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Article Dans Une Revue European Journal of Applied Physiology Année : 2021

Running at altitude: the 100-m dash


Theoretical 100-m performance times (t100-m) of a top athlete at Mexico-City (2250 m a.s.l.), Alto-Irpavi (Bolivia) (3340 m a.s.l.) and in a science-fiction scenario “in vacuo” were estimated assuming that at the onset of the run: (i) the velocity (v) increases exponentially with time; hence (ii) the forward acceleration (af) decreases linearly with v, iii) its time constant (τ) being the ratio between vmax (for af = 0) and af max (for v = 0).
The overall forward force per unit of mass (Ftot), sum of af and of the air resistance (Fa = k v2, where k = 0.0037 J·s2·kg−1·m−3), was estimated from the relationship between af and v during Usain Bolt’s extant world record. Assuming that Ftot is unchanged since the decrease of k at altitude is known, the relationships between af and v were obtained subtracting the appropriate Fa values from Ftot, thus allowing us to estimate in the three conditions considered vmax, τ, and t100-m. These were also obtained from the relationship between mechanical power and speed, assuming an unchanged mechanical power at the end of the run (when af ≈ 0), regardless of altitude.
The resulting t100-m amounted to 9.515, 9.474, and 9.114 s, and to 9.474, 9.410, and 8.981 s, respectively, as compared to 9.612 s at sea level.
Neglecting science-fiction scenarios, t100-m of a world-class athlete can be expected to undergo a reduction of 1.01 to 1.44% at Mexico-City and of 1.44 to 2.10%, at Alto-Irpavi.
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Dates et versions

hal-04067772 , version 1 (13-04-2023)



Pietro Di Prampero, Cristian Osgnach, Jean-Benoît Morin, Jean Slawinski, Gaspare Pavei, et al.. Running at altitude: the 100-m dash. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 2021, 121 (10), pp.2837-2848. ⟨10.1007/s00421-021-04752-y⟩. ⟨hal-04067772⟩
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