Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Why Poor Marathon Performances?

The reasons for poor marathon performances are many. I'd be willing to bet that anyone who has run more than a few has had at least one. Oh, the disappointment! All the preparation, all that excitement and anticipation!
It's easy to identify why a marathon went bad, some of the causes we have control over, others we don't. Consider the following;

1.Bad weather. Not much you can do about that. I've known runners who've "bagged" their race the morning of due to the weather and picked another marathon somewhere else a week or two later.
2. A big one here: starting out too fast. You get caught up in the race day excitement and run those early miles much quicker than you had planned. This is something that should only happen to an inexperienced runner.
3. Insufficient hydration and electrolyte replacement before and during the race. If you dehydrate or run out of fuel, you're done. Experimenting beforehand with drinking fluids during long training runs is essential.
4. Not doing enough pre-race preparation. Here is one example of faulty preparation-- During my marathon days, the backbone of marathon preparation was the weekly 20 miler. I don't know how it was for you but everyone I knew did a weekly or twice monthly 20 miler. The problem I found early on was that the race is 26 miles, not 20. Derek Clayton (pictured above) said he always made a point of running the marathon distance once a week. I am not recommending this but I found that three, 24 to 26 milers incorporated into my marathon training worked very well.
5.Here is another big one: insufficient tapering for the race. A sufficient marathon taper involves "backing off" for two weeks prior to THE day.
Think about it, months of training, much of it stressful, now it's time to intelligently back off and allow your body to rest and recharge.
This is a common rookie mistake, but, I can't tell you how many experienced runners, athletes who should have known better but still couldn't back off those final two weeks. Some of them had been training and focusing on their marathon for 6 to 8 months, did they really think they were going to lose it all in the last 14 days?
After being around runners for as long as I have, I see the common cause of this "failing to taper" as  uncontrolled anxiety. I think of what a wise old runner once told me, while pointing to his head he remarked : "you run with this as well as your legs."
I will offer a final bit of advice regarding the marathon and I have written on this subject before.
If you want to race a  marathon (emphasis on race),  I believe it is something that you work up to after years of running and racing. It is a distance that is not to be taken lightly. Preparatory races from the 10k, to the 20 km to the half marathon to the 30k should be in every sensible runner's resume before tackling the marathon.
There is no pain quite like that experienced by a runner who tried to race a marathon but "crashed" because he or she hadn't done the necessary prep work.

Each race, good or bad, each workout, provides an opportunity to learn more about ourselves. Take advantage of that.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Sittin' and Waitin'--Not the Stotan Way To Race

"I rarely go into a race with preconceived tactics. The only tactics I admire are those of do or die," quote by Herb Elliott.
We've all experienced it before,you're in a race,cruisin' along,thinking you are doing the best you can when you become aware that someone is running a little behind you. Initially paying it no mind you find yourself becoming mildly annoyed when this runner is still with you a half-mile or so later. As this continues you try throwing in a few brief surges to drop him but they remain a step or two behind. With the finish in sight you pick it up with intentions of finishing fast and strong. At the same time your unwanted running partner also picks it up and blows by you to finish 10 yards in front. The above described tactic of sitting,leeching, and then kicking it in, is what I call hangin' and bangin'. And folks,I've got a confession,I've utilized this technique in the past as part of my race "strategy." I don't believe it would be a stretch to say many of you have done this also. However,I have come to learn that this is not the Stotan way to race,and in many but not in all cases, it is a gutless way to race.

 In a related matter, I remember watching either the '88 or '92 Olympic 1500 meter final as the best in the world ran an extremely slow race for 1300 meters and then kicked it in with 200 meters to go. The finishing time was the slowest 1500meter final since the 1952 Olympics race. All I could think was,what kind of way is that to race one of the most prestigious races?

So where do I get off saying sitting and kicking it in is not the way to go? I should clarify this statement by saying it's not the Stotan way. You only have to read the quote at the beginning of this article plus the two I'm about to write to conclude that anyone who purports to be a Stotan would not use the hang and bang strategy. Former world marathon record holder Derek Clayton said: "I've never been one for sitting back in a race no matter how I feel. I prefer to go 20 miles and blow it for a fast pace rather than go the whole distance and finish about 10th or 20th."
 Not surprisingly Cerutty nails it when he says: "Rather be beaten than let another athlete make all the pace and beat him in the last few yards."
As a thought, it's interesting in reading the above that this go for it mentality was part of their character unlike those of us who have to make a conscious decision to be more aggressive in our racing. Some runners I've spoken to about this subject say, "who cares, I'm not a Stotan so what value is this type of strategy to me?" Consider this:
Take a moment and think about this "go for it" mentality. Ever run a race and believe you're doing rather well,you're running smoothly and efficiently telling yourself that with a half or three-quarters of a mile to go you'll begin a long kick to the finish? However, as you approach this point the inevitable fatigue(translation-pain) sets in and your plan of stepping it up becomes one of maintaining pace. Running a race aggressively could eliminate this from occurring but I would keep two things in mind: #1. This strategy shouldn't be done if you aren't in proper condition to do so. Too many people race without being in shape. It only takes a visit to a local road race to confirm this statement. #2. As Cerutty wrote: "this (strategy) does not mean we go off like a frightened hare but we have acquired an instinct for pace."

As we reassess our training periodically we also need to do so with our racing.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Quotable Stotan, 2018, Pt.1

Quotes, as I have written previously, are too often looked at and not given as much serious thought as they should. The ideal quote should inspire and/or inform. The following are a few selected quotes that deserve your consideration. After some of them I will offer a few comments.

Ted Williams from his autobiography:
"Nobody in the history of the game hit anymore balls in practice, pleasure or dead earnest than I did."
Ted is widely thought to be one of the greatest natural hitters of all time.
What I get from his comment is that no matter what the talent level you start with you must practice, practice, practice. Runners tend to think, "well, I did my mileage for today, I don't need to do anything else," Really? How about stretching sessions as well as lifting and other forms of strength conditioning?

Ultra marathon great Yiannis Kouros said this in an interview:
"I think an ideal life is a life with obstacles."
Probably seems like an absurd comment to many but to Stotans it makes perfect sense. With obstacles you confront, evaluate and overcome, thus becoming a better person for it.

Percy Cerutty from his book, Athletics: How To Become A Champion:
"To me it is of the greatest importance to concentrate on excelling in life rather than merely gaining (things)."
The quest for all things material is addicting, unending and ultimately not truly satisfying in the long term.

Athlete and writer Dave Draper:
"The secret is, there  is no secret."
That's right, to be a success in athletics requires persistence and time.
As Marty Liquori once said: "anyone who says there are secrets to athletic success is probably trying to sell you something."
We see the truth of his words by the multitude of books, websites, etc. promoting THE way.

It all comes down to the fundamentals, patience and time.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Lest We Forget

The following is from athlete and writer Dave Draper. Dave is one of those rare former champion athletes who can convey so well all things relating and pertaining to training and succeeding.
What you are about to read should be a "given" for those of us who train for reasons more than just keeping fit, looking good, and holding back the aging process. Consider how you match up with what you are about to read.

"Our workouts--our training sessions--are not optional.
They are as necessary as eating, sleeping, breathing, working and loving. Daily living must include exercise and eating right if we expect to live fully.
They are fundamental and essential.
The car, the TV, the sharp dress, the pool, the boat, the cruise, the jewels, the real estate, the amenities, accessories, and extras, come later, way later."

I recall over the decades former serious athletes who professed an undying love for their sport drifting away from it because they allowed themselves to be carried away by money and possessions. More than a few have expressed regrets to me later for allowing this to happen.
Don't let this happen to you.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Cerutty's Outline For Living

What follows is an outline by Cerutty for successful living and longevity. Unique, and in my opinion correct, this "outline" should give pause for everyone to consider.

His plan encompassed six components:

"1.The assumption of full responsibility for oneself and one's antics, responsibility that does not need a destiny, fate, hereditary, gods, rewards or punishments as an excuse to bolster it up.

2.The full acceptance that the present is the important thing and that there is only one life and that one is of it and in it now.

3.That without strength, efficient organs, intelligence and an absence of secret fears man is only a parody, and for him life cannot be fully lived. He does not dominate his environment, it is the environment that dominates him. Only the mentally free and the physically strong can live this type of life to the full. Nature ordains it this way. Nature favors the fit. In the ultimate only the intelligent survive.

4.To live fully, not only must the body be fit, but the sense of frustration and disillusionment must not develop. Life should open up as an ever expanding progress.

5.That the identification with all natural things, no matter how comprehensive, is a sine qua non(am essential condition) for living. All that hampers such an approach is bad; all that assists to that end is good. Correct living can be judged only by action and motive.

6.Simply that the matter rests upon the ability to so mould and build up the body and the mind that all the customarily demanded can be ignored. When this is extended to all medical, spiritual and social props then we have a true individual who incorporates within himself the ability to live a full life. Three key words to attain this ubiquitous state are: Understanding ,Reflection and Action."

Some thoughts on the above:
In harmony with nature we build our bodies and minds. Independence and self accountability are keys to the process of evolving into becoming what Cerutty believes is the ideal man(woman).
I really like the three key words he uses in connection with reaching this ideal state--Understanding, Reflection and Action. As I have said before, he would have had nothing but scorn for the "dumb jock" or athlete who refuses to think, learn and study.

Cerutty was about so much more than being a good runner. Most miss this because they haven't read his books and writings.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Taking Risks, Pt. 2

Humble apologies if you have read the following verse. I had never seen it till someone sent it to me years ago. It addresses a subject that is a favorite of mine,the necessity of taking risks,going for it and living your dreams.Most sources say the author is unknown,I have taken the liberty to edit out the verses that don't pertain to an athletic context.Oh yeah,you will see the word certitude in the second last verse,frankly,I had no clue as to what it meant so I looked up the meaning in the dictionary.I believe in the context it was written it means belief,conviction or assurance.

"To place your ideas,your dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.

To live is to risk dying.

To hope is to risk despair.

To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken,because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing does nothing,has nothing, and is nothing.

They may avoid suffering and sorrow but they cannot learn, feel,change,grow love,live.

Chained by their certitudes they are a slave,they have forfeited their freedom.

Only a person who risks is free."

As I read this again I was struck by how similar it was to Cerutty's philosophy. I wondered as I often do,what is it that makes us less willing to take risks as the years go by?
You'll notice as you get older,many people seem resigned to the life they are living. It's predictable and safe, but too often it's boring.
Is it any wonder that we've become a nation of watchers and spectators,drinking and drugging ourselves to a degree that has never been seen before?
But,that's other people,that doesn't have to be us.
Think about it,take a look at yourself,have you been playing it safe? Do you feel you are living a fulfilling life?
I'm not just talking athletically here.Do you feel trapped by your job, the area where you live or the relationships you have?
As far as your athletic life goes: You've been talking about training in a way and to a degree you never have before......for the past several years.You've been planning to do this out of state race(s) for the last ten years but......

What are you waiting for? For many, it's time to make some changes and truly live.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Live for the Run: Denying Oneself,An Essential Discipline,and Ultimately, The Key To Athletic Success.

A relevant and needed message for all athletes, not just runners.
Just click on the title below to access the article.

Live for the Run: Denying Oneself,An Essential Discipline,and Ultima...: This article is for the distance runner who desires to run as well as he possibly can.The title of today's post may be awkwardly phrased...

Bowerman On Keeping It Simple

Bill Bowerman pictured above with Steve Prefontaine was the long time and highly successful track coach at the University of Oregon. What some of you may not know is that he was the original Nike shoe innovator. Phil Knight had the business genius, Bowerman designed the early running shoes.
Another fact you may not be aware of: after a 1962 trip  to New Zealand where he met with fellow coach and friend Arthur Lydiard, he was introduced to the concept of jogging as a fitness routine for people of all ages. As a result of this trip he published a book in 1966 called Jogging which is credited with started the "jogging craze". And you thought it was Jim Fixx who started it all.
Oh yes, the book Jogging sold over a million copies.

In a past and present era of complicated running programs which often involve meticulous timing and dots and a whole host of other technical aspects here's what Bowerman had to say:

"We intellectualize too much about running. We complicate it too much, and make it sound like too much of a choice. We talk too much of times, schedules and formulas. When, where and why. Form, diet and injuries. Equipment, facilities and formal structures.
You don't really need so much of this. You don't need to be a student of the sport or an expert in physiology."

Beautiful--as they say--keep it simple.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Stotans Know This!

                                                         Stotans know this!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Live for the Run: Now Is the Time

Keeping on the theme of yesterday's post- From an article I did many years ago. Click on Live for the Run:Now Is the Time just below the picture.

Live for the Run: Now Is the Time: "The credit belongs to those who are actually in the arena, who strive valiantly; who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions...

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Rambling Thoughts--The Necessity of Just Doing It.

Got to thinking of this post the other day after seeing another hooded sweatshirt with "Just Do It" on the front. We all know that was coined by Nike and is probably the most popular phrase ever. At least when applied to athletics.
Oh yes, before I get to my point, I was buying running shoes the other day and the salesman told me that Nike would soon be selling running shoes only through Amazon, Footlocker and Nordstrom's. He then added that in his opinion, their Pegasus and one other running shoe whose name I forgot, were the only good ones, the rest were "fashion" shoes. The news took me by surprise as I thought back to the history of Nike and running.
Now, considering the phrase "Just Do It"--what I once dismissed as yet another of dozens of similar phrases pertaining to athletics and life I have read on apparel-- this time when I saw it, it led me to really think about what it meant.
We live in a world filled with advice on how to this, how to that, do this to become that, what you need to do to succeed, etc., etc.(For more on this subject check out my old article--Information Overload).
The Web, books, TV, all supply us with more info than we can ever use or need.
I have a friend who is always touting the latest "in" thing for getting in "the best shape of your life". He will try one plan for awhile and then move on, never reaching his goals. I've noticed others who do the same on nutrition and diet, and eating.
Here is my thought for today--if you are guilty of doing this--Stop!
The time is now to stop searching for THE way and Just Do It! Stop wasting time chasing after the next big thing.
In athletics, there are the fundamentals of training--easier work precedes harder more stressful work, all culminating in peak condition and/or a competitive season.
Let's stop trying to reinvent the wheel.
Forget my crudity here, I say: "sh*t or get off the pot." Just Do It!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Use Your Time Wisely!

In addition to the above I would add---athletics----What Cerutty would say if he were around today.

Why We Love To Run

Why do we love running so much? Joe Henderson says it best when he writes that running is a "vital counter balance to the often oppressive weight of modern living."

We all have our thoughts on this subject. What follows are reasons given by Henderson from one of his books written either in the late 60's or early 70's.
After each of Joe's reasons I provide a comment:

"1.The more we are burdened with mental work, the more we need to strike a physical balance."
And for those who don't seek the physical outlet, the more likely they are to seek solace in unhealthy activities like overeating, drugs or alcohol.
"2.The more we meet with collective repression, the more we need individual expression."
Most of us are controlled by others in the workplace, not so in our running life.
"3.The more we're alienated from one activity, the more we need strong attachment to another."
I don't know about you but with some jobs I've had, if I didn't have running I would have lost my mind.
"4.The more complex our lifestyle, the more we need a simple uncluttered routine."
Running should always be a return to all things simple and basic. As Cerutty said, running should never become regimented work.
"5.The more we become civilized, the more we need to revert to a more primitive state."
What do you think the reason is that you feel so good and free when you are running the trails deep in the woods somewhere?

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Will Beats Mind by Paul Waggener

As I have written previously, posts to this page will also be by those whose words are very much in the Cerutty tradition. Consider the following by Paul Waggener(picture above) from part of an essay he wrote entitled. "Will Beats Mind".

"An iron will trumps a brilliant mind. It may be best to have both, but determination and the ability to be tireless is better than a rapid fire intelligence. Both can be cultivated to a degree, but the will is more receptive to improvement than the brain.
Set yourself up for success by taking on challenges both great and small and seeing them through to the end. If you can set this idea of always getting through to the finish line you will be able to outwork those who may be smarter than you but less capable of pursuing the kill over hill and dale, inexhaustible, like a blood hound.
One good idea in the hands of the tireless is better than a thousand, million dollar ones in the hands of the chronic quitter."

I am sure Paul has never heard of Percy Cerutty but his words are strikingly similar.
Persistence, the Will, Desire cultivated by Practice and Focus, and Self Separation from useless worldly activities, are some of the essential ingredients to success in athletics and life.