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'.