Old piece, but it actually is full of anecdotes on how sub-elites train. Guys under 2:40, women under 3:05. Main subject is Greg Cass, related to the Baltimore Ravens' GM at the time, Dick Cass. He's a 2:30 runner and it showcases his training cycle and how he went from 2:52 after picking up a book to reaching his potential at NYC and Boston.
Cass, 29, is a member of a mostly invisible and underappreciated group known as the sub-elites. They have more than respectable times — the men finishing in the 2:20 to 2:35 range, the women in the 2:50 to 3:05 range — but have no chance to win the biggest marathons and receive little attention and even less financial reward.
Still, they are superb athletes, and although they may lack the speed of the world’s best, they are not missing the drive, discipline or commitment. Many log 80, 90 or 100 miles a week in training while holding full-time jobs. Cass’s career is more notable because he did not run track in high school or college.
For some, the sub-elites are a throwback to distance running in the United States in the amateur era of the late 1960s and into the ’70s. There was a seriousness of purpose. Running fast was the goal, not simply maintaining health and fitness. Nearly every runner seemed to be working or attending school and trying to train for 70 to 100 miles a week, following the lead of Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers.