[This blogging stuff is pretty easy if you just cut-and-paste other items. But seeing the following, I couldn’t resist.]

A while back I posted something on Turning Points. Well, over the weekend, Simon Sawe of Kenya won the Des Moines Marathon after being stopped for a bit under a minute by a (mistakenly sent) train about 400 meters from the finish. He was caught by the guy in second, but won the sprint. This, in turn, led to a front-page item on LetsRun where it was said, “We know all about Sawe’s closing speed as he outkicked LRC co-founder Wejo in 2000 (see photo) and his advice after the race helped Wejo lower his 10k PR by over a minute in his next race.”

Wejo explained:

    Simon said a few things that helped me believe in myself a bit more.

    The race came down to the final sprint. We had been side by side the whole way. With maybe 300 to go (this is 9 years later so my memory isn’t perfect) I started to get a little bit ahead of him. I thought, “no I’m too far from the finish, I need to wait.” So then he got back on my side and outsprinted me the final 50.

    Afterwards, he was very congratulatory. I think one of the first things he said, was something along the lines, “you had me beat.” I asked him what he meant and he said 300 out or whenever it was when I started to pull ahead he was done and if I had kept going then he wouldn’t have been able to keep up. I was surprised he was telling me this. It really helped my confidence. I had felt really good at that point and figured he couldn’t be hurting any worse than me.

    Then we kept talking and I told him I was training for the marathon. He seemed amazed. “You will do really well. You are very fast right now.” I think perhaps he was a bit surprised some mzungu (white guy) almost beat him while training for a marathon. I was pleased with the race because I ran right at 30 flat on the roads (my track pr at the time was only 29:49) and I had definitely not been going all out. The race was tactical but for my first race of the year I knew I was in good shape.

    His words of encouragement meant a lot. I had always thought eventually I’d be a good runner but kind of figured the top Americans and Kenyans were almost a different species of runner. Simon’s words helped me believe in myself and show me he was no different than me. There were a few other races that helped my confidence just as well but I’m a firm believer that nearly all of us limit ourselves in some way.

    Even the top guys limit themselve. I don’t think it’s just pure chance that Tegenkamp rahis 12:58 in the race right after Ritz’s 12:56. Sure Teg had run his first European race in 13:06 or whatever it was but I don’t think this was the first time in his life he was capable of going sub 13.

    There were some quotes by Tergat earlier in the year about how Westerners just need to believe in themselves more. A lot of people on here ridiculed the quotes (surely it can’t be just believing in yourself) but I think there is a HUGE mental component to running. It may be subconscious but a lot of the to Americans are content to get beat by the top Africans. They may not even think they can beat them and are content to be the first white guy.

    Look at this interview from Ritz’ after Worlds.

    The thing that struck me at the time was how much Alberto had him believing in himself. I think at some point sure he said he could be the best but on some level he quit believing it.

In my earlier post, here’s what I said about another of Salazar’s athletes:

    I came upon a Flocast interview with Kara in which she discussed being very down on her running but then responding to Alberto Salazar and what he demanded of her. She came to believe that should could be a pretty good, a world-class runner. And she is.

    Here’s that video (you have to click through since I can’t embed these).