Data the difference at Olympics for Allyson Felix

In the Olympics, the change amongst gold and silver is from time to time … details.

Allyson Felix is the most decorated American track athlete and most decorated female track athlete internationally in the historical past of the Olympics.

Around 5 Olympiads, she has gained 11 medals, including seven golds, a few silvers and one particular bronze. In 2021 in Tokyo, at the age of 35 and just after giving delivery to a daughter in 2018, she gained bronze in the four hundred meters and gold in the 4×400 relay.

But just after the 2008 Game titles in Beijing, she was having difficulties.

She had just gained silver in the two hundred meters — her specialty — for the 2nd time, owning fallen .thirteen seconds limited of gold in 2004 in Athens and .19 limited of gold in 2008.

She had to do one thing in order to make up people mere hundredths of a 2nd. She had to do one thing various in order for her to break by and win gold in 2012.

Knowledge a differentiator

Analytics was the change as she geared up for the 2012 Olympics in London. Like quite a few athletes, details assessment is what Felix and her workforce turned to when trying to find a competitive edge.

In London, she ran 21.88 in the remaining, .05 seconds quicker than she ran in Beijing and .30 seconds quicker than she ran in Athens. And she gained gold, beating Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce by .21 seconds.

Track star Allyson Felix (middle), Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long (right) and Jackie Yeaney, executive vice president of marketing at Tableau during Tableau Conference 2021.
Observe star Allyson Felix (middle), an 11-time Olympic medalist, requires portion in a panel discussion through Tableau Meeting 2021 with Paralympic standout swimmer Jessica Very long (ideal) and moderated by Jackie Yeaney, executive vice president of promoting at Tableau.

In addition, she gained gold medals in the 4×100 relay and 4×400 relay in London.

“The 2nd silver medal was probably the most defining moment of my occupation mainly because it forced me to seem at each individual factor of my teaching and say, ‘How can I get improved?'” Felix said on Nov. nine through Tableau Meeting 2021, a virtual person conference hosted by analytics seller Tableau. “I used details to seem at my teaching, my conditioning.”

By examining details, Felix and her workforce understood they weren’t accomplishing ample get the job done on the first portion of the race, her explosion out of the setting up blocks and ramp up to entire pace.

So pace in the early phases of the race grew to become her concentrate as she geared up for London.

The 2nd silver medal was probably the most defining moment of my occupation mainly because it forced me to seem at each individual factor of my teaching and say, ‘How can I get improved?’ I used details to seem at my teaching, my conditioning.
Allyson Felix11-time Olympic medalist

That meant far more sprinting in follow, and far more toughness get the job done these as pushing a sled even though operating and weightlifting.

“All of that pace get the job done was what was lacking for me,” Felix said. “I desired to be far more efficient out of the blocks and quicker at ten meters, twenty meters. I could actually pinpoint where by I was shedding the race, and it was all up entrance, it was all about power.”

Bit by bit, as the 2012 Olympics approached, Felix’s details-driven tactic served her make improvements to and eventually win a gold medal.

“When I went back in 2012, I actually felt like a various athlete,” Felix said. “I was ready to get the job done on all the areas I was weak in, and I definitely think it was all ready to come alongside one another mainly because I could see what was lacking and what get the job done desired to be performed.”

Advancing with age

Now at age 35, analytics proceeds to be a crucial means of keeping competitive, and both the technologies and the details she takes advantage of have evolved since she first began employing details to advise her teaching for the 2012 Olympics.

Felix no more time specializes in the two hundred, which, specified the limited format of the race, depends seriously on reaction time at the start.

As an alternative, she focuses on the four hundred, in which pace over time can make up for misplaced hundredths of a 2nd out of the setting up blocks. And her time in Tokyo, even though not ample to win gold, established a Masters globe history — she holds the prime a few times for women 35 and over, and is the only woman to operate the four hundred in less than fifty seconds just after turning 35.

Possibly most importantly, Felix takes advantage of details to take a look at her biomechanics.

She looks at her start, making an attempt to lower milliseconds amongst the time the setting up gun pops and the time she rises out of the blocks. She looks at her kind all through races — stride duration, arm movement, head position. She looks at her lean at the finish, that fast when thrusting her torso forward could be the change amongst successful and 2nd in a race that will come down to inches.

Knowledge also informs what Felix does in follow.

She and her workforce log almost everything she does through each individual teaching session and use analytics to discover insights about what to do through exercise sessions, and how to program her exercise sessions. That details helps guide to peak overall performance at the time of the greatest satisfies, these as the Olympics and Globe Championships.

She also takes advantage of details to take a look at each individual factor of her existence off the track — what she eats and when she eats it, her rest designs, her vacation program — and how factors like rest, diet and vacation affect overall performance.

And now that Felix has years of details to seem back on, she’s ready to use historic details to compare year-over-year details to see where by she is now in relation to where by she was formerly at the exact position in a teaching cycle. Using that details, she and her workforce can make tweaks, ramping up in one particular region or easing up in one more.

“It will come down to hundredths of a 2nd,” Felix said. “I’ve misplaced many races by a very smaller total. When you are dealing with sprints, one particular mistaken angle can value you the race. I’m more mature now, so it is really a great deal far more about the good quality of get the job done I’m accomplishing — how can I use details to be far more efficient?”


One of the analytics plans Felix takes advantage of superimposes a design on prime of a recording of her operating to clearly show where by she is all through a race in comparison to her very best performances and in comparison to globe-history rate. That permits her to pinpoint where by in a race she’s lagging powering and where by she’s at her very best, and try to figure out why.

She can take a look at her mechanics through people times when she’s lagging powering or producing up floor, viewing no matter whether her stride may possibly have shortened at a selected position or where by she may possibly have drifted in her lane and value herself fractions of a 2nd.

“Possessing all the video clip, the breakdowns, the logs allows me to pinpoint particularly where by I’m attempting to go and how I can carry out that,” Felix said. “It is really invaluable to have all this details and have a plan, have a roadmap. We’re relying on details to get us there.”