The Problem & The Solution
The U.S. is very much an instant-gratification culture where the best talent is often burnt out at a young age, he says. Talent isn't so much nurtured and developed as it's exploited, marketed and capitalized upon. The values of sport have given way to those of entertainment. Coaches aren't rewarded so much for teaching or nurturing talent, but rather for more wins than losses or riding the coattails of genetically gifted individuals who survive the training they're subjected to, rather than being developed to their full potential.
"It's a relatively simple formula," says Snell. "Develop endurance as early as possible. Developing endurance is difficult and time consuming. Developing speed is a relatively short process with a fairly strong genetic component."
- excerpt and then quote from a Running Times feature on Peter Snell, the Kiwi 800/1,500 Olympic gold medallist, who 50 years ago today lowered the world record to 3:54.4 in the mile thanks to running 100 plus mile weeks and 22 mile long runs. A great read, particularly page 4 which slams the US college coaches for only recruiting, not developing talent.This was the QOTD from LetsRun.com.
The first part of the quote above is particularly relevant in the age of olympic funding which is driven by performance outcomes now, with little emphasis on appropriate athletic development over the long term.
The second part, developing endurance, in my experience rarely happens with young athletes. The emphasis is all about being fast in the short term, vs getting progressively stronger and better conditioned over time.
There are many gems from this article:
"I came to the conclusion that it was all about the conditioning,"
"long runs were beneficial because they caused the adaptation (training) of both slow-and fast-twitch fibers"
"Another valuable lesson Snell learned from Lydiard was that training, like science, takes time to get results; adaptation isn't an instant process. "
"Lydiard gave his athletes valuable advice on patience and peaking, telling them not to worry about results in the buildup phase of their training, that the real rewards would come in the spring and summer track season."
"Another thing Lydiard discovered was that high-intensity training was something one had to use sparingly and judiciously because it could as easily break down an athlete as build one to a peak. "
"Just because it's published or comes from an authoritative source doesn't make it gospel, he learned. You have to see if it works for you, Snell says; that's the essence of the training process. Science doesn't lead in this process, Snell adds, it follows. "
"But as Snell looks back on his experience, as well as the training and racing patterns of others, he concludes, "It's quite possible that the majority of top level athletes are overtrained." The drive for success, winning, that motivates top athletes and coaches plays into this potentially counterproductive behavior""Champions are everywhere, all you have to do is train them properly" A. Lydiard