Talent Is Only A Promise

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Talent is a buzz word often used in athletics to describe a runner's ability. As in, "Oh, she is super talented." Or, "He's a mega-talent." 

Sometimes it is used to explain why one athlete is faster than another, or how someone can win a race or achieve a quick mark off little or haphazard training. 

I shy away from that usage. I think it implies a static, preordained, fixed capacity of an athlete's ability. I operate from a growth mindset, where teaching, learning, and action are conditions for beneficial change. Therefore, I elect to think of talent as a promise. 

I have seen it hundreds of times. The less talented, but highly motivated athlete sooner or later triumphs over the lazy, so-called talent. 


Simple. It is due to what I term the Law of Athletics: if you put in the work, you'll get better. 

The lucky ones get a head start in the race, but victory is not guaranteed. The talented athlete, like the "hamburger" (as Bowerman used to call them), must too put in the work to improve their circumstance. They are not immune to the Law of Athletics. Without consistent, intelligent, and honest work, the talent stagnates and their promise is defeated.

The athlete who wins in the long run is the one who doesn't miss long runs. Who shows up regularly — day in, day out. Good weather. Bad weather. Cold. Hot. Wet. Dry. It doesn't matter. What matters is the desire to do the work, make it count, and leave slightly better for the day's efforts. 

That drive I value most. It is the essential ingredient which will make good on the promise of any athlete — whether they're deemed talented or not.


Thanks for reading. I'm glad you're here. // jm 

Jonathan Marcus