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  • Greatest Miler

    With the 50th anniversary of the first sub-4 minute mile a couple of weeks away, I would like to nominate Jim Ryun as the greatest miling talent ever. Jim ran 3min 51sec at 19. But, had he stayed healthy, what would he have run? I would reckon that every great miler of the past 25 years has improved his mile times by 5+ sec from the age of 19. If Ryun had followed that expected development he would have run 3min 46sec in the 1960s! Ryun's reputation suffered because of his defeat my Keino in Mexico. But would Elliot or Snell have beaten Keino at altitude! NO!

  • #2
    Re: Greatest Miler

    ..

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    • #3
      Re: Greatest Miler

      For endless debate on htis subject (Ryun vs. Keino at the end) check out this monster thread of last year:

      http://65.110.36.121/tfn/discussion/vie ... sage=19663

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      • #4
        Re: Greatest Miler

        >For endless debate on htis subject (Ryun vs. Keino at the end) check out this
        >monster thread of last
        >year:

        http://65.110.36.121/tfn/discussion/vie ... read=154&m
        >ssage=19663

        this is very interesting - i missed that one !

        fortunately,never too late !

        i did some estimates a while back, of ryun's potential based on his 3'33.1 - i assumed that the race was run out as near flat out as possible,but buried in that thread,it states his last 3 laps were run in 2'46 (can someone double-check this is correct) after a slow first lap.

        well,i've got a little mathematical trick which is pretty accurate at converting uneven pace races into ones run more evenly

        the figure i get for ryun's race run more-or-less even pace from gun to tape, comes out as

        3'28.8 !!!

        (someone better check that "last 3 laps in 2'46" quote, because 3'28 can't be right !?)

        now,if this figure is correct, we can combine with an estimate for his 400m ability at the time
        of 47 - 48

        3'28.8 / 47 -> 1'43.1, 2'12.5, 3'45.8

        3'28.8 / 48 -> 1'44.0, 2'13.3, 3'45.6

        look, this is all based on the description of his 1500 WR race, which needs to be verified ( i'm not sure i believe it - if it's incorrect, i'll do some news estimates)

        however, if it's true, ryun was capable of

        mid - 1'43

        high - 2'12

        high - 3'28

        mid - 3'45

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        • #5
          Re: Greatest Miler

          Oh yes, Ryun's last 1200 was flying: 2:46.6 (last 1000 in 2:18.6, last 800 in 1:50.5, last 400 in 53.3). We're talking about really devastating long speed. And most of us have no doubt that this 3:33.1 was by no means the limit of his ability: it was a very hot day, a dusty cinder track, and he ran the last 300 or so by himself. "Great" doesn't begin to describe it...

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          • #6
            Re: Greatest Miler

            >Oh yes, Ryun's last 1200 was flying: 2:46.6 (last 1000 in 2:18.6, last 800 in
            >1:50.5, last 400 in 53.3). We're talking about really devastating long speed.
            >And most of us have no doubt that this 3:33.1 was by no means the limit of his
            >ability: it was a very hot day, a dusty cinder track, and he ran the last 300
            >or so by himself. "Great" doesn't begin to describe it...

            i'll see later if his estimates change much with these accurate splits

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            • #7
              Re: Greatest Miler

              Ryun gets my vote for greatest mile talent of all time. Absolutely his ability to handle work load was nothing short of freakish.

              <<<I would reckon that every great miler of the past 25 years has improved his mile times by 5+ sec from the age of 19.>>>>

              But none of the other great milers had done as much work as Ryun had by the time they were 19. Sure Ryun might well have improved under different circumstances but I would not expect as much improvements as ther miling greats post 19 yrs old.

              As good as Ryun and Snell and Elliot and El G and Morcelli are/were, I still would wager that you could have but any or all of them at their best into the 1984 Olympic Final and Coe still wins that race.

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              • #8
                Re: Greatest Miler

                But none of the other great milers had done as much
                >work as Ryun had by the time they were 19.

                That is also the argument that works against Webb because of all the aerobic work he did as a swimmer when he was younger.

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                • #9
                  Re: Greatest Miler

                  well,with a last 3 laps run in 2'46.6, i get an estimate for him of running that race evenly of

                  3'29.3

                  so, with 47s 400:

                  3'29.3 / 47 -> 1'43.2, 2'12.8, 3'46.4

                  & with 48s:

                  3'29.3 / 48 -> 1'44.2, 2'13.5, 3'46.2

                  so, based on that more accurate split of 2'46.6, he was capable of running

                  mid - 1'43

                  low - 2'13

                  low - 3'29

                  low - 3'46

                  as to this argument about potential in his mid-20's etc, this is a red-herring - i'm saying that these times were possible ON THE DAY that he ran 3'33.1, i.e. when he was 20y old - i'm not concerned about what he could have done 5 or 10y later

                  consider also the fact that this was run on a cinder track & I think you have a very strong argument for the greatest miling talent in history ( how much would you take-off these times if he'd run them on a synthetic track ?)

                  also consider what are the fastest 800m/1k/1500/1 mile times ever run by a 20y old ?

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                  • #10
                    Re: Greatest Miler

                    Had Ryun stayed healthy?
                    The only physical ailment I remember were mono before '68 and allergies. The bigger problem was mental burnout. Quitting the sport for a while, then coming back in '72. Was this brought on by the high percentage of anaerobic training? Or the fact that he was such an introvert shoved into the spotlight?
                    Also think the 3:29.3 "potential" time is a little generous, as it drops 4 secs from best, and is basically a 56 first lap followed by his 2:46.6.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Greatest Miler

                      >Had Ryun stayed healthy? The only physical ailment I remember were mono before '68 and allergies. The bigger problem was mental burnout. <

                      He was never the same after he got mono. From what I understand, it is not unusual for mono to have some lingering effects, although perhaps not enough to have a material affect on day-to-day activities not involving an attempt to push one's body to the extreme limits of the capacity of the human species.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Greatest Miler

                        >
                        Also think the 3:29.3 "potential" time is a
                        >little generous, as it drops 4 secs from best, and is basically a 56 first lap
                        >followed by his 2:46.6.

                        2'46.6 for 1200m based up to 1500m is 3'28.3

                        on that basis 3'29.3 looks OK to me

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                        • #13
                          Re: Greatest Miler

                          >>He was
                          >never the same after he got mono. From what I understand, it is not unusual
                          >for mono to have some lingering effects, although perhaps not enough to have a
                          >material affect on day-to-day activities not involving an attempt to push one's
                          >body to the extreme limits of the capacity of the human species.

                          this is basically what we describe nowdays as chronic fatigue syndrome/ chronic post-viral fatigue/ myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) - it's effects can last anything from few months to a lifetime.
                          it's just that in the '60's there was no such diagnosis - it's only really been accepted in the past 20y or so

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                          • #14
                            Re: Greatest Miler

                            >Had Ryun stayed healthy?
                            The only physical ailment I remember were mono before
                            >'68 and allergies. The bigger problem was mental burnout. Quitting the sport
                            >for a while, then coming back in '72. Was this brought on by the high
                            >percentage of anaerobic training? Or the fact that he was such an introvert
                            >shoved into the spotlight?
                            Also think the 3:29.3 "potential" time is a
                            >little generous, as it drops 4 secs from best, and is basically a 56 first lap
                            >followed by his 2:46.6.

                            Generous? Hah. If anything, Ryun is being undercut a bit with these estimates. He was running on dirt and cinders, with a training program that could be called primitive or overkill, and not using drugs that no doubt many are using these days. He was very likely equal to any top runner in the middle distances today. Potentially of course. Ryun no doubt had 46 440 speed, as his coach said, if Ryun actually trained for the quarter, for speed, he would be close to 46 flat. He did run a 46.9 relay leg after a 3:55 mile.

                            Yes, Ryun's symptoms matched those of chronic fatigue. He was never quite right after the mono, never really the same when he came back. He certainly wasn't as strong, when he should have been stronger in his early to mid twenties. Put a guy with Ryun's physiological make up on the track today with modern training etc. and you'd still have a world beater. That's without drugs.

                            Jack Daniels' info on Ryun's physiology is interesting. Ryun's resting heart rate was 68 - 72 bpm, and his max hr around 170. He must have been the most, or one of the most efficient runners ever in terms of getting oxygen to his muscles, and in utilizing that oxygen.

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