edward teach wrote:
Olympic Silver 2004
NY win 2009 - thats one of the world marathon majors
Won US trials 2012
Olympic 4th 2012
Boston win 2014 another major
It seems to me Meb has been consistently near the top of the world for 13 years, not 2! His marathon pr came 13 years after his 10,000 pr. Even if you want to argue that Meb had two peaks, his first was 3 years long and his second has been 5 years so far! So did he have 3 peaks? 4 peaks? At what point, can we admit an athlete can be at the top of their fitness for longer than 2 years?
Here is another case: Geofrey Mutai
His first major international performances were in 2008 and 5 years later he's winning some of the world's major marathons, still turning in world class times 2 years after that.
So I'll kill the its just the East Africans myth now.
Toshihiko Seko won Fukuoka in 78 and Boston in 87, winning major marathons most years between. Longer than 2 years at the top of the world!
Martin Fiz of Spain won worlds in 1995 and Lake Biwa in 2000, with a 6th place finish at the Olympics. His pr came in 2000, 5 years after he was among the top in the world. Longer than 2 years!
AndrÃ©s Espinosa of Mexico won NY in 1993 but was still fast enough to place 4th in Berlin, only a minute slower than his pr from Boston in 1994, a decade later.
I have shattered the myth that runners have a limited time at the top. While the human body does wear out, its quite possible for a top runner to be world ranked in the marathon or 10,000 every year for over a decade. Perhaps some bodies wear out faster than others, but my hypothesis is what we're seeing from Hall and Webb is some sort of fatigue they don't know how to get out of.
I suspsect Hall, Webb, and Salazar are all seperate cases.
My guess is Webb wore himself out doing mad intervals on the track. At some point he just couldn't replicate the quantity and intensity of his training. That damages the psych. I honestly believe that if he would experiment with long distance road racing, he could return to the top of American athletics. Alan Webb has taken up the triathlon and already had some decent results. My guess is we'll see him near the top of that in a couple years.
Hall has testosterone problems, which could perhaps be corrected. I don't know what he can do at this point. If he'd gone back to the track I think he could have continued at a high level, later returning to the marathon. Hall doesn't seem to like things like 12x1k, 8 x mile though.
Salazar suffered from heavy depression which kept him from training well. I think after his Comrades win he could have returned to the marathon or done well at other road ultras, but he felt he had nothing left to prove. I have an alternate hypothesis, but we don't know if Salazar was truly clean and never will, so we'll just go with the one that says he was clean, because that's what drug tests have shown.
You have to change stimuli over time, give the human body new training to adapt to, then go back to previous training after a while and try to do it faster. There is periodization and longer term cycles of multiple competition cycles, but the human body doesn't wear out. This is bunk science like doctors saying mankind had a limited number of heart beats.
Well, you showed me! Dang, those five examples sure did disprove my hypothesis! Good thing you pointed out that Webb, Hall, and Salazar were exceptions to the rule.
Oh, and Alan Webb has NOT been putting up decent results in triathlon. He is getting smoked at anything over the continental level.
I agree with the other posts; it is mostly attributed to adrenal gland failure. They work too hard, stress the adrenal gland too much, and can't recover as well as they used to.
Also; there seems to be a strong momentum component to success from both a mental and physical standpoint. My hypothesis is that people go on a competitive tear for a few years, then they over stress their body, get injured, and the momentum stops. I don't have scientific background for this, because this is my own personal hypothesis. I have never claimed it to be more than that.
I have always thought that Solinsky and Mottram fit this rather well, besides webb, hall, and salazar