In the blog “Tucker’s Take,” I suggested that “supporting evidence” should be kept in mind, especially when reading Ross Tucker’s analysis of the recent release of the Oscar Pistorious study conducted in Texas last year and just published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
Ross Tucker suggested on a recent blog that anecdotal evidence supports his contention and provides the following as "evidence", "it has been reported, for example, that whenever a Pose Method (running technique) workshop is held in the city the orthopedic specialists know that they should anticipate an influx of people with ankle problems about a week or two later!"
Tucker's website is at www.sportsscientists.com. The website title is "The Science of Sport", and the byline is “Scientific comment and analysis of sporting performance.”
Tucker's recent analysis of Oscar Pistorious by Peter Weyand, et al. was interesting to say the least. As mentioned earlier, he seems to have a penchant for anecdotal evidence rather than research.
Before continuing, I want to make it clear that my comments are not directed toward whether or not Oscar Pistorious has an advantage over any other 400 m specialist.
Instead, I'm going to examine “Tucker's Take” (analysis) of the Weyand et al study.
Tucker criticized the study because Pistorious’ energy cost of running charges that Oscar's running economy was compared to only four originally tested male 400 m sprinters. While he is correct that the only new energy cost data were from Pistorius and four male sprinters, he failed to point out how comprehensively Pistorius was compared to previously published data.
In fact, running economy is a standard measure with extensive values reported in the literature; therefore, they were able to use the literature to also compare Oscar Pistorious to many dozens of elite male runners, sub elite male runners, and a means of five separate groups of male sprinter's that included many dozens of individual male sprinters of similar caliber to Oscar Pistorious (citations 24, 25, 30, 31, 34).
Curiously, Tucker chose to ignore the extensive comparisons reported.
Tucker also claims that runner's state of training was not taken into account and confounded the tests. He states "if it is true (and it is likely) that Pistorious was untrained, then he is being compared to trained subjects and every measurement comparison is invalid."
Again, Tucker's claim, "comparison is invalid" is based on failure to look at the citations; especially citations 7, 36. These two citations are from the work of Weyand and Bundle--readers of Bearpowered.com are familiar with the citations since they describe the anaerobic speed reserve algorithm. Both Ken and I can easily assess current conditioning of any of our athletes using the ASR. In addition, we can predict (with greater than 97% accuracy) previous or future performance regardless of the condition of an athlete at that time precisely because the inputs into the equation take conditioning into account.
Tucker questioned the validity of comparing Pistorious to distance runners, thereby suggesting this was an experimental flaw.
Tucker may have relied on “common knowledge” that distance runners are more fatigue resistant than sprinters, but Equation 1 provides research based information rather than the guesswork of “common knowledge”—sprinters and distance runners fatigue in precisely the same way when normalized for the two variables in the ASR equation.
Certainly, adding distance runners into the mix would give a better comparison between Pistorius and both faster and slower runners.
"What he does is not running. It's never been seen before, but it's not running. So when you next watch him race against able-bodied athletes, you'll be watching seven men running against someone who is not..." is another comment from Tucker that causes one to take pause while trying to make sense of the statement.
The scientific definition of running gait is:The center of mass speeding up and elevating at the same time, and an aerial phase.
Clearly, Pistorious does both.
Last but not least, Tucker states. "There is no explanation of what speed for completed, how long the rest periods where or how many intervals are run by each subject."
Figure 3 (from the study) shows the trials of Oscar Pistorious, the intact limb sprinter, and trials by the two intact-limb distance runners. If one looks at the x-axis they can see that the speed corresponding to every data point shows just how fast every subject ran their trials.
Tucker either failed to read the graph closely enough to notice the information or decided not to use it.
In this case, it likely that the research is not flawed but rather the conclusions taken from the research have serious flaws.
This would certainly explain why someone who seems to have missed a lot of information in the research is so adamant about the conclusion.