I would really like to see either Meb repeat or for Dathan to take it. I want to see them take it on American soil. Haile will be tough to beat, but if Meb runs like he did last year he could do it. Dathan has so much guts, I could really see him digging deep for a win.
I am very eager to see how Ritz does after his breakthroughs at 5,000, 10,000 and half-marathon last year. Those performances may or may not translate to a breakthrough in the marathon. Only way to know is to run the race. The potential is certainly there, but as always with that distance, the fuel issues are the wild card.
The marathon is a completely different metabolic beast than the other distances. Having a massive aerobic engine linked to a powerful, efficient neuromuscular transmission, all contained in a light frame and chassis, serves you well in every other distance, even if you only have a couple of gallons in the tank. But in the marathon, the size of gas tank, and how full that tank is, decides whether you roar across the finish line or sputter the last few miles and maybe even grind to halt on the side of the road. The half-marathon and marathon just ain’t in the same category.
And oh how I miss the days when this was covered live, start to finish, nationally on NBC.
You have way too low an opinion of world-class athletes. The “wanting it more” factor is way overblown, no more so than in a marathon. The issue on marathon race day is fuel (and the ability to conserve and process it), not “guts”. The guys who most would classify as having “guts” are usually the ones screaming down 1st avenue and running in reverse down Central Park South.
i’m not just talking about wanting it more, i mean plainly having balls. there is always a spot in a race where you just feel like ****, no matter what kind of shape you’re in. then it’s mental focus and drive that decides whether you take the easy way out or gut it out and ride through until that feeling goes away
ehh stogs i’m gonna have to disagree with you slightly on this one. at this level all of these guys have proven to have that mental edge when the race gets tough otherwise they never would have lasted this long in the sport. there are still those rare occurrences where a runner clearly pushes beyond anyone’s expectations, but i think those have more to do with some kind of edge physiologically than any “guts” the runner may have
There is no greater misperception among fans (and even less experienced athletes) about world-class athletes in general, and marathoners in particular, than this statement. It is widely held, seductive and inspirational. It’s also wrong.
The role of coaches of athletes at that level is more often reigning them in than pushing them. They’re already pre-wired to push through just about anything, and if not held in check, many will destroy themselves. That’s not to say that there aren’t varying levels of mental toughness among even world-class athletes; there is. But those varying levels decide the outcome of races far, far less often than the quality and, most importantly, consistency of training.
And in the marathon, it simply doesn’t matter how big your gonads are if you don’t have the fuel for the whole race. That’s like saying Dale, Jr. would win a NASCAR race even if his car runs out of gas because he’s mentally tougher than, say, Jeff Gordon or Danica Patrick. Mental toughness doesn’t put gas back in his tank, and out of gas is simply out of gas. Case closed, and race over.
i’m not sayin a strong mind is enough to get you through a race is you havent trained, i’m just saying that in the end when the top level elites are at nearly the same fitness the one with the stronger mental focus is probably the one who comes out on top
I would guess that 99% of the time, what you (stogs) are categorizing as “toughness” among elite runners is some combo of talent, consistency of training, and whatever other factors allow someone to have an “on” day when it matters. In short, folks look a whole lot tougher when they’re winning.
I’d also add that if mental toughness (for lack of a better word) is a major factor, it’s during training - the capacity to walk the fine line of training like a world class runner while not getting injured or being too cautious requires way more as far as “guts” are concerned than anything else.
Since we are talking about marathons, the volatility of marathon results contradicts this point. Nearly everyone is up and down while “strong mental focus” should remain fairly constant. Yet, there are numerous guys like James Kwambai, Deribe Merga and Duncan Kibet whose performances vary substantially. The fuel, the consistency, quality training, basically those “day” factors and the buildup all seem to be greater factors in a given athlete’s performance than his mental toughness/grit. Another misconception seems to be that a guy who can run a surprisingly good race soon after injury/sickness that constricts his training is exhibiting toughness. More likely this exhibits talent.
i think the issue with a lot of americans isn’t that they fold when it starts to hurt, but that they’re aren’t willing enough to risk failure/falling apart and they take themselves out of contention early on (think Ritz 10k in Berlin… maybe even Zurich 5k), so that a good race ends up just being a good negative split where he/she picks off some lead-packers who die off. but they were never in it to win it.
wheating seems to have undergone a big change in this sense just over the course of this summer… now talking about wanting to be on the shoulder of the world record holder. that’s an attitude that a lot of other elite US runners don’t have. they race like they belong in the second tier, and that’s where they end up. in a long race, it’s hard to bridge those gaps between packs.
especially after feeling like he was in over his head in england, i really hope ritz doesn’t run scared in nyc and let the leaders get away from him early.