Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas Dinner at Grandma's--2016

Has anyone experienced something like the following at a family event?


Written by Grandma's daughter Daphne--
Christmas at Grandma's--2016
It has been a hard 5 years for Grandma since her husband of 55 years died. Before Grandpa passed on, it was a family tradition for everyone to get together for Christmas dinner at their home. It was a joyous time, kids opening presents, the wonderful smells of foods cooking and baking, a chance to get together with family and relatives we only saw but once a year.
So you can imagine the happiness I felt when Grandma announced that after 5 long years she wanted to resume the tradition of having Christmas dinner at her house.
My joy was short lived when my dear Grandma called with a somewhat panicked tone in her voice. She said that in the 2 weeks before Christmas she had received several calls, mostly from Grandsons and Grandaughters with special requests as to what they could eat. Grandma was confused, what did this all mean? So she wrote it down in the hope I could explain it to her.What follows is my Grandma's list--
Grandaughter Mary eats nothing that is white.
Grandson Ted, his wife and children are vegetarians.

Jenny and Lisa say they are raw fooders.
Granddaughters Jill, Edith, Marcy, Molly, Lucretia and Daisy are vegans.
Grandaughter Joan and her Mom and Dad are Gluten Free.
Grandson John and his Mom will eat only organic foods.
Granddaughter Hayley and her boyfriend say they are Lacto/Ovo vegetarians who will eat dairy and fish but absolutely no meat or poultry!
Grandson Phillip is a Lacto/Ovo vegetarian who will eat NO fish!
Grandson's Paul and "Junior" can not eat dairy because they are lactose intolerant.
And finally, there is Grandma's favorite Grandson, 'Little Brucie', well, 'Brucie' is all grown up now, all 6'2'' and 135 lbs of him, he told Grandma that he didn't eat anything "that cast a shadow".
After reading the list Grandma paused and asked---"What in the world can I cook?"



Message from the author--get over yourself, consider others.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Grown-up Runner's Christmas List



What follows is a recently revised version of an article I did in 2011---
Christmas is a special time of year for many reasons and gift giving and receiving, as well as getting together with friends and family have alot to do with why it is so special.
For me, every Christmas brings back memories from years ago when it was a simpler, less complicated time.
What follows is my Christmas wish list, emphasis here is on wish.


 1.How 'bout an English language version of Yiannis Kouros' book he wrote years ago that chronicles his remarkable 6 Day Race in New York City. Against all odds and at one point in the race,horrible weather,Yiannis set a record for that distance. Are there still some hardcore runners out there who don't know he is? He is in my opinion one of the greatest runners who has ever lived. He owns every point to point ultra record as well as every one from 24 hours to 6 days. Consider 303km for 24 hours for starters. Break it down and see how many miles that is in a day. Go to Wikipedia and take a moment to read over the records he has set and the prestigious Ultra races he has won. Google Yiannis and read some of the accounts of his races. Yet this man can't get his book published? They've published Dean K's books, why not Yiannis'?  As an aside, if you have not seen the documentary on Yiannis entitled, 'Forever Running', you really need to buy it, today! This man is one of a kind, unlike any runner you have ever read about or seen. Last time I looked the site Zombierunner was selling the DVD.
2.I'm showing my age here but how about more marathons with fewer entrants, say in the 200 or 300 range? I'm tired of the congestion and confusion that comes with the thousands+ marathons.Making your way through a sea of people every which way you turn and go, waiting in lines for most everything and running for several minutes before you pass the starting line gets old quick.You younger runners may have never experienced the calm and lack of confusion that accompanies the smaller marathons.Now I know for race directors small entrance marathons are probably not financially feasible but I did say this is a 'wish' list.
3.I'd like cheaper running shoes. I think I may finally be a believer in the recommendation that you need a new pair every four or five months, but come on,100 plus dollars for new ones? Despite marketing research to the contrary, I still don't believe the majority of runners can easily afford the cost of  changing out shoes every 4 months or so.
4.I want a running magazine that is like the way Runner's World and Running Times were in the 70's.They were performance oriented, maximum performance oriented magazines. They had quality interviews with great runners,people like Lydiard,Clayton and Sheehan were doing monthly columns.Yeah,I understand that magazines have to reach the biggest audience to survive, but again, this is a wish list isn't it?
5.I want a charismatic American runner like Steve Prefontaine to arrive on the scene,someone to get this country interested in distance running again,especially the young kids. As Dick Kendall of Buffalo once told me,if the sport doesn't involve hiting,catching,dribbling or throwing a ball, the people aren't going to be much interested in it.
5a. I want 'Big Time' distance running to become drug free. Probably every world distance record has been tainted by drug use. Think about that for a moment. The records are all fraudulent, what a tragedy!
6.An injury free year. What athlete doesn't want that?
7. I want more athletes like Herb Elliott, John Landy, Jim Ryun, Ron Clarke, etc. Men who are not only great athletically, but men who possess intelligence,sportsmanship, integrity and dignity.Who hasn't read enough of the boorish,self-centered athletes from different sports that seem to predominate the athletic world these days?


So there you have it, my Christmas list,what's yours look like?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

10 Lessons You Can Learn From Bruce Lee

As said here previously, Lee was so much more than a martial artist who made movies and died young There are a lot of insights and useable info in the following. Like Cerutty, he thought "outside the box" in regards to his training and given sport. He and Cerutty also taught the necessity of being self-reliant as well as having the integrity to stand up for your views and beliefs no matter what the cost or consequences. They believed that life is in the living today, not in a concern for tomorrows and 'hereafters'.The following was written by J.D. Meier

10 Lessons Learned from Bruce Lee

In this post, I share my lessons from Bruce Lee.
These are my top 10 lessons from Bruce Lee:

1. Be YOUR best. 

It’s not about following in someone else’s footsteps or trying to be somebody you’re not.  It’s about unleashing your best version of yourself.  According to Bruce, “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”

2. Absorb what is useful. 

It’s not about blindly adopting patterns and practices.  It’s about taking the best of the best and tailoring it.  It’s also about throwing away what doesn’t work.  Bruce borrowed concepts and techniques from everybody and every art in a relentless pursuit of the best of the best.  According to Bruce, “Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own."

3. Keep an open mind. 

You have to be willing to throw out what you already know and have a curiosity to explore new paths.  If you’re cup is already full, you can’t learn new things.  According to Bruce, “First empty your cup.”

4. Aim past your target.

Aim past your target, so when you fall short, you still land in the ballpark of success.  Bruce Lee was famous for his one-inch punch, but in reality he was aiming past the one-inch.  According to Bruce, “Don’t fear failure.  Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.”

5. Stay flexible. 

Be flexible in your approach.  Learn from everybody and everything and don’t get locked into a particular style.  According to Bruce, “Expose yourself to various conditions and learn.”

6. Focus on growth.  

Push past your limits.  According to Bruce, “There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

7. Know yourself.

Your blind spots and ignorance can be your biggest weakness.  According to Bruce, “After all, all knowledge simply means self-knowledge.”

8. Master your mind and body.  

It’s not enough just to be smart.  It’s not enough just to master your body.  Your body and mind support each other.  Your body helps turn what you think or dream up into results.  According to Bruce, “As you think, so shall you become.”

9. Apply what you know. 

Life is not about watching from the sidelines.  Use what you know and put knowledge into practice.  Test yourself.  According to Bruce, “Knowing is not enough, we must do.  Willing is not enough, we must apply.”

10. Make things happen. 

When there is no wave, make one.  According to Bruce, “To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”
I think it really boils down to making the most of what you’ve got, including your mind and body, pushing past your limits and following a path of continuous learning and growth.

Bruce Lee’s Physical Feats

While we don’t know whether the following stretch the truth, we do know you don’t look the way Bruce did by default.  It was by design and he pushed his physical limits.
BruceLeePhysicalFeats
These are some of the physical feats attributed to Bruce based on various demonstrations, his friends and associates, and interviews:
  • Bruce performed one-hand push-ups using only the thumb and index finger.
  • Bruce performed 50 reps of one-arm chin-ups.
  • Bruce performed a sidekick while training with James Coburn and broke a 150 lb (68 kg) punching bag.
  • Bruce could cause a 200-lb bag to fly towards and thump the ceiling with a sidekick.
  • Bruce could snatch a dime off a person’s open palm before they could close it, and leave a penny behind.
  • Bruce’s striking speed from three feet with his hands down by his side reached five hundredths of a second.

Bruce Lee Quotes

I’ve included some of my favorite Bruce Lee quotes below.  I’ve organized them using the following categories:
Art / Artistry, General, Goals, Growth / Learning, Life, Mistakes, Positive Thinking, Personal Development, Power / Speed / Flexiblity, Self-Awareness, Simplicity, Time, and Truth.
BruceLeeQuotes

Bruce Lee on General Philosophy

  • It’s not what you give, it’s the way you give it.
  • Know the difference between a catastrophe and an inconvenience. — To realize that it’s just an inconvenience, that it is not a catastrophe, but just an unpleasantness, is part of coming into your own, part of waking up.
  • Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.
  • Obey the principles without being bound by them.
  • Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory.
  • Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against.
  • Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.
  • “What is” is more important than “what should be.” Too many people are looking at "what is" from a position of thinking "what should be."

Bruce Lee on Art / Artistry

  • Art calls for complete mastery of techniques, developed by reflection within the soul.
  • Art is the way to the absolute and to the essence of human life. The aim of art is not the one-sided promotion of spirit, soul and senses, but the opening of all human capacities – thought, feeling, will – to the life rhythm of the world of nature. So will the voiceless voice be heard and the self be brought into harmony with it.
  • The second-hand artist blindly following his sensei or sifu accepts his pattern. As a result, his action is and , more importantly, his thinking become mechanical. His responses become automatic, according to set patterns, making him narrow and limited.

Bruce Lee on Goals

  • A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.
  • If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.
    Make at least one definite move daily toward your goal.

Bruce Lee on Growth / Learning

  • A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough.
  • As you think, so shall you become.
  • A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.
  • Don’t fear failure.  Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.
  • Empty your mind; be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
  • Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential.
  • I am not teaching you anything. I just help you to explore yourself.
  • If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.
  • If you want to learn to swim jump into the water. On dry land no frame of mind is ever going to help you.
  • In order to taste my cup of water you must first empty your cup.
  • Knowing is not enough, you must apply; willing is not enough, you must do.
  • The knowledge and skills you have achieved are meant to be forgotten so you can float comfortably in emptiness, without obstruction.

Bruce Lee on Life

  • Life is better lived than conceptualized. — This writing can be less demanding should I allow myself to indulge in the usual manipulating game of role creation. Fortunately for me, my self-knowledge has transcended that and I’ve come to understand that life is best to be lived — not to be conceptualized. If you have to think, you still do not understand.
  • Life is never stagnation. It is constant movement, unrhythmic movement, as we as constant change. Things live by moving and gain strength as they go.
  • Life is wide, limitless. There is no border, no frontier.
  • Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning.
  • Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system.
  • Real living is living for others.
  • Reality is apparent when one ceases to compare. — There is "what is" only when there is no comparison at all, and to live with what is, is to be peaceful.
  • The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.

Bruce Lee on Mistakes

  • Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.
  • The great mistake is to anticipate the outcome of the engagement; you ought not to be thinking of whether it ends in victory or defeat. Let nature take its course, and your tools will strike at the right moment.

Bruce Lee on Positive Thinking

  • Choose the positive. You have choice, you are master of your attitude, choose the positive, the constructive. Optimism is a faith that leads to success.
  • If you think a thing is impossible, you’ll make it impossible.
  • To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.

Bruce Lee on Personal Development

  • Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.
  • Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.
  • I am learning to understand rather than immediately judge or to be judged. I cannot blindly follow the crowd and accept their approach. I will not allow myself to indulge in the usual manipulating game of role creation. Fortunately for me, my self-knowledge has transcended that and I have come to understand that life is best to be lived and not to be conceptualized. I am happy because I am growing daily and I am honestly not knowing where the limit lies. To be certain, every day there can be a revelation or a new discovery. I treasure the memory of the past misfortunes. It has added more to my bank of fortitude.
  • I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.
  • The spirit of the individual is determined by his dominating thought habits.
  • What you habitually think largely determines what you will ultimately become.

Bruce Lee on Power / Speed / Flexibility

  • A powerful athlete is not a strong athlete, but one who can exert his strength quickly. Since power equals force times speed, if the athlete learns to make faster movements he increases his power, even though the contractile pulling strength of his muscles remains unchanged. Thus, a smaller man who can swing faster may hit as hard or as far as the heavier man who swings slowly.
  • Do not be tense, just be ready, not thinking but not dreaming, not being set but being flexible. It is being "wholly" and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come.
  • Endurance is lost rapidly if one ceases to work at its maximum.
  • I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.
  • Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.
  • One should be in harmony with, not in opposition to, the strength and force of the opposition. This means that one should do nothing that is not natural or spontaneous; the important thing is not to strain in any way
  • The athlete who is building muscles though weight training should be very sure to work adequately on speed and flexibility at the same time. In combat, without the prior attributes, a strong man will be like the bull with its colossal strength futilely pursuing the matador or like a low-geared truck chasing a rabbit.
  • The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.
  • When one has reached maturity in the art, one will have a formless form. It is like ice dissolving in water. When one has no form, one can be all forms; when one has no style, he can fit in with any style.

Bruce Lee on Self-Awareness

  • After all, all knowledge simply means self-knowledge.
  • Fear comes from uncertainty; we can eliminate the fear within us when we know ourselves better. As the great Sun Tzu said: “When you know yourself and your opponent, you will win every time. When you know yourself but not your opponent, you will win one and lose one. However, when you do not know yourself or your opponent, you will be imperiled every time.”
  • Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.
  • The biggest adversary in our life is ourselves. We are what we are, in a sense, because of the dominating thoughts we allow to gather in our head. All concepts of self-improvement, all actions and paths we take, relate solely to our abstract image of ourselves. Life is limited only by how we really see ourselves and feel about our being. A great deal of pure self-knowledge and inner understanding allows us to lay an all-important foundation for the structure of our life from which we can perceive and take the right avenues.
  • To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are.
  • To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person.
  • Understanding comes about through feeling, from moment to moment in the mirror of relationship.
  • When we hold to the core, the opposite sides are the same if they are seen from the center of the moving circle. I do not experience; I am experience. I am not the subject of experience; I am that experience. I am awareness. Nothing else can be I or can exist.

Bruce Lee on Simplicity

  • It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.
  • Simplicity is the key to brilliance.
  • To spend time is to pass it in a specified manner. To waste time is to expend it thoughtlessly or carelessly. We all have time to spend or waste, and it is our decision what to do with it. But once passed, it is gone forever.
  • When there is freedom from mechanical conditioning, there is simplicity. The classical man is just a bundle of routine, ideas and tradition. If you follow the classical pattern, you are understanding the routine, the tradition, the shadow – you are not understanding yourself.

Bruce Lee on Time

  • Flow in the living moment. — We are always in a process of becoming and nothing is fixed. Have no rigid system in you, and you’ll be flexible to change with the ever changing. Open yourself and flow, my friend. Flow in the total openness of the living moment. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Moving, be like water. Still, be like a mirror. Respond like an echo.
  • If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.
  • The moment is freedom. — I couldn’t live by a rigid schedule. I try to live freely from moment to moment, letting things happen and adjusting to them.
  • The timeless moment. — The "moment" has no yesterday or tomorrow. It is not the result of thought and therefore has no time.

Bruce Lee on Truth

  • All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability. The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.
  • Truth has no path. Truth is living and, therefore, changing. Awareness is without choice, without demand, without anxiety; in that state of mind, there is perception. To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person. Awareness has no frontier; it is giving of your whole being, without exclusion.
Timeless wisdom from Bruce.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Don't Be A Cellphone Zombie



Recently, while I was considering all things Stotan, cellphone use again came to mind. Now I realize I have written on this subject before but it is my belief that the cellphone and its addictive properties are so pervasive that this topic must be addressed again.

I should begin with this disclaimer--I don't mean to offend anyone but like the friend who is drinking a fifth of vodka a day---there comes a time when someone who cares needs to step in and point out the error of his friend's ways. Today--for some of you---I am that friend. If what follows pisses you off or makes you feel defensive, perhaps I am speaking to you.

 You see people on cellphones everywhere --on the street--in the stores--on the beaches--in the parks-- and quite unbelieveably--in their cars. People staring blankly at the screens--texting or talking. Just today I saw a number of people looking at their phones while driving--forget the number who were actually talking on them. At the retail store where I work, people are looking at them as they shop while others are carrying on conversations. On television you will see the cameras scan a crowd and there will be people staring into their phones. Why? Do people forget that there was once a time when you missed calls but still got the message on your machine when you got home? Remember when people actually went out and were observant and engaged in their surroundings and not staring at a phone? To me, this is the potential BIG loss in excessive cellphone use, not being engaged in your surroundings, this includes the people who are right next to you.

Cellphones are addictive, and for the most part, unnecessary.Cellphones have become more addictive as they have gained more special features and things you can do with them.

Questions regarding health concerns and cellphone use, to me, are valid ones. U.S. officials dismiss reports that come out periodically from Europe critical of their use,but, it's not very reassuring when these same U.S. health agencies recommend that we text more and not let children actually talk on them too much. Mmmm--follow the money on this one--cellphones are a billion dollar+ business in America.
I could go on but here's the bottom line--ditch the cellphone--don't be afraid to be alone with your thoughts--you don't need to be talked to or at or have something to look at throughout the day anytime you desire. Cellphones are mind numbing ---they will make you addicts and less intelligent and interesting people.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Cerutty Says----Be a Rebel

  I believe, like Percy Cerutty, that ideally the athlete should also be an intellectual. I'm not speaking here of your need to be a "brain" or anything, I'm referring to an athlete who has developed an ability to reason,comprehend and judge.This is of course is a lifelong process. A thinking athlete is one who will ultimately have the most success in running and fewest injuries.By success I also mean enjoyment of the sport as well as competitive success. Cerutty often spoke about going against the norm in an era when it was not so common to do so as it is today. He was not only talking about doing this in athletics but in one's daily life as well.The following is an excerpt from his book, Success in Sport and Life: "Be a rebel against the perfunctory, the orthodox,the traditional,even the secure,the safe,the satisfactory,the conforming. It takes courage with a blend of so-called stupidity to burn one's bridges.I would hazard a guess that all great men at some time in their careers,burnt their bridges,said Good-bye to what looked to others to be sane and sensible. It is true that not many will not pay the price.It would be awful if everyone wanted to stand on the summit of Everest at one and the same time! But many can,if they rebel against mediocrity and complacency."
 We get back to a saying that has now become almost a catch phrase,"leave your comfort zone." I expect to see it written on a Nike or NB running shirt soon. It is worthy of consideration though. With a little over 30 years working in the psychiatric field I've seen the effects brought on by people living a life or having a mindset of "going with the flow" or doing what others expect. Things like frustration,unhappiness, and damaged relationships, along with alcohol and drug abuse, are often the consequences of suppressing who you are and what you really want to be.
The bottom line is this, be who you really are and live the life you love while respecting others and being responsible.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Thoughts On the Run---Have an Attitude of Gratitude



I believe it was Dr George Sheehan who once wrote,"I do my best thinking while out on a run." What follows are some thoughts that came into my mind recently during the course of a workout. If you haven't considered what you are about to read, take a few moments when you have time and do so.
Be thankful: Be thankful that you have the ways,means,time and health to indulge in the purest of all sports,running. More people than we can imagine don't.
Don't take things for granted:I know people don't like to read this but we are an accident or diagnosis away from losing it all, each day is a gift,make the most of it. People should remind themselves of this daily,I know I need to.
Don't put off tomorrow what you should begin today: I can't tell you how many people I've known who've had big running plans and said they were going to start on them as soon as they did this,or got finished with that. Guess what? Tomorrow never came. I've said this before,it's not a good feeling when you realize you should have gone for it years back when you were able to.
Be your own boss: You're the one who is in charge of your destiny. You're the one who has to answer for the mistakes you make as well as take credit for what you do right. So why do some of you allow others to dictate to you as to how you should live and determine as to whether or not what you do is worthy or not? I will quickly add that what I say is not advocating being selfish and insensitive to others.The reality is, it's your life,be in control of it.
Don't abuse yourself: too many people drink too much alcohol,eat too much, as well as eat too much crappy,unhealthy food. One of the biggest fallacies in the athletic world is that because you train,you have a free pass to do eat and drink whatever you want. If you believe that and do it year in and year out, you will eventually have to "pay the piper" somewhere down the line.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Advice to a Marathoner

A friend forwarded a question by a someone in regards to training for a marathon. Below is my response to that inquiry. Since this person has an interest in Arthur Lydiard my answer came from a Lydiard point of view. Distance training is inundated with too much conflicting info. As I have said before, there are fundamentals to training in all sports, and that includes distance running. In a nutshell? We train progressively harder as the organism strengthens and can tolerate more stress.


It says you are in Arthur's Legacy Runner's Group--don't you follow his training regimen? Arthur is very clear about a set timetable of training that becomes progressively more challenging---you first build your aerobic base through mileage, then there is a hill phase which is the beginning of strength building, then comes a specific phase where you do speed work, followed by a sharpening phase before you begin your racing season. I would strongly advise that you buy Arthur Lydiard's book Running to the Top--buy the revised and updated version published by Meyer and Meyer in 1995--It is VERY important that you buy this version as opposed to the other ones published decades ago.I'm sure you can get this book real cheap used on Amazon.com. It's a tower of Babel out there when it comes to marathon training advice--Lydiard is the man. The incorrect and premature introduction of speedwork in your training program will ruin any hopes of your getting near 2:50. Many athletes don't want to admit this but as you get near 50 yrs. of age, you can't do speed like you did when you were in your 20's. Again, Running to the Top by Arthur Lydiard published by Meyer and Meyer. Another thing, pick yourself up a copy of Distance Training for Masters by Arthur and collaborator Garth Gilmour, also published by Meyer and Meyer--I'm sure it too can be bought on Amazon used for a low price. Finally, set your mind on Arthur's program and forget the others. Too many runners are in a constant state of seeking info instead of settling on one specific program.


The last sentence says it all, runners and other athletes are famous for taking in 'new' training information hoping to get an edge, never really settling on one single program. As Cerutty said, this practice displays a certain degree of immaturity.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Lesson of Ron Daws

I apologize for the infrequent posts recently, I will try to put articles up on Wednesday and Sunday from here on out. For those who might not be aware of this, my Facebook page, Stotan Runners, is an active and great source of encouragement and insights by the greats of running and other sports.


Percy Cerutty taught that ultimately he wanted his athletes to be able to train themselves with him acting as little more than an occasional advisor and encourager, if needed. What you are about to read is someone who exemplifies this. Although not a Cerutty disciple, Ron Daws showed that this concept could become a reality.


If you were to ask most runners today who Ron Daws was they would probably say something like, "who"? Ron was a distance runner who was a member of the 1968 U.S. Olympic marathon team,he also wrote one of my favorite all-time running books,The Self-Made Olympian. Part autobiography,part training guide,this book is unfortunately out of print. I have seen used copies selling on the internet for $70. and more. Fortunately, I found my copy for $5. in a used book store in Ithica,N.Y. years ago.
So what makes this book so good? You'll soon see as I give you some of the highlights from this great book.
Ron writes that he really began to run seriously as a freshman in high school where he competed in cross country and track. His running continued through college where he had one,two and three mile bests of 4:30,9:43 and 15:22. Before I go on, let me say what most of you readers realize, that these times are not what you would expect from a future Olympian.To say they are unremarkable would be an understatement.Now, let's take a look a look at what he accomplished during his career:
1.Held the American records for 15 miles and 25 kilometers.
2.Four top ten finishes in the Boston Marathon.
3.A member of the Pan-American Games marathon team in 1967.
4.Qualified for the 1968 U.S. Olympic marathon team by finishing third at the trials race in Alamosa,Colorado. In doing so he beat several world class distance runners who held much better credentials than he.
5.Finished 22nd at the 1968 Olympic marathon.
After looking at the accomplishments listed above,one would have to ask,how did he get from being what appeared to be an average runner to one who became an American record holder and Olympian?
What made Ron Daws so special? Throughout the pages of his book the answers are given,answers that we can utilize to achieve our running goals. To those who believe you must have the genetics to succeed in athletics Ron said this: "I realized my physical talent was limited."
His quest began after watching Abebe Bikillia in the '64 Olympic marathon,Daws decided he wanted to make the next Olympic team.He then set a sequence of goals he wanted to achieve that would lead up to his ultimate objective.He began by formulating a training system that would prepare him physically.Ron was a big believer in the Lydiard system,about which he said: "Lydiard developed basic concepts 25 years ago that still remain the latest word in conditioning.....The whole purpose of his build-up was to prepare the runner to survive the grueling workouts and time trials that lead up to the racing season." Message to us runners,pick or devise a training system if you have racing aspirations.
Ron also believed in paying attention to all facets of his racing and making adjustments when necessary.This included everything from acclimating himself to the heat and altitude, to customizing a pair of running shoes he bought from,believe it or not,J.C.Pennys'. He says: "I paid more attention to details than the others and was willing to pay the price required. Beating the odds is not all enthusiasm and hard work. It's also devising detours around seemingingly insurmountable obstacles." Stop for a moment and really consider the truth of what this man just said,it's so true.
Then there was Daws' attitude,he would not be deterred from reaching his goals. He said this:"It's just a matter of how badly one wants to get to the top. The ones who find it too much trouble devise excuses. In the end, it just means they really didn't want it. Ron then says: "Running is made in men's minds,it's owning the feeling that no matter what,nothing can stop you. No runner is so untalented that he cannot improve vastly enough to beat the more talented ones whose approach is less intense...who knows,you may venture into worlds never dreamed of."
Whew,that's intense. The big lesson you learn from Ron Daws is that the only thing that can stop you from success is yourself.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

On Becoming Successful By Percy Cerutty


The following is a reminder that if you want to achieve a goal sometimes you have to make adjustments in the way you live and think. To many who are looking from the outside in, the adjustments may seem radical or extreme, but to that certain individual who wants it, it's all part of the process.
Once again, athlete, coach, philosopher, Percy Cerutty, explains it so well. I continue to wonder, why are there no athletic coaches offering observations like this these days?

"One of the evidences of greatness, either to be or arrived at, is the ability to live a solitary life, if need be. The person desiring success or greatness may find that they must act as if they abandon the world(as others know it): they must renounce all the petty goals and pleasures(as others understand them) and give themselves over to the task as they see it with as complete a dedication and subjugation of the self, as far as comfort and subsidiary goals are concerned, as if the whole matter was one of life and death. So, if you're not prepared to go it alone, if you are not able to stand firm on your decisions,if you do not feel you will go on---cost you what it may--if you do not have that almost constant need to strive higher, success may well elude you."

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Why Jack LaLanne Mattered


If Percy Cerutty had an American brother it would have been Jack LaLanne. Jack was the real deal, a man, like Cerutty, who recognized the absolute necessity of living a life in which physical exercise was a priority. The following is an archived article written after Jack died.


For those under the age of 40 years old and before this past Monday, the name Jack LaLanne probably brought to mind a likable old man you saw on television hawking a juicer bearing his name. Jack died Sunday at the age of 96 and the newspapers did a pretty good job of covering many of the things he did and what he accomplished during his life. I have a photo of him taken at the age of 85 doing fingertip push-ups with his arms extended in front of him. This picture serves as an inspiration to me as I move through my sixties. I found it interesting that he was covered mostly by the entertainment media and was pretty much ignored by the sports channels such as the ESPNS'. Perhaps this was due to the fact that Jack only had a television show that ran from the '50's to the '70's and was not a prominent member of some pro sports team. His show encouraged everyone,particularly housewives, to exercise and eat right. He did workouts that could be done in your living room,he showed you how to do them and went heavy on the encouraging and inspiring of his viewers. I must add that the physical feats he performed during his life are legendary. In case you are not familiar with some of the incredible things he did, simply do a Google search and prepare yourself to be amazed.I suggest you go to Wikipedia.com where you will read the best account of what he did and accomplished.If you have any interest in being fit and getting the most out of life,then this is a must read for you.I suppose it would have been too much to expect ESPN to give any coverage of Jack's life.After all, they had to give wall to wall coverage on whether or not a pro-football quarterback, who had played the day before and had sustained a Grade 2 MCL tear during the game,was being a wimp for leaving it. We were treated to endless cliche filled commentaries by barely articulate former players who act as the "experts" on ESPN saying things like,"in my day,if you could walk,you could play." Of course there was also my favorite,"This is the biggest game of his life,you have to step up,you may never get this chance again." Utterly asinine ramblings.


I digress, sorry. You see, Jack did some physical things that I doubt any athlete around today could do but that's not why he mattered. Jack mattered because for 77 years he preached that to live life to the fullest you had to be physically fit.He was right on the mark when he taught that with the pursuit of physical excellence came a positive outlook and attitude as well as an enthusiasm for life. He realized what many of us have come to realize,that a sedentary life eating crappy foods and satiating every desire you have is a road to ruin and unhappiness. He taught these truths decades before anyone else did.
Thanks Jack, for a life well lived.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Real Prize

I believe it is essential to challenge ourselves physically. I believe one of the best ways of doing this is through competition. Preparing for competition accomplishes many things. It gives us a goal; demands that we be organized, disciplined and following a plan.
As a word of caution, I would add that too many people equate athletic success with trophies, medals and age group victories. Those 'successes' are superficial and temporary. The real,deeper benefits are described below by the Australian athlete/coach/philosopher Percy Cerutty:

 "Perhaps the greatest success is found when we achieve victory over ourselves. And that, perhaps, is the greatest reward that can be obtained from participation in athletics and sport, generally--the victory over our own nature, our  weaknesses, our tendency, perhaps, to rush to alibis, palliatives, and excuses, rather than to admit our moments of weakness: of capitulation(surrender). So we come to the realization that the qualitative factor in success is purely personal, and that it is not something that can be measured only by the distance ran, the time recorded, the weight lifted or thrown, the height jumped, or the victories achieved over others. In this way success is subjective although the aims and ambitions may appear purely objective."

Monday, August 24, 2015

Strength/Weight Training

Many times I have been asked by runners and others as to what is a good overall weight/strength program. Below is that program. It originated as a letter to a friend but I thought I would offer it up to those who read this blog. Percy Cerutty recognized the necessity of weight/strength training. The following is inspired by him. One thing before you begin--if you are a serious competitive runner--you may want to substitute exercise #5 with the deadlift. Percy believed that serious, competitive distance runners should not do squats but he was a big proponent of the Deadlift.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Code of Conduct



Below are the traits needed to achieve athletic success, written by someone who achieved much:

* Dedication and Persistence.

* A passion and love for your chosen sport.

*Competitiveness.

*Focus.

* Strong work ethic.

The often forgotten trait, 'A passion and love for your chosen sport.' When you truly love your sport, the training rarely, if ever, seems like work.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Serious Athlete?



Serious athletes: Have goals,have a plan to achieve those goals,recognize that there will be ups and downs along the way, they know what their workout will be when they wake up in the morning and what that workout is trying to accomplish, they don't view the day's training session as something to "get in" between work and what they have planned for the evening, they never rush a workout so they can move on to something else,they recognize that each day their running( or training) is taking them one step closer to their goal,they think about and evaluate their training daily,ultimately,they view their training and running as a labour of love,an integral part of who they are.
The above applies to all goal seeking.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Taking Risks



"To place your ideas, your dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.


To live is to risk dying.


To hope is to risk despair.


To try is to risk failure.


But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.


The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing.


They may avoid suffering and sorrow but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow love, live.


Chained by their certitudes they are a slave, they have forfeited their freedom.


Only a person who risks is free."



Author Unknown


Who was it that said, most people live lives  of quiet desperation?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Yes You Can!


Sometimes in our desire for success a little voice inside says that we don't have the 'goods' or the talent, that it's other people meant for success, not us. Consider the following by philosopher, coach and athlete, Percy Cerutty.  He worked with athletes of varying skills, talent and ages.

"I do admit freely, frankly and fully, that we are not all born equal in graces, brains and ability, but I do affirm that no power exists,  human or superhuman, that opposes the genuine aspirations and sincere attempts of any personality to advance itself."

In all of us is the ability to go beyond what we think we can accomplish.

Sometimes I wonder if saying we can't, really means, I don't want to bother trying, I don't want to make the effort.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Few Quotes On Achieving Athletic Success

Sources of the following quotes are unknown. Comments given after each quote are by me.
"One should not torture himself over a single mistake. What is essential is one's presence of mind hereafter. When one makes a mistake, he should not be hesitant to correct it. Making a mistake and not correcting it, this is the real mistake."
Evaluate and re-evaluate, be introspective. I hear athletes repeatedly asking why they are not seeing improvement in their performances. There's a reason for this.
"Do all things with patience."
The impatient athlete tends to be a self-defeating one.
"Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind."
For most of us that takes awareness of how we are and the desire to acquire mastery over ourselves. Again, being introspective is the key.
"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training."

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Stotan Manifesto



I should preface today's post by offering a few comments. It was written in the mid to late 90's and was sent to members of the Stotans instead of the The Stotan News readership at large.The "Manifesto" was inspired by several experiences that had occurred during one summer. Each year the Stotans travelled to the Tuscarora Indian reservation and ran a 10k road race they put on. It was a great race with a fast and scenic course. After the race one year, Lanny, an Indian race organizer,approached myself and a few of the other Stotans I was with and started up a conversation. He spoke of what he was hoping to accomplish on the Reservation,the plight of the Indian in society, and what the U.S. government had done and was not doing for the Indian.Lanny also spoke about some of his traditions and beliefs. I was struck by his honesty and dignity. I was not surprised when he told me he did liason work for his tribe and the communities around the State in an effort to increase understanding of Indian life. After that day I had several telephone conversations with him and eventually took part in a ceremony which is called a Sweat Lodge. What an experience that was. The Stotan Manifesto was written shortly after the Sweat Lodge,actually, it was written in my car which I had pulled off  to the side of the road before leaving the Reservation. For those who don't see the Cerutty,Stotan connection I'd remind them that Cerutty once said that Stotans were "nature lovers". He stressed a life that was simple,devoid of materialism and had a respect for the land. Oh,I should add this.I noticed in our converstions that Lanny kept referring to himself and others as Indians. When I asked him about the phrase Native American, he laughed and said that,that was a term used by guilt ridden white liberals. He added that Indians he knew never used that term. To me,as a Stotan,the following is still relevant but I recognize and admit that others may not feel the same way.
The Stotan Manifesto
Stotan,the word was originated by the athlete,coach,philosopher, Percy Cerutty. Stotan is formed by combining the words stoic and spartan.
More than just a group of runners, we are a brotherhood.
We recognize and love the beauty of this land,our goal is to live in peace and harmony with it.
We are not like the majority of this land who care primarily for themselves and whose God is pleasure.
We confess and admit the sins of our fathers and forefathers that have been committed against this land and its many people.
We realize that one thousand years of restitution will never make up for their sins.
We as Stotans look to make amends for the abuses of our ancestors.
We totally reject the ways of the government which has grown fat and corrupt.
We recognize that corporate greed encouraged by the government is destroying this land.
We support all efforts that stop the polluting and "development" of this land,no matter how extreme they may be perceived as being.
We,when appropriate,will take part in such efforts.
Finally:
We are not,nor ever will be,conformed to this world.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dave Power On Coaches



Come on now,admit it,when most of you saw the title today you said Dave who? Often forgotten when discussing Percy Cerutty is that he trained many champions besides Herb Elliott. One of those athletes was Australian Dave Power,a bronze medal winner in the 10,000 meter run at the 1960 Rome Olympics.He offers some thought provoking comments on Percy as well as coaches in general.What he has to say about Cerutty is something that all coaches should provide their athletes. Power had this to say about him: "He was motivational and gave me alot more confidence in myself. Up until then I'd been playing second fiddle to the likes of Al Lawrence and Albie Thomas. Once Percy convinced me I was every bit as good as them,if not better,I started to win races." Offering his opinion on the coaches of today as compared to those of the past Dave remarked:"We had better coaches then you have today, coaches who taught from the heart and experience like Cerutty and Lydiard." The subject of coaches is always an interesting one. For instance, I tend to agree with Tom Osler when he said, "there are just a few good coaches in the world. Coaches are mostly drill masters. There are only a couple of original thinkers out there." Osler then went on to refer to Arthur Lydiard and Bill Bowerman as being great coaches,who among other things, "knew not to hurt their runners." I like what else he said when he provided this interesting insight: "Talented runners will succeed,then the coaches are asked what they did." This thought came to mind as I read that,have you ever noticed that many top American runners are either injured or recovering from an injury and this seems to be an ongoing situation with them? Do you also ever wonder why the focus in regards to that injury is on the runner who got injured, while the coach, who lays out the training schedule, is never mentioned as possibly being responsible for that athlete's injury? But as Osler said,when this runner has success, the coach is always a part of that success and is held in high esteem because of it. Bill Bowerman was very careful about his runners overtraining,that was one of the qualities that made him such a great coach. What many coaches don't realize today is that there is more to being successful at coaching than team victories and winning events and races. There is no question that these things are very important but they don't encompass all the qualites of what makes for a good coach.Minimizing injuries,instilling confidence and taking the time to help a runner reach his full potential,among other things, should be included in the criteria for determining who is an exceptional coach.                                                                                                                                               

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Your Workouts



The following could have been written by Cerutty but was authored by the legendary former NFL football coach, George Allen.
"A workout is 25 percent perspiration and 75  percent determination. Stated another way, it is one part physical exertion and three parts self-discipline. A workout makes you better today than you were yesterday. It strengthens the body, relaxes the mind and toughens the spirit. When you work out regularly, your problems diminish and your confidence grows. A workout is a personal triumph over laziness and procrastination. It's the badge of a winner -- the mark of an organized, goal oriented person who has taken charge of his or her destiny. A workout is a wise use of time and an investment in excellence. It is a way of preparing for life's challenges and proving to yourself that you have what it takes to do what is necessary. A workout is a key  that helps unlock the door to opportunity and success. Hidden within each of us is an extraordinary force. Physical and mental fitness are the triggers that can release it. A workout is a form of rebirth. When you finish a good workout, you don't simply feel better. You feel better about yourself."



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Racing Tactics By Herb Elliott



Whether you are a competitive racer or not, the quote at the end of this brief article is relevant to every athlete, irregardless of their sport.
Ah, to be in the kind of condition where you are able to throw in periodic surges during the course of a race. If you haven't read the article from July 28th entitled, Ticking Golden Moments by Roger Bannister( that's in July 2011 from my To Run is To Live blog),I would encourage you to take a moment and read it. Bannister gives an excellent account of Elliott's tremendous 20 yard victory in the1500 meter race at the 1960 Olympics. A race, where despite Elliott's margin of victory,the first six runners in that race broke the existing Olympic record. From 1896 till 2000, only two runners had faster Olympic 1500 times than his. One of those times by the way was just a little over a half second faster. One of the keys to Elliott's victory was his surging tactics. His first lap time for that race was :58.5,then :59:5, then 56:0, plus :41.6 for the last 300 meters. The following is excerpted from the 1963 edition of Modern Track and Field by J. Kenneth Doherty: "The crux of the race lies there. Elliott was third at the half, running easily. But then, quite unexpectedly,he put all his energy into one tactic. The pace had been averaging :14.7 for each 100 meters. Now he spurted to run the next 100 meters in :13.2,the third lap in :56.0,and one more 100 meters in :13.6. The competition then collapsed behind him.Elliott slowed to :14.4 in the last 100 meters." Needless to say, much preparation went into Herb's training that made it possible for him to employ the surging tactics that he used at the Rome Olympics. We, who desire to race well, should try to develop this technique during the course of our training. What follows are a few quotes from Herb that I'm sure will be a help in our effort: "Percy urged the advisability of impressing an instinct for surging upon my subconscious in the belief that when I became tired during a race I'd react automatically by exerting more effort and making a burst. The change of pace would upset the competition while at the same time allowing me to feel that I held the initiative." The mindset he had in working on this technique was described by Elliott in the following: "Most athletes imagine themselves at the end of their tether before they're even seventy-five percent exhausted. I was so determined to avoid this pitfall that if at any time I thought I was surrendering too soon to superficial pain I'd deliberately try to hurt myself more." Some running and racing wisdom from one of the greatest of all-time.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Physical and Mental Factors That Make For Success

In case some of you don't have access to Facebook, the following was posted today on my Stotan Runners Facebook page.
From Schoolboy Athletics written in 1963 by Percy Cerutty--
"The physical and mental factors that make for success, improvement and a champion.
Theses factors are(and not necessarily set out in order of merit):--
Power: i.e., muscular strength, stamina, an overall fit organism.
Technique: i.e., 'Know-how', being master of the details of the event or skill....
Confidence: i.e., will to win and courage. Both these are dependent somewhat upon inherited factors, and past experience justifying a hopeful approach.
Persistence: this factor shows up in steady and continued training, irrespective of 'feelings', weather or other conditions, social or other 'temptations' or interruptions.
Character: this factor is mainly the result of early training, an adult attitude to life, an accepting of responsibility (both as to others and in regard to our own behavior and acts), a high degree of intelligence--and the result of the other factors.
Therefore, whilst I deem character the most important of the factors, it must be placed last, since it is so much the result of all others."

The above is one more example of the genius that is Percy Wells Cerutty.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

When You Don't Feel Like Running


Perhaps the following has happened to you--Cerutty I'm sure would have taken a more direct and blunt approach to dealing with my "problem". Come to think of it, I wouldn't have dared tell him.
I had one of those days the other day,you know,you get home from work and you really don't want to go out and do your scheduled workout. I'm sure we all get that feeling every now and then. For those who are casual about their running and have no specific goals, it's not a big deal to take the day off. It is of course a different matter for runners who have plans and aspirations. The following are some suggestions for dealing with those days when you don't feel like running. #1. Assess yourself, are you burned out or overtrained? If you are, then you need to rest. If you're not, consider the following. #2. Tell yourself that you are going out for only 15 minutes instead of the scheduled 45,50 or 60 minutes. You may very well end up doing only the 15 but at least you'll be getting in the shortest amount of time you can run to reap the aerobic benefits. However,here is what will more than likely happen,10 minutes into the run you'll be glad you got out there and do the workout as you originally planned.Either way you go, at least you got out the door. #2. Change the original workout to an easy run,the longer the better. It's not like it's a common occurrence where you don't feel like running, so making a last minute change to save a run is not necessarily a bad thing. #3. W.W.P.D.--translation,what would Steve Prefontaine do? Well,the Prefontaine I read about would suck it up and do the run. You can replace Pre with the name of any of your running heroes. For those of us who live for the run,the running greats and legends from the past are an unending source of encouragement and inspiration. #4. Tell yourself that not going out for the run is exactly what 3/4's of the people at your targeted road race would do if they didn't feel like running. Skip the run and the other 1/4 gain a day on you. #5.Remind yourself that today's run is part of The Plan you have to achieve your running goal(s). Think of the guilt you'll feel later in the evening as you think about the run you blew off. #6. When all us fails,shame yourself. Ask yourself if you are a real runner or a wimp.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Ultimate Goal of Athletic Training



Ideally, training,athletics and sport should elevate the athlete mentally and physically to a point where they become a complete person.The following is an excerpt from Graem Sims biography,Why Die? The Extraordinary Percy Cerutty, Maker of Champions. Here Cerutty comments on what can be ultimately obtained through the RIGHT kind of training: "A.The ability to withstand severe physical hardship,to accomplish feats of strength and endurance,to understand orderliness and the true meaning of intelligence. B.To know oneself as an organism and a personality. C.To emerge,eventually emancipated from all dogmas,creeds and beliefs,as well as worldly and unworldly hopes and fears. D. To habitually function upon the highest planes of thought and physical effort. E.To place the objective of an alert,informed intelligence,and a perfected body,as primary in Life. And to arrive at the conclusion that all else will follow on. F.To learn that on this basis the whole world, and all that it has to offer,opens out as a vision splendid,normal and realisable. G. To understand that Past,Futures,Fates,Fears,Death,Selfishness,Egoism,Pride,Envy,Hate and Prejudice can be replaced by Intelligence that controls emotion,dominates destiny,manifests completeness, and exults in Life. H.To understand that in actuality, evolved man is a King, but without the trappings. That Kingship is his right and destiny. That we can make ourselves,in time, all that we would. That we honor real men but are subservient to none." An especially noteworthy quote by Cerutty asserts that through proper training of the body and mind: "we can make ourselves,in time, all that we would." So much for the stereotype of the one dimensional, dumb athlete here. Cerutty's philosophy on athletics involves more than just getting fit,strong and ready to race, it also requires what some might call "mental" work. This philosophy is what makes him unique,relevant and different from all other coaches. Cerutty knows that when you develop all aspects of yourself it positively effects the way you live and view life.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Cerutty On What Our Athleticism Should Be



Sometimes when we commit to achieving certain goals in running there is the possibility of becoming so preoccupied with reaching them our running turns into something it never should be,a chore or a job. I've known many runners over the years who became so obsessed with performance that running was no longer an enjoyable activity. Perhaps you have known people that this has happened to. In the following quote Cerutty reminds us what athleticism should be: "Our athleticism must be, and should be, adult play. It is when we make it work---dull,routined,scheduled,treadmill work---that we depart from the natural; the joyous;the exhilarating. Those who slavishly follow the printed schedule,the daily do this coach authority, are little likely to know the joys and pleasures that true athleticism can bring us,young or old." What made Cerutty's teachings so unique and timeless is that he showed that you can achieve success in athletics without making the process rigid,regimented and unnatural.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ron Clarke on Training, Racing and Life

With the death of running great Ron Clarke yesterday, it only seems fitting that I should repost this article from my To Run is To Live blog. There is much to learn from what Mr. Clarke had to say.
All of us know about Ron Clarke right? I have posted about him before but as a refresher I will mention a few career highlights: In a period from 1963-1968 he set 21 world records,indoors and out,at distances ranging from two miles to the one-hour run. This is a quote from Brian Lenton's Interviews book, "Ron's 10,000 meter world record(27:39) in Oslo 1965 without a pacemaker and on cinders(sometimes in lanes 2 and 3 because of the condition of the track) is still regarded as one of the greatest athletic performances of all time. No one else in the world bettered 28 minutes until 1971." I could go on but you can see that Ron could really race. He authored many books and worked at RW for a while in the 70's. When he speaks, all runners should listen. The following is from a lengthy interview he did for Brian Lenton: "Athletics is a hobby in which I'm free to do anything at any time. A coach would want me to adhere to a rigid schedule and to follow his advice. I like to please myself how and when I train so that my hobby doesn't intrude on my business career. And it really is a hobby; a personal recreation rather than an international project.One doesn't run for the world,but for oneself." That's part of the beauty of the sport,participation and enjoyment only requires one runner. On racing: "Sitting is the easy way to win races.Athletes get the glory from it. A race as a spectacle deteriorates because everyone wants to win it the easy way. If someone runs a 49 second last lap and wins a 4:20 mile,why should he be praised?" How true! For us racing fans,is there anything more disappointing than watching a big race where all the competitors sit and then take off with less than a lap to go? On being a full-time runner: "I had to rearrange job schedules to fit in the training. Some of the Australian distance runners who have taken up to a year off to prepare for the Olympics must be bored to death. I cannot understand it. One can spend too much time sitting around thinking about running." Again,so much for the frequent complaint from some quarters that say elite runners must be subsidized in order to excel. On running,racing and self-evaluation: "Running is fitness,as everyone knows, and the fitter you are the faster you run. But the other test of fitness is recovery and the fitter you are the faster you recover from any effort. If you're running flat out and you record a poor time you shouldn't get out and try repeating it. Rather you should recover and find out what you're doing wrong." An often forgotten point,the fitter we are the better is our recovery from hard runs and races. On elite runners not racing that often: "What I don't like about a lot of runners is that they don't race as often as they should. I'd like to see distance runners be a little less worried about their so-called reputation." Amen to that Ron!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cerutty on Success



Those who have been fortunate enough to read the excellent bio on Percy Cerutty called Why Die?, know that his childhood and early life involved much deprivation and hardship.This experience molded what later revealed itsself as the good and bad qualities of an adult Cerutty.The man knew failure,but more importantly,he knew all about success.What follows are some of his thoughts on success:
"Success is an abstraction.There is no actual or concrete thing called success.There are only successful people,successful ventures,etc."
I would add that one man's idea of success is not necessarily another man's.
"The first step on the road to a personal success in something is to believe that success should be,at some time or another normal for us,and to set about the work of achieving it."
Confidence and a belief in the worthiness of your quest is essential.
"If you would be successful,first examine yourself as to type,and potential ability.Then list your weaknesses.You can take your gifts for granted,since it is easy to develop them.It is your weaknesses that you must work on."
How many of us did this when we began?
"Achieving success is like climbing a mountain.You can stand off from afar,and glimpse the summit.But if you are wise,you will quickly turn away from any such contemplation and start organising yourself,and getting on the way."
This is why there is value in setting short term goals.Also,our "big"goal can at times seem unattainable and far off if it is the only one we have set for ourselves.Cerutty has this to say about too much contemplation of your long term goal when he writes:
"It is more important to study the path immediately before us than to spend much time gazing upwards."
"The practical man,once he has glimpsed his goal seldom talks about it.He gets busy in taking the first steps towards his goal."
"Be glad for setbacks,disappointments.They teach us more than a fortuitous success."
If we are open and allow them to.
"The greater the failure the greater the stocktaking that is needed."
"Experience is essential.Be prepared to put in the time and effort gaining it."
Patience is essential, as they say--'the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.'
"The old well-proven paths of industry and deep thought are are not the well-proven paths to success for nothing.The paving stones of the path may vary but generally they are found to be intelligent work,persistence,concentration,dedication,erudition,resilliance,and devotion to an idea."
So well put,the above are indeed the keys.I like his naming of intelligent work as a key.Too many distance runners just hammer away giving little thought to what they are doing and what they want to accomplish.They could get so much farther if they considered the type of training they should do to reach their goals.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Athletics--More Than Just A Simple Pastime

There is a reason why some of us out there, like Mike Spino, feel it is important to not only keep the spirit of Cerutty alive, but acquaint others with what he taught. Consider the following:
What better way to learn about Cerutty than from someone who was taught and trained by him. The following is an excerpt from the excellent book by writer/coach and former Director of the Esalen Sports Center, Mike Spino. Within his book entitled, Beyond Jogging: The Inner Spaces of Running, you get an insight into a coach who was unlike any other and who is every bit as relevant today as he was 50 years ago. What made Cerutty unique? Iconoclast and philosopher, as well as writer and coach, Cerutty looked beyond simply the training and competitive aspects of athletics. He knew that the athlete who was receptive to seeing the bigger picture as it pertained to athletics would ultimately be a better person in every aspect of his life. Consider the following from Spino on Cerutty:
" 'All over organism power: heart-lungs-glands-muscle-spirit power' is the philosophy Cerutty used to guide those under his watchful eyes. It was part of Cerutty's genius that he looked at running and other athletic achievements as more than a simple pastime. He encouraged his students to bring all their mental powers to bear on their chosen sport. He probed into the psyche of the athlete, coupling innate brainpower and will with the innate running ability of the animal. This combination resulted in techniques that lifted his students above the ordinary."
Yes, athletics, can be more than just 'a simple pastime'.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

If  by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

This poem was required reading for students of Percy Cerutty.