Getting to Know Seattle: Elite Athletes

The Winter Olympics are on, and we can see elite athletes at the top of their game in many winter sports. But you don’t have to be glued to TV or travel to South Korea to see elite athletes. You can check out your local 10K race, this one around Green Lake in Seattle.

Most people who run 10k races are ordinary weekend sports enthusiasts or fitness buffs. But there are always a handful of runners who make me sigh with envy. They have lean, wiry bodies, not too tall. How much weight a runner has to carry matters. NFL offensive linemen, those guys who weigh 300+ pounds, can run surprisingly fast for very short distances, say 20 yards. But nobody can lug that kind of weight around very fast for very long, nor will the hip, knee, and ankle joints tolerate it. Elite runners are light on their feet; you hardly hear one of them coming up behind you. They glide along with their feet only inches above the ground; all of their momentum is forward, not up and down. Their arms move rhythmically with their stride; they don’t pump their arms wildly. Arms are not where the momentum comes from.

I know how to be an elite runner; I just don’t have the body for it. Have you heard of very many elite runners with Irish peasant woman bodies: broad shoulders, hardly any indentation at the waist, good legs? Nah. Elite runners come in numbers from Kenya, or Ethiopia — occasionally, with the right genes, from the U.S..

I’m an endurance kind of gal, not a fast one. An elite runner will leave me in the dust going twice around Green Lake. But we’ll both finish in the end. 🙂

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