Are you inspired by Alex Vero's ambitions, or slightly insulted?

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19/03/2008 at 16:53
Kent Girl, for same reason as Imski, I forgive you for the comment "better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all". It's the fact that we have tried to do our best that qualifies us to be critical of Alex's intentions.
19/03/2008 at 19:36

The topic is "are you inspired... or slightly insulted".  Never having run a marathon, I'm in no position to feel insulted.  I am a newcomer to running and presumably part of the target audience of Alex's programme.  His progress has inspired me to get off my backside and get running, rather than just reading about it.   

I am also inspired by sister who did the FLM a few years back in 3:20 (she's always been good at running though, unlike me.)  I am also inspired by anyone who has run a marathon or who is aspiring to do so, not just Alex.  I especially find Granny Denny inspiring and hope she recovers from her injury. (Funny how you end up caring about how complete strangers you will probably never meet get on with their running when you read their blogs).

Until last weekend, I'd never run more than 10k, and reading the progress other mortals make in these forums does spur me on and make me think that some day, if I train properly, I might just be able to run a marathon. Reading the various postings these past few weeks taught me a lot about it's like in real life.  I have picked up so many tips from the non-elite runners on these forums, as well as the experts like Mike Gatton.

So yes, Alex inspired this newcomer reading her first ever copy of Runner's World. Great he came up with an audacious goal, which no doubt helped capture the imagination of the TV people when hearing his "elevator pitch" to get the funding for his programme.  It has also provoked a healthy debate, and as some have said, the fact he has failed to get to Beijing shows just how hard it is to get to the top.  

Some of the postings in this thread read to an outsider as sour grapes or jealousy. Of course this might not be the intention of the posting (and many valid points were made in some of the postings that were critical of Alex) but that is how they come across to someone reading the threads in one sitting for the first time.

Good luck to Alex and also good luck to everyone who is running the FLM and other marathons soon.  I hope one day I will join you.

Edited: 19/03/2008 at 19:45
19/03/2008 at 21:52

Kent Girl,

It's interesting you say jealousy when actually a very reasonable proportion of the runners on here who are detractors either have run or are running faster than Vero has and I'm sure are succesful in other areas of life. If you'd like my own credentials I'll happily email them to you but would rather avoid making the thread about myself.

 Similarly though, I have 2012 as a pipe-dream and that's exactly what it is- a pipe dream which I hope I will get there but I know the odds are severely stacked against me. The way I'm now doing this is by understanding that I can't run a 2:15 marathon in 2 years but by steadily improving my training and aiming to improve now year on year. When Alex first started this, a lot of us stated very clearly that it wouldn't happen, the level of training needed to make those improvements in 2 years is such that maybe 1 in 100,000 would be lucky enough not to get severely injured, despite not training at the level needed to make the necessary improvements (for reference I think that in order to make that sort of jump Alex would need to have been running 160+ mile weeks from the off and very few athletes can do that without years of build up without getting injured, probably more like 1 in a 1,000,000), Alex still got injured.

 More to the jealousy point, on another forum a lot of people are saying exactly the same, on that forum I am one of the very slowest. That forum includes guys who have run at olympics, world championships. One chap won the UK U20 title and ran a 14:20 5k before he turned 19. I'm therefore at a bit of a loss as to why they would be jealous of Alex! They're annoyed because someone has come and tried to scoop up a lot of attention on themselves with no credentials whatsoever and declared they will make the olympic team because they are willing to "train harder"

 If you're a sub 2:20 marathoner working damn hard for 8-10 years to get to your level and regularly laying down 100+ mile weeks with hard interval sessions. Do you think you might get a little annoyed at someone coming in and saying "I'll do better than that in two years because I'll work harder", then doing half the actual work and still saying it'll happen?

Imagine if that happened in any other walk of life such as a job where a new employee turns up straight out of school and declares "I'll be chairman of the company in 2 years" and then proceeds to do half the amount of work that all the other people competing to be chairman does and then declares "well okay I probably won't be president but it's all okay because the main part of this wasn't that I'd be president but that I was blogging it online".

Slightly harsher post this time around because everytime I start thinking about this at all seriously it just starts annoying me more and more!

 I'm glad you're running Kent girl and that Alex has inspired you.

19/03/2008 at 21:52
A couple more stories just for reference:-

A chap, bit overweight and not in particularly good fitness decides to do the marathon, he does his first one at 19 and runs 3:54, okay, but still a bit average, starts deciding to run a bit harder, ends up putting crazy numbers of miles in, becomes reknowned for his lightning fast start and never say die attitude as he just keeps on pushing. Gradually starts to work his marathon time down cutting it each year. This chap has just qualified for the world cross country team and has run in the world championship marathon as well as finished in the top ten at Euro Cross.

Another runner, works incredibly hard at his degree whilst at Cambridge and whilst a reasonable runner, never wins the varsity match but does okay, and just keeps on plugging away at it year after year. FInally does his first marathon and runs a 2:44, nice run but nothing really to shout about on domestic let alone international terms. Has since run a sub 2:15 marathon and run for the British team

Let's move onto another gentleman, local footballer but not that great. Nice guy who decides to step onto the treadmill one day and does pretty well. Enters into a local 10k and has a run and does pretty damn well! Years of hard training later and he's run at the World championships and finished in the top 15.

and there are hundreds more examples. These guys are the ones that have actually made it and done the business and on my part. I have a lot more respect for someone who has gone and done the business than someone who says they're going to. Hence why I have a lot more respect for Alex now than I did before the project.

Bit long but hey - I think this is an interesting topic. Alex- I'll contact you regarding when I'm next in London. I think I might be doing a session with Serpentine at some point so that might be a good time.
19/03/2008 at 22:02

I'm always surprised why this bothers you so much. The man makes films, he had an idea, he tried, he failed. Yes he stated an unrealistic goal(I'm filmed telling him so to his face) he accepts that.

He has moved on as a runner and a film maker.

19/03/2008 at 22:31

I take your points Bryn. I'm sure Alex could have been more humble, but then the programme might have been too dull to commission and he'd have to get a proper job!  I've been wondering though if I've touched a raw nerve with the jealousy point?  (Btw, my comments weren't directed at anyone in particular; more of an overall impression from when I read the thread.)

I agree there are loads of people who have achieved more in running terms, but hey, it's a great idea for a TV programme, made for an interesting article to read and it's encouraging for people such as myself who are new to racing. Also, as I said above, the fact he failed shows it's not as easy as it might look. That's where the schadenfreude came in.

Meanwhile, I'm just aiming to average 10mm in my first half marathon. No plans for 2012.

19/03/2008 at 22:52

Gobi- I guess it's just because I've a very storng belief in what i think is right and wrong. Otherwise known as being stubborn!

It annoys me to see:

a) People's hard efforts denigrated by someone who clearly had little to no idea on the issue and if he did that makes it even worse.

b) Someone trying to take a lot from the sport before they've actually accomplished anything or for that matter worked for it. As a documentary maker I'm sure Alex is very good but the goals stated at the start of his project showed either a complete naivety and lack of research or alternately a deliberate attempt to gain attention by claiming things he knew were impossible- I believe the first.

That said I have no issue with Alex himself on a personal level aside from I think a lot of naivety going into this project and a bit curious as to why he decided to make himself the focus of the project as otherwise I'm sure I'd be passing on the links to everyone I know. The films I have seen so far seem fairly professional done though some of the content is questionable (why oh why did he let Frank Horwill go on camera!)

 Kent Girl- like I say, drop me a quick email and I'll let you know a few things about me that might show why I'm not jealous of Alex! Except of course that he picked up one of the Asics red racing vests which are very cool. My fault for not buying one at the time! Best of luck in your half marathon. For what it's worth I averaged 10 minute miles for my first 10k so you're going better than I did!

Edited: 19/03/2008 at 23:13
20/03/2008 at 10:37

Hobbling Harrier you do sound jealous maybe your not jealous of his ability as a runner but maybe the attention that he's getting.

 Maybe you should look at the documentary in a different light. Surely if people who watch this documentary with no knowledge or running and see how much training he's done to get to the level he is now and see he's not even remotely close to being one of the top runners in the country. Don't you think they might come away from watching the documentary for a new found respect for out elite athletes? Lets face it our top runners don't really get the recognition they deserve.

20/03/2008 at 10:59

i dont agree with paininthefoot im afraid. i really dont think HH is jealous.

im a novice runner really only done a few 10ks and 1 half marathon. respectible times (and i train moderatley hard) but in a different universe from those posted by good club runners let alone elite athletes.

if i were a faster and more dedicated runner i too would feel a little annoyed at Alexs initial goals. to think you can go from a self confessed overweight non runner to potential elite athlete in 2 years (or indeed any number of years) is a little bit much.

im no expert but i reckon the elite runners work their proverbials off (if theyve got em) and have done so for many years come rain or shine. It is not surprising that the prescence of an interloper like Mr Vero is not universally welcomed.

top notch publicity though! and he may help that bloke from Ethiopia. so not all bad.

20/03/2008 at 11:12

I don't see how anyone could see HH as jealous. His are some of the most fair minded, well written and knowledgeable posts I've read on here.  He examines the issue from all angles, admits that his perspective has changed slightly as the Vero project has progressed and always sticks to the issues rather than descending into abuse.

A model on how to conduct a reasoned debate.

20/03/2008 at 11:59

it is an interesting debate, but i can't for the life of me see why people would get annoyed.  although you all obviously like running, let's set aside any bias and admit that running is a hobby that is, objectively, no more nor less valid than stamp collecting.  no arguments about 'ooh but it keeps you healthy' etc, as that's just a subjective value judgement (and plenty of people ruin their knees anyway)

 so, let's pretend it's stamp collecting, to remove any emotion.  some film maker who never even sent a letter in his life and can't even spell philately (much like me) turns up and says "in two years i'm going to amass the biggest and best stamp collection IN THE WORLD!  and make a film about it".  he fails, miserably of course.  why should all the pro stamp collectors get outraged by the whole thing?  they shouldn't, it's irrelevant.

what it has done, objectively, is raised the profile of stamp collecting somewhat, so they can all sell their penny reds for a tidy profit.

a bit lke bryn's company-chairman analagy.  would people be outraged?  of course not.  they would just snigger and think he was a little bit simple.

20/03/2008 at 12:00

My goodness me some of you are delicate flowers .

The man set a rash target and missed it.

 Good on him for trying (and introducing the world of running to quite a few people on the way) - and good on him for allowing us to follow his progress and ultimate (at least on one level) failure.

 Presumably he will - at least when it comes to running - be a slightly wiser and more rueful man.

 I`m not quite sure why some of  us think we (i.e. our sport, training efforts etc) are beijng `dissed`.  I doubt that was his intention and I doubt that was the effect.

I run because I enjoy it. I run for me - not for public approval or approbation.

I train hard for my marathons (80+) miles/week and achieve  ok results (certainly nothing special). I know how much effort goes into training for a marathon and I strongly suspect that the effort required to get a sedentary person from the couch to the end of the FLM is significantly greater.

Putting it bluntly, I don`t give a flying f*ck what other people - and non-runners  - think  about the amount of training required to run a marathon. 

If  an elite runner (or any other runner for that matter) is genuinely upset by AV then he/she needs to get out a bit more. 

20/03/2008 at 12:03
Candy O - rather more tactfully put !
20/03/2008 at 12:26
I think you (vaguely pointing in no particular direction) should credit Alex Vero with more than the two brain cells that you think he has. If Fred in your local says he's going to start driving and win the F1 championship next year, then you can dismiss him as a nutter. If someone filming a documentary claims the same thing, you just might think he has other purposes in mind. Well I do anyway.
20/03/2008 at 21:31

In no other sport would a beginnner of Alex's age be taken seriously if they claimed that,within 2 years,they would reach international elite level.

Just imagine that,instead of the 2008 Olympic marathon,Alex had said he would make the Wimbledon fortnight,race in the British Grand Prix,compete in the US Masters or play for England in the 6 Nations.

Very few people would take him seriously.

However,because running is easy and just about anyone can do it (true),it does not mean that running at elite level is easy and anyone can do that.

In other sports,this is stating the obvious,but in running,it seems that some people don't accept it.

It's easy to understand why some UK elite runners might find this just a tiny bit irritating.

20/03/2008 at 23:08

Not half as irritating for them I imagine as it would have been if he'd actually achieved his goal.  

Anyway the football World Cup is in just over 2 years - who's up for playing in it ?

21/03/2008 at 07:31

Then Uk elite runners shouldn`t be so precious. A host of adjectives spring to mind: defensive, immature and just plain silly.

 Now - as Popsider points out - if he had succeeded....

21/03/2008 at 08:05

I can't believe I have missed this -

This guy really must be congratulated at what he has done - whether he makes the Olympic team or not he has run some times that are really quite good for a local standard runner - and who knows the state of British Distance runners these days he may even be the first Britain across the line even if he runs sub 3 hours.

What this guy has done though is to serve a timely reminer ahead of the London Marathon is that running races is all about running from start to finish as quickly as possible - and the growth of the London Marathon can really mirror the decline of British distance running - where it is seen as an achievement to finish the race whatever the time and it is a sad state of affairs that London will see far more 'runners' outside 5 hours than inside 3 hours.

20 years ago the good club men mentioned by Ron Pickering and David Coleman in the London commentary would be running with the elite woman - now Bredan Foster and Steve Cram mention the runners around an hour slower.

As a former race organiser of a local 5K, in the early days of the race in the late 80s an early 90s we would have a handful of local runners going under 15 minutes and a course record of 14:38, and now you'll be lucky with one or two under 16 minutes.

So good for this guy in his attempt to actually achieve something and along the way  try and raise the awareness of the sorry state of British distance running and the even sadder decline in the British youths fitness levels.

Rant over

21/03/2008 at 08:12

And to go back on another comment earlier - Running isn't easy it takes a lot of hard work, to get anywhere with any  success - sure anyone  can put on a pair of the latest trainers and designer stuff, load up their Ipod with the latest sounds, fill up their backpack with gels, energy drinks and whatever  and head out of the door for a gentle plod,but is that really what competitive running is about


21/03/2008 at 08:16
And to further answer the question - am I inspired or insulted - why would anyone be insulted by someone else's efforts - he tired - he may succeed he may fail but good for him - I tried  I failed but despite never getting under 25 minutes for a half or 2:40 for the marathon I had a bl**dy good time trying and that is what it is all about.
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