I just finished reading this article (quick cause articles on long distance running last maybe 3 hours on espn if they even appear at all) on Macharia Yuot, the Sudanese wonderman who became the first athlete in NCAA history to win the 10,000, 3,000 steeplechase and 5,000 meter races at a single national championship meet.
One quote from his coach warmed my washed up long distance running soul: "Macharia knows how to suffer. It's a great gift all distance runners have to have." I believe this. Sure I'm mega time biased but let me explain. People say the 400 meters is an all out sprint. This isn't true. No one runs each 100 meter segment of the 400 like they would if they were just running the 100 meter on its own. This is the same as running the 3,200, 5,000, or 10,000 meter races; you're never really going all out until the end but if done right you're running as fast as you should in order to finish with the fastest time.
In other words if you were to go any faster during one of segments of these long distance races than you should it would impede you from accomplishing the best time possible. If you look at running in this sense distance running really does require a huge tolerance for suffering and pain. I feel like I give my all when I compete. I've competed in all sorts of sports but never have I had to collapse after a competition as only running forced me to do.
So in conclusion long distance runners are heroes. HEROES!!!