Inspired By Golf Balls, Nike's Bumpy Tracksuit May Help Sprinters Break Records

Nike’s new TurboSpeed suit is made from the equivalent of 13 plastic bottles per garment. It can also make runners .023 seconds faster over 100 meters--a massive boost.

The current record for the 100-meter dash is more than three years old. It was set back in 2009 by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, who ran it in 9.58 seconds. The women’s record is even older--it was set by Florence Griffith-Joyner24years ago.

Both records will be challenged by professional athletes in London two months from now, and Nike has unveiled the high-tech garment that will empower athletes from America, Germany, China, and Russia to do so.

The TurboSpeed is a super-light track suit that Nike claims will improve 100-meter dash times by as much as .023 seconds. To put that into perspective, in the 2008 Olympics 100-meter men’s final, .023 seconds would have been the difference between a personal best and a world record for the winner, Usain Bolt. It would have also been the difference between a 4th-place finish and a 3rd-place finish. Granted, we don’t know if that figure holds for the real world. But it is a remarkably big claim.

The mega-brand developed the suit over thousands of hours of wind tunnel tests, and as a result, it’s zoned with aerodynamic dimples that reduce drag on an athlete’s shoulders, arms, and calves (areas where resistance is strongest). How do these textured zones improve speed? They rely on the same science that explains the convex dimpled pattern found on golf balls. Those dimples help balls travel farther because they create low pressure turbulence in the boundary layer on the wind-facing side of the ball as it’s flying through the air, which ultimately means less drag behind the ball. The tiny circular shapes on Nike’s suit work according to the same principle.

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10 Comments

  • Shane Guymon

    It is the difference between 3rd and 4th place unless everyone is wearing the same suit. Then it just means everyone will run faster together.

  • dorn

    They won't let Oscar Pistorious compete because his artificial legs may give him an unfair advantage, yet they will allow people to wear custom suits that will give them an advantage? Talk about hyprocisy :(

  • GolferMike

    It is always disheartening when a writer does not know the difference in 'further' and 'farther.'

  • Dee

     I agree, your argument is flawed.  The writer above used the word correctly. "Farther" refers to physical distance travelled,nuff said!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Andrew Dasilva

    I would like to see this start leaking into triathlon suits for the biking/running portion. Yes, the cycling portion is at least 1.5-2x faster than running, but the distances for the actual running portion would lead to larger gains?

  • Leigh

    Have they factored in restriction of movement (I'm assuming they have)?! I wouldn't want to run in this thing! But, I am not trying to win a gold either ;)

  • Shane Guymon

    You say that by looking at it, but if it's as light as it claims, then you might actually like it better. Of course the swimsuit Michael Phelps wears helps him swim faster, and I wouldn't want to wear that thing to my local pool.