92 percentile to stand on the podium. An 84 to race in the final.

Well, how about the Middle Distances? Is it the same or similar? Let’s have a look.

Like I did with the Sprints, I have taken the results from the last 4 WMA Outdoor World Championships (Sacramento 2011, Porto Alegre 2013, Lyon 2015, and Perth 2016).

As in the Sprints, for the 800 and 1500,  I isolated the times required (the slowest “q”)  to reach the final (unless the event went straight to final), and the time of the bronze medal winner. I used all age groups from M35/W35 to M75/W75 inclusive. Then I calculated the duncanSCORE percentile for each instance. Again, to eliminate anomalies, I discarded the top 3 and bottom 3 percentile instances in each Championship, then averaged the remaining results.

Preliminaries (as Semi-finals) are not an issue in mid distance at World Championships. During the last 4 WCs, only Lyon had any … 800 prelims/semi-finals for M50, M55, and M60.

Because the number of competitors in the final are slightly different (10-12 in the 800, and 15 in the 1500), the dSCORE percentiles are a bit different to reach the final. For the 1500, you generally need a 74 percentile, and the 800 usually requires 78.

But to climb up the podium is very consistent for Middle Distance. You need 91 percentile dSCORE in the 800m, and 90 percentile for the 1500m.

And you can determine where you are in the 800 and 1500 by getting your very own duncanSCORE. Go here

Track DE

In the next post we will cover the 5000 and 10000, and those events where the athletes insist on jumping over things while they run.

And if you’d like to be notified when the next post is up, click on the “Follow” button at the bottom right of your screen.

 

 

A WC Medal or Final Maybe? What It Takes – the Sprints

Photo courtesy Doug “Shaggy” Smith

 

A couple of posts ago  How Much Class Do You Have? I opened the conversation about what it takes (specifically what level of duncanSCORE) to reach the final, or even win a medal at a typical WMA Outdoors Championship. This seemed to me a better definition for high level performance than the more vague “world class”, “national class”  or “regional class” terms used now. How far at the World Champs does “national class” (over 80% Age Grade) get you? I doubt if anyone knows. As a “world class” performer (over 90% Age Grade), what can you expect? A medal? Just the final? Your guess is as good as mine.

I’m going to start with the Sprints (100m, 200m, and 400m). The hurdles I’ll cover another time, as their performance criteria are actually quite different.

I am using the results from the last 4 Outdoor WMA Championships (Sacramento, Porto Alegre, Lyon, and Perth).  I isolated the times required (the slowest “q”)  to reach the semi-finals (if there was a semi), the final (unless the event went straight to final), and the time of the bronze medal winner. I used all age groups from M35/W35 to M75/W75 inclusive. Then I calculated the duncanSCORE percentile for each instance. To eliminate anomalies I threw out the top 3 and bottom 3 percentile instances in each Championship, then averaged the remaining results.

It’s not perfect, and it is a generalization. But I think it’s pretty damn close. So if you are a Sprinter, and you have your heart set on making the final in Malaga, or even stand on the podium, here is what you need.

No, it’s not a guarantee … but it’s the way to bet. Averaging the 3 events … drum roll please … to reach the semi final you need a dSCORE percentile of 75.

To fly in the final requires 84%.

And if you hope to medal, you better be a Sprinter with a 92 percentile.

Here are the averages by event.

 

dSCORE Requirements SPRINTS

You can determine where you are by getting your very own duncanSCORE. Go here

Track DE

Coming soon 800m and 1500m.  And if you’d like to be notified when the next post is up, click on the “follow” button at the bottom right of your screen.

The Karla Konundrum

Karla in the 200m at Porto Alegre WC (2013) – Photo courtesy Doug “Shaggy” Smith

This post talks to how “numbers” can play tricks on you. Sometimes you need to be careful. Age Grade percentages versus duncanSCORE percentiles can sometimes be eerily similar despite the fact they are comparing to different “realities” (in the case of AG against the theoretical best possible performance, dSCORE against your peers across the globe). Let’s do a deep dive on these numbers.

Recently, Canada’s superstar women’s sprinter, Karla Del Grande set 2  new (pending) World records (100m and 200m) for W65 at the Canadian outdoor championships. She currently holds those Outdoor World records for W60. She also came very close to a new WR in the 400 (3/100 shy). This was her first National championship in a new age-group (W65).

The Hytek scoring system spits out these Age Grades (latest 5 year Age Grades based on 2014-2015) for the 100m as 96.49%, for the 200 as 99.16%, and the 400m as 96.96%. All exceptionally high AGs, as you would expect. But note, the 100m is her “poorest” AG, just oh so slightly inferior to her 400m AG (despite the 100 being a WR and 400 not!) The 200m AG is over 2 1/2 pts better than the 100m. And here are her AGs for her W60 100m and 200m world records … 100m – 98.83 and 200m 100.64. So AG says her most recent performances are not as good as 5 years ago. (But in AG’s defence, there is certainly more to come as Karla builds and heads to Malaga for the 2018 WC).

Maybe you’re asking what are her duncanSCORES?  I’m glad you’re asking.

Her 13.96 W65 100m converts to a 966 duncanSCORE (97 percentile). The 28.53 200 converts to an almost identical 967 SCORE (97 percentile). The 400m also rates incredibly high – 952 SCORE, 95 percentile.

The duncanSCORES rate her 100 and 200 performances as identical. The 400, 1 1/2% inferior. AG says the 100m was the poorest performance, the 200 the best. And the 400 2.37% worse than the 200. Her W60 world records in the 100 and 200 also rate near identical scores (954/95 percentile and 953/95 percentile).

So the 2 grading systems yield differing results. AG says the 200 is Karla’s best event, and as of right now, her 2 new WRs are much less than her W60 records. dSCORES indicate that her 100 and 200 are equally her best, and that versus her peers, in 5 years she has improved significantly.

You choose!

But definitely run the duncanSCORE (duncanSCORE) and enter some of your past performances. See what it says about how you are doing (versus your peers in the same age group) then, ,versus now. How are you faring?

Postscript: The week after her new 100m and 200m WR, Karla ran in an invitational Masters 100m  at the NACAC (North and Central American, Caribbean) Championships. She ran 13.91! Primed for Malaga

How Much Class Do You Have?

Today I want to write about “Class”. No not that kind. I’m talking “World Class” and “National Class”.

What in the world do we mean by World Class and National Class? I bring this up because in Age Grading terms, 90%+ is “World” Class, and 80%+ is “National” Class. 70%+ is “Regional” Class. I can’t find any reference on the WMA web site but the USATF Masters site does offer some discussion, and posits these AG percentages and their relative “Class”

100% = Approximate World-Record Level
90+% = World Class
80+% = National Class
70+% = Regional Class
60+% = Local Class

Beyond 100%, there really isn’t any clarification or definition of the levels. Is Slovenian (pop just over 2 million) “National” Class the same as U.S. (pop 325.7 million) “National” Class? I wouldn’t think so. And who decides on “regions”? Is that a state? Or a province? Or in Ontario’s case the GTA (Greater Toronto Area)? Why is there no definition? And why 80% for “National” class? Why not 85%? Or 75%? Surely it can’t be that hard! I’m guessing it has been purposely left vague. Which frustrates me to you know where.

With the duncanSCORE I set out to do things differently. And as much as possible, one thing I hope to do differently is to define things. Like percentages. What do they mean? You probably understand the percentile calculated by the duncanSCORE i.e. your performance is as good or better than “xx%” of Masters athletes in your age group/event. Fairly straight forward.

Now I would like to define the dSCORE percentile further. Typically, what kind of percentile do you need to win a medal at a WMA Outdoor Championship? To make it to the final? To qualify for a semi-final after the opening round?

I’ll be exploring those questions over the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

First up … SPRINTS