Born to Run

Is there anything to the belief that people can be born into something?
Look at the Olympics for example. How can one or two nations, poor nations at that, can be so dominant in one sport over nations that are superior in training, access to top tier support, and top nutrition. It is amazing to me to watch these countries fly by on marathons at 5:00 paces. How can any human run that fast, for so many miles, without faltering? And maybe it is the patriotic bones in me, and typical American biases, but HOW can we, as a leading nation, not be able to find ONE person who can compete on their level? It’s mind boggling to me.
With all of the struggles I have in running, if you asked me right now if I was “born to run” my first response would be “oh, not at all!”. But then I started thinking about things in my past and wonder … was I?
I am old …. oh I know not OLD old, but pushing 50 can be considered well into middle age (and if my family pattern holds on the male side I have about 19 years left) so I grew up in a very different time. In the summer we left the house at 8 and didn’t return until dark, and even then Mom had to yell from the front door numerous times before we decided to hear her (or until she sent Cherokee, our dog, to round us up). We went everywhere on bikes, or on foot, and that included hiking to downtown DeLand to hit the diner counter at McCrory’s or Woolworth’s, or if you had some extra money, maybe a bacon cheeseburger at Belly Busters. My friend Gary lived a good 5 miles from me and we would ride or run between houses every day as if it was nothing.
Fast forward to high school, I played defensive back and safety, and during the off season to stay in shape was on the track team and ran the 100 and 220 relay. My fastest time in the 100 was 10:30 (pretty fast for a skinny white boy in 1978). So there was a time when I was considered a runner. This was a time when American routinely won gold medals in tracks (and not just sprints and hurdles, but actual marathons). So what happened to us? Did we get slower? How did third world countries become so fast??
But the thing is I was NEVER a distance runner. Even back then if I was asked to run a mile, or God Forbid a marathon I would not have been able to do it. It’s still the same way now. As my teammates can attest, especially those that ride with me a lot (i.e. Jenny) I have a kick. If I am riding along at a comfortable 15-16 mph and need to “catch” someone ahead of me I can kick it into the 23-25 mph without much trouble. Even with a run, if I have been OK the whole distance and the finish line is in sight, I normally have no problem sprinting the final 100 meters. The problem is HOLDING that speed over any length of time. My bike has improved, where I can hold 17-18 on most days without much issue (and still be able to kick if needed), but my run? Well …. my RUN has gotten WORSE.
So, as silly as it sounds, was I built for speed? Or because of the sport I played did my muscles develop at a young age to be sprinter and not a distance person. Because of the positions I played in football, which require short quick bursts of speed, or track, which required maximum effort that I knew I only had to maintain for 10-20 seconds, did my fast twitch muscles just become more developed, and if that is so, can my body still be holding onto that development 32 years afterwards?
So, all of you runners out there, I am asking your opinion on this. Can you offer some insight? Let me add the fact that I KNOW some of my running issue, well MOST of my running issue, is still due to the weight I carry around. Even though I am much lighter than the 302 pounds I started at (currently hovering between 240-245) is there something else I can do to help me in my running (other than the obvious answer of “run more”).
I await your responses 🙂

One thought on “Born to Run

  • September 4, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    I swear the only thing that made me faster was running longer and slower. It took some time but after my first three marathons I saw a huge improvement. And as much as those tempo runs suck, I'd recommend them at least one a week.

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