Ok folks, I was one of those who ran marathons back in the early 80's.
Here is a story: I have a friend who runs a 2:24 marathon. His goal was to get a 2:22 for the olympic trials. He is a wonderfully nice guy and very talented.
On the other hand, I am a 3:40-4:05 plodder.
His training schedule and mine are very, very different (and should be). His marathon experience (running at a high percentage of his capacity) and mine (survival in the last 10K) are very different; when it comes to marathoning and/or running, his level is much higher than mine.
Yes, he is much more talented, AND he puts more into the sport as well. Why? Well, 2 minutes for him is a big difference and perhaps worth another 30-40 miles per week, where as 2 minutes for me means that I ate more sensibly the night before the race. :-)
Point: not all marathon "finishes" are equal! Running one for time/place requires a higher level of committment to the sport, and it takes YEARS of training to seriously approach one's genetic potential.
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