The Aging Athlete (3) – Women’s 100m

Photo courtesy Dan Slovitt

The previous post summarized and trended some of the 100m data (2013-2016) from mastersrankings.com I have begun analyzing. We will look in more depth at the Men’s results soon, but first let’s explore some of the finer points of all the available performances in the Women’s 100m. For a refresher on how the data is gathered and processed, please go here.

As pointed out in the previous post, 8,626 Women’s 100m “best annual” performances are included in this analysis (772 wind assisted performances not included). An issue for Masters is how to encourage greater female participation. Unfortunately, women participate in our sport at the Masters level in far fewer numbers than men. Hopefully, sprint role models such as Karla Del Grande, Carol Layfayette-Boyd, Irene Obera and other top women’s competitors can encourage more women to do the training, don a pair of spikes, and try a race or two..

This chart graphs the W100m World Record against the average performance from mastersrankings.com. I have indicated in red the averages for W80 and W85, but since there really aren’t a lot of performances in these age-groups, I have not included W80 and W85 in my calculations. (They are there more as indications rather than  absolute data points) You can see the graph in full size by clicking

W100m for blogpost

The average 100m for all women is shown in the green curve, and the women’s World Record is shown in the mauve. Both curves take a noticeable climb upwards beginning at W70.  Also note the figures below the curves. These are the 5-year average declines in performance vs the previous age-group, for world records and all-Women averages. We will discuss these average declines in more detail from the table below, but for now here are a couple of points to note 1) both in the all-Women average and the WR, the declines moderate in intensity at W65, then increase again at W70. 2) The WR seems to indicate that this moderation occurs again at W75 (though the all-Women does NOT).

The table below takes the average 5-year decline and converts that to an estimated ANNUAL decline for the WR (column #3) and all-women’s average (column #4). You often hear Masters performance declines about 1% per year. Well, not exactly. Up to and including W50, the annual decline (as shown for both the WR and all-women’s average) is usually somewhere between 4/10 and 7/10 of a per cent. But beginning at W55, the all-women’s decline rapidly increases past 1% annually (at W65 it is 0.95% so pretty close to 1%) or greater. And for W65 onward, the all-women’s average slow down is more pronounced than that indicated by the WR. It would seem the very top athletes age differently than the “norm”.

Women's 100 Metres

Age - GroupWorld RecordAvg "Best" PerformanceWR Avg Decline/YearAvg "Best" Avg Decline/Year
W3510.74
14.89N/AN/A
W4011.0915.190.65%0.41%
W4511.3415.510.45%0.42%
W5011.6716.070.58%0.72%
W5512.8017.131.94%1.32%
W6013.6318.201.30%1.26%
W6513.9119.070.41%0.95%
W7014.7320.681.18%
1.69%
W7515.0322.480.41%
1.74%
W8016.81excl (not enough data)2.37%
N/A
W8519.83excl (not enough data)3.59%
N/A

 

 

We can look at this another way. As shown in the table below, the all-women’s average 100m time was 37-38% slower than the WR up to W50. For W55 and W60, perhaps surprisingly, the differential dropped to 33%, but from then on the differential escalates rapidly to 50%.

World Record 100mAverage 100mDifference (%)
W35 10.74

14.89
38.60%
W40 11.09
15.19
37.00%
W45 11.34
15.51
36.79%
W50 11.67
16.07
37.68%
W55 12.80
17.13
33.80%
W 60 13.63
18.20
33.56%
W 65 13.91
19.07
37.07%
W 70 14.73
20.68
40.39%
W 75 15.03
22.48
49.56%

My concluding thoughts? Up to and including W50, your performance likley will decline less than 1% per year. After that expect more than 1% per year.

And as women hit the W65 age-group, unless you are an elite or near elite, you shouldn’t be terribly disappointed if your Age Grade percentage slips a little. This would seem to be likely for the “average” or near average female sprinter. So carry on!

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