Or you could also say, time.
Below is a quote from Tina Muir, with the bolded text what we’re talking about here.
2. How did you get to be such a speedy runner?
It has taken years of consistent training, dedication, and doing “the little things”. I try to share these on my blog through my Secrets of Success posts, but most of it just comes from getting stronger year after year. My freshman year in college, I ran 21:15 in the 5k, but my 5th year, I had run 16:08. That being said, having a coach who knows what they are doing is absolutely critical. I would never be anywhere close to where I am now without 100% trust in my coach. I know how important that is, which is another reason I like to share what knowledge I have with others to give back to the community as best I can.
Now obviously smart training, proper recovery, nutrition, etc all play a role in becoming faster, but running is a long term sport.
Look at Tina’s progression like this. Lets say she ran for 4-6 years before college. maybe she played a bit of soccer in grade/middle school and ran cross country in high school, I’m not sure. The important thing to realize is that let’s say 5 years before her college freshmen year she could have been a 26 minute 5k runner. 5 years later she was a 21 minute 5k athlete, and 5 years after that she was a 16 minute 5k runner!
Now I don’t know her history other than that one quote, but this type of progression is true for almost all runners. No matter if you start running in middle school or in college for the first time, with 10 years of good progression of mileage, intensity, and with some smart training you’re going to improve a lot.
You just have to have the patience and take the time!
For myself, this is a good reminder that the best is yet to come. I was obese during my freshmen year of high school, 4 years later I was 80 pounds lighter and a cyclist. Now I’ve been running for about 7 years and am only now really starting to train well and smartly. I consider my first 6 years of running just simple base building. My aerobic house is built, now the real work and progression begins!
I found another great example that really shows what time does for running. The below quote is from Donnie Cowart, who recently broke the four minute mile barrier after 15 years of running!
“I can trace my thoughts about a sub-4 minute mile all the way back to middle school. Just starting my running career, I had no idea the challenge and work that lay before me, but I was extremely optimistic. From eighth to 10th grade I weighed less than 100 pounds. I was cut from my middle school baseball, and basketball teams with the coaches saying, ‘You need to grow a little taller.’ ‘You need to get stronger.’ … Then I found my home in track and field, a place where size didn’t matter. In eighth grade, I mustered a 5:29 mile, in ninth 4:59, and by 10th grade I got it down to 4:50. I was on my way. I worked hard did everything I was told to do, always telling myself I was going to be good when I was older, stronger, and possibly after that ‘growth spurt.’”