|Me and my doctors discussing my "anterior pelvic tilt."|
The standard model for training is: you inprove rapidly for a while, no matter what you do, then you hit a plateau. To improve, you then have to do very hard work, very specific work and a huge volume of work. Then you hit a collapse point, where time constraints (family, career, etc.) and diminishing returns - and usually an injury - make performance drop precipitously. Lastly, there's a long slow decline due to aging.
The top masters haven't followed that pattern. A few talented runners always got by on talent and low mileage and they haven't slowed as much. Some ran on scholarships in college, then took decades off and then started up again. Others started running later in life or switched from other sports.When you suddenly throw 10,000,000 runners into a sport that used to have 10,000 there's going to be a number of supremely talented runners who race well on little or no training. Those who were big fish in a small pond are suddenly small fish in a big pond (again! where did I pick up these old sayings?!)
There's a bunch of us who now have a lot of miles behind us. I have over 85,000. Is there a limit to how much one can run in a lifetime and is there a limit to how many fast miles one can run? And why is it that the very methods we used to reach our peak are now keeping us from continued success? We look at those who beat us and say, "well, if they actually tried, they could be even faster, but they're just playing at the sport we take seriously." And those who are winning are satisfied with winning; they don't wonder how much better they could do, because they don't need to.
None of the old guard have ever made a comeback. I think it's because of damage from chronic overuse injuries. I have achilles tendinosis, hamstring tendinosis and a dozen other problems that come from overuse and poor injury treatment. I also think a comeback is possible - and I think that might be a good focus for a blog.