I heard this great story on NPR about Jamaica’s sprinters. They were trying to discover why a little country like Jamaica has produced so many world class sprinters.
There were a number of theories suggested.
1. Coaching – Not really. The primary coach at the world class training facility in Jamaica was trained in America.
2. Diet – Sprinters in Jamaica eat a lot of yams and green bananas. But so do other countries who do not have such speedy runners.
3. Genetics – Nope. There is no key genetic sequence that differentiates the fastest sprinters from the slower ones.
4. Doping – Well, there isn’t any evidence of this.
5. Attitude – Perhaps. In Jamaica, sprinting is a national sport and gets lots of attention. The entire country follows the sport. From the time they are little kids, Jamaicans are brought up to love sprinting. This might explain it.
Of course, if it is just attitude that would suggest that anyone could become a faster sprinter than they are now. I have a hard time getting faster and it is probably the result of my attitude.
Running at an 8 min per mile pace feels comfortable. A 7 min pace feels a bit painful. A 6 min pace really hurts! If I had a stronger desire to be faster, I’d be able to run through that pain.
I just don’t and I’m ok with that.