Coupled Infrastructure
Systems Initiative

Elite running as a coupled infrastructure system

August 7, 2021, Jacob Ingebrigtsen became the 1500 meter Olympic champion in 2021 at 20 years of age in a new Olympic record. This is a remarkable achievement for the young Norwegian, but not a surprise for those who followed his development, documented in Team Ingebrigtsen.

The Ingebrigtsen family created a coupled infrastructure system that generated Olympic achievements. To become an elite runner one needs to have certain biophysical conditions in terms of heart-lung capacity, muscular endurance, length, etc., but without regular training, high performance will not be achieved. Father Gjert started facilitating sport activities for his children when they were young. Older brothers Hendrik and Filip also achieved elite status, but father Gjert learned over the years from mistakes made (human infrastructure) and created a support team (social infrastructure), arranged for regular training camps on high altitudes, and sponsors who financially support the family. Since Norway is not the ideal place to run the whole year around, having access to indoor training facilities and running treadmills is key to maintaining their training regime (hard infrastructure).

Life as a top athlete might be boring and monotonous, and also here a support infrastructure that focuses on mental wellness is important to keep the athlete sane and motivated. Just having talent is unlikely to be sufficient to become an Olympic champion. One will have to create the right coupled infrastructure system to achieve extraordinary outcomes.


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