Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Distance Runner

This is a poem I wrote years ago and is dedicated to all who 'live for the run.'
I believe many of you can relate to the following.

"Team sports were never for me,
I can't see depending on others to play.
Gyms, courts and fields are too confining, I crave the freedom of the roads and trails.
My first thought in the morning is where my next run will be.
Some say I'm foolish but I know better,
See I'm a distance runner, that's all I want to be."

There is a point when you realize that running is more than just an activity you do in your free time.
It has become part of your being, who you are as a person. It is as vital to your existence as eating and sleeping.
Those who don't run or share your passion may view your zeal for running as misguided or extreme.
In response to that I quote Percy Wells Cerutty: "those who don't do, can never know."

Thursday, December 28, 2017


It is my intention to provide on occasion articles, quotes, etc. that are in keeping with the Stotan philosophy. I have come across many writers who wouldn't have a clue as to what the word Stotan is or means but what they have written has Stotan features contained within it.

For those new to this blog and unsure of what Stotanism is, you will see in the top left corner of the title page a search tab where you can type in that word or simply Stotan and it will bring up a few of the original articles on this subject. I believe one was called Are You a Stotan? The posts from this month are a continuation of those earlier ones.
If you find what is on this blog interesting, I would greatly appreciate you letting others know about it.

Today I feature something by Dave Draper, one of my favorite writers. Although he writes primarily about weight and strength training, there are universal truths that pertain to all forms of training. One of course is discipline. Consider the following:

"Discipline is one of the most valuable qualities one can possess. Like a tree, you start with a seed; you plant it and grow it.
You develop discipline--it is not a gift, an inheritance or a purchased commodity. And was it a tree, its fruits would be perseverance and patience.
Discipline is not owned by repeating mantras, reading a book, watching a video or following a formula. Discipline is founded on need and desire and developed in deed."

Really good, the last line of the above validates what was posted the other day. If you believe in the worthwhileness of what I will call your athleticism, discipline will come because it will be founded on "need and desire."

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

With New Year's Eve Coming

                          Let your athleticism be your drug and your drink.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Lack of Motivation and Discipline

Cerutty often wrote about needing to have a belief in the worthiness of the goals we said we desired. I always found this to be an insightful point because if you didn't truly believe in the worthwhileness of your goal you would sooner or later abandon the effort. Haven't we seen, or experienced ourselves, a quest being derailed and given up due to our job, lack of apparent progress, relationships, injury, boredom or any variety of distractions? Of course we have. Without a belief in the worthwhileness of your goal, what they call sticktoitiveness and discipline will be hard to maintain.
 Cerutty said we must consider deeply whether we really wanted what we said we did or were we just engaging in some "fanciful dreaming"?
It seems with a New Year coming that this would be a good time to "consider deeply" what we would like to accomplish athletically. Combine this with some serious self-evaluation. Ask yourself if you have become complacent, jaded, lazy, or bought into the lie that setting your sights on athletic goals is something for a time that has long passed you by. Do you feel a gnawing sense of unease when you think of what you might have done if things would have "gone your way?" I say? What are you waiting for? Go for it! Don't be like the majority of people who settle into a life of sameness,comfort and routine. You say you don't have the time? There are 24 hours in each day, you don't have one, occasionally two hours a day to dedicate to you becoming a better person in every aspect of your being? If you don't, which I doubt, you need to make some drastic changes in your life. And if you think this commitment you'll make is all about winning, p.r.'s and medals, think again.

Consider these words from Cerutty from his book, Success: In Sport and Life: "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."
Yeah, that's worth more than any medal or trophy.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Getting Old and Running

As I was running a long loop through the trails and hills last weekend, I felt much the same as I did running the Finger Lakes Trails 16 years ago. To me,nothing had changed mentally or physically.I can't say enough about the beauty and uniqueness of running the trails,but, that is not the purpose of this post.

The following quote by Dr.George Sheehan puts into words what I was thinking as I ran: "My fight is not with age. Running has won the battle for me. Running is my fountain of youth,my elixir of life. It will keep me young forever. When I run,I know there is no need to grow old. I know that my running,my play,will conquer time."
So true.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Stotanism, It's More Than Sand Dunes and Raw Oats, pt.2

What you are about to read is a revised, dare I say, new and improved version of an article I first wrote for my running blog to run is to live years ago.

Continuing on this topic, no, not everyone who has Stotan (or Stotan Racing for that matter)on their singlet is truly a Stotan. In part 2 we look more at the physical aspects and specific training then the philosophical. At the end of this article I will comment on a few of the things Percy wrote
Consider the following by him as he describes the attributes of a real Stotan, addressing how they should live and train:
"1.Realization that, as Wordsworth the poet says, 'Life is real, life is earnest'. which denotes that there is no time for wasteful ideas and pursuits.
2.In place of wasteful hobbies there commences a period of supervised and systematic physical training, together with instruction in the art of living fully. This replaces previously undirected life.
3.Swimming will be done all year round. It is obligatory to swim in the open sea at least once every month. This especially strengthens the will and builds resistance to quitting the task ahead.
4.The programme implies the cessation of late hours. Amusements, both social and entertaining,should be reduced to a minimum and then only in the nature of relaxation from strenuous work..
5.To become a leader it must be accepted that the first requisite for leadership is being able to give wholehearted loyalty,obedience and support to the leader at the time.
I hold that the human being cannot be reduced to the status of a machine--and I attribute the success of the athletes who received their early training at Portsea on my specialized fartlek methods,not so much to the initial ability of the athletes, but to the form of training we favour at Portsea,and the terrain we train upon.The introduction of resistance in the form of sand and hill is too important to be ignored and the track can never fulfill the lack nor the scientific formula replace 'natural and instinctive' effort."

 It is hard to believe there was once an athletic coach who wrote things like the above. I don't believe there are any around today teaching what Percy did.
Readers may say, well, I don't live near sand dunes or have an ocean near by so I can hardly follow this regimen. True, but you can simulate what he is recommending as close as possible. An example of this, near where I lived there were ski slopes of varying lengths. Myself and some fellow Stotans would run up them barefoot, weather permitting of course. As far as swimming? We'd go to the least polluted lake in our area and take a swim. Once again, the running of the dunes or ski slopes and the swimming are MORE than just to improve you physically, they also provide a strengthening mentally.

Regarding #4 on the list above, Cerutty didn't think that the Stotan should have no fun in his life. What he was totally against was wasting your time with too many spectator activities and social things like hanging in the clubs, bars or watching sports. It is logical to ask ourselves, why would a self-described serious, success minded person(athlete) spend hours in front of the tube, computer, cellphone, etc. There are better ways to spend your time. Note that in #2,  Cerutty says Stotans should receive instruction "in the art of living fully." That hardly seems like a drab, monk type of existence he is advocating.

So, the questions for us should be, are we wasting our time and ultimately our lives? Can we see, or are we beginning to see, that Stotanism is a way of living life more fully?

I say: Consider, Commit, Plan--then Proceed with a Dedicated Discipline.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Dinner at Grandma's--2016-2017

In this now 21st Century, healthy eating has morphed into food fanaticism and/or food snobbery.
A popular post which I will put up each year at this time.
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 casts 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.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Percy Cerutty's Early Influences, pt.1

For those who really want to learn about Percy Cerutty, I highly recommend what is the definitive bio on him, Why Die? The Extraordinary Percy Cerutty 'Maker of Champions' by Graem Sims.

As mentioned in the last post, Cerutty read extensively on a wide range of subjects. Prior to his emergence as an athlete, and later coach, Cerutty was in an extremely poor state physically and financially. One of the early books that impacted him greatly was Man the Unknown by Alexis Carrel, a French medical researcher. Carrel's observations on the mind/body connection as well as the  largely untapped potential of Man were a huge encouragement to Cerutty in his recovery process and the philosophy he later formulated.
 Pictured below is one of the notable quotes by Carrel, Cerutty basically taught and wrote about the very same thing. I have listed a few other quotes in addition to this one. Take a few moments to consider the wisdom and insight they reveal.

"The quality of life is more important than life itself."

"Hard conditions of life are indispensable to bringing out the best in human personality."

"The most efficient way to live reasonably is every morning to make a plan of one's day and every night to examine the results obtained."

More on Cerutty's early influences coming soon.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Stotanism, It's More than Sand Dunes and Raw Oats, pt.1

 I have written on this subject before but every now and then something happens or I read an article that prompts me to clarify what Stotanism is.
I feel it is important to do this because the physical aspect is only one part of Stotanism. There is an equal part philosophical to go with the physical in being a Stotan. Maybe philosophical is not the correct word, perhaps a more correct phrase would be, a way of living.
Unquestionably, if you embrace only the physical, you will deprive yourself of a better way of looking at life and living.
 Cerutty was a voracious reader on a wide variety of subjects. I remember that in 2000 on Ebay someone was selling off much of his library for I believe $300. The comment about the books was that most were extensively underlined and filled with notations on the pages.The man read and studied intensely. It is my great regret that I didn't have the funds to make that purchase.

Cerutty believed that a Stotan should be well read and continually seeking to experience art, literature,philosophy and music.It is well documented that in the evening at his training camp in Portsea, Percy spoke to his young athletes on these subjects and more. The stereotype of the dumb athlete was something that Cerutty scorned.
So what is needed? Consider this quote:"Therefore it should be clear that the education of the mind and the philosophy of living fully must first be tackled."
And what if this aspect of living isn't learned? The answer could be a description of American males today: "They will find their outlets in work, clubs, moderate alcoholism and spectator sports." With over 50% of out population significantly overweight and the obsessive devotion to pro sports, Cerutty's words ring true.

More on the education of the mind: "The understanding of life:the education of the mind, both are essential. Then we are not content to let others fight for us, shoulder our responsibilities, die for us."

Philosophy? Try this: "Live in the ever present. Apportion some time: each day, each week, each year, to doing something that is disassociated from success, finance, earning and ambition"

For Percy Wells Cerutty it was as the Greeks he studied taught, it is, not was,  the development of the mind and body.

So in closing pt.1 of this series let me editorialize for a moment to you Stotans, Stotan wanna-be's and Stotan should be's. Some may read this and move on to their expensive cellphones where they will keep their heads buried most of the day. Others may "binge" watch their favorite series this evening or get lost in their all NFL access or Sports channels while the sad reality is that reading a book is something they haven't done since......?

Here is the message from the Man:"Life is not looking(being a spectator), or owning, it is in living,doing!"

Thursday, December 7, 2017

With A New Year Approaching,Something To Consider From Ron Daws

Ron Daws was a treasure,a gift to the world of distance running who died way too young. You can see from prior posts that I have referenced Ron on several occasions. Among other things,he proved that you didn't have to be born with natural talent to achieve great success in distance running.He wanted other runners to know this fact and be encouraged by it. May the following be an inspiration to all of us to strive and challenge ourselves.
Ron wrote: "Unless you go all out for something,you may conclude your life without actually having lived it. It doesn't have to be running,but it should be a quest for excellence,and it need be for only that period of your life that it takes to fully explore it. That's how you find out what you are made of. That's how you find out who you are. To live your life your way,to reach for the goals you have set for yourself,to be the you that you want to be,that is success."
It has become fashionable in recent years to criticize the making of New Years resolutions. This is unfortunate because what better time to change or make a decision to accomplish something then at the start of a new year? Over the few days remaining before 2018,consider what you have just read by Ron and determine whether or not there is something you need to set about doing in the coming year. Perhaps this is the year you find out what you are made of.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Starting Over

 As I have said before, nothing seems more"doable" than deciding on an athletic comeback after having a  few beers. Then, the next day comes and reality sets in.
 What follows are some random thoughts on the subject.

The hardest thing about starting over is that you feel you are so far behind that you are overwhelmed by the thought of even beginning.

Being so far out of the condition you were once in, limits, at least for awhile, how much and at what intensity you can function (train).

You need to be vigilant as to what and how much you eat and drink. You need to find a variety of things that work towards your goal without endangering your health by injury or overuse.

 Remember this while Initiating and continuing your comeback:
Sustaining motivation may be difficult
Boredom can be a factor
Patience is a necessity.

I have found that to have a successful athletic comeback you must totally immerse yourself in the effort. It should be one of the focal points of your life and day.
Read, write and study materials that inspire, inform and encourage.
Stotan Up!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Train For Honor

 I recall years ago seeing an interview when fitness guru Jack LaLanne was nearing the end of his life.  I believe he was 93 years old, his mind was still sharp but he appeared somewhat frail. Not long after he died.
Then I read a question asked on a men's fitness site, why train? The reader's question was motivated by the fact that all our bodies are going to be overcome by the ravages of age so why bother? Whoever was moderating the site was so baffled by the question that he could only respond with "what a stupid question." Not a particularly substantive response.
I ask this question of everyone, why do you train?
What follows are a few excerpts from an essay called, Train For Honor by Jack Donovan. I found it to be very relevant and enlightening as it pertains to why we train. It is taken from his book, A Sky Without Eagles. It gave me a whole new insight into training, cutting though the superficialities and vanity that are so much a part of training and physical fitness. You may not agree with him but it will get you thinking.
Early in his essay Donovan asks: "why spend hours in a gym, lifting or training to perform feats that you will never really need  to perform to survive?"
He then acknowledges that his body is a "depreciating asset."
As far as exercising to stay healthy and live longer? Donovan states this is "a mediocre and uninspiring reason to get up and go to the gym every day." It reduces working out  to just "another chore."
And his opinion of those who work out primarily to "look good"? He writes: "It's a harlotrous reason to work out. It's basically saying that you spend hours every week trying to stay pretty. Being pretty may mean having big guns, a nice rack and a six-pack, but if you're only building that body to be 'hot', then you're basically no different than the strippers and aspiring trophy wives who are doing the same thing. Striving only to be desired is passive and effeminate."
Donovan does admit that training for "self-defense and to be more self-reliant" are reasons as good or better than the reasons given by most for training, but, he then reveals a deeper and more meaningful reason as to why he trains:
"I train for honor.
I train because I refuse to be a soft ambassador of this Age of Atrophy. And I refuse to be shuffling, slobbering, potato chip gobbling evidence of modern decay.
I don't train to be 'fit enough' for the modern world, or to gain the esteem of the average modern man. I train because somewhere in my DNA there's a memory of a more ferocious world, a world where men could become what they are and reach the most terrifyingly magnificent state of their nature.
 I don't train to impress the majority of modern slobs. I train to be worthy enough to carry water for my barbarian fathers and to be worthy of the company of men most like them alive today.
Honor is a higher reason to train, a higher cause, a motivation above and beyond the routine and mundane. It's a better reason to keep going to the gym than mere narcissism or the fear of immobility, impotence and death."
Well said.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Looking For a Running Coach? Consider This First

So, you are thinking about getting a running coach? You say you want to take your running to the "next level" and believe that this an important step in that direction? Well, before you do, give what you are about to read some thought.
I should preface by saying I've been running for now 58 years and have raced for probably 54 of those years. Over the decades I competed in everything from the 50 yard dash to 50 miles. I've coached high school cross country and track distance runners as well as individuals. I am not saying this to brag but to let you know I've worked with, and had contact with, a lot of coaches, a lot. Here are some things to consider before choosing a running coach--in no particular order.
1.Does he run, has he ever run?
Now, I know that the great Australian coach Percy Cerutty said--"those who can't do can't teach," BUT, I would soften that quote a bit by saying--those who have never run, can't relate. The prospective coach doesn't have to have a resume with stunning p.r.'s, you just want someone who is familiar with....running.  One of the biggest fallacies out there is that current or former elite athletes make the best coaches. If you look into this you will quickly see that this is not so. However, the good coach must have a knowledge of what I will call distance running 'theory' and this brings us to the second needed quality.
2.What is his philosophy or method in regards to distance training? While we're on the subject, what is your knowledge of distance training? If you want to take it to the "next level," surely you have studied distance training? Now regarding what I call distance training theory---I, and millions of other runners and coaches, follow a program that is based on a Lydiard (as in Arthur) schedule. In a nutshell, this program involves building an extensive aerobic base, to gradually incorporating more stressful training(hills and intervals) which leads to a specific competitive season. This competitive season has a beginning and an end. No, you don't race all year or compete during the building phases. Through this program you are fine tuning your body so it is in optimal condition on race day. The genius of the Lydiard program is in its simplicity and how logical it is.
If a coach believes in a 'you have to run fast to be fast' mindset from the beginning of your training and you can compete anytime he thinks you are fit enough, then he should be scratched off your list of potential coaches. Countless runners have had their careers ruined, potentials unreached and their interest in running destroyed because of this way of thinking. As an aside, I saw this type of coaching all the time when I was involved in high school athletics.
3. Does the prospective coach say he will take a recent/past running and racing history on you?
You would be surprised at how many don't do this or can't be bothered. They just give you their schedule. I say you can't know where I'm going if you don't where I've been. Evaluating where you are physically at present, history of injuries and type of training you have been doing is essential for a coach to know. While on the subject of a distance runner being injured, you ever notice how the coach is never blamed for his athletes being injured?
4. Depending on where your coach lives this criteria may not be applicable for choosing a running coach.
How does he interact with his athletes, what kind of attitude does he have when his runners fall short of his expectations in workouts and at races? I used to cringe when I would see coaches berate their athletes in front of everyone after they raced poorly. Who do they think felt the worst after a poor race? To be a truly good coach you have to have a little bit of the psychologist in you. You have to know the right time to console and the right time to scold.
If your coach does not live in you area then you might be able get a glimpse into how he really is by looking at the materials he puts on his website or sends out. A phone conversation is definitely a must before signing on. Have questions prepared, don't be afraid to ask the hard questions. If he gets irritable, impatient or sounds put out by what you ask, avoid him like the plague, no matter how many great endorsements by other runners he may list.
5.Lastly--how much does he or she charge for his services? I suppose this is all up to the individual but if your coach will not be a presence physically to watch and monitor certain workouts, then how much cash do you really want to dish out? I guess it all depends on the athlete and the amount of money they have. This decision should also be related to what level you are trying to attain, is it national class, international level?  If it is isn't and you simply want to race well then let me suggest this; begin by reading some articles and books by Arthur Lydiard. Arthur always taught that his schedules were intended to be structurally followed (easier training always precedes harder, more stressful training) but adapted in depth and degree to fit the individual athlete.
I'd be remiss not to suggest reading another book, The Self-Made Olympian by Ron Daws. Ron showed that a man with very modest distance p.r.'s could make it all the way to the U.S. Olympic Marathon Team.
It just took total dedication and what Percy Cerutty used to call "intelligent work." By that he meant, always thinking and evaluating everything you do on the way to achieving your goal.
The question I  have for you now is, do you really still think you need a running coach?