When’s the last time you looked around for a new job? If the answer is “more than a year ago”, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Even if you’re happy in your current role, simply looking around offers many benefits.
Another year, another track season. This was my 12th competitive season, and my second training by myself. The 2020 and 2021 seasons melted together for me—with COVID and without meets, I didn’t take any time off in between. After my extended taper and after some time away from the track, I’m realizing just how beat down my body had been.
My last race of the season resulted in both a PR and injury—a mixed but mostly positive result. “Mixed but mostly positive” is an apt description for my entire season. Like I did last year, I’ll reflect on the past season, both successes and failures, and apply my learnings to next season.
July was busy: we hosted my parents and some friends in Montana for the first two weeks, I traveled to Des Moines for the USATF Masters Championships, and I’m writing this on the way to Chicago for a bachelor party. With Delta on the rise and lockdowns restarting, this might have been my last chance to see friends in person for a while—I’m glad that I got my travel in now.
- 🟢 Get 1% faster. I ran a personal best of 10.79 in the 100m, achieving my goal of being 1% faster on the year!
- 🔴 50% less discretionary spending. I spent 12% more on discretionary things than my 2020 average. A big chunk of that is two flights and hotel stays in Des Moines and Chicago, but then again, my 2020 average includes travel too.
- 🟡 One hour of solitary free time a day. My work-life balance continues to be fairly good, and I’ve been spending more of my free time enjoying the outdoors and reading.
- 🟢 Twice-weekly live conversations with friends. This was mostly facilitated by friends and family visiting us in Montana, and myself traveling to Iowa and Illinois. I suspect next month will be somewhat harder.
I flew into Des Moines with just one more chance to achieve my season goal: to be 1% faster than last year. I arrived two days before the meet on Thursday—I’d planned for preliminaries on Friday, but my age group (25-29) didn’t have enough competitors to need them.
Genetics clearly influence sprint performance—but by how much? There are several ways of answering this question. First, we can look for specific genetic variants that have an impact on performance. Second, we can estimate the heritability of speed or speed-related traits like muscular strength, height, and body type with twin and family studies. Finally, we can analyze the demographics of elite and sub-elite sprinters.
Most of the literature focuses on two specific mutations: the ACTN3 R557R/X and ACE I/D variants.
ACTN3 encodes the α-actinin-3 protein, which is mostly restricted to Type II (fast-twitch) muscle fibers. Humans with the ACTN3 557XX genotype have no α-actinin-3 at all, and in fact appear to have a higher proportion of Type I (slow-twitch) muscle fibers than ACTN3 557RX or ACTN3 557RR humans. The obvious hypothesis, then, is that 577RR athletes should be better sprinters than 577XX athletes because of the existence of α-actinin-3 and a higher proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers.