Rise/decline in US marathoning, 1 possible solution

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Evets Sberk 14 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #1293

    Evets Sberk
    Member

    Ok so this post is a couple of days early but I`m just about to ge on the plane to head east and then finish spring break with the Shamrock Marathon 😀

    As mentioned last time American marathoning is in the dumper for lots of reasons but certainly one is lack of adequate athletes willing to do the work in an unappreciated sport. There is, however, another issue related to producing athletes in a sport that does not exist until after American’s exit college. How good would pro football players be if in highschool and college they only played “touch” or “flag” football? How good would baseball be if all we had through college was “T ball?”

    I honestly believe the half marathon and marathon should be NCAA college events!!! Insane? I think not! In my view the marathon would be a once yearly event held in the fall while the half would be a spring event. With regards to the marathon some nice synergy could occur with “pure” cross country runners. Each or any school could send runners up to a maximum of 3. The team with the lowest score wins. Many schools might only send one runner. Regardless this would be a way to begin the longer running mind set and develop the talent pool.

    Frankly for me the 10K cross country season was a waste of my talents, the distance was too short and required too much speed so I never got past life as a midpacker guy. Once I discovered marathoning was “my distance” (late in graduate school) then I had to figure out training on my own . Unfortunatley by the time I got it down….. too late, Im too old. I wish I had trained for my 1st marathon (Shamrock in 1988 as a 3rd year graduate student) the way I did for the coming Shamrock this next Saturday…..I could have smoked it! Pleeeeeease advance the marathon and half marathon training curve for Americans by introducing the sport earlier! Kenyans start younger, ?why shouldn’t we!!

    Next weak the potential health drawbacks to marathons/half marathons for college age folks!

  • #13793

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I’m not following you with this one. I think the distances of the races for high school and collegiate runners are just fine.

    There is, however, another issue related to producing athletes in a sport that does not exist until after American’s exit college. How good would pro football players be if in highschool and college they only played “touch” or “flag” football? How good would baseball be if all we had through college was “T ball?”

    Flawed analogy. Running is the sport. It’s just at a different level. You don’t see football players taking NFL type hits in high school and college, they have to build up to handling those hits. You don’t see baseball players trying to hit 100 mph fastballs in high school and college, they have to build up to that. Likewise, runners have to build up to the marathon. Master one level before trying to move on to the next.

    Frankly for me the 10K cross country season was a waste of my talents, the distance was too short and required too much speed so I never got past life as a midpacker guy.

    I could say the same for myself. However, this was a stepping stone. You can’t just jump right to the marathon and expect success. Master the shorter distances, then work up.

    Kenyans start younger, ?why shouldn’t we!!

    I can name one who didn’t. Paul Tergat, world record holder. Debut marathon: 2001 London at 31 years old. Here’s a non-Kenyan who didn’t: Paula Radcliffe, world record demolisher. Debut marathon: 2002 London at 28 years old. Both built up their abilities in the other distances before moving on to the marathon. If you look through the list of elite marathoners, American and international, present and past, you will notice that this is the common trend for elite marathoners.

  • #13794

    r-at-work
    Member

    the HS where my 16 year old son is running XC and track (in and outdoors) is lucky in their assistant coach, he’s been to Boston a bunch of times, still runs with the kids and except for the sprints he’s in the hunt… okay most of the team is not that good…

    anyway… one of the better senior girls asked if she could run the MCM after XC season… coach said, increase you long runs on Sunday(during XC season), do it easy and know that you’ll PR the next one… she ran a steady 10 minute pace, enjoyed the spectacle (also had her best XC season ever) and plans on doing another, after she finishes up Spring Track… she said she wouldn’t have even thought about it except she said she had a great role model…

    my kids ran 5Ks since they were 5, made them wait till they were 12 for the 10K (have to train a bit for that)… HS son has raced 5 mile/10K and done an easy 10 miler… I think by the time kids are Jr/Sr in HS they could easily run if not race a half…

    -r

  • #13795

    magpie
    Member

    Like Ryan, I find those attempted analogies to be quite poor. As for the proposed solution, and tying it to the NCAA, keep dreaming. In a time when scholarship and roster limits for T&F are as low as they are (for men, less than one scholarship per individual event, which excludes relays and multis) and when T&F/XC budgets and programs are being cut/dropped left and right, where would the money come from to fund these added events and what coach is going to devote any part of those rather limited scholarships to events like this and siphon points away from what could be achieved in the major running event in college, outdoor T&F? It is an interesting idea to start runners in the marathon at a younger age, but I feel safe in saying that it will/could never happen/work under the jurisdiction of the NCAA. Also, the Kenyans start ‘training’ at a much younger age than most Americans do, so that is where a large part of their advantage comes from and that is why they are ready for the marathon at a much younger age relative to Americans — simply racing Americans over the marathon at a drastically younger age is not the answer. Anyway, as it stands, the current system works well enough, all other factors considered — it would be an error to underestimate it as a development tool. That is not to say that it could not be improved upon, but that answer lies in a more radical step and not in something like this that tries to shoehorn itself into the constraints of the current collegiate system.

    Also, it would be a rare American junior runner who is ready to race a 1/2 marathon by the end of high school, let alone a marathon.

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