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.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article. My father sure had some great quotes!

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