When it comes to track and field, “fast” takes on a number of definitions. It can mean sprinting 100 meters in 10.70 seconds or covering 10,000 meters in a medal-winning 27:30.42. Ahead of the summer, Nike footwear designers tasked themselves with not only outfitting but also accelerating athletes across this entire gamut.
At Nike, the phrase “be a sponge” is often bantered about. Mark Parker, President & CEO, NIKE, Inc., has noted the eyes-open mandate as a habit he picked up as a child, when he would take long walks with his grandmother and soak up the natural world — plants and rocks, seeds and bugs. This attentive observation is shared by Nike designers, who consciously connect to the world around them. They interact with athletes, view art and travel the globe to activate their imaginations and inform their creations — a dynamic blend of influences that has recently taken on a vivid tone.
The 100 meters, for all its brevity, is best understood as a series of moments. Sprint experts break the event into three phases — drive, maximum velocity and maintenance. Sprinters tackle these phases through either a stride-rate or stride-length approach, meaning some sprinters are superb off the blocks; others, expert at catching pace deep in the dash. The rare runner who can master all phases breaks records.
Back in Ancient Greece, victorious athletes wore little more than a scrap of fabric to receive the laurel wreath that designated their championship status. Modern athletes have instead opted to take the podium in statement apparel that displays their national pride, providing Nike with a prominent opportunity to showcase its progressive designs. This summer, the company advances that tradition by reimagining the iconic ceremonial sport style for the United States Olympic Committee and Comitê Olímpico do Brasil. Using Nike’s most innovative methods, designers have created the NikeLab Dynamic Reveal Team Jacket and Pants specifically for that seminal medal-stand moment.
Newton’s Third Law of Motion makes a compelling case: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, which means that an athlete’s speed is the sum of their applied force and the effect of the opposing force upon them. In the case of a runner’s pace, that contrasting agent is aerodynamic drag: the force that acts on any moving solid body in the direction of the fluid free-stream flow. Nike’s new symbiotic track and field speed system — customizable to the event and athlete — is expressly engineered to reduce that drag and maximize effort.