Did someone who simply couldn't write efficient code (complexity-wise) before, felt intimidated by people who did, decide to work really hard, try to solve an insane number of problems, actually get better?
I've been in touch with programming since some 4-5 years. Some of my friends who recently picked up C and speak total rubbish about it, solve those hard programming problems. I end up writing a long well polished program that employs brute force, while they get the best algorithm implemented with some really messy code.
I understand programming structures quite well, can read documentation, write understandable code.
Could reading a CLRS and working day and night at topcoder help me?