Two universal truths of running:
1) Everyone thinks they succeed because they work hard and everyone who beats them is simply more talented.
2) No one ever works harder than they think they need to.
[You're more talented and lazier than you think.]
When I started running, my running heroes were Derek Ibbotson, the British miler of the late 1950's and Derek Clayton, the Australian marathoner of the late 1960's and early 1970's.
Early in his career, he broke the world record in the mile. He never ran close to that time again. When I saw the workouts he ran, my first thought was that he was exaggerating, because they were almost exactly what 3:46-3:49 milers run today. It's common to not just give one's best week as typical, but give the best example of each type of workout, even if one never would do them in the same week.
I now believe that he did the same thing I did. After running a very fast time, he started training like he thought someone that fast should train, leaving his best efforts in workouts, rather than in races.
Clayton's maximal oxygen uptake was measured at 69.7, which is typical of a 2:28 marathoner. What he lacked in pure aerobic ability, he made up for by being able to run 5 minute miles indefinitely with no real effort, which came from his high mileage. He was criticized for never winning a "big" race, like the Olympic marathon, because he didn't ever really peak.
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