Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Athletes and the Information Overload

  In this modern age we have at our fingertips access to an unbelievable amount of information. Have you ever said to someone who asked you a question about something you didn't have an answer for to go and "Google it"? I have, on many occasions, often with a smile on my face. While "Googling" it may provide information, it more often than not leads to more confusion than answers. Try this, Google (or Bing) a subject like, what type of aerobic exercise is the best. What you will find is thousands upon thousands of articles extolling the virtues of a variety of types of different aerobic activities while downplaying ones that are hyped on other posts. Perhaps a better example: Google the best diet for an athlete. Here you will get hundreds of thousands of listings for a variety of different "best diets". I believe you get the picture, there is a ton of diverse and conflicting information out there. It comes from all facets of the media as well as print and from the computer. So how do you work your way through this seeming informational Babylon?
  A few suggestions on how to get to the truth,and I should say that I am focusing more on athletes here but this can be applicable to everyone. First and foremost, resign yourself to the fact that you will have to do a little research and that will take time. Can't be bothered? Than do what most people do, get your info in appealing and affirming news and soundbites put out by "experts" who are promoting their way as the right way.
You want to find the proper way to train for your particular sport? I do not have the time this year to list the number of books on training (especially running) that tout the virtues of THEIR program. You want info on diet? That's a billion dollar industry which, in my opinion, is leading millions of people down the wrong path nutritionally.
So what do I do? The first thing you do is look to the fundamentals relating to your body. Fundamentals? What do I mean by that? Well, as there are fundamental truths about gravity, there are fundamental truths about your body's needs and what it can tolerate. In training for example, your body is best served when it is gradually introduced to more stressful work. Take running, you need to get aerobically fit before you do sprints or hammer the hills. In weight training, you do lighter weights before you work up to heavier ones. It's not only common sense, it's part of the fundamentals of anatomy and physiology. Of course you could jump right into heavier and faster but your body will  rebel and probably breakdown at some point.
Diet and the athlete? Do you know the basic needs as it pertains to fats, carbohydrates and proteins for your body? Most people don't. I recall that when I was studying to be a personal trainer a few years back I was surprised when I read what the daily protein needs were for the average person and the serious athlete. It was far more than what I had been led to believe from reading health books and articles by self-appointed health experts. The logical response to that last sentence might be, so what made that guy you read credible? The fact that he had a doctorate in his field, and most importantly, the bibliography in his textbook cited numerous studies and testing from valid sources was good enough for me. It all came back to the fundamentals, what your body requires to survive and thrive.
  The second and final way to validate information that promotes a particular way or idea, show me the proof. An example. Many years ago I attended an all day seminar given by the late Arthur Lydiard. Arthur, for those who may not know, formulated the quintessential distance training program. During the question and answer period, someone asked him what he thought of (name of coach here) program that was very popular at the time. Lydiard responded--"How many Olympic champions has he coached?" This coach had guided zero while Arthur had several to his credit. Don't give your acceptance to anything if there is no proof of its merit.
Finally, since we are on the subject of proof, let's consider diet and eating. There is a way of eating that has become quite trendy and popular these days. It is deficient nutritionally but it is not my intention to go into a discourse on it's shortcomings here. The question I have about this way of eating and others is, presently, what populaion on earth have lived long, vigorous lives eating this way?  You say none, yet? Well, there are examples of people living long robust lives eating a way that is radically different from what you espouse. When it comes to my long term health, I'll go with what has worked any day.
  Fundamentals and proof, the way to separate the wheat from the chaff every time.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


I apologize for so few articles recently--I have been training, studying and spending far too much time on my Facebook Stotan Runners page. It is my hope that I will leave Facebook shortly and the only other posts I'll do there will be ones I link from here. I have some new thoughts and ideas I hope to put them into words.
 In this day and age we are inundated with information from so many different sources. Movies, books, newspapers, magazines, television and radio supply viewers and readers with a staggering amount of things to watch and read. Always popular with the public are the success stories written about, or by, someone who has overcome obstacles to finally reach their goal(s). It's also common to read quotes and sayings by these individuals, you may see them on posters, bumper stickers, online or in magazines. Most of us read them and say something like, "that's really good," and continue on. I'd like to offer a few suggestions for the next time you come across a really good, insightful quote. First off, recognize that the person quoted is not just saying this to titillate you, the intention is for the reader to learn from it, and in many cases, act on it. Secondly, the person giving the quote is operating from his personal experience, what and how he did something led to his learning from or accomplishing something. What follows are some quotes by notable people on persistence. Regular readers to this blog have read that persistence is the key to running and athletic success. Persistence has to do with sticking with it when MOST others have "bagged" their goals and moved on to something else. My advice to myself and others on what you are about to read is: Read, Learn From and Act On It.
 Here goes: "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence,talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." This quote, believe it or not, is by President Calvin Coolidge. "Energy and persistence conquer all things." Quote by Benjamin Franklin." We are made to persist. That's how we find out who we are," Quote by Tobias Wolff. As I used to tell the High School athletes I coached, "you can't make an average sprinter great by just training, but, you can make an average distance runner a very good one if the athlete is willing to stick with it and do the work. The above quotes are by people, who through their experiences, know what they are talking about. For those of us who are sitting on the fence in regards to going for it, isn't it time "we found out who we are?"