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.

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