The Peru Nordic Masters have done some some heavy investigation into the genetics of nordic athletes. “…after evaluating many results, controlling all possible variables and generating a reasonable hypothesis, we have determined that Sponge Theory plays a role in nordic ski results.” (Actually, this was all just made up on a whim after cleaning up a coffee spill). In summary, Sponge Theory describes the genetic differences between skiers on the start line.
Athletic potential is like a sponge. Everyone is born with a different size sponge. By using the sponge, skiers can soak up training. During a race, the sponge is wrung out and effort can be squeezed from your sponge. Some skiers have a big sponge, others not so big. If two sponges are faced with the same volume of training, a bigger sponge will soak it up faster. Bigger sponges can soak up more training. In a race, it takes less squeezing to get the same volume of effort out of a bigger sponge than out of a smaller one. And a well trained big sponge can hold an incredible amount of effort; and can potentially wring out much more than a small sponge.
Sponges can also soak up crap. They get blackened and mildewed and can soak up less as their pores clog with crap. New sponges have to get wet first, it takes time to develop their soaking potential. As sponges age, they get all frayed and crusty. They can soak up and squeeze out less and less over time.
The lesson learned? You only get one sponge. Keep it clean. Soak up as much as you can. And, wring it all out on race day.