A few years back a friend handed me an article and said “until I got to the part where the author referred to himself as a good runner, I would have sworn you wrote this.” Turns out that it was written by Jim Hage, a former Marine Corps Marathon winner. (I only have a hard copy, but I thought the article was so good that I just retyped it and posted at to our website.) While some of the references are a bit dated now, and the specifics are clearly only applicable to elite runners, I think the concept is still sound.
If you want to excel, there’s no choice but to work hard. That hard work is not without risk to your health, as well as your social and professional lives – but without it, your ceiling is lowered.
Recently, over at the RUN NYC Facebook page Geoff Decker posed the question, “what enabled Kenyans and Ethiopians to rise to virtually own the sport of distance-running for 30 years?” The knee-jerk, but in my opinion flawed answer, that a lot of folks offer is to point out that African runners have genetic gifts that their American-born counterparts lack. The problem with that argument is that it ignores the fact that despite improvements in sports medicine and nutrition, there are fewer American-born marathoners running sub 2:15 now than 10 and 20 years ago. If and when Americans maximize their potential by working as hard as other runners, and we’re still losing to our African brothers, then we can complain to the genetic running gods. Until then, we should examine what’s wrong with our approach rather than blaming others.