Usain Bolt has apparently never run a mile.
The Jamaican sprinter’s agent Ricky Simms broke the news in an email to the New Yorker, which attempted to guess how quickly the world’s fastest man would be able to go the distance.
Most agree Bolt wouldn’t be able to break the world record set by Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj. He ran the mile in 3:43.13 in 1999.
Bolt, meanwhile, who holds the world records in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes (9.58 and 19.19, respectively), takes 2:10 to run 800 meters. That’s a snail’s pace relative to Guerrouj. That comparison has many thinking Bolt would be lucky to break the five-minute barrier — a feat many high school-level runners can achieve.
Here’s the thing, though. Bolt is a sprinter, so the way he’s trained his muscles isn’t meant for running the mile.
“To be a great sprinter you need leg muscles that are dominated by fast-twitch muscle fibers because they shorten the muscle quickly and generate power,” Professor Steve Harridge of Kings College London told the Independent in 2012, when Bolt took home three gold medals at the London Olympics.
“Marathon [distance] runners have more slow-twitch fibers, which is one of the reasons why you are never going to turn [record-breaking distance runner] Paula Radcliffe into a great sprinter, or Usain Bolt into a good long-distance runner,” Harridge continued.
And so with that in mind, perhaps Bolt thinks, “Why even bother?” when it comes to the mile. Especially when he’s still at the top of his game sprinting.
Bolt will attempt to defend his titles at the Rio Olympics in the men’s 100- and 200-meter dashes, as well as the 4×100-meter relay. The races are scheduled to take place on Aug. 13, 16 and 18, respectively.