Usain Bolt holds the record in several sprinting disciplines, but could he stand his ground in one of the most demanding long-distance races – a marathon?
Usain Bolt hasn’t run a marathon. The Jamaican sprinter only took part in short-distance track and field events and never competed in long-distance races. He won Olympic medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4×100 meters relay.
Stick around to learn more about Bolt’s early years as a sprinter, and how he compares to experienced marathon runners.
Bolt’s Humble Beginnings
Usain Bolt discovered his secret talent at an early age and speed was always his strongest suit. He could easily outrun all the boys at his elementary school Waldensia Primary and was the fastest boy over the distance of 100 meters.
Bolt was dreaming of becoming a cricket or soccer player, but fate had different plans for him. His cricket coach believed he would thrive as a sprinter after noticing his speed, and suggested he should try track and field.
Cricket was Bolt’s first love, but he knew how difficult it would be to make the national team. Sprinting was an individual discipline, and he had a much better chance to succeed on his own, without anyone weighing him down.
Bolt had incredible natural talent, but he was also his worst enemy. His coach Pablo McNeil was frustrated by his laid-back behavior, as he used to be more interested in partying and eating fast-food than training in his youth.
Bolt’s lack of discipline didn’t stand in the way of his success. His workout routine became more intense as the years went by, but he always heavily relied on his natural abilities.
Bolt’s Olympic Disciplines
Usain Bolt made his Olympic debut in 2004, but it wasn’t a huge success. A leg injury stopped him from unleashing his full potential, and he only achieved a disappointing 21.05 seconds time in the 200 meters dash.
He did much better at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and took gold in the 100 meters and 200 meters events. He repeated the same success at the Summer Olympics in 2012 and 2016 and also picked up gold medals in the 4×100 meters relay.
If you pay close attention to the Olympics competitions that Bolt participated in, you’ll notice a pattern. They’re all short-distance events that require incredible speed. The Jamaican sprinter never took part in any track events that asked him to cover a longer distance, but they do exist.
Track disciplines at the Olympics range in distance between 100 and 10,000 meters, and the road events such as marathon, 20 km walk, 50 km walk are also included. They require more stamina and endurance than short-distance events that Bolt participated in, which brings us to the difference between sprinting and running a marathon.
Sprinters vs. Marathon Runners
Running a marathon and sprinting require a completely different set of skills, and there’s no guarantee that Usain Bolt would be able to excel in both disciplines.
Back in 2016, The New Yorker tried to figure out if Bolt would be able to run a mile in under five minutes and discussed this topic with several experts. Professor of exercise physiology Ross Tucker noted that “speed over short distances does not automatically guarantee relative speed over long distances” but predicted that Bolt could run a mile in 4:50 with the right incentive.
The magazine also contacted Bolt’s agent, Ricky Simms, who confirmed that he never considered running a marathon. Simms didn’t share his prediction about his client’s ability to run long-distance and simply replied by writing, “Usain has never run a mile.”This isn’t as shocking as it sounds, because sprinting and long-distance running are two very different disciplines. Marathon runners aren’t as focused on improving their speed since they’re more concerned about gaining stamina and endurance it takes to cover the distance of 26.2 miles.