I was particularly struck by the fact that, perhaps for the first time in the history of printed journalism, the discussion didn't start with Jenny's "talent", "natural gifts", or "God-given abilities". Rather, the entire discussion of Jenny's past successes and future possibilities was centered around "hard work". Someone needs to tell the author that that's just not how these types of articles are written!
On second thought, don't tell him. He can be the one journalist who actually focuses on what really makes athletes like Jenny champions: their work ethics. The funny thing is, in running, "blue-collar" has no meaning. Because there is no such thing as a "white-collar" runner. All runners, and particularly great runners, have gotten where they are through ridiculous amounts of physical labor. Not by making Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, that's for sure!
And no, hard work alone won't get you to the top. But it is the foundation from which success is built. Not talent. That may sound odd, but it's true. The only thing that comes from focusing on talent is self-imposed limitations. Quite frankly, champions don't even think about their talent until and unless other people ask them about it. They know they have it to some degree, but they have a singular focus on hard work.
That's why I'm convinced the difference between champions and everyone else is primarily mental. Champions not only understand that hard work can make them great, they have the self-efficacy to actually try. And by attributing their future success or failure to their hard work, they never impose limitations on how good they can become.
There are probably hundreds of Jenny Barringers out there. And that's no knock on her. There are hundreds of Ryan Halls and Alan Webbs and Shalane Flanagans, too. Some of them are never introduced to the sport, others are passionate about other pursuits, and a few are no doubt convinced that if they aren't beating someone now, they never will, so they give up.
And I've no doubt there are a couple we will hear about soon, because something will click and they will start working as hard as Jenny does and with as much engagement, discipline and pride. At which point some journalist will no doubt credit their amazing talent for their success.
And who knows, maybe that person will be you. So here's a question to get you started: are you working as hard as Jenny Barringer is?