Nathan Pennington Running in The Distance

The Talent Myth | How to Rely on Work Ethic and PR

patience running thin

Do you believe in 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'?

Yes. That being said, the process is often times never seen. The end result is.

So, I think it is a safe bet to say that they surely have worked to master what they do. Did they do it on talent alone?

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

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.

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'.

That being said, I do believe in I work ethic.

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.

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

People fail to seethe countless hours of work these so called ‘talented' people have put in.

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.

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?

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. That being said, 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.

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 ten years longer than you have. 

Hard work vs talent

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

I wish I could show all of you who may visit the endless hours I spent on route 7 in Steubenville, Ohio.

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

Key Points

  • People who are successful or ‘talented' are not lucky  They have found an activity they love to do. In addition, they persist.
  • Work on what is missing in your training. 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 is stopping you from measuring up to what you believe you're capable of?

How Winners Think

If you preparing today, chances are, you will not be repairing tomorrow – John C. Maxwell
  • Find balance in what you do. Also, devote all your energy into the missing ingredient in your training that will maximize your ability.
  • Focus on what you can control.

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.

Think Outside the Box

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

how to train for a marathonYou have to dive deep. So, don't waste your time in the shallow end.

Why? The majority of people want to hang out there.

I choose not to believe in the talent myth.

Coach Jew Newton said it best,

there are three choices in life, be good, be average or 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'.

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.

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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