Yet, this fact of being a mediocre sprinter is one of the great things about endurance running. Most people are naturally too slow to be serious sprinters. While you can improve a little with training, the fact is that you are born fast, or not. Not much you can do about it.
While this is somewhat true for world class distance runners, the same mechanics do not apply to distance running as apply for sprinting. It is true that very few people possess the natural ability to be an Olympic level miler, 10 K runner or marathoner. However, the tens of thousands of people who could never run, even a twelve second 100 meter, no matter how hard they trained to be able to do so, can break a 4 hour marathon or even a 3 ½ hour marathon, or even faster, with simple, consistent training. In marathoning, 3:30:00 seems to be a barrier for many people. In any given larger marathon race, there are a host of individuals attempting to break 3:30:00. From 3:30:00 down to 3:00:00, the barrier points seem to increase in size dramatically. Very good runners are needed to break 3:15:00. Only a fairly elite group can break 3:00:00. But at 3:30:00, there are many thousands of runners capable of achieving this worthwhile goal.
This opens up an enormous area of potential running success and accomplishment for an entire world of cross over athletes as well as Johnny come lately runners. Many marathoners are people that did not do athletics in high school. Many capable marathoners, those in the 3:30:00 range, are people like me, who never ran more than two continuous miles before the age of thirty. Some highly accomplished marathoners did not even run start running until after age forty.
Okay, so I said that this was not a book about running. I meant it. Really. In fact, my contention is that running is not even about running. Running is just an excuse to accomplish something. Granted, there are many different levels of accomplishment. For some, it is getting out of the office. For others, losing a little winter fodder. Others find an enormous challenge in pursuing that great goal of finishing a marathon. But all of these have something other than running as the end in mind. Running is a tool. Since this is the case, I hope that what I have to say here can transfer into other areas of life that are important to you. Perhaps your area of interest or hobby provides some of the same aspects of focused vision, escape, mental or physical health, or accomplishment that running does for me. I trust you will see that what I am talking about here is life.