Worth a read.
Written by someone who decided to put in the time and became a sporting elite, and then put in the time and wrote about how he and others did it.
Unlike alot of those who bandy about words like "talent" "genetics" "Kenyan this and Kenyan that" he has done the research and worked out the facts from fantasy.
Elites have one thing in common which is a phenomanal work ethic. When your not running, practicing, training, they are. When you fall and give up, they fall and fall and fall again, Then succeed.
A Kenyan elite runner growing up in the country has more incommon with Seb Coe than he does with his Kenyan relative in Nairobi who cant be arsed to even walk to the shops and drives everywhere.
That runner will also have put in the hours running to school everyday which his younger brother never had to because by then a school had been built nearby.
So guess which one is more likely to find out by his own actions he liked running, when not only can he run to school but he gets medals and praise when he wins races for his school?
...and dont even ask about how the changes in training techniques in America and Europe that runners in Ethiopia and Kenya didn't take on meant that those East African runners florished while runners here and in the US didn't. Bascially if you want to run fast over a long distance you have to run fast over a long distance. Not run long and slow.Its no accident that the decline in American long distance came around during the 70's when the jogging boom came which was all about running long and slow. Some like Salazar rejected this credo but it still infected Western running
Now the advantage the East Africans have is enormous.
They think they have one
You dont need a genetic advantage if you think you can win to the extent you cannot even imagine defeat.
I recall back in the days of Michael Jordan reading about how top white basket ball players would just laugh at the idea that they couldn't jump (remember that movie with Harrelson and Snipes?) and their black team mates would find it equally amusing because they all knew that that they were there through the same process. They saw a game that they liked the look of, practiced like they were possessed till they got good and stronger until they all found themselves playing ball. They had more incommon with each other than with they public that adored them and any genetic advantages would be simply freakish if they had not developed the skills to not look like a giraffe in shorts.
It has suddenly becomes fashionable to believe anyone can achieve X if they do Y in sport. It's a comfortable notion which appeals to some weak-minded notion of fairness and to the fantasy that we're all created equal. Life's not like that and nearly everyone has limits that prevents them from achieving what they might like to matter how much dedication or how smart the training.
It's like the Emperor's new clothes - all it will take is a 6 year old to stand up and point out that the fat, uncoordinated kid can never be a top tennis player, or the 6ft 10in man will never be an elite marathoner.
Then, after the current wave of people trying to sell books is cast ashore, we'll return to the compromise that everyone has always known and understood. That success is down to a combination of natural capability, how 'inclined' that capability is to improve through practice / training and to how thoroughly you are willing to make that natural capability sweat - only one of which is within our control.
So forgive me if I am skeptical whilst the current fad of sensationalist authorship does the rounds. Two years ago it was barefoot running and before that the Atkins diet. I still don't see any elites without shoes and the world is still getting fatter.
To answer the OP's question more directly - at the very least sub 3 is within your medium term range I would think.
RicF wrote (see)
From what I've read, running is mainly genetics. How else do you account for the number of twins who; especially in schools, out perform the rest.
Is this true? I have friends who are twins and they run and tri. They are both fiercely competitive, one worse than the other, and like to do well but they are average at best. Thinking of all the other twins I know, or have known, I can't think of any who have excelled more than a non-twin.
Saying that, my son has twin brother and sister at his school and both are top class runners. They are only 11 but wipe the board especially on xcountry.
From what I've seen, running is mainly getting off your arse. My daughter can beat the male twins in her class over any distance.
But I think you've phrased your point incorrectly, Ric, and you meant to say that if one twin is 'talented' the other is too.
Don't understand your point at all RicF - I assume you're saying there may (or may not) be some evidence that if one identical twin performs well at a given sport the other one is more likely too as well. Don't know if there's any convincing evidence (beyond the anecdotal) for that in any case
Clearly you'd need to look at twins who were separated early on and had different upbringings. There's loads of studies that have done this for all sorts of outcomes and I suspect their conclusions often contradict each other
The funny thing with this nature/nurture debate is how often those who emphasise one particular side like to claim those who emphasise the other are one dimensional and completely neglect that both might be relevant....the reality is that its very rare anybody believes its entirely nature or entirely nurture.
Moraghan wrote (see)It has suddenly becomes fashionable to believe anyone can achieve X if they do Y in sport. It's a comfortable notion which appeals to some weak-minded notion of fairness and to the fantasy that we're all created equal. Life's not like that and nearly everyone has limits that prevents them from achieving what they might like to matter how much dedication or how smart the training. Then, after the current wave of people trying to sell books is cast ashore, we'll return to the compromise that everyone has always known and understood.
Moraghan wrote (see)
It has suddenly becomes fashionable to believe anyone can achieve X if they do Y in sport. It's a comfortable notion which appeals to some weak-minded notion of fairness and to the fantasy that we're all created equal. Life's not like that and nearly everyone has limits that prevents them from achieving what they might like to matter how much dedication or how smart the training. Then, after the current wave of people trying to sell books is cast ashore, we'll return to the compromise that everyone has always known and understood.
Then, after the current wave of people trying to sell books is cast ashore, we'll return to the compromise that everyone has always known and understood.
Aside from the above sounding like a mein kampf chapter on sport, i've never witnessed anybody making these above "weak minded" points in such simple terms. Clearly a fundamental component of achieving a high level at anything is a belief it can be achieved, when most human societies throughout history have had quite rigid hierarchies and the ideology that greatness is born has been dominant.....having a train of thought that challenges this and emphasises the possibilities of hard work will naturally encourage achievement much more than this dismissive notion that if you dont first excel at something you're probably not one of the gifted ones. To whatever extent talent varies, giving people the belief to push hard and the opportunity to test themselves at something they enjoy can only result in the overall level of a sport being raised and less talent being wasted for environmental constraints. Maybe not every kid can be an olympic sprinter, but the process of investing and persevering with something you enjoy is a massive life lesson in itself. The first link which criticises Gladwell's book neglects to mention Gladwell does talk about variations in how some individuals respond to specific hours...Gladwell doesnt argue natural talent doesnt have any impact, rather he is challenging the misconception that success is primarily down to inherent greatness and he offers many examples which illustrate how precise environmental factors or coincidences lead to great achievement in many areas.
How people respond to success is always instructive, there will always be those who treat their success as proof of inherent superior talent and a reflection of their greater capacity for hard work, such people tend to view those that dont match up to their self constructed image as intrinsically inferior and weak minded. Then there are those who are happy to recognise the environmental and cultural contexts to their success, who appreciate that the meaning they've found in working hard isnt necessarily accessible to those that didnt have their own influences. Ultimately this is a political debate as much as its a scientific debate...gladwell and syed's books arent infallible in their methodology or references, but neither are any studies ive seen emphasising genetics. Although we can all probably agree its a combination, i think the reasons people choose to believe one side over the other is quite interesting. With respect to running in this country, so few people get close to the training that would enable them to even get close to realising their potential that clearly training structure/investment is going to be the dominant factor at our amateur level. For what its worth i agree most senior males are capable of sub 2.45 at marathon, probably alot quicker in fact.
Ching - you do deserve some credit for the level of obfuscation in those two posts, although not too much as it was so clearly obvious.
You fundamentally agree with the premise it takes both talent and dedication and then proceed to make a number of "counterpoints" to arguments that were never made in the first place. Believe it or not it is possible to believe in the power of belief, the value of sport, the inspiration of mass participation and achievement, the need not to judge or limit yourself based on rate of initial improvement or starting point, the value and inherent lessons of dedicating yourself to something - and still believe to make it amongst the best requires more than an average dose of genetic talent.As to my other point. I think it is weak-minded to believe that we were all created equal and everyone has a fair crack of being the best at what they do if they put in the right level of effort. Weak-minded as in:
a) Having or exhibiting a lack of judgement.
b) Easily swayed by propaganda or emotional manipulation tactics
That is very different from saying that if you don't feel you don't have the "ultimate genetic" potential you should act accordingly and do something else.
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