Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Cerutty On Pain and It's Benefit

The above is a classic quote by Cerutty. But, like most quotes, they are too often relegated to a poster on the wall or used as a screensaver on someone's computer, not experienced as intended.
Cerutty was a believer in regularly pushing your body to the limit, not only for the physical benefits but the mental and emotional ones as well.

The following quote is a quote by Ernst Junger I came across while reading a book by Paul Waggener. I wouldn't be surprised if Cerutty, being as well read as he was, hadn't seen the following:

"Whenever one approaches the points where man proves himself to be equal or superior to pain, one gains access to the sources of his power and the secret hidden behind his dominion.
Tell me your relation to pain, and I will tell you who you are."

Pain--can be much more than just something that 'hurts'.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Herb Elliott's Interview About Cerutty!

It is with great excitement I present a 29 minute interview with Percy Cerutty's #1 pupil, Herb Elliott, Olympic Champion and former world record holder.
The interview is all about Cerutty and even features Percy talking. It is an excellent(understatement) insight into the man and Sotanism.

Click, or cut and paste the link below--

The Harsh Reality According To Cerutty

Following Cerutty's theme of being a free, independent thinker, consider the following:
"I have said it and I repeat it, the hardest, and most painful thing that anyone can do is--to think: to become self-sufficient: to know for oneself: to be independent of others: self-reliant: a leader and a champion.
It is equally true that many do not want to be self-reliant, to be leaders. They are content to follow, to adopt anyone's schedules or ideas, to let anyone think for them--no matter where it may lead or how hopeless the outcomes."

Cerutty always talked and wrote about the potential of a certain amount of "aloneness" for those who might choose to be an independent thinker.
Yes, at times it may take a degree of courage but it is ultimately the way to being completely content with yourself as a person.
Most of the world--chooses to follow--that is them, it doesn't have to be you.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Man, Be Yourself

Cerutty stressed the necessity of being yourself and not mimicking or copying others. He added that this is something done by children but should never be done by adults. He wrote rather cynically that 'copying' was one of the reasons various "idiocies" were "perpetuated from generation to generation."

Consider this: "Thus it is far better to study oneself than to study others. When we have mastered ourselves as persons: recognized out weaknesses, and tried seriously and conscientiously to overcome them: when we have discovered by trial and error(such as by tests: pitting ourselves against standards)--we can then have a chance of reasonably evaluating ourselves as against our fellows. 
But the prize above all is not in being 'clever', but in being an individual" unique, and if necessary, different.
Nothing is more deadening to the personality than conforming: nothing more chilling than mediocrity."
Cerutty certainly lived those words during his lifetime.

He believed that the person who truly wanted to succeed should question "the orthodox: the traditional: the safe, the secure, the satisfactory(in athletics and life)."
Ultimately, what I believe Cerutty was getting at was: a 'blueprint' for becoming the total(ultimate) person/athlete.
Rigorous self-evaluation, sincere, sustained efforts to improve, a questioning nature, as well as individualism were the keys to becoming all we can be. 

I see the wisdom of what he is getting at. I also see where I have fallen short in following those words. How about you? It is never too late to change.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Few Words From Raw Dog Frankie

In the September 19, 2011 and October 10, 2011 posts for my other blog ----torunistolive---I featured two articles on what I will call a radical off-shoot of the Stotans, a group that calls themselves The Raw Dogs. The members were initially connected in the mid-eighties with the Stotans I formed in Buffalo, N.Y.  After some differences in what direction the Stotans were headed, four of the guys left and formed what they called "The Raw Dogs". They recruited other members and moved to Colorado to live the "true" Stotan life. I pretty much lost contact except for some second hand reports I would get from a friend in Rochester,N.Y.
Recently I was fortunate enough to reconnect with this friend. I inquired about "the Dogs" and he said they were still in Colorado and he would give one of them them a call and ask them to contact me, if they wanted to. I was also told that they "don't do computers" except for obtaining orders for foods, supplements, and gathering information. I didn't hear back for awhile but was surprised when I got a letter in the mail from Frankie, one of their self-described leaders. The letter was cordial, gone was the testiness that characterized his interactions with me in the past. He wrote that if I still did my writing he asked that I post the following. Zeal for Stotanism still burns hot for this Raw Dog.

True Stotans: What We Do and Don't Do

We do recognize the genius of Percy Wells Cerutty and actually live his teachings.

We don't keep our faces continually on our cellphones, if we even have them. Selfies? You're kidding right?
We do physically test ourselves on a regular basis whether it's by lifting or running that certain mountain loop, or both.
We don't do arm sleeves, leg sleeves, monitors and other gadgets, running guides, spandex, $200 running shoes--you get the picture--we keep it natural.
We do live each day to the fullest as Cerutty taught without worry about tomorrow or remorse for yesterday.
We don't get preoccupied on material things, we recognize that they are potential barriers to living free.
We do acknowledge what PCW wrote and taught: that life is to be lived to the fullest. That it is only through the maximum development of our bodies and minds can this be achieved.

I close with these words from Cerutty: "It is not the 'arrival' that is important but the journeying to."

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Cerutty on Intelligent Training Schedules, Pt.1

Cerutty taught what we all know: "Every person is different: no two athletes are identical."
He then goes on to say, like snowflakes, where all are different from the other, there is a distinct similarity among all of them. Cerutty used this analogy in talking about training programs for athletes.
He goes on to say that with this similarity in athletes there will be a common denominator to all programs but the details of them "will vary in infinite detail."
I doubt that there is an informed athlete in any sport that wouldn't agree with this. Emphasis here on informed,
I will add that when I coached high school runners, most coaches weren't aware of this fact or couldn't be bothered with it. 
If you look at the picture above you will see what incredible sense it makes: 'easier' training precedes progressively harder, more stressful training. All leading to a specific racing season.
Yet, runners and coaches continue to do 'speed work' year round because: "you gotta run fast to be fast." Pure ignorance there. But, I digress.

Consider Cerutty's admonition on developing a training program" No coach, or no athlete, must lay down a rigid day to day programme. To do so, is soon to break the spirit of the athlete, or, as usually happens, to reduce the daily routine to a mediocre effort and grind. Weekly, and monthly, targets must be set, but firstly, they must not be such that they are impossible of achievement, secondly, they must be sufficiently flexible that odd days missed for all the many varieties of reasons, do not effect the objectives set and aimed at."
I'll say that I'd be willing to bet that by: "odd days missed", Cerutty was also referring to the days where the schedule was changed due to the physical status of the athlete for that day. I have read such in one of his other books.

As athletic neophytes in any sport, I am sure most of us tried the 'one size fits all' program but soon learned the folly of doing so.
In the conclusion of this article Cerutty provides the outline for the quintessential training program.

As I have mentioned previously, if you know of anyone you think would enjoy one of these articles or this Blog it would be much appreciated if you could pass it on. I don't think I am exaggerating in saying that this is not your same old, same old running site that makes up most of the internet(and mags and books for that matter).

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Cerutty On Faith,Religion and Achieving

Percy Cerutty was a complex man. It was often hard to figure him out. Just when you thought you knew how he felt on a subject he would say something that would seem contradictory. No where was this truer then when he wrote about what I will call faith, belief in God.
I have read where he flat out dismissed 'believing', said he was an agnostic but later would quote from the Bible as well as reference certain men of faith.
There was a message in his seeming dismissal of all things religious and I will comment about this after the following quote by Cerutty.
I should add that there was something he was trying to get across in what appeared to be his rejection of religion. I believe it is of great value for us to understand.

"Heavens, hereafters--'rewards' and hoping to meet the Saints. All can be, I would say--certainly are illusions. Such hopes and beliefs can never be but an admission that today is dull and we cannot alter it. Unreal dreams, especially anticipations after death, are substitutions for living satisfactorily today. Only the poor dream of riches: the sick of being healthy: only the frustrated, those unable to dominate their environment, the incompetents, the unhappy, dream of 'rewards in heaven'. The realist realizes his reward today, and most days. He 'lives': the others? They dream!"

Something to keep in mind: Cerutty reclaimed his mental and physical health through study and a lot of physical effort. His recovery did not happen overnight.
I believe the message in his quote above is that you have to take charge of your life. You have the power in you to change and improve your condition. To leave your situation or condition solely in "God's hands" and doing nothing yourself is in Cerutty's mind, weak, and ultimately cowardly.

Most of us underestimate what we can actually accomplish.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Percy Cerutty: On Sacrifice

What you are about to read is most of one of Percy Cerutty's essential essays, On Sacrifice, the other is How To Become A Champion. It nails it, says it all. I would remind readers that the following was written sometime in the 1950's. It is applicable only for those who truly desire success.

"The thoughtful reader, having read this far, and noted the various factors that are considered the steps, or paving stones, to success, might well say--'But what about the sacrifices I must make!' or, 'What sacrifices are called for in achieving the goals you have set before me'!
The answer is simple: 'There are no sacrifices'. 'You do not have to sacrifice anything at all.'

No ambitious person: no person who has set his sights on some goal above the average or normal attainment: no dedicated person: no one willing to work, and anxious to achieve, ever considers the 'way' he has determined upon: the path he is resolved to travel: the work and suffering he sees ahead of him, and which he encounters, ever thinks of all, or any of this as a--Sacrifice.

When a man goes to night school every night in the week and studies all the weekend: when a man in sport trains, or practices, three times a day, and all the weekend, never does he feel he's making a sacrifice. It is only the mediocre, half-cocked, the spectator, or the playboy who 'assumes' that a sacrifice is being made: has been made: must be made.

The dedicated man: the ambitious person: the determined to succeed--BIG--will, in the judgement of these lesser types: those destined to mediocrity: to nonentity say, you the ambitious one: the resolved to succeed one: you--whose only 'god' is success in something: sometime: somewhere--you will be adjudged 'mad' and the lesser ones will affirm and agree--they couldn't make the necessary 'sacrifice'.

So: that is how we know them! Those who would achieve: who see the way to achievement clearly, or dimly, 'sacrifice' will be the one word they never mention--because they have no consciousness of making any 'sacrifice ' at all.

Accept it this way. For everyone who will 'go along with you': be in tune with you: support you--you must expect to find to find one hundred who will criticise you--tell you the 'sacrifices' they see--(but you don't) are not worth it.

This fact in itself makes for a certain isolation. If you are not prepared to endure(I would say 'enjoy') this separation, then believe me--you have not passed the chief test that places you in the category of the great, but has placed you in the category of those who miss out being truly great by a metre or a mile.

Summed up: finally and irrevocably--those destined to be truly great never envisage anything they may do as resulting from personal sacrifice."

I'll sum up Cerutty's words by saying this, your quest becomes part of your being, of who you are.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Cerutty Says: My Stotan Philosophy

"My Stotan philosophy is based on communication with nature. This communication takes place when the person sleeps under the stars at night, hears the birds in the morning, feels the sand between his toes, smells the flowers, hears the surf.
Nature can bring the mind and body into perfect balance with the universe. This is one of the factors that allows the athlete to reach new levels of excellence."

Some may say after reading Percy's words above, "that's all well and good but I don't live near the ocean or the woods for that matter."
I would refer you to an article I did on July 9, 2014 for this blog, it was all about creating your own Portsea environment, wherever you live.
Simply put, seek out the opportunity, take a few days whenever you can get them and camp out in the woods, by the ocean, by a lake.Wake up and go for a run, a long hike during the day, a run and what ever later on. Then you get a taste of what Cerutty wrote about.
 Needless to say, you leave all electronic and related devices at home

You see, it's easy to read what Cerutty says and think, "yeah, that sounds nice", but you don't really get anything from it unless you DO it!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Why Training On the Hills Is Essential For the Serious Runner

To say Cerutty was a big advocate of hill training is a huge understatement. What follows are some of what I call the technical  reasons why training on the  hills is essential for those who want to be the best they can be. This is an excerpt from an article I wrote several years ago.

"Who out there doesn't know that hill training makes you a better runner? For instance, it's common knowledge that hill running strengthens ligaments and tendons. This of course reduces the potential for injury.
One writer noted:"Training on hills improves leg-muscle strength, quickens your  stride, expands stride length and enhances your running economy.There is no question that running hilly courses and doing hill training will make you a healthier, stronger and faster runner". What follows are a few other benefits you may not have heard about:
Studies done at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that "after 12 weeks of twice weekly hill sessions, the athletes running economy had improved by 3%, this improvement would have helped them take as much as 2 minutes off a 10 mile time or 6 minutes off a marathon."
They also discovered that runners who trained on hills have a significantly higher concentration of what are called aerobic enzymes.These are the chemicals in your body that allow your muscles to work for long periods of time at high intensity without fatigue.

And finally:"Those who run on hills have been shown to be less likely to lose fitness when they take time off from training. Scientists believe that hill training can improve the elasticity of muscles,tendons and ligaments, allowing these tissues to carry out more work with less effort and fatigue."

If you haven't already, commit to making hills an integral part of your training program.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Cerutty On Achieving Success, What It Takes

Cerutty believed in total commitment by those who desired athletic and what I will call worldly success. What you are about to read may sound extreme but it isn't if you really want what you say you do.

"There will be no social life for the dedicated athlete. His will be the singleness of purpose, the complete concentration on a goal that is usually only associated with a soldier in war time occupied in battle.
He will live a monk-like existence of his own choosing.
When the personality is given over to the job of doing something worthwhile there is no need or desire for anything else but the getting on with the job. The athlete lives his 'work' or ambition day and night. He is outside every other segment of life and being.
His conscious mind will never be free of the desire and determination. His mind will be permanently preoccupied with the means of achieving his ambition.
This is no fanaticism but it is obsession. It is good to be obsessed with worthy ideas, ambitions, hopes and desires."

So, that's why I haven't achieved the success I said I wanted.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Cerutty On Why Weight and Strength Training Are Necessary For Distance Runners

Percy Cerutty was a big advocate of weight and strength training for his runners. He was so in a time when it was thought to be potentially harmful for a distance runner to supplement their training with weight work.
What follows are some of his thoughts on why it is necessary. Not surprisingly, Cerutty rejects the current type of weight work that is done by most distance runners.
Later posts will show the specific lifts and strength training he recommends.

To begin, so why weight training for distance runners?
"Good running starts in the upper body and is then transferred to the legs. Strength is the main factor that will enable a person to reach his potential.
Great strength, properly acquired, makes for quicker reflexes, greater agility, longer stride, more endurance(since great strength can be parcelled out in a short terrific effort--or a longer easier one)."

Cerutty believed in an 'intensive' system of weight training which is contrary to the accepted,more repetitions, lighter weights system advocated these days.
Heavy weights, few reps is what he believed in.
The reason?
"The intensive system is known to alter the nature of the muscle fibre--and to strengthen it--rather than get added strength by increased size of muscle."

To close, Cerutty wrote this:
"The whole purpose of weight conditioning, as any form of conditioning, such as running the sand hill, is to acquire enhanced 'power' in order that we can do a thing more powerfully, faster, better."

Makes sense to me.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Percy Cerutty: "Why I Stress the Physical"

There are in my opinion two must have Cerutty books. One is, of course is, Athletics: How To Become A Champion and Success: In Sport and Life. The "Success" book is not readily available but I would highly recommend trying to obtain a copy. It is loaded with applicable insights and advice for the athlete as well as those who just want to be "successful" in whatever field they have chosen.

In the following quote Cerutty describes what I have found to be true, a strong body can lead to a strong mind and a strong will. But again, it's not just about building your body, it's also about developing your mind. Cerutty delves into this whole subject, the hows and whys in his Success: In Sport and Life book. Consider:

"It is said that I over-emphasize the physical, the importance of muscular strength, I will defend my attitude by saying that only the truly strong, as the pure in heart, can ever develop the spirit that lives without oppressive fears. All others will tend to compromise: turn away from the sacrifice, recant under pressure, or for self-preservation, or what is worse, pretend to an unctuousness(false sincerity) that is both unworthy as it is hypocritical and conceited."


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Cerutty's Measure-Rod For Success

What are the key ingredients a person needs to achieve athletic and what I will call 'worldly" success? Thousands upon thousands of books have been written on this subject. There are a multitude of people who have made careers out of advising people on what it takes and how to be successful.

What follows is what Percy Cerutty calls his 'measure-rod' for success. I believe I will listen to what Percy has to say because as Gary Walton writes in his book Beyond Winning, in his 23 years of active coaching, Cerutty coached 30 world champions, not 20, as I mistakenly wrote the other day.

The measure-rod for success, the athlete needs:

1.To be born with above average ability but not necessarily outstanding ability.
2. They need an intelligence suitable for the tasks ahead of him. This needs to be of a high order. But I make a distinction between intelligence(wisdom) and cleverness which may be only cunning and memory. It is far more important that you have a good I.Q. than you can merely pass exams. If you 'feel' you have above average ability, both physically and mentally, that is enough.
3.They need a persistence factor that does not easily give in--give up when not successful; that you can train on, struggle on, when things look hopeless, black.
4.They need to be one of those whose spirits rise and feel good when things are tough in adversity; one who is a 'tiger for punishment'; does not talk about 'sacrifices'; and sees, mostly,the goals to be attained to.
5.They need to be one who finds working hard for what they want normal; is surprised when they find others expect short cuts, ease of accomplishment.
6.Who believe that they could do 'it'--or something, and feel confirmed and pleased when they find their 'beliefs' can come true; that someone else may, surprisingly as it seems, believe so, too.
7.They are one who will:
(a,) Change your job, environment, country even, if it seems right to do so, to achieve your ends(not only athletic ends).
(b.)Have a natural, inherent attitude to be attracted, seek or find the 'best', whether it be in coaches, music, places or persons.

The above is a great check list, for yourself, for others; whether in sport or out of sport.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Racing and Keeping Things in Perspective

Those of us who live for the run and train to race well can relate to the following by Dr. George Sheehan. Actually, it is applicable to all who compete, irregardless of the sport.

 "The race should be the ultimate test of my running ability, the stopwatch, the final judge, but I never really believe it. I always feel I could do better, that I have not exhausted the limits of my talent and training. Most of all, I fear I have not given a full one hundred percent."

I have felt the way Dr. Sheehan describes countless times. In some ways, it is a good way to feel, in other ways it can be destructive. You want to do better but hardly ever being satisfied with a performance can turn what was once doing something you loved into a "job" and drudgery.
I believe it is a given that serious runners always want to improve. It is an ongoing quest for us.

I say this: we will run countless races. Each race, good and bad, provides an opportunity to learn more about ourselves mentally and physically. Recognize that, appreciate that.
Lastly, and don't ever forget this, even though it is human nature to do so, be thankful that you are alive and have the physical well being to do something you love.

I guess that's my "sermon" for this Sunday. Now go out and go long. If you haven't done so already.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Cerutty and Schedules

Cerruty offered this admonition to his athletes: "It is almost universally desired to discover the 'schedule' that the successful athlete has trained to, as if the copying of any schedule could be expected to produce the same result for another athlete irrespective of place age, type, disposition, initial strength, initial ability and other factors."

You may recall reading previously that it was Cerutty's desire that his athletes would eventually become independent, able to formulate their own training programs. 

I think that as novice runners we all once tried to follow a schedule that we found in a magazine or a book. I know I did, many times. I remember the wise words of Arthur Lydiard when he said at a seminar I attended in the early 90's: we are to use his schedules as a guide. He said we should customize them to fit us without altering the essence(a progression of base, to strength, to speed, to racing).
When I first began coaching high school and younger athletes, I quickly found that they had a variety of strengths and weaknesses. There was no, one size fits all program I could give them. Out of about 25 to 30 distance runners I had to break them up into 4 groups with different training schedules to meet their needs. Needless to say, all began with some type of base program.

With the New Year here, this is a good time to give thought and consideration about your training program. Evaluation and re-evaluation should be the order of the day. What have you found to be your strengths and weaknesses this past year? Is your schedule addressing these issues? If not why?

 As far as a training program, I assume we all have one.
If we claim to be committed and dedicated, it is only natural we will have one.

Friday, January 5, 2018

An Old Runner Reflects On What Is To Come

Forgive me for "waxing poetic" again but I do that from time to time. Although in great health, as you get older you occasionally give some thought on how it will all end. Then, you think of how you would like it to end. Hey, running has and is my life, I've been running for years after my Ortho doc told me to quit and I'm doing just fine. Those who love to run will be able to relate to this.

No slow decline or painful fade to black for me.
No, I want a night before filled with trading stories and drinking beer with my friends,
Followed by a morning after run along an old forest trail under a misty overcast sky.
Let me feel that effortless glide as I go that only comes but once in a great while.
Just give me an hour, no make that two, as I cruise on down that increasingly dark trail
That will suddenly turn to light.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Recollections of Cerutty, Pt.1

Percy Wells Cerutty, as I'm sure most of you who have read anything about him realize, was a complex character. As I have written before, he could be rude,crude and insulting. Add to that,  occasionally shameless, attention seeking and totally self-centered. Graham Sims' bio on Percy provides insight into what contributed to these less that favorable traits. An early life of deprivation(physical and emotional), neglect and serious illnesses were all contributing factors to these  behaviors.However, I choose to go with what his number one student and Olympic champion Herb Elliott had to say about him: "In spite of his rough, brusque manner,he's a kind warm-hearted soul."
Also, we must not forget that Cerutty dedicated his entire adult life to helping others reach their potential mentally and physically using techniques he developed himself.
I would be remiss not to add that Cerutty first rebuilt and reclaimed his own life.
According to Gary Walton in his book Beyond Winning:The Timeless Wisdom of Great Philosopher Coaches, Percy coached over 20 record holders and champions in a variety of sports.
On the coast of Australia he created at his Camp Portsea the ideal environment to train athletes.
What follows are some stories,insights and quotes that I'm sure you will find to be helpful in your quest for excellence.

The first is an account by Peter Masters head of PMA books in Brisbane, Australia. Peter was the man who had Percy's books republished. I can't say how glad I am that this gentleman made Percy's books available again. I'll add this, about 25 years ago I knew someone who was going to Australia and asked him to pick up a couple of books by Cerutty. I just assumed that they would be available in any bookstore. Well, as they say, don't assume anything because he came back empty handed, said he even went to more than one bookstore. Frankly, I was shocked. How could this be?

Back to Peter and his experience with Cerutty. In the Publisher's Foreword of the republished Athletics: How To Become A Champion, he writes how as a 16 year he trained for two weeks at Portsea in Victoria, Australia. In his words:

"What do I remember about Portsea and about Percy?
First Impressions: a madman!
Well not really but I never met anyone like him before.
He was scary to a 16 year old, but compelling. He had a larger than life persona.
I remember it was hot at Portsea which made training even more arduous.
I remember training up the sandhills.
One day, a boy blacked out in front of me and tumbled down the sandhill and when I went to his aid, Percy yelled out words to the effect that 'he's not dead so don't stop'.
The boy recovered of course but the incident illustrated Percy's determination."

The take away for me from this account is two-fold: one, I think it is essential to create or place yourself in the ideal training environment to achieve maximum results. I've known athletes who recognize the value of the trails and hills yet won't take the time to travel to get to them. They'd just as soon go out their front door and 'get it in' (their workout).
Secondly, a determination that is focused and unwavering is needed. Again, we go back to what I have written previously, do you truly believe in the worthiness of your physical aspirations? If not, your determination will eventually wane.For those who say a devotion to athletic endeavors is inappropriate I side with Cerutty who wrote: "Athleticism, in my view, is not a sport: not a cult: it is a way of life." Or try this one when people tell you, you should concentrate on your career: "What profits a man if he makes a million and ends up a hypochondriac, or is dead at fifty!"
I say that when properly incorporated in your life, athletics makes you a better and more complete person.

I close with Part 1 of this series with a quote by Cerutty that says it all:
"The mastery of the true self, and the refusal to permit others to dominate us is the ultimate in living,and self-expression in athletics."
See, the true Stotan recognizes that it is more than just about medals, trophies,etc.,but, you have to be open and receptive to the truth Cerutty taught. Reading his books, and of course my blogs,  (shameless self-promotion there), are a good place to start, not to mention practicing what he taught.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Looking back, Those Great Old Running Books

With the New Year upon us and our athletic schedules and goals hopefully set, we must not forget the necessity of educating our mind. Cellphones, TV, the computer, etc. has severely cut down on what I call recreational reading but not for us Stotans. In Cerutty's world, there was no place for the stereotyped "dumb jock".

There is one thing that I really miss and something that was so readily available in the '70's, great running books.Be they "how-to train" or biographies,the '70's were the golden age for running books
.For me,it only takes a trip to the local bookstore to confirm that this era is long gone. To make matters worse,most of the books that were such an integral part of a runner's bookshelf way back when are now out of print, occasionally available online at outrageous prices.If you want to see proof of this, look on Amazon for some of the books by John L Parker and any by Percy Cerutty(the originals that is). As a matter of fact,the bio on Cerutty by Graem Sims,Why Die,is selling used for $99. and $ Until a few years back when they finally re-released Parker's classic, Once a Runner,it was selling used for over a hundred dollars.
My hope in this brief article is to acquaint some of the readers to the books that offer timeless instruction and inspiration.
One of the guys I trained with in the late '70's and throughout the '80's was Ralph Zimmerman. He was a very successful masters' runner who ran the 1980 Olympic trials' marathon. I recall the time he showed me the training schedules that Arthur Lydiard had sent him.
I should add here that Arthur would always respond to inquiries. I still have the two letters he wrote me in the early '90's that were in response to some training questions I'd had.It is interesting how many of the great people like Lydiard do not regard themselves as too important or busy to take a moment and write back.
Sometime after copying the schedules, Ralph lent me Lydiard's book, Running the Lydiard Way, and what a treasure it was. I ended up xeroxing most of it at work. The book was loaded with biographical info as well tons of schedules for a variety of distances and age-groups.It also explained the hows and whys in respect to why you train and race the way he recommended.
 As Lydiard used to say,if a coach can't give you a good reason as to why you are doing a particular work-out,then you need to get another coach.
I believe this book is still available at a reasonable price online.It's a must have for those who live for the run.
In the early '70's, the people who published Runner's World put out a series of booklets on runners that are classics and very hard to find today. There was The Frank Shorter Story by John L.Parker,Tale of the Ancient Marathoner(Jack Foster),one about Gerry Lindgren and another about ultra-legend Ted Corbitt.
I recently looked at Amazon for a price on Tale of the Ancient Marathoner and saw that it was going for $250., used!
Another great book was the one that I featured in an earlier post called,The Self-Made Olympian by Ron Daws. Other books that were similar in subject and content were, Running to the Top by former world marathon record holder(12 years) Derek Clayton and Always Young,a bio about George Young,a four time Olympian.
 I will always remember Derek Clayton's comments in response to Bill Rodgers and other top American runners who said they needed to be sponsored so they could train full-time and not work. Clayton said that he believed there were just so many hours in a day that you could devote to training and that having a job was,if anything,a help, not a hindrance to his running.
Then there was a book called,Van Aaken Method by Dr.Ernst van Aaken which heavily stressed long slow distance with careful monitoring of food intake.Some of his students included Olympic medalist Harold Norpoth and Manfred Steffney,marathoner and author of another excellent running book,Marathoning.
Some other must have books are, Serious Runners Handbook by Tom Osler,Marathoning by Bill Rodgers and Joe Concannon,anything by John L.Parker,especially Runners and Other Dreamers.Include on this list any of the Percy Cerutty books but number one should be, Athletics:How To Become A Champion. Occasionally you will see this book available on Ebay but it isn't cheap (it has since been rereleased in paperback)..
There are probably a few other books that I have forgotten but I would be remiss not to include Kenny Moore. Fortunately,his books are available through his website and he will sign them for you if desired. His book, Best Efforts, is a phenomenal book that offers a variety of profiles on such runners as Pre,Mary Decker,Ron Clarke,John Walker,Lassen Viren,Bill Rodgers as well as several others.
There are two things that all these books I've mentioned have in common,one, is that almost all of them are out of print,the other, is what I mentioned earlier, they all offered instruction and inspiration. There was a sense of optimism and getting personal in these books that I find lacking in the running books published today.
Perhaps I've been spoiled by those great running books of decades past. To those who would like to get some of the books I've mentioned I'd suggest you continue to look online and never pass by a used bookstore without going inside.Take it from me,you may find a book that is going for a $100.+ online selling for two dollars on some grungy bookshelf. I have.
I call it modern day treasure hunting for those who live for the run.