Now that the women's wr has dipped under 2:12 we have to take a hard look at US men's marathoning and ask what is wrong? Why can't the US get a large number of men that can run under 2:10? Yes the new world record holder wore the latest version of super shoes, but so are US men who are all struggling to run sub 2:10.
So what has to happen to get US men's marathon running out of its current sad state?
We are still clinging to training methodologies from the 1960s and 1970s. Weekly long runs at slow paces, speed workouts geared towards shorter distances rather than marathon specific pacing, waiting too long to give the marathon a go, etc.
Everyone else has moved on. We are still treating Lydiard as a be all, end all approach.
Pretty sure that’s how Frank Shorter trained. High mileage, a mostly easy long run, sometimes a pick-up the last 10 miles. Short speed workout during the week. He won Olympic gold and, give him super shoes, he would easily be a sub-2:10 guy.
In the US, everyone tries to train as little as possible to make the most incremental gains as possible rather than just training to run close to elite times.
2:12 guys think, how can I change my training the slightest bit so I can be a 2:11:45 guy? Outside of America, everyone knows that you need to be sub-2:05 to be relevant, so they don’t mess around with those minor drops in time.
It’s the same as how it was in the early 00s in the 5000m. We could not get any of our guys to run sub-13:20 because they were so obsessed with running 13:19.99. Now we have guys running 30 seconds faster.
A) America is still one of the top players on the international marathon scene. Far from number one, but still one of the better marathon nations after East Africa and Japan. Yes, we are under performing based on our resources and population, but we're not a bottom tier marathon country either. It's namely cultural. The marathon will never be considered a ticket out of poverty here, and we don't have an Ekiden culture like Japan, etc.
B) Apparently there's not really a super attractive group for top level American marathon talent out of college. After NAZ lost Fauble and co., I thought they'd go out and grab some top upcoming Americans to go marathon specific. Instead, they've been signing international runners. Not really sure if it's because they can't attract top American talent, or if it's because they don't think Americans are fastest enough to rep the brand effectively.
It’s because this topic has already been discussed ad nauseam here. The simple answer is twofold: 1) our best guys prefer to run shorter distances on the track. 2) there isn’t enough financial support for the collegians in the 13:30-13:45 5K range who might be able to blossom into solid marathoners to stay in the sport after they graduate.
We need a couple of million people all living at a subsistence level at altitude who all know that their best chance at a better life will come from being a world class distance runner, and a culture that treats our successful athletes as national heroes.