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, Stotans United, 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.