Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

Overcome The Talent Myth And Run Faster

patience running thin

The talent myth

Jonathan Fields describes my sentiments perfectly,

The potential not just for failure, but failure that matters, failure you feel, must be on the table.

I have never believed in the talent myth. Sure, are athletes who run 4.45 miles for 26.2 miles ‘talented'.

I think it is a safe bet to say that they surely have worked to master what they do, but did they do it on talent alone, hardly.

I think what separates a superstar from the average ballplayer is that he concentrates just a little bit longer – Hank Aaron

I can write this with every ounce of sincerity in my body, that I have had to rely on my focus far more often than the limited amount of genetic makeup I was born with.

My mother was never a runner. My father was a Soldier so if I received any form of athletic ‘ability' it may have been from him.

I am wary to even use ‘ability'.

C'mon nate, you have run under 2.20.00 for the marathon.

That takes talent.

Sorry to disappoint you, but it isn't what I believe.

I never had a great deal of that. The talent myth is what I wanted to discredit.

What I do believe in is the domino effect of effort

What I remember most about running 2.19 is the countless hours of endless miles I ran prior to doing it.

I never relied on what most would term ‘talent'.

I relied on work ethic because I firmly believe it is the most important tool for consistent success.

I have had to suffer more disappointments in attempting greatness than I care to discuss but it is chase that counts.

Did you make an attempt and I am not talking about once.

It takes years to accomplish something unworldly, when I broke 2.20 it was like a 5 hour marathoner running a 2.05 for the distance.

This is the best way I can describe how I felt due to all the setbacks I had along the way.

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You Can't Rely On Talent 

The truth is talent is never enough.

I think it is safe to say that many who read this post quite possibly will disagree with me.

Individuals who succeed at sports, business, military or any other area of concentration are just talented right?.

The facts are, most often enough what people fail to see, is the countless hours of work these so called ‘talented' people have put in and endured to be good at what they do.

Do you see the endless outstanding performances being put up by the Kenyan runners? They are the hardest working people you will meet.

They don't rely on talent and know if they don't perform their families will not be fed or supported.

I think the topic of talent is very hard to explain, especially in a culture where talent is rewarded and work ethic is not always in the limelight nor seen.

To move the world, we must first move ourselves – Socrates

Think of how much more focused and disciplined you would be if you had no choice but to succeed. There was no other option. Doing something you are truly passion about doing makes this process much easier.

So what is the formula for success? Is it talent?

Does running a 10K in 34 minutes when you are still a 43 minute 10K athlete depend on you being born with innate genetic code running within your blood?

If you think I am going to agree with that crap you might want to end your reading now.

You Should Rely On Yourself

Do you think Tiger Woods just overnight became the golfer he is?

He started golfing at age 3 and not only that, but he has continued to focus in on his skill with persistent, non-stop effort

I first read about his work ethic in Outliers: The Story of Success.

I have since read the book three times and highly recommend you read it. It will make the hair on the back of your neck stick up and more than likely, break your thoughts up that you are not ‘talented' enough to succeed in this sport or anything else.

The idea behind Malcom Gladwell's book is that to be ‘great' at anything you should plan to put in at least 10,000 hours of work.

I suppose this is one of the reasons I have never believed in the ‘talent' myth. It has been engrained in our psyche and culture all of our lives. Talented people are better than us.

How long will you endure

They simply were born with more ability than you and I.

Not true, they have done something far longer than us.

You can't compare yourself to someone who has been doing something you enjoy and are passionate about, ten years longer than you have. Don't let it dishearten you, accept it for what it is and use it to drive you to get to that level.

Hard work vs talent

A 4 hour marathoner may look at me, having run under 2.20, as genetically gifted and far superior.

I will disagree strongly with this.

I wish I could show all of you who may visit the endless hours I spent on route 7 in Steubenville, Ohio running, working to improve or all the time I spent training in the brutal winters in Colorado Springs.

I was trying to measure up with the athletes of the army world class athlete program when I was still a part of the regular army units at Fort Carson.

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I can assure you, I am not different or better than you.

A Few Key Closing Points To Help You On Your Quest To Run Like A Renegade and Overpower The Talent Myth

  • People who are successful or ‘talented' are not lucky  They have found an activity they love to do and have put an absolutely stoic, razor sharp focus into that activity. This is what so many people fail to see.
  • They see the individual's ability first and fail to see the work, which is impossible to see anyways unless you live 24-7 with that person.
  • The point is successful athletes have spent a great deal of time relying on their focus and the most successful realize it isn't about talent, but razor sharp attention to a task and not swaying in the process.
  • Work on what is missing in your training. If your not measuring up in your racing, than ask yourself what must I do to become the best runner I can be?
  •  Could you spend more time focusing on your preparation?
  • Are you letting go of any activity that could be stopping you from knocking those minutes off your 5K, 10K, 20K or marathon?
  • What can you do differently and what is stopping you from measuring up to what you believe your capable of?
If you preparing today, chances are, you will not be repairing tomorrow – John C. Maxwell
  • Find balance in what you do, then devote all your energy into the missing ingredient in your training that will maximize your ability.
  • You want your running to blossom and flourish, not diminish.

I have learned that the real key to distance running success is simply being willing to endure longer, not relying on how much innate ability I was born with.

  • You have to accept the fact that a breakthrough in your running depends on the level of enthusiasm you bring to the task.
He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying – Friedrich Nietzsche

Ok, Nate, I have been running my whole life, training my tail off and the best I have run is 35 minutes for the 10K.

I will never run a 10K in 28 minutes.

I get it.

I am a 2.19 marathoner and see guys running 2.05, but here is the difference. It is all a choice in what you believe.

A 28-minute 10K may not be on your radar now, but who is to say but you, and you alone, that you will never come close to that time.

Think outside the box

Who is telling you that? It sure as hell won't be me. I am not in the business of thinking comfortably

I will be blunt and honest.

There are many of you who aren't working hard enough and have far more potential and capability than you are showing in your racing.

Why? I have lived like a monk the majority of my adult life doing this. I am not saying you have to give up the things you love to do. I am all about that but if you want to be good at running,

how to train for a marathonYou have to dive deep, not waste your time in the shallow end where the majority of people want to hang out.

I choose not to believe in the talent myth.

Some of you, understandably, may disagree that talent does exist and maybe my viewpoint is skewed just a bit, but I tend to live my life as a Newton disciple.

Coach Jew Newton said it best,

there are three choices in life, be good, be average, be great. The preacher didn't make it, the teacher didn't make it, you made it. If you choose to be average, that is all your ever going to be in life

Closing remarks

A 40 minute 10K runner or a 5 hour marathoner is not ‘average', at least not in my definition and I'll tell you why.

If that individual is giving 100% day in and day out, doing everything within their human capability to improve, then they are great. It is all perspective. They are not choosing to be average.

Average people choose to not try hard enough, long enough and with enough zest to stand out.

There are no ‘average' people, period.

Everyone was born to be great and have talent. A dull ax will not chop a tree down. It must be sharpened to be effective.

Can you honestly say that you don't have what it takes to be a strong runner? Why leave it to the Kenyans to dominate races or show you how to run.

You, like them, were born with two feet. Do something about it!

You need to give all your energy to be the best athlete you can be because if you don't you will start believing in the talent myth that you have to have it in order to jump to the next level.

Get excited about your event and give 100% of your time and attention to it. Don't believe what you have been told and certainly don't believe in the talent myth.

You create your reality.

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