There is smethng else you need to remember about the 70s and 80 runners - the guys like Spedding, both Jones boys, Kevin Forster, Ron Hill, Mike Gratton and even Eamon Martin were all working full time - also there was a lot greater competition, these guys would race each other regularly, week after week - I know it is difficult to get hold of but beg steal or borrow a copy of both of Ron Hill's books -
Perhps then the runners of today have tp much time and they spend al their time analysing andd resitng and recovering and checking pulse's etc. I imagine the distance runners of old trained harder because they had to fit it in around their work and family life - I imagine the guys on here who have joined the sub 2;30 club are training around work commitments.
To take it further, how many of our so called top runners were at Alton Towers for the National, even Steve Ovett ran that one - but the National is now a shadow of it's former self - the first time I ran it I was outside the top 1000, the last time in 1999, I made the top 400 - not spectacular and IHAD NOT IMPROVED THAT MUCH!!
ARe our top guys now scared of compitition?
I well remember reading an artice by one of Britains sub elite runners, a guy who would run late 13 minutes for 5K and the times he was running in training and the distance he was covering was a slower and less than us 16 minute 5K runners at my club.
Very few of our top guys now raceregulalry, how often do you read in the press reports that a race wasn't run the way one of our 'top' runners would have liked - and you find yourself wondering why he/she didnt force the pace and dictate the race - if they knew they wouldn't win anyway why didn't they try.
Over to you guys
Hilly - yes that what it suggests to me, it's mainly about the level of competition rather than diet or environment.
Not sure about cycling as for time trials the introduction of aero equipment means you can't really compare the 80s with today - there's a similar thing though with lots of vets and fewer younger riders - though not to the extent there is in running.
Grendel - I agree that there is something about mental toughness, as the runners you mention were born when memories of WW2 were fresh in the minds of people and there wasn't a lot of sympathy on people who did not just get out there and `suck it up'.
However, you mention that those people worked full time. Mike Gratton, for example, was a PE teacher and in the 15 years since I joined the profession in the early 90s, the job of a teacher has changed out of all recognition in terms of the extra hours, paperwork, stress and lack of work / life balance expected from the bosses. I think people in many areas of work now are under far more pressure than in the past and this will impact on people's training.
I partly agree with BR - I think that a lot of jobs these days are far more sedantry that before and also agree about the toughness thing. Too often nowadays there are people unavailbale for work which historically would have been laughed at. For example and please don't get me wrong as I'm sure some people are genuinely affected by stress but I'd wager that lots more play that card unnecessarily, and whats that RSI all about ?? <<cue input from someone genuinely affected, and not just a slacker>>
I would take issue with the comment about Ron Hill and impact on wife etc etc. I assume the point BR's making is that in days of old, men were men, women did all the 'domestics' and kids were never seen? I'd argue that nowadays (and I happen to agree) that as soon as you make the decision to be a husband/wife and if you're mature enough to become a parent, then one's foremost priority is to the family.
Dustin wrote (see)
I doubt there are many on this forum who would disagree with that sentiment.
I think all that BR was saying was that if you do spend all hours of the day and night running this WILL have an effect on family life and that is what happened in RH`s case.
I`m not sure he`sadvocating a return to the `good old days` when men were men and women knew their place.
I don't think he is - but to reach the very top those are the sacrfices that were made and the lifestyle that the African runners etc have adopted today.
The likes of Coe and Ovett reached the top before their lives changed with children etc - I appreciate that woman no longer have that role in the world and rightly so - but whether it is right of wrong in the great scheme of things, the African domestic scene is different - and the athletes do go way for weeks/months on an end withou their families to train in camps and race around the world - running is their ticket out of the poverty trap and they train pretty hard - which I don't think is left to dispute -
whether todays British , European runners do train less than in the past is something that is open to discussion - after all both Ovett and Coe reached pretty much the same heights off different regimes - one on mileage one on quality.
Someone said earlier in a post that running is easy and on relfection yes it is - so maybe the 21st century runner has made it more difficult than it actaully is - ie - heart rate monitors diets etc -
How much it is down to running not being promoted as a sport in schools over the last 20 years? We just don't have the sheer volume of kids/teenagers running regularly (whether they like it or not) and growing into the elite/sub-elite cadre.
As a case in point I'm in my mid twenties. When I was at school (local comp, nothing fancy) we ran twice a year - a 12min run once a year to see how fit we were (we weren't - and it almost put me off for life), and school sports day. Sports day was a torment. The least popular kid in the class always ended up running the 1500m - which was the longest distance we were allowed to do, whilst everyone else did the shorter distances, or forged a sick-note. I was quite fit because I grew up on a farm, and was always busy and working outside. But my experiences at school convinced me that I absolutely hated running.
I only took up the sport three years ago. It was a choice borne of necessity (suddenly realised I had to get properly fit - or embrace premature middle age!) and poverty (I couldn't afford to do anything else). Following one of the run-walk programmes on here, I found I could run and that it was really rewarding to train, and improve. I did a 5k. It was fantastic fun. I was hooked. Okay, so I'm never going to be good. Indeed I feel slightly guilty posting on this thread, as It takes me 4hrs to run a marathon, so I can only dream of the speeds you lot are talking about - but since I was the one who resurrected this thread last month - I feel like joining in again! But I adore the sport, and I'm working to improve all the time. I really *really* wish I'd discovered running as a child. I feel quite miffed at all the years I've missed out on.
Most people my age don't really know what it's like to run, never mind to run well. I'm sure many of the kids in the 50s and 60s loathed running cross country at school, or doing laps of the football field. But it will have done them all good, and must have opened the eyes of many of those who grew up to be our elite and sub-elite runners of the 70s and 80s. Now, athletics is seen as a remote thing - to be watched on TV and performed by superstars who are unimaginably fit. Many British kids watching Beijing this summer won't have a clue how it feels to run. To train, and practise, and get fitter, and race. If we had more running in schools (proper running, and not random torture sessions designed to put everyone off for life!) I'm sure more kids would grow into runners. Perhaps most of them would be like me, well below average for their age! However, I'm confident we'd also get more numbers running at the top level - and that strength in depth would help the elite runners train. And the rest wouldn't be contributing to the obesity 'epidemic' (by-the-by - who thought that one up? It's not a disease!)
So. Um. Yes.... school sport!! And all the other stuff everyone's already mentioned - like diet, good genes, right mentality, and an absolute tonne of sheer bloody hard work etc.
(Sorry for the ramble! Loving the thread - really thought provoking - keep it coming!)
I guess Paul Evans's experience shows that,if you want to be elite,you need to have the genetic potential in the first place.
Like most of us,when I started running I improved consistently for about 3 -5 years and then "stalled" when I hit my personal limit.Even if I'd doubled my training,I don't believe I would have got much better and would never have reached elite level (or even sub-elite) no matter how hard I trained.
Good post Jo-we clearly live in an age when being a spectator is much easier than actually getting out there and trying and that must be a factor.Paradoxically,as the general populace becomes ever more lazy and obese,the gap between them and the professional sportspeople they watch on TV grows ever larger.
At the end of the day,running may be easy,but running hard is anything but and less and less people will understand why some of us do it for its own sake,even though we're never going to win any prizes.
Stickless wrote (see)
`I've been looking in on this from time to time. If I were any good, I would be annoyed; the implication of his attempt is that no-one else is really trying. That's some conceit.`
`I think diluting the pack with hordes of fun runners must demoralize the serious runners.`
Race for Life did get a lot of women running. I think we could make the same sort of impact on our children by the following scheme. Call it Dare your Dad if you like. The idea is that there is a series of 5k races across the country. The deal is that you can only enter it in teams of two, one child of secondary school age, and a "parent", who need not be his/her real parent, but just some chosen adult. Give schools prizes for those getting a high percentage turnout. That would get two bums off the settee at the same time. Moreover, it's a bit like wearing cycle helmets. If the parents don't, they can hardly be surprised if the kids give up wearing them at the earliest opportunity, like as soon as kid gets out of sight. Some kids I reckon would do it just to needle their elders, and it would do both sides a power of good.
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