Thoughts from Alberto Salazar
Posted by scott on October 2, 2008
I had the chance to hear Alberto Salazar speak today, and he was great. He had some great stories about the heydays of American distance running (at least on the world stage) during the 80s. He also talked about his terrifying, but incredibly fortunate in terms of outcome, experience with sudden cardiac arrest.
His comments around the current dominance of Kenyan runners are what really stuck with me. He said that it will likely be decades before the US competes with Kenya in a meaningful way in distance events, and that’s largely a numbers game. He cited the common anecdote that so many Kenyans spend their youth running to and from school that they have years of training in the bank when they reach a serious training age. He shared a stat that by age 18 the average Kenyan schoolchild has run around 30,000 miles more than the average 18 year old runner in the US. He has visited Kenyan training camps where 300 runners are doing 200 miles a week each. At the Nike camp in Oregon, they have something like 12 runners doing that. So his current assessment is that we just need to do the best we can with the few that have the greatest potential.
He also said the best thing we can do to help the US compete with Kenya in the short term is send them buses!