All due respect, Dogma, you are wrong. This is EXACTLY the kind of thinking Lydiard had fought for the last 50 years. Human physiological principles and fundamentals don't differ from black to white (or yellow?). And human physiological principles and fundamentals don't change over 100 years (may in 5 million years...). What was applicable and correct in 1950 still stands today. Most people get blinded with faster times of today that also leads to inferior complex against African runners. A huge part of today's records were supported by many factors such as fast track, better equipment, medical advancement, rabits, condition, competition, and money. You put someone like Dick Quax or Rod Dixon in the exactly the same situation, full-time training, medical treatment, fast track and equipment, and dangle money in front of their faces, they'll run 12:30 and up agaisnt Ethiopians and Kenyans--I have no doubt of that.
Also running fast over shorter distance, be it 800 or 5/10k, before you move up the longer distance has hampered so many young potentially great long(er) distance runners from becoming champions. 800m time has got NOTHING to do with running fast over 5/10k or marathon. Well, it helps. But it is your ability to maintain necessary speed over the racing distance (you may call it Speed Endurance) that enables you to perform well; namely your aerobic capacity; not your 800m time. You take 20 sub 2:10 marathon runners from Kenya and 20 sub 2:10 marathon runners from Japan; have them run a marathon (seprately would be better for research purpose) and have them run 800m. Just for the heck of it, have them run 10000m as well--you'll see the graph separate much further over the results for 800m. And all the training in the world will NOT make Japs run fast 800m. If this doesn't convince you that 800m time is irrelevant, I don't know what will.
Just because one or two athletes did really well over wider range of distances and they happened to be some of the best and most talked about runners; that does NOT mean that's the trend that should be. This kind of thinking is so dangerous for so many young asipring athletes who may not excell in shorter distances.
Nobby, your first paragraph, well excuse me but did I write that prompted you to post such a retort?
I think you must be completely misinterpreting what I am saying.
And how can you say that 800m pace has no bearing on longer distances. Yes we are all different, but we all start off running/racing each other over short distances. Can you remember when you were very young? Watch some kids playing, they do hours of short distance Fartlek - that's where the idea of Fartlek comes from.
We develop our pace mostly during the first 15 years or so of our lives, befor we start "training properly"
Runners such as Paula Radcliffe who appear to be weak over the short distances, are only weak in comparison to rivals such as Tirunesh Dibaba. Both runners have done a huge amount of middle distance pace work. They don't run 800m but their 800m pace is as well developed as it needs to be, from current and previous training.