East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest of th


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East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest of th

Postby Guest » Sun Aug 10, 2003 8:30 pm

I want to pose a question to all middle distance running enthusiasts. What will it take for U.S. Middle Distance Runners to become more competitive with the East African Nations in the middle distance races from 3000 meters up. I know East African Middle Distance Runners hold world records at 3,000, 5,000 & 10,000 meters. American men have not won a distance race in the Olympics since 1972, when Frank Shorter was first in the marathon. The drought is even longer in the 1,500 ( an American last won in 1908), the 5,000(1964) and the 10,000(1964). No American man has won the NYC Marathon since Alberto Salazar captured it in 82' & the dry spell in the Boston Marathon extends from 1983. In the 5,000 meters, the only American to ever come close to competing w/the the Kenyans & Ethiopians was Bob Kennedy wo was the only American to have broken 13 minutes for 5,000 meters. I saw at the 2003 World Youth Championships the young American 3,000 meter runner from Oregon, Galen Rupp who is a wonderful young middle distance runner to wtach for in the future was 150 meters behind the Kenyan, Augustine Choge. What will it take for American Middle distance runners to close the gap on the East African Runners? Will the US. Middle distance runners ever catch up????
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Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

Postby Guest » Mon Aug 11, 2003 5:23 am

Distance running will have to be percieved as a patriotic test of manhood, as it is in the Rift Valley and Ethiopia. Only then will the sport get wide respect and thus attract those athletes with the qualities required for success. Due to a number of factors all acting simultaniously, this was somewhat true in the USA from about 1963 to 1980 or so, and the results speak for themselves. 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.

The 4th edition of Dr. Tim Noakes' classic "Lore of Running" quotes a statistical analysis of US male runners vs their Kalenjin counterparts. It says that a male Kalenjin runner is 2200 times as likely to win an OG/WC medal as an American one. My take on the issue is that it's 2200 times as likely for a highly talented and motivated individual living in the Rift Valley to choose distance running as it is for an American. Americans have a broad variety of choices for applying their efforts; some great undiscovered running talents in the US might be "wasting" their time in medical school right now!
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Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

Postby Guest » Mon Aug 11, 2003 6:59 am

Many American distance runners have to work other jobs just to make ends meat. In many respects distance running for these individuals is another part-time job. In short distance running in this country is treated like a second-class sport.

Many think that the slow tactical races in this country have also contributed to slower times in events like the 1500-meter and the 5000-meter run. When someone wins the US championship 1500 meters in 3:43 how are they suppose to then run a 3:33 or under at the world championships. It seems today US distance runners are trained to win slow tactical US races. The only international event these runners can medal in is the Pan American games. I have not seen the results of this past Pan American games 1500 meter run but I assume an American finished in the top three with a time of around 3:43. That time will not be good enough against the world's elite.
At least past US milers like Steve Scott, Jim Spivey, and Joe Falcon knew how to qualify with relatively fast times. That is something today's US milers have forgotten how to do.

It has now been twelve years since an American (Joe Falcon) has broken a 3:50 mile. As the Africans get faster the Americans are actually getting slower.
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Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

Postby gh » Mon Aug 11, 2003 8:05 am

> 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!"

(enjoy your breakfasts :-) )
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Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

Postby Guest » Mon Aug 11, 2003 9:42 am

If Webb becomes at least as good as Spivey I will be thrilled. What a horrible year for Webb.
Unlike Ryan Hall at least Webb is still on the radar screen.

There seems to be a new phenomenon in US distance running. We see great high school talent that evaporates on the pro circuit.

There is something very wrong with US distance running. Unfortunately, nobody cares so nothing will change.
Ditto, for the current crop of UK distance runners. They are not much better.
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Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

Postby trackstar » Mon Aug 11, 2003 10:02 am

> 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!"

Ow. Now I'm going to have to sit with my legs crossed for the rest of the day. Of course, some of the mothers who read this board might have a word or two to add about child birth.
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Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

Postby Guest » Mon Aug 11, 2003 10:10 am

Wait'll the next time you try to pee and the little fella slips back in your pants and hides!
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Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

Postby Guest » Mon Aug 11, 2003 10:28 am

THE ONLY WAY TO CATCH UP WITH EAST AFRICAN MIDDLE DISTANCE RUNNING IS TO "SELL OUT".I USED TO BE A MIDDLE DISTANCE RUNNER AND I LOOK BACK AND FINALLY REALIZE THAT I DIDN'T COMPLETLY "SELL OUT". WHAT I MEAN IS I HAD "HEART" AS I WOULD HEAR COACHES AND FANS OF THE SPORT WOULD SAY, BUT I DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH "HEART". I'VE REALIZED NOW THAT WHAT YOU PUT YOUR "HEART" INTO, THAT'S WHAT YOU GET OUT OF IT. YES, THEIR ELEVATION IS HIGHER, BUT IN THE STATES THEIR IS ELEVATED PLACES ALSO. THEREFOR GO WHERE YOU CAN GET BETTER(NO EXCUSE). THE MAIN THING IS THAT THE EAST AFRICAN MIDDLE DISTANCE RUNNERS ARE MORE DEDICATED IN THEIR HEARTS THAN THE REST OF THE WORLD. FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD, SELL OUT AND DEDICATE YOURSELF IN YOUR HEART 100%. WHAT IF THE EAST AFRICAN MIDDLE DISTANCE RUNNERS WERE ONLY PUTTING 90% OF THEIR HEART INTO IT. WE COULD ONLY IMAGINE IF THEY PUT IN THE OTHER 10% OF HEART
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Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

Postby Guest » Mon Aug 11, 2003 10:41 am

there's no need to yell
Guest
 

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

Postby Guest » Mon Aug 11, 2003 1:03 pm

Yeah, what happened to British distance runners.


Webb is still alive. The situation is not serious. He is just a talented disappointment so far.
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Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

Postby Guest » Mon Aug 11, 2003 2:04 pm

>Distance running will have to be percieved as a
>patriotic test of manhood, as it is in the Rift
>Valley and Ethiopia. Only then will the sport
>get wide respect and thus attract those athletes
>with the qualities required for success. Due to
>a number of factors all acting simultaniously,
>this was somewhat true in the USA from about 1963
>to 1980 or so, and the results speak for
>themselves. 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.

The 4th edition of Dr. Tim
>Noakes' classic "Lore of Running" quotes a
>statistical analysis of US male runners vs their
>Kalenjin counterparts. It says that a male
>Kalenjin runner is 2200 times as likely to win an
>OG/WC medal as an American one. My take on the
>issue is that it's 2200 times as likely for a
>highly talented and motivated individual living
>in the Rift Valley to choose distance running as
>it is for an American. Americans have a broad
>variety of choices for applying their efforts;
>some great undiscovered running talents in the US
>might be "wasting" their time in medical school
>right now!

I don't buy either of your theories. Americans try plenty hard. In some cases too hard. Injury resulting from overtraining ends many talented American distance running careers. I don't think you can tell Goucher, Lunn, Stember that the reason they aren't as good is because they don't train as hard. Not true. Its more simple and maybe harder to swallow - they simply aren't as gifted. I've seen many high school runners pass out at the end of a cross country meet (you can't tolerate any more pain than that the body doesn't allow it).

East Africans have numbers. Numbers of individuals built for the sport. We are not losing our talented distace runners to football. Football players can't be distance runners. We may be losing a few athletes to baseball and soccer but often those who find they run well and have the psychological components for distance running gravitate towards the track anyway.

The U.S. does have talent (not in the great numbers as the Kenyans and Ethiopians), but it does have some very good kids coming out of high school. What happens during the next four years needs to be addressed. Too much racing for points and too many competitive seasons ultimately burns through the talent - those making it through the college gauntlet often have to discover what it means to race only 2-3 races a month to save the legs for the important meets instead of running 2-3 races in one meet (not to mention heats).
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Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

Postby Guest » Mon Aug 11, 2003 2:05 pm

I think a big factor is that distance running is a way to improve one's life considerably. It's a way to break out of the normal life of most east africans. So there's additional motivation involved. It would be nice to see a comparison of how African nations dominate distance running as compared to how the Flying Finns used to dominat way back in the day.
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Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

Postby Guest » Mon Aug 11, 2003 2:25 pm

I think Cyril nailed it.
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Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

Postby Django » Mon Aug 11, 2003 8:22 pm

I think that, now more than ever, anyone hoping to do well in distance events has to dedicate himself to many years of hard training, and has to endure some years (Alan Webb/Gabe) when everything goes wrong after all those hours of hard training in all sorts of weather. The runner's life comes to revolve around the early morning workout and the afternoon workout.
Currently, in this country, if a runner puts in all those hours of pain and eventually improves and reaches the top, his race won't even be shown on TV even if he runs a very fast time, and there probably won't even be a mention in the newspapers, except in the fine print.
So... if the very best US distance runners are absolutely unknown to the general public, why should some young kid feel inspired to become a distance runner? And, if he does achieve some success, and then has a bad year, the few hundred people in the entire country who do recognize his name post a lot of negative comments on this board.
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Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

Postby Guest » Mon Aug 11, 2003 9:08 pm

WAY I SEE IT, the biggest difference between American and African runners is basic speed- their 1500m runners have world-class 800m speed, their 5K runners have world-class 1500m speed, etc. Most of our 1500m runners don't even have world-class 5K speed. Bob Kennedy should have been a marathoner.
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Re: East African Middle Distance Running and then the rest o

Postby Guest » Tue Aug 12, 2003 4:53 am

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

Postby gh » Tue Aug 12, 2003 5:38 am

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

Postby Guest » Tue Aug 12, 2003 5:38 am

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

Postby Guest » Tue Aug 12, 2003 6:11 am

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

Postby Guest » Tue Aug 12, 2003 6:24 am

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

Postby Guest » Tue Aug 12, 2003 8:18 am

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

Postby Guest » Tue Aug 12, 2003 10:13 am

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

Postby Guest » Tue Aug 12, 2003 2:52 pm

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

Postby tafnut » Tue Aug 12, 2003 2:59 pm

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

Postby Guest » Tue Aug 12, 2003 5:38 pm

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

Postby Guest » Wed Aug 13, 2003 10:30 am

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

Postby Guest » Wed Aug 13, 2003 10:55 am

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

Postby Guest » Wed Aug 13, 2003 11:09 am

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

Postby Guest » Wed Aug 13, 2003 11:15 am

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

Postby Guest » Wed Aug 13, 2003 12:32 pm

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

Postby Guest » Wed Aug 13, 2003 2:02 pm

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

Postby Guest » Thu Aug 14, 2003 4:10 am

>>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.
Guest
 

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

Postby Guest » Thu Aug 14, 2003 5:56 am

>>>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.
Guest
 

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

Postby Guest » Sun Aug 17, 2003 5:21 pm

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

Postby Guest » Sun Aug 17, 2003 5:56 pm

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

Postby Guest » Sun Aug 17, 2003 9:22 pm

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

Postby Guest » Mon Aug 18, 2003 4:56 am

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

Postby Guest » Mon Aug 18, 2003 5:08 am

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

Postby Guest » Mon Aug 18, 2003 7:04 am

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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