Are fast runners naturally fast, or can you train yourself fast?

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27/03/2007 at 22:42
Are fast runners naturally fast, or can you train yourself fast?

Basically I would like to know if its is possible to become a fast runner with pure dedication and training or if you need a certain amount of natural talent? Would I ever be able to run a 3.15 marathon?

Ok, I know that I am a long way off of this now, but with a few years of hard training would this be possible? Do runners that run 6 min miles and then pick up an injury start running again at 9 min miles or just start back at the 6 min mile pace? Do all the different speed training sessions make a difference or just highlight your natural ability?

Are my dreams of being a fast runner just that…a dream?
27/03/2007 at 22:49
bit of both i think
27/03/2007 at 22:50
Yes and yes
27/03/2007 at 22:51
I know its not the fastest but kind of pitched the 6 min at a respectable speed.

I have done my marathon training and have built up my miles but have not done any speed training. I think i should get a 3.45 for my first one, but am now thinking about my next. Faster one!!
27/03/2007 at 23:02
good for you

see how you do in the first

and then-well-lots of good advice on here
27/03/2007 at 23:06
I used to think size matters (i.e. long legs?) but my mate is only barely scraping 5 foot and runs a 38 min 10k.
27/03/2007 at 23:08
It's a mixture of genetics and hard work. There's obviously a limit to how good a runner you can be. Some people are "natural runners" and can run jaw-dropping times with a modicum of training. Others put in vast amounts of training and end up running pretty average times. The only way you'll find out how much talent you have is by trying. I'd heartily recommend it. One of the great joys of running is pushing yourself and seeing just how good you can be. This is where the other factor comes in: hard work. With a lot of hard work you can achieve a surprising amount. Take a look at Alex Vero is somebody who has simply committed himself to being the best he possibly can. With hard work, you can obviously go a long way. You might be interested to know that fast runners don't do all of their running at supersonic pace! I'm fairly nippy and I do a lot of my training at seven-minute pace, which is a lot slower than my race pace. Good luck with the marathon.
27/03/2007 at 23:09



yes right

shuffles out of thred
27/03/2007 at 23:23
I can pick up the pace when I'm nearly home, for the last 0.5 mile. Try it too early and I feel pukey though :o(
Size certainly doesn't matter - a friend of mine is 4'8" and she runs 8 min miles.

My OH who runs 6.5-7 min miles was humbled recently when a tiny female trotted past him up hill on a race, and he never saw her again. It's a great leveller, running!
28/03/2007 at 10:35
Speed is all relative. In my (ever so 'umble) opinion training maximises whatever talent is there. Some people are naturally faster in teh same way that some can naturally jump higher or are good at maths or languages.

However someone with bags of ability but untrained could be beaten by someone with less ability who has worked thier socks off. Ultimatley though it's about personal development. For example I've taken nearly 3 mins a mile off my pace from when I began mid length runs.

I'm interested in your own experience - you say you are aiming at sub 3:45 in your first marathon. How long have you been running and how have you decided that target?
28/03/2007 at 10:55
You could always have a muscle biopsy to assess your proportion of slow-twitch, fast twitch type-A and fast-twitch type-B muscle fibres. Doesn't sound like a barrel of laughs though.
28/03/2007 at 11:14

It says that Olympic sprinters have been shown to possess about 80 percent fast twitch fibers while those who excel in marathons tend to have have 80 percent slow twitch fibers. At the same time though there is some evidence showing that human skeletal muscle switches fiber types from "fast" to "slow" due to training.

For a beginner to know which race length suits their biology the best and gives them the best chance of getting decent times is it just a case of experimenting with different distances? I did some sprints with my (elite) running pal who was positively surprised considering I've not run that long. She thinks I may be better suited to short fast races? I found my first half very hard and feel I have much more of a chance to improve my 10k times? Is it just a cop out or could it be that there are some race lengths that suit my genetics better than others?
28/03/2007 at 11:23

boinged an old thread for you
28/03/2007 at 11:33
If you start to put together a few race results and PBs over different distances, you can then compare the numbers against age-adjusted tables for performance.

Hope this works...
28/03/2007 at 11:37
Build up to it over half a year. Will try another in autumn in the meantime keep experimenting? I feel really weak with legs like lead over 9-10 miles. Also develop problems and pains I don't have on runs shorter than 8-9 miles. Could never imagine ever surviving a full mara? Maybe its just very early days?
28/03/2007 at 12:42
PP: Interesting. Thank you!! For me the age/gender comparisons are much more favourable the shorter the race, and decidedly average for half mara.
28/03/2007 at 13:31
A few points, IMHO:

1. For the majority of people especially those who post here (me included!), genetics plays a minor part.

2. Childhood and adolescent lifestyle also plays a minor part. Loads of former couch potatoes here (me included!).

3. The major areas that can lead to fast running is:
- training approach: sensible schedules, nutrition, rest, etc
- realistic objectives, personal commitment, consistency, positive attitude, discipline etc
- running style & technique in terms of a skill which anyone can learn.

The part on skill is hardly ever mentioned.

28/03/2007 at 14:05
The answer is yes up to a certain extent – with a lot of hard training I went from running a 2 hour half marathon to being able to run a 1:15 half and a 2:41 marathon – but because I didn’t have the genetic build that some of my club mates and training partners had – that was the limit – when I ran 2:41 I did exactly the same training as another club mate and he ran 2:29 –

The key is to train consistently and it will come –
28/03/2007 at 21:43
Amadeus, I stopped smoking just before xmas and started running. The first run it did lasted all of about three mins before I was sick!! Nice eh. Now I am upto 20 miles in training and run 6 days a week. I did my first race being the Ackworth Half last Sunday and did that in 1 hour 49 mins. I ran the race at a comfortable level and still had bags of energy left even though I had less than four hours sleep (I had just driven back from Euro Disney).

I will be happy for anything under 4 hours but have not done one speed session so wondered if I could get faster?

Venerable Lady Beebs the Herbaceous of Leg over Wallop, I missed the thread? Can you post a link for me?

Grendel2, thanks for the advice, I would love to run a 75min half!!
29/03/2007 at 08:15
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