Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
NCAA runner turned high school coach Hillary Kigar has an answer for all things training!
Q: What really separates Olympians from “normal” runners?
The main factors that distinguish Olympic runners from the rest of us are talent, lifestyle and drive. An athlete who performs in the top level of any sport starts with a base level of natural ability that is much higher than that of the average person. But talent alone isn’t enough to win gold, and Olympic-caliber athletes must adhere to a lifestyle that supports rigorous training and competition schedules.
While some athletes receive sufficient compensation through sponsorships, allowing them to pursue training with no financial burden, most have to work part time and live frugally to make ends meet. This juggling act presents many challenges and for many talented individuals simply isn’t feasible. The journey of an elite is never without bumps in the road, and it takes a special kind of mental toughness and singular focus to commit your mind, heart and life to the Olympic pursuit.
Have a question for Coach Kigar? Email email@example.com or tweet @womensrunning with the hashtag #AsktheCoach.