There’s a Sports Illustrated article this past week about running in Kenya profiling Alberto Salazar.
As big as we are, we have fewer people to draw on. In Kenya there are probably a million schoolboys 10 to 17 years old who run 10 to 12 miles a day. . . The average Kenyan 18-year-old has run 15,000 to 18,000 more miles in his life than the average American–and a lot of that’s at altitude. They’re motivated because running is a way out. Plus they don’t have a lot of other sports for kids to be drawn into. Numbers are what this is all about. In Kenya there are maybe 100 runners who have hit 2:11 in the marathon–and in the U.S. maybe five. . .
With those figures, coaches in Kenya can train their athletes to the outer limits of endurance–up to 150 miles a week–without worrying that their pool of talent will be meaningfully depleted. Even if four out of every five runners break down, the fifth will convert that training into performance…
Interesting that the US has an obesity problem and Kenya is putting out ~1 million people running 10-12 miles a day. How many US kids do you know who at age 18 has run 15,000-18,000 miles?