It's a concept that makes us lazy. We could look at any discipline: cooking, cleaning, music, etc. How absurd does it sound to say "My house is not clean because I'm not a talented cleaner." Well, quite absurd, right?
But who doesn't look at certain runners and think, "Well, they're just more talented than I am and that's why they are so fast"? When I think of the fastest female runner I personally know, Piccola Pinecone, it is tempting for me to think, well, she is just way more talented than me and that is why she has run a 2:54 marathon. But this is doing an injustice to her! I believe more and more that the reason she is so fast is that she has done everything right. Perhaps she started running at a young age and did some speed training in sports. Perhaps she has always had people to encourage her and thus believes she can be fast. But most importantly, she makes time to train, trains correctly and trains with intensity.
Even more proof of this is my friend Mette. A year and a half ago, her PR's were around a 43 min 10k and around a 1:34 half marathon, very similar to me a half a year ago. But then she started training better and following a strict marathon training plan. And I have watched her over the last year go from a 43 min 10k to a 38 min 10k and from a 1:34 half to a 1:22 half last Sunday. And if I chalked it all up to talent, it would be a lie and unfair to her.
So let's stop using talent as an excuse for believing we just can't get faster.
True, a lot of things have to fall into place for someone to be a super fast runner: support of family and friends, healthy weight and diet, self-confidence, guidance in training and time to train. But the idea of talent should be ignored, so we don't use it as a crutch.
On Saturday, I discussed my talent wagamama with SR (yes, I know wagamama is a restaurant, but isn't a good word for something you are trying to prove?). He agreed that my biggest natural talent was that I didn't get injured. But I have to wonder if that is due to yoga and resting and recovering for an adequate amount of time.
When I was a kid, I was the second slowest girl in the class. The only girl who was slower weighed twice as much as me, so it was hardly a fair comparison. And then in soccer and basketball, which I played in high school, though I was always technically good, I was an embarrassingly slow sprinter. But boy am I glad I didn't just say to myself, "running, well, I've got no talent for that" and then never even give it a try. But honestly, to get to the point I am now, where I can run a 3:27 marathon on a training day has been a long, long, long (though fun) process. And is not something that can be attributed to "natural talent" (yes, Michelle, your comment inspired me to write this, but don't be offended, I love it when people make me think, and I have made similar comments about others' talent in the past :)).
Menstrual cycles and instense training
And another excuse that we women can throw out he window is menstrual regularity. Granted the poll on my blog was very small, but intense training (or at least many miles) does not appear to affect menstrual cycles. Only 1/7 or 14% of women who ran > 60 miles per week had irregular periods (and that was me :)) and 5/18 or 28% of women who ran less than 60 miles per week had irregular periods, so if anything there is an inverse correlation! (Okay, I know this is not statistically significant)