Coach Mike Mead


Running the Numbers

It has been said that it takes roughly 10,000 hours to become a master or expert at most any skill or talent.† The numbers donít lie.† You gotta do the time if you want to be great! †This applies to running, if you aspire to run among the best.

I was not very strong in math during my formative years, but I was a decent runner in my day because I used numbers to the best of my ability.† That is, I put in the time and applied my limited math skills to get the most out of running.

Many of the runners Iíve coached over the years have been reluctant to log in the hours to make them great.† Many relied on their limited talent or wasted time trying to take short-cuts in developing their running skills.

So you want to be a great runner?† Letís do the math!† If we use the above figure of 10,000 hours as the goal to become an elite runner -- if one trains an hour a day and does not take a day off -- it will take nearly 27.5 years to put in the total hours.† Well, thatís not very realistic!

If one trains 750 hours a year Ė about 2.25 hours a day for 340 days a year Ė it takes less than 13.5 years to log in those 10,000 hours.† A little more realistic, but still requires commitment if one wants to be successful.

Many young runners who I have coached or who have sought my advice throughout the years may run a total of 200 days in a year.† Assuming they run an hour a day, at that rate it would take 50 years to log in 10,000 hours.† Factor in age and one will never achieve their maximum potential.

There is more to just logging in hours.† The math involved to becoming an elite runner goes beyond putting in the time.† One has to formulate a percentage of long runs, short runs, fast runs, slow runs, hard runs, easy runs, competitions, and rest to become great.† And that formula isnít precise!

If one has talent, it will not take 10,000 hours to become elite.† However, in running the math, it is hard to factor into the equation those intangibles such as desire, discipline, work ethic, commitment, as well as injury, illness, and plain old luck -- good and bad.

If one has limited running talents, it may take more than the 10,000 hours to become great.† These individuals will need to take advantage of all the intangibles they can to overcome their limited skills.†

If the numbers do not scare or discourage, I believe many runners can achieve their best if they take the numbers and run!† The skill of running is the most basic and simplest of all athletic abilities.† Running is the basis for a majority of the sports we enjoy, yet few choose to master running in its purest form.

Perhaps becoming a great runner isnít in the numbers for those with limited talent, despite doing the numbers!† But the most important intangible Ė for the love of running Ė can still provide satisfaction to those willing to try.

Iíve heard people who have tried running and said they did not enjoy it.† Perhaps they did not enjoy running because they did not invest enough time to appreciate it to reap the benefits those of us understand and enjoy.

Do the math and see where the numbers take you if you enjoy running and a challenge.† The numbers donít lie!