Why the Kenyans are so fast (Read 692 times)


Ostrich runner

     

     

     

    Oh, and they also don't overstride like you do either, which is why I can walk at 9MPH and you can't.

     

    Great, you're one race entry away from getting more paying students than you can handle.

    http://www.runningahead.com/groups/Indy/forum

       

      Kenyan runners get drug tested with higher frequency than others because everyone else is always squawking that it must be the only way they could win all the time.

       

      This is patently untrue.

       

      I really and truly admire your admiration for the Kenyan runners--honestly, I admire them too--but it's time to start separating unicorns from horses in this thread. Here are a few statements that people who are very familiar with the sport of distance running generally understand:

       

      1. This sport is very simple. Every single individual who has achieved great things in this sport has done so primarily through lots and lots of really hard work over a long period of time.

       

      2. However, talent matters. It really, really matters. Talent is a pre-requisite for #1 but--and here's the rub--you don't really know how much talent you have until you work really really hard for a long time.

       

      3. Some people cheat, and out of competition PED testing in track and field in general--and long distance running especially--is really weak. If you race infrequently, you can basically dope your ass off for most of the year as long as you stop enough time before a race, and nobody will ever know.

       

      4. There are genetic differences in populations that predispose certain groups to produce great athletes more frequently than others. It's unlikely to be a pure coincidence that every human being who has ever broken 10 seconds in the 100 meters in the history of the world was of West African descent or that only a handful of non-East Africans has ever broken 27 minutes for 10k or 13 minutes for 5k.

       

      5. Brother Colm O'Connell is a great coach and teacher. Even AP knows that. I admire him greatly but do you think that if he had set up his school in Mongolia, that area would currently be the epicenter of long distance running in the world? Great coaches need great athletes.

       

      Look, I appreciate the sentiment that "there is no secret" as much as the next guy. It's basically the axiom we runners agree to live by. But it has its limitations in explaining why, in any given year, a small area of Kenya that is home to .06% of the world's population produces something like 80% of all the sub 2:20 marathoners in the world. Without getting into the fact that that Google knows what you've searched for and linked to in the past, or what happens when you search for exact text, the notion that there is no secret has been around a long time and part of the reason why when John L. Parker included the paragraph about "what was the secret?" in a book published in 1978 it resonated so loudly with generations of runners--because it's universally understood. It's the ultimate explanation for any individual's success. It falls down when we start talking about population based data, however.

       

      As to why the Kenyans are so good, people either tend to fall in one end of the spectrum or the other. Either they shrug it off as a complete mystery, or they oversimplify it by attributing it all to one thing.

       

      When it comes to populations, the answer is more complex than that but not rocket science either. The answer to Kenyan dominance is not all due to:

       

      • a predisposition toward hard work;
      • a genetically homogeneous population of tiny-boned people, reared at elevation, and active from a young age;
      • a society that is peaceful and politically stable enough compared to many of its neighbors to allow people to pursue non-life-and-death activities like athletics, but still poor enough as to create serious economic incentive for doing so;
      • a national culture/industry of competitive distance running including great coaching, developmental programs, group training and previous generations of runners who became national heroes;
      • a stoicism that is ingrained culturally and religiously at a young age;
      • dope.

      It's not all due to any one of these. It is all of them, and more.

       

      I actually thought the NPR story that was linked to in the first page was a good one because it touches on the ambivalence that many knowledgeable fans feel toward this subject. We can't deny that genetic differences exist in populations, or that the economic incentives aren't the same for everyone, or that some people will cheat, or a bunch of other basic truths about our sport. But those aren't why we watch athletics. We want, if only for a moment, to put all of that aside and appreciate the accomplishments of athletes like Geoffey Mutai for what they are. We want to let a great performance by one great athlete lift all of us poor slobs up to a better place. We want to be inspired as human beings.

       

      Kenya has given us many heroes. I'm grateful for that. But I don't believe in unicorns.

      Runners run.

        Couldn't have said it better myself...I really mean that. I really could not say it better, no matter how hard I try. Is writing a talent?

         

        seriously though, Thank you for making point #2.

         

        One of the beauties of this sport though is; I may not have the talent but I can outwork the guy who does and sometimes I beat him. Maybe not a unicorn, but a zebra?

        GC100k


           It's unlikely to be a pure coincidence that every human being who has ever broken 10 seconds in the 100 meters in the history of the world was of West African descent 

           

          Actually, in recent years one eastern or southern African and one white guy, a french guy, have broken 10 seconds.  But that's it, 45 years and a couple hundred west africans and recently one white guy. Oh, and one white guy on the RW forum who was a soccer player in high school and ran under 10 seconds in the 100m one day after practice but didn't want to run track even thought they begged him to.

           

          But 'amen' to your whole post.

          GC100k


            5. Brother Colm O'Connell is a great coach and teacher. Even AP knows that. I admire him greatly but do you think that if he had set up his school in Mongolia, that area would currently be the epicenter of long distance running in the world? .

            What if he had Ma Junren's help?


            Options,Account, Forums

               

              Actually, in recent years one eastern or southern African and one white guy, a french guy, have broken 10 seconds.  But that's it, 45 years and a couple hundred west africans and recently one white guy. Oh, and one white guy on the RW forum who was a soccer player in high school and ran under 10 seconds in the 100m one day after practice but didn't want to run track even thought they begged him to.

               

              If we're gonna count him, what about all the letsrun guys, who have run under whatever Mikey gave for fast 5K & 10K times?

              It's a 5k. It hurt like hell...then I tried to pick it up. The end.


              Options,Account, Forums

                That was a great post. (Even better for making mention of me.)

                It's a 5k. It hurt like hell...then I tried to pick it up. The end.

                   

                  If we're gonna count him, what about all the letsrun guys, who have run under whatever Mikey gave for fast 5K & 10K times?

                  That 10 second guy was probably the Man from Nantucket when he was young and had leg speed.  Now, he's old and nerds to move up in distance to stay competitive.

                  There was a point in my life when I ran. Now, I just run.

                   

                  We are always running for the thrill of it

                  Always pushing up the hill, searching for the thrill of it

                     

                    If we're gonna count him, what about all the letsrun guys, who have run under whatever Mikey gave for fast 5K & 10K times?

                    MTA: Double post.

                    There was a point in my life when I ran. Now, I just run.

                     

                    We are always running for the thrill of it

                    Always pushing up the hill, searching for the thrill of it

                    GC100k


                       

                      If we're gonna count him, what about all the letsrun guys, who have run under whatever Mikey gave for fast 5K & 10K times?

                       

                      On a college football board for my local team, around NFL draft time we had a thread on what people in the forum could do.  Most guys had better bench press than the NFL prospects, several guys in their 30s and 40s had 40 times and vertical leaps competitive with the NFL prospects, and one guy had squatted 750 lbs in high school (would have been a world record for his age and weight).

                       

                      Clearly there is much untapped potential on athletic message boards.  Heck, we have an Olympic-level race-walker in this thread.


                      Options,Account, Forums

                         

                        On a college football board for my local team, around NFL draft time we had a thread on what people in the forum could do.  Most guys had better bench press than the NFL prospects, several guys in their 30s and 40s had 40 times and vertical leaps competitive with the NFL prospects, and one guy had squatted 750 lbs in high school (would have been a world record for his age and weight).

                         

                        So you play football with all the letsrun guys? That's cool.

                        It's a 5k. It hurt like hell...then I tried to pick it up. The end.

                        GC100k


                          So you play football with all the letsrun guys? That's cool.

                           

                          Oops, sorry.  I meant the football team we followed; I don't play on one.  I actually went out and measured my 40 time.  I think it was like 6 seconds.  The 10 second 100 guy also claimed to have run a 4.2 forty.  He gave his real name and where he lived (my old neighborhood, btw).

                          sport jester


                          Biomimeticist

                            Once again the thread is about everything but answering the question to why runners from a specific geographic place on earth are the best distance runners.

                             

                            And yet they're lousy sprinters.

                             

                            They also have absolutely no agility skill either. Where are their soccer teams on world stage levels?

                             

                            And the question that really needs to be answered isn't what makes them so good, but what will it take to beat them.

                             

                            Which of course is what none of this forum's regular posters will ever do....

                             

                            And why this is comic relief for me.

                            Experts said the world is flat

                            Experts said that man would never fly

                            Experts said we'd never go to the moon

                             

                            Name me one of those "experts"...

                             

                            History never remembers the name of experts; just the innovators who had the guts to challenge and prove the "experts" wrong

                            sbpbrent


                            Ludwig Classic Maple

                               

                              Oh, and one white guy on the RW forum who was a soccer player in high school and ran under 10 seconds in the 100m one day after practice but didn't want to run track even thought they begged him to.

                               

                               

                              Yes, I know that guy.  His name is Forest.

                              Marathon PR: 3:25:35 Fall Classic, 2014

                              1/2 Marathon PR: 1:35:59, Mt. Sneffels Half Marathon, 2014

                               

                              sport jester


                              Biomimeticist

                                 

                                Great, you're one race entry away from getting more paying students than you can handle.

                                That option was ruined one vehicle accident ago. At the time I was training for a spot on the US Olympic Rowing team since I was acknowledged to be a world record level on an indoor machine. However, being hit 40ft through the air (which doctors told me was impossible to survive) by a flying pick up truck destroyed my shoulder. Any running quickly becomes painful for me.

                                 

                                Otherwise I would have stayed with rowing instead.

                                 

                                I got into studying running biomechanics during my rehabilitation because of the shoulder and neck pain and went from there.

                                Experts said the world is flat

                                Experts said that man would never fly

                                Experts said we'd never go to the moon

                                 

                                Name me one of those "experts"...

                                 

                                History never remembers the name of experts; just the innovators who had the guts to challenge and prove the "experts" wrong