Finding the Steady State


finish with a sprint on the final meters if needed. I agree the pace is already very high throughout the entire 1000 meter race (even the marathons) but they are still far away from the maximum possibilities of a pure sprinter. Long distance runners are certainly maintaining a slower overall pace compared to 100 or 200 meter sprinters.

The Tour de France for example, contains a sprinting competition within the overall tour as well. They are nested within segments with the individual episodes. The goal of the organizers here is to keep the pace of the teams on a certain level. But keep in mind, that the athletes winning the green jersey are not the same ones winning the yellow jersey. Sprinting is related to an explosion of energy for a very short period of time and the pace may be held over the entire distance of an event like in a 100m race. A sprint may also be needed to achieve tactical maneuvers in longer races, but they are, from a race strategy's perspective risky if launched too early and frequently. But one thing is for sure, nobody sprints a long-distance race like a marathon. What happens to the body in sprint situations is that the muscles demand the highest dose of oxygen to perform, and the blood-stream can't deliver. In these situations the body signals a deficit and forces us to breathe deeper and faster to support this increased demand of oxygen. But the volume of pumping oxygen into our lungs is limited. Eventually the muscles get sore and the athlete has to stop or decrease the original pace to be able to continue the race altogether. From a body's survival perspective, sprinting is meant to escape.

Another interesting fact about the original marathon story is the enthusiasm which carried the runner to the town of Athens. Remember, he died shortly after he had delivered his message. No question, this runner was highly motivated and went to the limits, but agile organizations don't want to be so wasteful with their talent. It requires very motivated teams when transitioning to agile. Hyper-motivation may however turn negative over the course of the remaining project. Many organizations adopting agile practicesare not looking for a quick fix, but for a longer lasting positive impact.



Although the runner on the left side has just completed a long-distance race, he looks happier than the sprinter who ran a much shorter distance. Who of the two do you think is more likely to add on a few more meters to run?

Let's see how this affects software projects and organizations using agile processes. We assume that software projects have a scope which requires projects to be longer than 4 weeks in length. Therefore they cannot be seen as a series of sprints in an athletic sense, but need to be seen as time-boxes or mile-markers for long-distance racing. That relates to checking the heart-beat or time at certain points and relating it to the distance in the race.



When we pass those markers, we check, make adjustments and continue in a consistent fashion.

Sprinting and Intervals


If we take the analogy to sprinting literally, we would ask our project team to sprint 100m, take a one second break and try to sprint another 100m in the same pace. We would give the team then another second to rest and so forth. Caused by the extremely short recovery time, the project team cannot fully recover from the previous sprint. The pace of the subsequent 100 meter sprints will gradually get slower. The morale

AgileConnection is a TechWell community.

Through conferences, training, consulting, and online resources, TechWell helps you develop and deliver great software every day.