After every 10k marathon that I run, I perform a ritual. And I perhaps enjoy it equally as much as running a 10k if not more.
I randomly check timings of people who have run in that 10k. You just have to put a random bib number to get the finish times of random people who ran that 10k.
My current running pace happens to be 7min/ km. With this pace, I usually rank somewhat average amongst the runners who have finished. There are always 50-60% of runners who beat my time.
With more random hits, I try to find out the pace at which I should run to make it to the top 20%. In the previous race, that pace happened to be 6.5 min/km. Which meant, everyone who ran at 6.5 min/km and below, stood amongst the top 20%
If only I had increased my pace by 30-sec per Km or just by 7 %, I would have boosted my rank by at least 30-40%.
The bottom-line? The gap between being average and above average (in this case) was only 7% more effort.
And 9/10 times that gap results from the mental determination and not our individual capabilities. Was I capable of running at 6.5? definitely yes, was I willing to run at that pace maybe not.
Perhaps a good number of athletes can match Usain Bolt’s physical abilities, but how many could match his state of mind and mental determination makes all the difference that you know him for.