Stupid question maybe - just wondering.....

When I started running I struggled to get below 10 min mile pace. Through training and hard work I continue to improve. My most recent race was a 10 miler at 6:55 pace and I can hit 5:55 pace on short intervals. My question is how much more can I improve through training and how much is down to genetics and age etc? I presume if I train like a Kenyan for a few years I'll improve loads more but I won't hit a sub 2:04 marathon!

Just wondering really what peoples opinions are..... image
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Comments

  • Pretty much what you said Spoons - train more and you'll improve but you probably wont be able to train enough to hit a 2.04 marathon.

    The disagreement tends to come as to what kind of level most of us could reach if we had all the time and advice about training we wanted. Personally I think most young men could get sub 2.45 given unlimited time and support and the average would be inside 2.30 but it's guesswork really isn't it - someone elses opinion might be different and be just as likely to be right.

    edit - and probably more important than time and support they'd need motivation
  • If you've got predominantly fast twitch muscle fibres you probably won't be an elite marathon runner, but you can still train to the peak of your potential and be a decent distance runner. And if you've predominantly got slow twitch, you're never going to challenge Usain Bolt. And there are loads of other factors to consider too.

    So the way I'd look at it is this - genetics determines your potential, training determines how much you can tap into that potential, and both will impact your level of achievement.

  • Interesting point with natural sprinters training for distance. I know the cyclist track sprinter Dave LeGrys - former elite rider and current masters world champ you can google him - took up marathon running at one point and got down to 2.38 as a veteran - so nothing like elite but not too shabby given he wasn't a full time athlete and didn't have a background in distance running. I had a short discussion with him once via pm from a forum thread elsewhere and he reckoned that natural sprinters could have more success converting to distance athletes than vice versa - something to do with fast twitch fibres converting to slow twitch better but not the other way round.
  • I was under the impression that there's no interconversion between types of muscle fibre - you're born with your ration of each and that that's. You can train them, but not change between them. I could be wrong image

  • IIRC fast twitch fibres can and do take up the work of slow twitch fibres as and when the slow twitch ones become knackered, and this is part of the rationale for incorporating some speed work (i.e. actual speed work) in marathon training.  So the one way conversion does make sense.  It's probably on p4,365 of Noakes or something.

  • Also isn't there a third type of muscle fibre that can't make up its mind if its fast twitch or slow twitch, and basically adapts to be one or the other depending on what type of training you do?
  • Interesting re: muscle fibres. I'd never heard of the 3rd type....
  • popsider wrote (see)
    Interesting point with natural sprinters training for distance. I know the cyclist track sprinter Dave LeGrys - former elite rider and current masters world champ you can google him - took up marathon running at one point and got down to 2.38 as a veteran - so nothing like elite but not too shabby given he wasn't a full time athlete and didn't have a background in distance running. I had a short discussion with him once via pm from a forum thread elsewhere and he reckoned that natural sprinters could have more success converting to distance athletes than vice versa - something to do with fast twitch fibres converting to slow twitch better but not the other way round.

    But a top marathon runner could do 100m in 11 seconds, which is14% slower than the world record, 2:38 on the other hand, is some 22% slower than the marathon world record...

  • Bubblegum Boots wrote (see)

    But a top marathon runner could do 100m in 11 seconds

    Pull the other one!

    Here are some informative articles about the impact of training v genetics.

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

    Hopefully also helping disproving the bollocks written by a couple of recent authors on the topic.

  • Interesting articles Moraghan. So you need both genetics and training. Common sense really.

    So going back to my original point, if someone starts training at, say, age 40, doesn't have any background in running or exercise, and doesn't have the perfect genetics, how good could they be with the perfect training.

    I guess they could never actually train as hard as the elites as they would just get injured.

    Would a sub 3 hour marathon be in range for anybody who put the hours in?
  • Thie recent article on the subject is interesting http://www.sportsscientists.com/
  • As are the other two parts from the same people that I linked dibbers.
  • Oh, sorry Moraghan. I didn't look at your links first
  • A lot of school boys can run 100m in 11 secs...
  • I'm sceptical about that - 11 seconds is fast - unless by a lot you mean there are more than a handful nationally in which case maybe.
  • Checking power of 10 unless I'm reading it wrong last year there were 7 under 17s who ran inside 11 seconds in the UK - maybe a couple of under 15s too (not sure if they were counted twice) - so not that many.
  • Every school has about 5 boys that run faster than 11 seconds when timed by their teachers on unmeasured grass tracks.  Unfortunately in the real world sub 11 takes a lot of speed - more speed than the vast majority of top marathoners would have.

    dibbers - just joking, no problem.

     

  • Spoons. wrote (see)
     So going back to my original point, if someone starts training at, say, age 40, doesn't have any background in running or exercise, and doesn't have the perfect genetics, how good could they be with the perfect training. I guess they could never actually train as hard as the elites as they would just get injured. Would a sub 3 hour marathon be in range for anybody who put the hours in?

    I think if you have the correct mental attitude, life doesn't get in the way, you stay relatively uninjured, and you have the correct coaching then anything is possible. 

    Because everyone is different its impossible to predict what will be achieved but with all the correct measures in place you can get yourself in the best position to achieve great things.  Though maybe not the Olympics. image

  • Read Bounce by Mathew Sayed. He puts the case that it's largely down to training.
  • http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bounce-Myth-Talent-Power-Practice/dp/0007350546

    Worth a read.

    Written by someone who decided to put in the time and became a sporting elite, and then put in the time and wrote about how he and others did it.

    Unlike alot of those who bandy about words like "talent" "genetics"  "Kenyan this and Kenyan that" he has done the research and worked out the facts from fantasy.

    Elites have one thing in common which is a phenomanal work ethic. When your not running, practicing, training, they are. When you fall and give up, they fall and fall and fall again, Then succeed.

    A Kenyan elite runner growing up in the country has more incommon with Seb Coe than he does with his Kenyan relative in Nairobi who cant be arsed to even walk to the shops and drives everywhere.

    That runner will also have put in the hours running to school everyday which his younger brother never had to because by then a school had been built nearby.

    So guess which one is more likely to find out by his own actions he liked running, when not only can he run to school but he gets medals and praise when he wins races for his school?

    ...and dont even ask about how the changes in training techniques in America and Europe that runners in Ethiopia and Kenya didn't take on meant that those East African runners florished while runners here and in the US didn't. Bascially if you want to run fast over a long distance you have to run fast over a long distance. Not run long and slow.Its no accident that the decline in American long distance came around during the 70's when the jogging boom came which was all about running long and slow. Some like Salazar rejected this credo but it still infected Western running

    Now the advantage the East Africans have is enormous.

    Why?

    They think they have one

    You dont need a genetic advantage if you think you can win to the extent you cannot even imagine defeat.

    Ask Daley

    Coe

    Ovette

    Salazar

    Bolt

    I recall back in the days of Michael Jordan reading  about how top white basket ball players would just laugh at the idea that they couldn't jump (remember that movie with Harrelson and Snipes?) and their black team mates would find it equally amusing because they all knew that that they were there through the same process. They saw a game that they liked the look of, practiced like they were possessed till they got good and stronger until they all found themselves playing ball. They had more incommon with each other than with they public that adored them and any genetic advantages would be simply freakish if they had not developed the skills to not look like a giraffe in shorts.

  • If genetics don't play much of a part why don't we see many prop forwards who are slim built and 5'8"? In fact go a step further - why no women who could play rugby for England ? These things are genetically determined so clearly it's not all down to training.

    I'm not being facetious - why should the only relevant genetic differences be ones that are immediately obvious to the eye. The stuff Moraghan links is useful in so far as it provides some scientific backing to what should be obvious anyway.
  • It has suddenly becomes fashionable to believe anyone can achieve X if they do Y in sport.  It's a comfortable notion which appeals to some weak-minded notion of fairness and to the fantasy that we're all created equal. Life's not like that and nearly everyone has limits that prevents them from achieving what they might like to matter how much dedication or how smart the training.

    It's like the Emperor's new clothes - all it will take is a 6 year old to stand up and point out that the fat, uncoordinated kid can never be a top tennis player, or the 6ft 10in man will never be an elite marathoner. 

    Then, after the current wave of people trying to sell books is cast ashore, we'll return to the compromise that everyone has always known and understood.  That success is down to a combination of natural capability, how 'inclined' that capability is to improve through practice / training and to how thoroughly you are willing to make that natural capability sweat - only one of which is within our control. 

    So forgive me if I am skeptical whilst the current fad of sensationalist authorship does the rounds.  Two years ago it was barefoot running and before that the Atkins diet. I still don't see any elites without shoes and the world is still getting fatter.

    To answer the OP's question more directly - at the very least sub 3 is within your medium term range I would think.

  • From what I've read, running is mainly genetics. How else do you account for the number of twins who; especially in schools, out perform the rest.
  • RicF wrote (see)
    From what I've read, running is mainly genetics. How else do you account for the number of twins who; especially in schools, out perform the rest.

    Is this true?  I have friends who are twins and they run and tri.  They are both fiercely competitive, one worse than the other, and like to do well but they are average at best.   Thinking of all the other twins I know, or have known, I can't think of any who have excelled more than a non-twin.

    Saying that, my son has twin brother and sister at his school and both are top class runners.  They are only 11 but wipe the board especially on xcountry. 

  • From what I've seen, running is mainly getting off your arse.  My daughter can beat the male twins in her class over any distance.

    But I think you've phrased your point incorrectly, Ric, and you meant to say that if one twin is 'talented' the other is too.

  • It's likely that twins will have the same upbringing and do the same training!
  • Well I have twins - one is very sporty, won the city schools xc race, played football for the FA academy, good at netball, cycling etc - the other does race bikes but often comes last and while he has good endurance as yet just doesn't have the power his twin sister has. They aren't identical (obviously) but they have had a very very similar upbringing. The genetic differences are obvious to anyone who, as Moraghan says, isn't trying to sell a book.
  • I think Moraghan should write a book.  It'd be like Noakes but with sardonic humour.
  • Don't understand your point at all RicF - I assume you're saying there may (or may not) be some evidence that if one identical twin performs well at a given sport the other one is more likely too as well. Don't know if there's any convincing evidence (beyond the anecdotal) for that in any case

    Clearly you'd need to look at twins who were separated early on and had different upbringings. There's loads of studies that have done this for all sorts of outcomes and I suspect their conclusions often contradict each other

  • If you read Bounce - he makes some very convincing cases.
    At one point half of the Top 10 for Table Tennis in the UK were from his club. Was this genetics ?

    He argues that it was because :

    A teacher at the local school was the UK coach and very keen to introduce kids into it
    The local table tennis club was open 24/7 so had unlimited practice time
    The competition in the area was stiff so you practiced more.
    Not many people play so its easier to be well ranked.

    (I think the story was something like that - my numbers may be a bit off - but that's the gist)

    As to the twins - maybe its the competition between them and you have a ready made pal to play with who is always round your house ?

    The story of the chess playing sisters is a good one too.
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