I thought this email I received recently warranted a public response, since it raises an interesting question:
… I will be 40 in March, and in a mini (and early) mid-life crisis I have decided to get back to running. In my twenties, I spent 9 years in the navy and at one point was a fairly decent runner, though my longest run then was only 10 miles. I have always felt that I was not born a runner, that I didn’t have a runner’s body. I am 5’10” and 190 lbs. During my running phase in my twenties, I never dropped below 175. What are your thoughts on the genetics of running? If I keep at it, will I eventually become the “running machine” you write about in your book? Will my body eventually become more a runner’s body? Other than just running, because of my body type, are there other things I need to pay attention to?
Genetics do play a role: some folks are built to run fast, and their bodies hold up well, and some others, not so much. My body was built to withstand “hardship” (running long distances), but I do run slower. I’m a bit too big boned and bulky to be really fast, and it sounds like you might be, too.
Having said that, training consistently, and putting lots of effort into the training will yield results for you. The speed thing: well, some are blessed with that blazing speed, and guys like me maximize our talents by finding our own niche. Mine just happens to be extremely long distances. I would suggest you discover your niche!