What exactly is running talent?

What exactly is running talent?

We speak about talented runners as if there is only one specific area that we evaluate talent against, but there are several different types of talent. Just because one runner is talented in a certain way does not necessarily mean they will be talented in other ways.

There are four ways a runner can be naturally talented:

1. Natural Running Ability.

This is what most people think when they say someone is a talented runner. A runner with a naturally high aerobic engine. Someone who can run fast times without much training. Some people like to explain this mostly in terms of genetics.

2. Training Response.

Most runners respond differently to the same training. It’s just how it works. Do the non responders require a higher amount of training? Would they benefit more from a different type of training? It's hard to say, but the existence of different responses to similar training is undeniable after you've been involved in the sport for some time.

3. Injury Prevention.

There are many risk factors for running injuries but some runners seem resistant to them. While some people get injured running 20 miles a week, others can do 20 miles a day just fine. There is a lot you can do to improve your risk of injury, but like with natural running ability, some people start out at a higher level of resistance than others. The runner who can handle more training without getting injured is going to have a big advantage.

4. Attitude and Mentality.

Many will think these are developed but most of it is natural. Our core personality is formed in different ways and can often change. Great runners are highly variable. Some are introverted, others are extroverted; some are rational thinkers, others trust their emotions. But great runners tend to have the same understanding about training and racing. They know the difference between running fast and running hard. They have a great connection with their body, sensing exactly how hard to push themselves.

I truly believe these talents are independent of each other. It’s also rare to find an athlete gifted in all four categories.