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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

    But we arrogant Americans
    >assume that we should dominate the world in EVERY
    >sport. We're the best at baseball, basketball,
    >football, tennis, golf, sprints/hurdles/jumps,
    >NASCAR, figure skating, swimming, triathlon; the
    >soccer people talk about winning the World Cup
    >(and already dominate the women's side). We're
    >#2 at ice hockey, and we sponsor the best team
    >and individual in pro cycling. So we assume we
    >should specialize in everything, which is simply
    >not possible. Why should we have any chance
    >against societies that put everything into just
    >one sport?

    Arrogant Americans? Maybe, but for good reason as you stated above. I would prefer to think of it as "high expectations". It is difficult for Americans to be the best in every sport but our expectations are bringing us pretty close.

    Distance running is a bit of an exception to the rule of most American sports where hard work, team play and the classically physically dominant athlete (American stereotype - stong and fast) win out. As stated above we don't have the numbers the East African countries have of the physically "ideal" distance runner.

    However, I do think we should be able to have more milers at the Elite level as larger stature athletes can succeed at this distance (John Walker, Steve Scott, Ovett etc.).

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

    >If we scientifically screened all 280 million
    >Americans, it is unlikely that we would come up
    >with a pool of talent to match what would be
    >found in Kenya alone.

    Hey, they KENYANS aren't any better than the rest of the world, if you eliminate the Kalenjin. It's one tribe within the broader nation that dominates everything. They're only good at one sport -- distance running.

    But we arrogant Americans assume that we should dominate the world in EVERY sport. We're the best at baseball, basketball, football, tennis, golf, sprints/hurdles/jumps, NASCAR, figure skating, swimming, triathlon; the soccer people talk about winning the World Cup (and already dominate the women's side). We're #2 at ice hockey, and we sponsor the best team and individual in pro cycling. So we assume we should specialize in everything, which is simply not possible. Why should we have any chance against societies that put everything into just one sport?

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

    What sport do you think they are
    >going into? Football? Basketball? Guys who are
    >built for distance running don't have that many
    >options.

    Yeah, they do have lots of options at the high school level. Lots of potential distance runners play HS football, basketball and baseball -- they're generally only good enough to play at that level and quit competitive sports when they graduate. Check out your basic small high school's roster, and you will see lots of guys listed at 5'9"/140 lbs; endurance training can easily make them the 5'9"/125 lbs necessary for high-quality distance running. For example, Alan Webb had the speed and physique necessary to start at cornerback & WR for an mediocre small-town team; I'm willing to bet there are dozens more like him (smart, fast, hard-working and tough with good endurance) going through two-a-days right now.

    No, the pros at other sports can't be great distance runners. The guys the USA misses never even try distance running -- and it's not that they're afraid of hard work, but rather than they want some prestige for their efforts. Talking a 16-year-old boy into cross country is no easy mark, pal, especially if he's got any chance of playing regularly on even an awful football or basketball team. Prestige is terribly important to teenagers, and they definitely notice that the hottest chicks in the school cheer on the sidelines for some sports and not others.

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

    What will it take for U.S. runners to become more competitive with the East Africans? If we're talking distance running (not middle distance running as the original poster posited), then the answer is that we need to allow more athletes from Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, etc. to become American citizens. It's no coincidence that our AR holder at the 10k is Meb, or that Abdi is one of the top American distance runners. And it's not because they are "tougher" through circumcision rituals or some other rite of passage. It is because they have immense natural gifts and a dedicated work ethic. The posters who talk about a bigger talent pool in East Africa than we have here in the U.S. are correct. If we scientifically screened all 280 million Americans, it is unlikely that we would come up with a pool of talent to match what would be found in Kenya alone.

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

    even in the marathon rob de castella and derick clayton were big for marathoners, and herb lindsey was one of the top runners up to half marathon. (i dont know if he ever ran a marathon) i remember pictures of him running with craig virgin and others and he looked huge comparatively. east africans gain weight also if they let up on their training, didnt henry rono get well over 200 pounds after breaking records, then lost the weight and ran 13.06 for 5k breaking his own world record. i just dont think enough runners in the us have the work ethic anymore. look at how hard runners trained back then. bill rodgers ran 130 to 170 a week for well over a decade while racing almost every week. i believe he even won a ten miler on saturday after winning boston in 209 on monday one year, i read steve scott ran workouts like 20 times half,10 x mile, 40 x up a 200 meter hill. alberto salazar says he was always overtraining, yet he ran a world best marathon and 13.11 and 27.25 for the 5 and 10k when the records were i believe 13.08 and 27.22 was he overtrained and did it effect his prformance negatively? i dont know his training was probably excellent to achieve what he did. now a days i look at running magazines and the cover is always filled with articles on not overtraining, i think maybe the body can do more than the labs say it can.

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

    i think the size of americans 70% overweight hurts distance running, but also i read in 1983 we had over 200 sub 2.20 marathoners. we now have about 30 and dropping per year.so were not doing as good now. steve scott john walker, tom byers were big for distance runners. training and lifestyle and diet would get americans to the size of distance runners, i sometimes see former teammates from 20 years ago who were 120-150 pounds now everyone of them is close to 200 or more. another thing is when we do have a runner who runs a great time, holman, falcon and others they do not do it consistently or over as long a period of time as scott and runners from before.

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  • Guest's Avatar
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    Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

    >>>This isn't a race issue -- it's a
    >weight
    >issue!

    With 280+ million Americans,
    >you can find lots of people of any size and
    >shape. We've got plenty of jockeys -- the guys
    >built for running are out there. But they don't
    >choose running in overwhelming numbers.

    What sport do you think they are going into? Football? Basketball? Guys who are built for distance running don't have that many options. Usually they will find they have a talent for running in elementary or middle school and follow that talent into h.s. We do have plenty of good high school runners but they just don't improve much in college. Its either because they don't have as much talent as the Africans, the sytem is hurting them or a combination of the two.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

    >>This isn't a race issue -- it's a weight
    >issue!

    With 280+ million Americans, you can find lots of people of any size and shape. We've got plenty of jockeys -- the guys built for running are out there. But they don't choose running in overwhelming numbers.

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  • Guest's Avatar
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    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 . . .

    Exactly. In the US a kid built to run distance is very rare. In Kenya its the norm. The talent pool for distance runner in E. Africa is much larger. However, it is very unlikely that we will soon see a world class Ethiopian powerlifter.

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  • Guest's Avatar
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    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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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    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.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    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.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    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.

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    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".

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    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.

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