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  • #16
    Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

    Hey El S., they don't just want to eat ends meat, they want prime cuts! Yes, It might take 5 to 10 years of obscure toil to reach their prime, and not many want to do that.

    I agree on the speed issue- if you have a HS boy with 49 400 speed and a proclivity towards hard work and good endurance, only those with tremendous foresight will steer him towards the distances, so he can become a college miler with 48 speed, and a 5k/10k guy later. Same for a HS girl running sub 60. Aren't most of the distance runners the kids that were too slow and scrawny for anything else? (Although not all of them.)

    And I don't think baseball takes many kids away from world class distance running. My fave quote from a baseball player seen smoking after a game-"I'm not an athlete lady, I'm a baseball player."
    (also didn't the sharp rock circumcision story also include knocking out your front teeth with a rock also?)

    I am not sure the HS kids are fainting from pain.

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    • #17
      Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

      The tooth thing is separate, as far as I know, and those (the two lowers) are pulled, not knocked out with a rock. There's good "science" behind the practice. Given the high danger of tetanus in Kenya, the removal of these teeth allows a victim (tetanus=lockjaw) to be fed.

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      • #18
        Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

        "Bob Kennedy should have been a marathoner."

        I respectfully disagree. Bob is one of the few stellar runners I have had the opportunity to train with and he had a few things working against him for a marathon.

        1. He had a longer stride than most marathoners, with more knee lift.
        2. He wasn't a high milage guy - and he ran for competition, not pleasure. Most marathoners love running as many miles as their body will allow. Bob had no problems only running 70/week many weeks.
        3. Bob is not a small guy - not big by any standards but not built in the typical marathoner style.


        That said - he is without a doubt the toughest runner the USA has produced since Salazar. His mindset is extraordinary. He carried the US banner thru the 90's in the distances, and if he stays healthy he is a lock to make the team next year at either 5k or 10k.

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        • #19
          Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

          >> In an gross oversimplification, the
          >Nandi
          >idea of "machismo" involves tolerating
          >huge
          >levels of pain while the American
          >version
          >involves creating pain for others --
          >thus the
          >popularity of running in one culture
          >and football
          >in the other.>>

          Washington
          >State's Josh Kimeto (2x NCAA 5K champ in the
          >'70s) used to make grown men cringe with this
          >story (I paraphrase): "Pain? Americans think
          >they know pain? Pain is when you're 13 years old
          >and the village elders take you out into the
          >woods and pound off your foreskin with a
          >rock!"

          Cultural studies of the Nandi mention incidents much like this. The ritual circumcision that all boys go through is made to be as painful as possible; any boy who so much as flinches becomes a social outcast for the rest of his life. A distant relative who worked in sub-Saharan Africa reported people walking several miles to the clinic with injuries so painful that most westerners would have gone into shock. The discomfort that comes along with distance racing makes the sport a perfect match for Nandi culture. It makes even more sense when you look back on Keino's performance at the '68 OG while suffering from a gall bladder infection.

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          • #20
            Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

            I don't
            >buy either of your theories. Americans try plenty
            >hard.

            I never said they didn't try hard. I said there's not enough of a supply. I forget the exact numbers, but Larry Rawson reported earlier this year that there are over 400 Kenyans in high-performance marathon training camps right now. Of course we (along with nearly everyone else) are going to be behind when the competition is that deep!

            Let's put it this way. Every American boy with talent for basketball gives it a shot; nearly every American boy thinks about playing football at one point or another. The same is true for Kalenjin boys and running. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of high schoolers in the USA who are good but not spectacular defensive backs, point guards, or shortstops who have the talent to be very good runners -- but never even think about trying it. Even think about the number of 50-flat 400 guys who really ought to be running 1:52 or 4:10, but neither they nor their coaches think of it.

            But like I said before, there was a time when Americans thought of long-distance running as a masculine and patriotic pursuit -- the 60s and 70s. We did very well back then.

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            • #21
              Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

              "agree on the speed issue- if you have a HS boy with 49 400 speed and a proclivity towards hard work and good endurance, only those with tremendous foresight will steer him towards the distances, so he can become a college miler with 48 speed, and a 5k/10k guy later. Same for a HS girl running sub 60. Aren't most of the distance runners the kids that were too slow and scrawny for anything else? (Although not all of them.)"

              You are EXACTLY correct, and this is why Alan Webb was so much better than the rest of his HS miler counterparts. Most high school kids with 47.4 speed are training and competing as sprinters- 800m runners at longest- while Alan took that speed up as far as 3200m and ran XC. It's a truly rare occasion when a fast athlete chooses to specialize at a distance that is any longer than the shortest one at which he can be successful, but those who do can become world-beaters.

              Comment


              • #22
                Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

                Andy...

                We JUST started seeing good high school talent again. It started with Jennings year, then we had Sage's year and Webb's year. The high schoiol talet you speak of has not had time to develop through college let alone the pros yet. More than anything, it will be interesting to see how we fair in 2012 and 2016 when the high schoolers of this year and the next 5 years are reacing their peak. This year's high school class will be 27 in 2012 so how can you say they are not producing on the world level? They're still babies in the sport.

                I am curious to see how the high school classes of 2002, 2003, and assuming the trend continues, 2004, 2005, 2006 do in their mid twenties. If they don't produce, then there is something wrong...

                Comment


                • #23
                  Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

                  >
                  I don't
                  >buy either of your theories.
                  >Americans try plenty
                  >hard.

                  I never said
                  >they didn't try hard. I said there's not enough
                  >of a supply. I forget the exact numbers, but
                  >Larry Rawson reported earlier this year that
                  >there are over 400 Kenyans in high-performance
                  >marathon training camps right now. Of course we
                  >(along with nearly everyone else) are going to be
                  >behind when the competition is that
                  >deep!

                  Let's put it this way. Every American
                  >boy with talent for basketball gives it a shot;
                  >nearly every American boy thinks about playing
                  >football at one point or another. The same is
                  >true for Kalenjin boys and running. There are
                  >probably hundreds, if not thousands, of high
                  >schoolers in the USA who are good but not
                  >spectacular defensive backs, point guards, or
                  >shortstops who have the talent to be very good
                  >runners -- but never even think about trying it.
                  >Even think about the number of 50-flat 400 guys
                  >who really ought to be running 1:52 or 4:10, but
                  >neither they nor their coaches think of
                  >it.

                  But like I said before, there was a time
                  >when Americans thought of long-distance running
                  >as a masculine and patriotic pursuit -- the 60s
                  >and 70s. We did very well back then.

                  This is going to hurt-

                  The truth is that running is not fun like those other team sports - as a matter of fact it is down right painful. The satisfaction derived from the sport is one that can only be appreciated once experienced. How do you lure kids into a sport requires its successful competitors be the ones who can tolerate the most pain and discomfort?

                  That is why it is hard to get kids interested in distance running. You are right in pointing out that cultures that appreciate the ability to tolerate pain and "be tough" are more likely to excel than those who have "fun" at the top of their list.

                  As an athlete matures to continue to succeed in sports like football, basketball and soccer they must combine, "being tough" with having "fun". Running is purely about "being tough". While it is fun to accomplish goals and run with buddies the nature of the sport is not fun like playing a game is fun.

                  But, distance running was and is my sport - I love it even if it wasn't fun. It was very satisfying - kind of like a circumcision.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

                    I was going right along with you until the end: "It was very satisfying - kind of like a circumcision." And then that rock thing popped into my head, and I realized you are most certainly certifiable.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

                      >
                      I don't
                      >buy either of your theories.
                      >Americans try plenty
                      >hard.

                      I never said
                      >they didn't try hard. I said there's not enough
                      >of a supply. I forget the exact numbers, but
                      >Larry Rawson reported earlier this year that
                      >there are over 400 Kenyans in high-performance
                      >marathon training camps right now. Of course we
                      >(along with nearly everyone else) are going to be
                      >behind when the competition is that
                      >deep!

                      Let's put it this way. Every American
                      >boy with talent for basketball gives it a shot;
                      >nearly every American boy thinks about playing
                      >football at one point or another. The same is
                      >true for Kalenjin boys and running. There are
                      >probably hundreds, if not thousands, of high
                      >schoolers in the USA who are good but not
                      >spectacular defensive backs, point guards, or
                      >shortstops who have the talent to be very good
                      >runners -- but never even think about trying it.
                      >Even think about the number of 50-flat 400 guys
                      >who really ought to be running 1:52 or 4:10, but
                      >neither they nor their coaches think of
                      >it.

                      But like I said before, there was a time
                      >when Americans thought of long-distance running
                      >as a masculine and patriotic pursuit -- the 60s
                      >and 70s. We did very well back then.>

                      I think in the 60's/70's there were enough slugs left over after the Basketball, Football, and Baseball rosters were full that we managed to get enough kids out on the XC teams who had enough talent and desire to compete at the world level.

                      These days there are more distractions which include soccer and even golf and tennis which kids will go into prior to even considering distance running. Add in the Baby Boom results in the late 60's/70's a noted drop off in birth rate which resulted in fewer teenagers in the 80's and a second boom for current teenagers and it's not difficult to see why there was a cavern in the late 80's and 90's and currently there is a resurgence at the HS level.

                      That doesn't explain the whole phenomena but it's at least a piece of it.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

                        >"agree on the speed issue- if you have a HS boy
                        >with 49 400 speed and a proclivity towards hard
                        >work and good endurance, only those with
                        >tremendous foresight will steer him towards the
                        >distances, so he can become a college miler with
                        >48 speed, and a 5k/10k guy later.

                        The two greatest distance runners I was ever around should have competed in longer races. One of them was a HS teammate -- as a junior, he anchored our 4x400 with a 48.2. We also needed a fourth for the 4x800 and he ran 1:54.8 in mid-season. He gave up football for XC as a senior and ran low-16 min; he became an 800/1600 runner for his senior year of track. He was one of those kids that always did stupid things and got himself into trouble (he let a pretty girl talk him into the school blood drive the day before our conference meet). I'm convinced he had all the physical tools to run sub-4:00 and probably better, but he was a total head case.

                        The other was a college teammate who had all the tools. His PR is 1:46.00 and ranked #9 in the USA in 1996. He outsprinted Paul McMullen on more than one occaisson, and also ran in the 31-min range for XC (10k). He spent part of one season trying the 1500; he and his coach quickly gave up after being pushed around in an exceptionally large Penn race. I'm probably being over-optimistic, but I think he'd have been every bit as good as McMullen if he'd just spent a year or two learning how to race the mile.

                        Oh, by the way, both runners were black (and I guess they still are!). I'm quite certain it's part of why they were pigeonholed by coaches as "sprinters" instead of "distance runners".

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

                          Why are so many people on these boards so focused on athletes being "white" or "black". I know, I know - YOU don't notice and aren't racist - just pointing it out - right?

                          J Squire - your coach was an true idiot if he couldn't see past color to judge talent.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

                            >J Squire -
                            >your coach was an true idiot if he couldn't see
                            >past color to judge talent.


                            My HS coach did -- we got a new one the same year the guy moved up from the 400. I never claimed my college coach was a genius -- he got his job based on his 9 All-American awards rather than his coaching abilities.


                            But yes, the USA is still obsessed with race. Only white people pretend otherwise.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

                              "But yes, the USA is still obsessed with race. Only white people pretend otherwise."

                              I'm not obsessed - I'm not pretending. I like people who work hard, don't make excuses, and have a passion for something (anything). My passion is athletics, so I like watching people run fast, throw far, and jump high - don't really give a s&%t what they look like.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

                                This isn't a race issue -- it's a weight issue! Just look at the talented Kenyans and Ethiopians: Nearly all of these guys are tiny. I've seen some of the East Africans at races in D.C., and their legs, their bodies, are just so thin -- obviously because they train so hard, but compare them to the elite Americans (Kennedy, Goucher, Pre, other than a very few, and other than those who have immigrated recently): the Americans are huge! (Webb included. El G, by the way, makes Webb look like Arnold.) Combine that with their obvious advantage being born at altitude in societies where physical exertion is the norm. I just don't see that many kids with body types like the East Africans (though I'm sure there will be those who disagree . . .)so until we have a fleet of really thin speedsters, we're going to have guys like Webb who are kind of small and very powerful at 400 but not likely to carry that much farther than that . . .

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