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Elite distance runners: rarely do well in master's .

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  • Elite distance runners: rarely do well in master's .

    Reading about Henry Rono finishing last in this recent meet reminds of a phenomena that I have noticed over the years: rarely are former elite distance runners the best runners in master's competitions. And I can think of at least a couple of reasons why.... any comment?

  • #2
    is it just that the body is worn out? and/or cumulative injuries, maybe since they have been the king of the mountain before they dont have the hunger to go all out mentally and physically to prove they can be good again?

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    • #3
      The good, but not great, runners have something to push themselves with. The elite runners have done their bit and not driven. In addition, a small percentage of runners are much better than their chronological age because of particulars of the aging and these do not correlate perfectly with what made a great runner earlier. The ability to avoid injuries differs with age as well as metabolic factors which are not identical in aging. It is also true that the high-level training wears out some body parts, as well.

      Finally, the benefits/cost ratio do not match the same (rewards versus effort, no $10,000 paydays) in masters-level competition.

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      • #4
        Good comments (above)...basically covered what I thought of and a bit more. One other observation I made: Frank Shorter was clearly a better elite runner than Bill Rogers, but Rogers kept competing in the masters arena whereas Frank kind of faded away. I feel like Frank's fade away began after he had back surgery...having had back surgery myself I know it can be the beginning of the end of pain free running.

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        • #5
          Re: Elite distance runners: rarely do well in master's .

          Originally posted by lovetorun
          Reading about Henry Rono finishing last in this recent meet reminds of a phenomena that I have noticed over the years: rarely are former elite distance runners the best runners in master's competitions. And I can think of at least a couple of reasons why.... any comment?

          I'm sure physical fatigue, as mentioned above, plays a big part for some.

          But a lot of athletes became good because of their genetics and their attitude. A big part of that attitude is the enjoyment of beating people and running fast. Genetically, everyone gets old. Attitude-wise, it's tough for competitors to be motivated when finishing back in the pack in times that are no longer an improvement.

          Most are ready by then to move on and enjoy the children/grandchildren, or at least, to put things like training further back on the list of priorities.

          And then there's that pesky needing to make a living thing...

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          • #6
            During the mid-80's in Gainesville, Fla, I had the privilege to hang out with, and occasionally train with, someone who doesn't fit the above posters' somber outlook of competitive Master's distance runners. His name was Barry Brown. After a successful elite career on the track, being one of the top US steeplechase runners, Barry "flourished" as a Master's runner, setting a US Master's marathon record of 2:15 (in the '85 Grandma's, I believe) and also succeeding over the shorter 10K/15K road distances. Barry injected a lot excitement into the Florida Track Club - which at the time was led by Gainesville native Keith Brantley - and the Gainesville running scene in general, with his charisma, humor, and sheer competiveness. Barry is still very much missed.

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            • #7
              i had heard barry browne committed suicide because he was no longer able to improve his times. (heard from teammates, i dont know if it is fact).

              while he was still an excellent masters runner, he apparently thought his life was worthless without being able to improve is very sad, but i am sure many athletes who dont kill themselves have some feelings of being worthless when the thing that they are most praised for, is now a thing they can no longer do at the level they once did. father time beats everybody eventually

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              • #8
                doug091463 - I am torn between saying "you are surely misinformed" and "what a bunch of BS." Either one is appropriate for your post, so I'll leave it at that.

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                • #9
                  See this article for more on Barry's death and his son's attempt to run a 4-minute mile.

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                  • #10
                    DecFan - thank you very much.

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