Tick Tock – Beat The Clock

By peakfitness | August, 20, 2013 | 0 comments

0.5 seconds – what is it? To the naked eye a reaction time of 0.1 secs is almost instantaneous, it’s in fact the limit of what’s deemed possible in a human reaction. In a 100m sprint race if you leave the blocks less than 0.1 secs after the gun you’re deemed to have false started because it’s just simply impossible to react faster than that.

0.5 secs is similar to my attention span in a sports science heavy presentation. My missus would say it’s the amount of time it takes me to forget what she’s told me. I would say it’s the amount of time a Red Bull athlete remembers what I’ve told them or the time it takes them to do the opposite of what I’ve just said.

In the film ‘Any Given Sunday’ about an NFL team, Al Pacino delivers a genuinely inspiring speech to his players before playing in a deciding game. In it he talks about seconds and inches, half a second too late or half a yard too short and you lose the game – the fight to claw those seconds and inches back to win the game. We’re surrounded by these fractions of seconds, they’re everywhere – just sat there waiting to be lost or gained by whoever they’re important to.

If you’re traveling at 40kph, 0.5 secs is about a DH bike length – just a single bike length. Think about that over a world cup DH run, where would that bike length be found? Every rock, turn, root, pedal stroke, slight slip on the front or back, the slightest hesitation, just thinking about dabbing your foot but not actually doing it. Or is it even wider than that? A turn or two on the suspension set up, tyre choice, pressures? Or wider still – couple of days missed practice, testing, training, hours of missed sleep, not quite ate the right food. The more you look at it 5/10ths of a second seem to be lying around in abundance – waiting to be grabbed.

Half a second was the difference between being 2012 UCI Elite Men World Champion and not. Of course there are events outside of your control, like a brake lever snapping. But still, seems to me there are seconds and inches everywhere I look, add them together and it’s more than 0.5 secs. Add them together and that bike length is closed – the rainbow stripes taken. British Cycling seem to have coined the phrase ‘aggregation of marginal gains’. However some of us in performance have known for a long time that by doing the ordinary extraordinarily well, you’ll scoop up these errant fractions of seconds that no one else wants. Your consistency and attention to detail will hoover them up, leaving none for anyone else. With races and championships now being decided within these fractions, can any elite afford to just leave them lying around anymore?

The wife has just told me something significant and important regarding tonights dinner which I’ve been left in charge of before she went out. This was over 0.5 secs ago. I’m now texting her to ask what she said….

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