Saturday, December 28, 2019

Origins, Pt.1--Walk the Talk of What You Believe

 In 1988 a friend (Greg Walters) gave me a sheet he had with a picture Of Cerutty and a brief outline of his teachings. I was instantly drawn to what it said and I began buying all the Cerutty's books I could.
I formed a running group called The Stotans and began running the trails in our area near Buffalo, N.Y.
We trained and raced on the Finger Lakes Trail system around the Ithaca, Virgil, Dryden area of N.Y.
 I then started The Stotan News, a Cerutty based newsletter.
 I eventually moved to the Atlantic coast of North Carolina to fully live the Stotan life.
Sound extreme? You mean packing up everything and just leaving with very  little  money? Yeah--it was extreme.
To me--Cerutty was more than just a coach, he was a teacher and a philosopher who knew what was truly important in life--- a healthy, vibrant, body and mind.
 PMA Books has recently published 3 of Percy's classic books--Middle Distance Running, Be Fit! Or Be Damned!, Athletics: How To Become A Champion) and they are available online at their site or on Amazon. It is so great that they have done this.
If anyone is interested, I have a Cerutty Facebook page called Stotans United, check it out.
My blog here, livingthestotanlife.com, is all Cerutty and Cerutty based content--it is unlike any running/fitness site  you will see.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Dinner at Grandma's in 2019

In this now 21st Century, healthy eating has morphed into food fanaticism and/or food snobbery.
This has become a popular post which I will continue to put up each year at this time.
Has anyone experienced something like the following at a family event? I have. Too often.
Nothing is more obnoxious than having your guests calling ahead to give you their food peculiarities and needs


Written by Grandma's daughter Daphne--
Christmas at Grandma's--2019
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?"

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

An Often Forgotten Aspect of Strength Training

There are many very basic differences in the training philosophies of Arthur Lydiard and Percy Cerutty.
One area in which they differ is in regards to weight training. Lydiard did not believe it was necessary,Cerutty thought weight,and more specifically, what he referred to as strength training, were essential if an athlete wished to reach his full potential.Strength training to Cerutty was more than lifting weights,it also included cross-country, mountain walking and running,swimming,as well as using a gym rope and horizontal bar.
I believe that strength training is a needed component to a runner's workout routine,especially if they are seeking competitive success. Percy wrote this in Athletics:How To Become a Champion: "The athlete who confines all his training to running around a track with occasional outings over the country must be limited in experience, variation,enjoyment and the development of strength(power) in comparison with the athlete who bases his training on regular visits to the weight-training venue,the gym,the coastal regions and hilly places,the sand hills,beaches,deserts and the high mountains. This all adds up to power--the mental and physical power that is behind fast running as we practice it.Power(strength) has always been behind fast running,although weak people prefer to dissect technique as if technique alone is all that is required to enable a weak man to run a mile in four minutes. Technique is an important factor but technique today is useless against the athlete who is supported by technique plus power(strength)."
Herb Elliott once said: "My golden rule was to train for mental toughness."
Something that is overlooked in strength training is the mental strength and confidence that comes from such training. Sure, you will become stronger and less likely to succumb to injury because of strength training,but, we must not ignore the important mental benefits that will be gained. There is something to be said about the way you feel when you are able to pick it up in the last part of a race knowing that no one else has done the kind of strength work you have done.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Cerutty On the Benefits of Hill Training

Do all of us recognize the many ways in which hill running can make us better runners? It is my belief that for the average runner,if they did nothing but running up hills that varied in length and steepness,as well as aerobic work, they would become fitter than if they just did track and aerobic training.
Cerutty mentions the sometimes forgotten benefit of running hills on a regular basis in the following excerpt.
Percy writes: "Flat-out hill running,on roads or grass, help more than any other type of training,as they teach the 'habit' part of our mentality to deliver full effort irrespective of pain and fatigue. The more it hurts,the harder we try to run. In time,one of two things will happen to us. We will have developed a 'retreat complex', which means we will avoid very painful efforts,irrespective of our will,or we will become one of the few who can do the super-normal on occasion, which means we have learnt to run through the pain barrier, that barrier that stops so many. We all know that little voice that says, 'postpone your effort to the next lap or mile...He will come back...It is not my day...next Saturday I'll do it.... Is it so important after all...? and many other equally disconcerting whisperings. We all know them. Only a few ever learn to dominate them. The sandhill and hill running are the answer if we are ever to learn."
The above brings a few things to mind.
First,that "little voice" that Percy mentions,who hasn't heard it and succumbed to it at one time or another? Remember how crappy and angry we felt after we did?
Also, what he says regarding hills goes nicely with what Elliott said about the spirit.
Something else, Cerutty used to teach that we should "thrust against pain" and that "pain is the purifier." There is no question that pain can be a purifier if you enter into the workout with that thought in mind and allow it to do so.
In closing, if you have been neglectful of hill work for whatever reason,now is the time to make it an integral part of your training.
For those whose fitness may not be where it should be,try incorporating an easy aerobic run over a hilly course for starters.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Some Words of Encouragement and Advice

The following are some things to read and consider with the hope that they will inspire you along the way. The author is unknown. As usual, I add my two cents after a few of the comments.
1."It is very easy to be ordinary but it takes courage to excel."
As they say,"nothing ventured,nothing gained." Who wants to live a life of familiarity and no risk?
2. "Knowledge makes for confidence."
Know that your training was right for you,know your racing distance,know your course,know your competition.
3."Persistent people succeed where others fail."
Persistence is what separates the also rans from the successful people. Some people,and they are in the minority,refuse to give up.
4."Most everyone has more talent than they will ever develop."
A nice companion to #3.People tend to underestimate what they can accomplish.
5."Accepting defeat can be habit forming."
Have we come to accept performances that early on in our racing career we wouldn't have?
6."An opponent may be faster than you on a particular day but they should never beat you in fighting spirit and determination."
7."The key to success is a continuing enthusiasm for the sport."
Don't allow the rigors of training and racing to negatively effect the love you have for distance running.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Contemplate This!

Perhaps some of you may recall a book published many years ago entitled,The Quotable Runner. What follows is a take-off  on that format called,The Quotable Stotan, which is geared towards those who live for the run. An effort was made to print quotes that were not familiar to most.
Here goes:
Marty Liquori from Real Running by Marty Liquori and John L. Parker Jr., "There are no secrets to running success,anyone who says there are is probably trying to sell you something."
How true! If more runners realized this then most of the running books and seminars published and held during the last 20 years would have made very little money.
Percy Cerutty from his book Middle Distance Running, "Suffering and dedication is the only way to understanding,compassion and courage."
Very profound. What the man says is true,but, only if the athlete is a thinker and open to the idea that what you gain from a workout is more than something purely physical.
Herb Elliott from,The Golden Mile, "The purifying quality of pain that has to be suffered is like that in confession. You walk away with a clear conscience."
In the same vein as what his coach said above,once again,the athlete must be.......
Yiannis Kouros from an interview by Trishul Cherns, "Each horrid event should equip you with the necessary provisions so that you can confront the next one; it shouldn't make you yield. The continuous confirmation is that despair and hopelessness supply you with the means--inconceivable at first, and make you discover hidden unexpected powers. Later, an unhoped for tranquility and sobriety should follow so that you may pursue your goals with precision."
Yiannis is a living example of the truth of those words.The key here is not to drive from your mind the details of disappointing performances once they're over. They can be stepping stones towards future success.
Ted Williams from,My Turn at Bat:The Story of My Life by Ted Williams, "Nobody in the history of the game hit more balls in practice,pleasure or dead earnest than I did."
Some may think it odd that I placed a quote from one of the greatest hitters ever in baseball, but, to attain success in any sport you must do more than most who say they desire success are willing to do.However, as you will read next,it is not all work and drudgery.
Ron Clarke from The Unforgiving Minute, "The number of miles I have run since I was a toddler would have taken me around the world several times and still I cannot define precisely my joy in running. There is no sacrifice in it."
As Cerutty once wrote, there are no sacrifices in the quest for success (refer to my prior post featuring Percy's essay--On Sacrifice.
Percy Cerutty from the essay, What It Takes to Be a Champion, "In the ultimate, if you are to succeed,you must believe in the worth-whileness of your goals,find the means to attain them,and do the essential work, make the personal effort."
There it is in a nutshell,the formula for achieving success.I find the key in this quote to be,"you must believe in the worth-whileness of your goals." Those who do believe will not give up easily.
Arthur Newton,ultra great wrote: "Many of the ordinary pleasures of life have to be banished for a long time while you are preparing for a peak achievement."
If you really desire success in sport, then you cannot always live like those who don't. This is an often ignored aspect.
Percy Cerutty, "Running as I teach it is not a sport or a physical activity so much as a complete expression of ourselves,physical,mental and spiritual."
In closing,something by Sri Chinmoy,something that we should never forget, "You can do infinitely more than you have already done."
Consider and contemplate the above--the wisdom comes from those who have achieved success, and you can to......IF--- you really want it!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Cerutty Stories



The following is an account of an incident that occurred while Percy Cerutty and Herb Elliott were touring California sometime before the 1960 Olympics. I am uncertain of the source of this excerpt but it possibly is from the first bio on Percy called Mr.Controversial written by Graem Kelly.
Cerutty was often blunt and tactless but he always told it like he perceived it.
This is a great story.
"Aside from softness,perhaps nothing annoyed Percy more than a coach who failed to practice what he preached. While in Los Angeles, soon after Elliott ran the fastest mile ever recorded on American soil,they both attended an instructional clinic on track and field at UCLA. All of America's leading coaches were there along with their athletes who went through prescribed paces and demonstrations while the coaches lectured to the audience of nearly 2,000. Puffing their cigars and cigarettes,the American coaches glibly ordered their athletes around taking about 15 minutes each on the microphone system. When it was finally Cerutty's turn to speak, he was told he had two minutes. He didn't need three. According to Elliott, his coach 'electrified the arena' as he called all the coaches a pack of pompous clowns who had no right teaching students in that fashion.
When he'd finished, the coaches were bristling with anger and embarrassment."
If only we had some more coaches like Cerutty around today,how interesting it would be.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Some thoughts on the "Bad" Perc Cerutty

A few rambling thoughts on the Man, Percy Wells Cerutty. Some may have wondered if I had left out a y after reading the above title.I understand that Cerutty was often called Perc by those who knew him.
Another thing,for many years I pronounced Cerutty as Cerooty. He once wrote that his last name was actually pronounced Cerity, as in the last part of the word sincerity.
On a related note,Cerutty was called many other names throughout his life,a fair amount of them could be described as derogatory in nature.I am often asked by people about the numerous reports of inappropriate,rude,vindictive and downright nasty behaviour and speech exhibited by him during his life.It would be easy to chalk this all up to his being arrogant or that he was just another old crank but there was a reason for the way he sometimes was,just as there is one for all of us.
You get a good look into why he was the way he was in the excellent biography by Graem Sims.What you learn is that Cerutty experienced a great deal of physical deprivation when he was growing up. I'm talking about not enough food and adequate shelter here. Add to this poor health and an enviroment that wasn't always conducive to emotional stability and you understand why he  seemed to be periodically wracked with feelings of insecurity and paranoia.
Cerutty often had this me versus them mentality.I would venture to say that this was also a result of the situation and conditions he was raised in. It's remarkable that he became as successful as he did. Many people having a similar type of upbringing have gone the other way,leading a life of self-destruction by drinking and/or drugging themselves in order to deal with the pain.
 Percy wrote this in regards to difficulties and failures: "It then becomes a case of faith,the going on in faith in oneself, a faith that can eventually break through,achieve in some way,at some time."
Yes, determination, stick-to-it-tiveness and faith in yourself,is, and always will be,the key to success.
Awhile back, someone wrote and said they were doing an article on Cerutty and asked for my thoughts on him.The writer was clearly looking towards the Percy who trained runners,not the philosopher.I have seen this slant on him before.Every now and then you'll read a story,usually about a high school cross-country coach, who has come across some info on Percy or Stotanism and has his kids busting their butts on the trails.While this may be good,the athletes are being shortchanged in the Stotan/Cerutty department.
Cerutty's greatest contribution came in the philosophy he taught,not the training regimen.His views on athleticism, naturalism, materialism,achieving success,nutrition and rugged individualism,as well as his belief in the necessity of developing the complete athlete(physically,mentally), were and are, his greatest contribution. There are very few coaches,if any in modern times,who have articulated so well insights into such a wide range of subjects.There was a time not too long ago that an athlete would be told that all he had to do was train hard and listen to his coach.Cerutty accurately wrote of the shortsightedness of such a mindset. I always think back to this quote by him directed to those athletes who desired success: "success is the result of deep thought."
Amen to that Perc!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Derek Clayton on Prioritzing,Discipline and Dedication

I've referenced Derek Clayton on this site previously.Those who love the sport of distance running must make a point of getting his book Running To the Top. There are certain books about running and runners that should be in every serious runner's library and Clayton's is one of them.
Wait one minute,are there some of you out there who don't know who Derek Clayton is? He is an Australian distance runner who first set the world marathon mark in December 1967 and then lowered it to 2:08:33 in 1969.His record stood for an incredible 12 years.
Derek was an outspoken,hard training runner who believed in doing mileage. I recall years ago there was a push.among some of the top U.S. distance runners to be financially subsidized in the hope that this would help them be competitive on the world scene again. American great Bill Rodgers was quoted as saying that no U.S. distance runner could hope to compete at an elite level if they held down a full time job.
Clayton was blunt as to his feelings on the subject,in a nutshell, and using himself as an example, he said there was no reason for runners not to work.
What follows are his views on fitting training in with working and having a family. I think we can all benefit from what he has to say. As a sidenote,if you've been around long enough,who hasn't had a former running buddy say,"I got a job and family now,I don't have the time to run anymore."
Derek has this to say to elite,as well as serious runners:
"I don't think that work should be an excuse for poor running habits any more than running should be the reason for sloppy work. The two can mesh successfully. The higher your goal,the more dedicated a runner you must become.This doesn't mean you have to quit your job,leave your family and devote your life to running.It's clearly not worth that but it is impossible to reach your potential in a casual fashion. I was never obsessed solely with running.Running was just the major part of my life around which everything else was built.It was never important enough to exclude my job and family.All people have tasks they have to fit into their lives.I think the important thing is to acknowledge these priorities,such as family and work,and not allow them to become so consuming that you can't reach your running goals.People are amazed to find that during the week I worked at least 40 hours as a civil engineer,did speaking engagements and 150 miles of running.But what is so amazing about doing something that is important to you? Some runners act as though a hard day at the office excuses them from training.Rather than make excuses and fight having to work forty hours a week,I learned to live with it.When I quit fighting the load, it became less of a burden.At that point it became a training tool that helped build my mental toughness.While people I ran with were complaining that work was ruining their running.I was using it to improve the quality of mine."
Two words come to mind after reading the above, one is attitude and the other is prioritizing.Clayton realized that complaining and having a "poor me" attitude would get him nowhere.As he said,he viewed his seemingly intense schedule as one that built mental, as well as physical toughness.Also, I doubt that there was any wasted time in his day.
I don't know about you but I see a fair amount wasted time in mine.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Ernst van Aaken on Health and Disease



Dr.Ernst van Aaken was a physician from West Germany who was often referred to as the "Running Doctor." He is remembered for his advocating long slow distance(LSD) and being an adviser to Harold Norpoth who won a silver medal in the 5,000 meters at the 1964 Olympics.
Van Aaken was also a zealous runner who influenced and encouraged countless others to recognize the health benefits of running.His book,Van Aaken Method, is a classic and whether you agree with everything he says about training,it contains alot of good and useable information,especially as it pertains to food,lasting health and disease.
The following quote should be of interest to runners.It's been my experience that too many athletes think that because they run it will negate a multitude of dietary "sins." This of course is foolishness with a little denial thrown.Van Aaken correctly taught that attaining and maintaining health involves so much more than just exercising.
He probably wrote the following sometime in the '60's: "Nowadays,we talk about "diseases of civilization" as something obvious and acceptable,and it's hard not to notice the undertone of rationalization for our own sins against healthy living.We've discovered a whipping boy to take the blame for damage caused by filthy air,water pollution,lack of sunlight,noise damage,the flood of sense stimulation,speed craze in traffic and in occupational life, movement laziness,cigarette addiction,dietary damage and greed,chronic over-fatigue,nervousness,alcoholism,dope addiction and today's most visible catastrophe,coronary problems and cancer."
He went on to write: "All the above-named damages can be boiled down to three basic causes:
1. Oxygen deficiency(from lack of exercise)
2. Overeating
3.Weakness of will"
For Van Aaken, it was all about personal accountability as it pertained to ones' health.There is no question as to the importance of us doing likewise.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Marathon: Serious Business and Not To Be Taken Lightly



Perhaps one of the more unfortunate myths perpetuated by the mainstream running media is that the be all, end all of ones' running experience is to run a marathon. Although this may not always be said openly, it is certainly inferred in a variety of books and articles. There is a whole industry that has grown up around taking runners from basically a handful of miles a week to being able to run a marathon within a year or less. I've seen training "plans" that say you can get to the starting line in 6 months. Jeff Galloway has made a career out of preparing people for marathons,people who you would classify as "fun" runners. I'd like to quickly add here that I am not criticizing anyone for attempting to run a marathon. As you may have seen in a previous post or two my view of runners is that anyone who gets out there everyday is equal to anyone else, no matter how fast their per mile time is. Also,it appears that many of these 0 miles to your marathon in X amount of months organizations are linked to charities and that is commendable.
However, I have a problem with taking people with virtually no real running or mileage history into that twilight zone that can be what the marathon ends up being.Those of you who have run marathons know what I'm talking about. I have run several and not one of them have been easy,not one, and that goes from my slowest one to the fastest.The only marathon that didn't beat me up as much as the others was a trail race I did several years ago.
Most other runners I have spoken with over the years confirm what I've experienced.
So what am I getting at? It is my belief that no distance or quest for a certain time is worth it if it ends up causing you to give up running. I have spoken to countless runners of varying abilities that have quit running as a result of mental or physical burn-out that occurred after preparing for, and/or racing a distance they were ill-prepared to run or just weren't suited for.
I paraphrase nine time New York City marathon winner Grete Waitz, she said: "I see too many people running the marathon who would be better suited running a 10k or half-marathon."
Running should be a lifelong activity,despite the naysayers,running is a healthy endeavor when approached intelligently.That means you know and listen to your body. As Harry Callahan said: "A man's got to know his limitations." That goes for women too. I am also talking to runners who run and race well.
 I'm sure I am showing my age but there was a time when distance runners sort of "graduated" in their running to the point where they ran a marathon after having years of miles under their belt. I say allow the months and years of distance training to strengthen your legs as well as all the "systems" of your body. Google Carlos Lopes and you will read an excellent example of this.Unfortunately, this school of thought changed decades ago because of several reasons,not the least of which is the "glamourization" of the marathon by the media.
Can a young runner have success in a marathon? Of course he can. Is it wise? Often not.The training and racing involved in the marathon distance can take a toll on a runner's body and psyche. Here's the standard I use,unless you will be able to toe the line at the upcoming Olympic marathon trial, then potentially committing your running career to a distance prematurely can be foolish. Look at the alternatives,5k's, 10k's 20k's, half-marathons,30k's.Explore and reach your goals at these distances before moving on to the marathon. I should also mention trail races at varying distances are a great choice. Again, as I have written about many times, there's a big difference between racing on the trails and racing over pavement.
Ultimately, running should be something that brings about positive feelings such as joy,happiness,peace of mind, etc.
On a related note,if your running, training or racing is making you neurotic,discouraged or feeling mentally or physically fried, then you need to change something,the sooner the better.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Running Can......

During the heady running boom days of the early 70's, running was viewed by many as a panacea for a variety of ills,not the least of which was cancer. It was an exciting time, running was prominently featured in all the media outlets, it occupied a place in this country's consciousness that hasn't been seen since that decade.
However,as all things must eventually come to an end,the initial enthusiasm and faddish excitement of the 70's and early 80's faded, people found out that running couldn't cure cancer,in fact, you could actually injure yourself and become sick from this sport if you weren't careful.
The media began to sour on running and began to publish many cautionary tales on the "dangers" of running. The death of Jim Fixx in 1984 was a serious blow to the sport's image of being a healthy activity. Jim's excellent book,The Complete Book Of Running, published in 1977,was one of the two major reasons for the running boom,the other being Frank Shorter's gold medal in the marathon at the '72 Olympics.
In regards to Fixx's death, largely ignored by the media,at least early on, was the fact that Fixx had a family history of serious heart problems. Considering this and the fact that he abused his body for decades by being a heavy smoker, his premature death shouldn't have come as all that big of a surprise. However, the not so thinly veiled message that came from articles published after his death was that jogging had the potential to kill you.
This situation wasn't helped in later years when former running advocates such as Dr. Kenneth Cooper and Jeff Galloway produced books strongly cautioning people from running "too much"(Editor: this is discussed further in a prior blog entry,Betrayal From Within, The Trojan Horse Syndrome).
Although I will agree that running cannot cure cancer, it can change and mold you if you allow it to. Recently,during the course of a conversation with Harve Sipel, a friend and fellow running zealot, he said something that caused me to stop and think for awhile. He said that in all his years of running he'd  never met a dedicated runner who was overly preoccupied with having lots of money and living the lifestyle that came with it.The key word here is dedicated runner, a runner who as I like to say,"lives for the run." As I thought back to all the athletes I had known over the years I had to agree with what Harve had said. Some runners I'd known had forgone potentially lucrative career changes because it would have had a negative impact on their running.
I then started to think about the characteristics of a dedicated athlete in which you could see how running had helped shape and influence them.
What follows are some of the things I've noticed about(dedicated) runners over the years, the following is in no way intended to be a comprehensive listing.I'm sure there are other traits you could add.
To begin, would be the ability to discipline's oneself, as well as having a respect for your body and health.
Include an appreciation of nature, life and of your own well being.
A type of calmness appears to be a characteristic of the distance runner, some call it being "laid back".
Add to this a quiet self-assurance and confidence.
A desire for simplicity in life also comes to mind.
As I said, there are other characteristics you see in a dedicated runner and although running may not be a cure for major diseases, it will change you and your life in a very positive way if you allow it to.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A Different Look at The Winning and Losing Aspects of Running

With running and racing, we should understand that there is more to winning and losing than where you place when you cross the finish line. Alot of it has to do with how you view your whole running experience.
The following is by Joe Henderson(in quotes) and was written sometime in the 70's. He brings up a few points worth considering,things that we tend to take for granted.
I add a few comments after some of his quotes.
"Winning is realizing you have already won something by being in the running."
You especially notice this as you get older, you'll see you are in an ever shrinking minority of people who continue to get out there everyday and train(run).Hopefully, you'll realize how fortunate you are to not only be a part of this great sport, but still have the desire and ability to run. Most fall away for various reasons as the decades pass.
 "Losing is not starting,but being content to talk about what might be or might have been if......" Amen to that Joe. Add to that this one, losing is giving up running for all the wrong reasons,like you got lazy,or, having lots of "things" that became more important than "the run."
Joe continues with: "Winning is standing on the shoulders of the giants. It is absorbing the written and spoken lessons of people who've run before."
Ah,those great running bios and training books from many years past,treasures for those who live for the run.They no longer publish books like these but at least we have them to guide and inspire us. "Losing is refusing to help other runners."
So true,how can anyone who says they love this sport not want to help the newbie? I am deeply indebted to those who took the time when I needed some solid advice and direction(special thanks here to Arthur and Ralph).There is an altruism to this sport that is unique.
"Winning is continuing to run after fate has decided that you are past your prime and will never again break a personal record. It is continuing when there are no races left to run."
I was always bewildered by those who quit after the pr's stopped,and believe me,there were many runners I knew who did. I always wanted to go up to them and ask: "Is that all running meant to you was setting a p.r.(personal record)?"
Again, I go along with what the great Jack Foster said in the later years of his running career: "I feel I'm running as fast as I ever did as long as I don't look at my watch."
 "Losing is living in the past. It is trying to restore the old glories to the condition they were in during their short life."
The danger in competition is in letting your ego become a factor,allowing it to define who you are as a runner by how you finish or by what your time is.
 Forget your ego! Ultimately,it's all about the run and the feeling you get when you are out there.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Evaluating Yourself--Two Questionaires From Joe Henderson

While going through some of my running books recently I came across one written in the 70's by Joe Henderson. In it were some checklists that could be used to determine whether you were a serious runner or a fun runner. My first thought was, how hard is it to figure that out? But, many of  the questions do cause you to think and consider how you view your running.
 I will begin with Joe's questionnaire that asks if you are a Fun Runner and after most of his comments I'll add some of my own. Joe's comments are in quotes.
Are You A Fun Runner?
1."Have you started thinking of your daily runs not as training but as pleasant ends in themselves?"
A good starting point.Knowing how you view your running says a lot about the kind of runner you are.
2."If you still keep a running diary at all, is a time within five minutes, or a distance within a mile, accurate enough?"
In all my years of running, the majority of serious runners I've known, meaning over 50%, have not kept an actual running diary.That's not to say they don't jot down their daily mileage somewhere.
3."Do you run more by how you feel than by a detailed plan?"
4."Can you take time out in mid-run, stop early, or even skip a day without feeling guilty about it?"
It's a foolish serious runner who tries to gut out a run instead of stopping when he's hurting or feeling bad.Not doing so is a common rookie mistake.
5."However,when you must miss all or part of a run, do you feel like an old friend has left you for awhile?"
Hardly, because I know I'll  be visiting this "old friend" very soon.
6."Would you keep running as you do now even if you never race?"
If this was asked of me in my younger years I would say that I'd run as much as ever except that I would back off on the intensity.
7."Do you often decide whether to race when you wake the day of a race?"
I don't know many fun runners who would do that.
8."Do you race  without planning your pace?"
9."Can you run through a race at an easy pace and still feel good about the experience?"
That's part of what qualifies a person as a fun runner, not being overly concerned about finishing times.
10."Are you proud of your older, faster times--but not so haunted by them that you can't appreciate a race a minute per mile slower?"
There comes a moment in every serious runner's life when he has to take the time and evaluate whether or not the performance driven training he's been doing is still worth it.
Joe closes out the above by saying that if you answered yes to most of the above then you are a fun runner.

Are You A Serious Runner?
1."Is preparing for races your most important reason for running every day?"
No! It's a common misconception that serious runners qualify as being serious only because they run to race. My love of running is the reason I run as often as I am physically able.I'm sure I speak for millions of other serious runners.
2."Do you intentionally make your training hurt so you can tolerate the pain in races?"
No! It's just something that naturally goes along with the training schedule you follow if you are planning to eventually race.
3."Are you a high goal setter who believes a person's ability is limited mainly by his imagination?"
No! experience refutes that statement. I think of the great John L Parker's comment, and I'm paraphrasing here, the distance runner is the ultimate realist. This means his workouts show the difference between reality and his wishes.
4."Do you give up foods and drinks you like just so you can run farther and faster?"
Truly serious athletes will and do.
5."Do your athletic practices appear abnormal compared to the habits of your family and friends?"
Since I don't use altitude chambers,etc.,I'd say no.
6."Do you train with a group or team so you can run farther or faster than you would alone?"
On occasion, however, there is a certain kind of mental and physical toughness that only comes from training alone. It is an often overlooked component to a serious runner's regimen.
7."Is it important to you that you beat certain people or place a certain way in competition?"
Yes,that's why most compete in the first place.
8."Are you always asking yourself to go a little faster a little farther?"
Not usually,one should listen to their body and evaluate,look at the big picture.
9."Are you always comparing your current performances with past marks and expecting them to progress?"
Yes, but understanding that there will be times when I perform below expectations.
10."Do you think you must always stay a little bit dissatisfied with yourself so you'll keep trying to improve?
Absolutely not! That's a one way trip to unhappiness and a common rookie mistake. Take pleasure in doing well, let it be a validation that you are doing things right!
Joe says that if you answered yes to most of the above then you are a serious athlete.I say this in regards to Joe's assertion: his criteria are too rigid and shortsighted,my comments given below his explain why I believe this to be so.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Emil Zatopek--More than Just A Great Athlete

For years I didn't know a whole lot about Emil Zatopek. I was aware of the fact that he was a hard training Olympic gold medalist who ran with what appeared to be poor running form.
 I came to discover that he was much more than that simplistic perception. He was a kind,courageous person who was also one of the great runners of this past century.
 For those who don't know, Emil won 38 consecutive 10,000 meter races, he set 18 world records in distances between the 5k and 30k. He also won 4 Olympic gold medals and one silver.
I would be remiss not to mention that at the 1952 Olympics he won gold in the 5k,10k and marathon while setting Olympic records in each of those events.
I should ask this,what do you think the chances are of that ever happening again?
Oh yes,about that gold in the Olympic marathon,it was his first time racing that distance.
When I said Emil was courageous I wasn't only referring to what he did on the track. He spoke out publicly against a repressive Czech government and was condemned and persecuted for doing so.
He also had a knack of providing some interesting and provocative quotes.On the line before the start of the Olympic marathon he said this to some of his competitors, "Men, today we die a little."
I don't know about any of you but that is something I'd rather not hear before racing a marathon.
Emil was well aware of the essence of running when he said: "A runner must run with dreams in his heart,not money in his pocket."
 So much for being concerned with sponsorship,appearance fees and prizes.
On the reality of racing, "It's at the borders of pain and suffering that the men are separated from the boys." This last quote is one that can apply to life as well as the disappointments we may encounter in our running and racing: "What has passed is already finished with. What I find more interesting is what is still to come."
Well said.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Ageless Running

As I was running a long loop through the trails last weekend, I felt much the same as I did running the Finger Lakes Trails 25 years ago. To me,nothing has changed mentally or physically.
I thought back to what Jack Foster once said regarding his running and getting older, I paraphrase: " I feel  I'm running as fast as ever but my watch says something different." In case you didn't know, in 1974 Jack set a master's world record in the marathon at age 41 with a time of 2:11:10
The following quote by Dr.George Sheehan(author of the classic book Running and Being) 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.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

On Physiological Testing and the Runner

I was reading awhile back where physiological testing was being done on some elite U.S. distance runners. The hope was that it would yield info that would highlight strengths, as well as the areas that needed to be worked on in order for the athletes to achieve optimal performance.
Decades ago former world record holder in the marathon(for 12 years),Derek Clayton, offered the following in response to what he thought about the extensive testing he had completed under the supervision of exercise physiologist Dr. David Costill.
According to Clayton, his test results were mostly unremarkable for a world record holder.He commented that he was happy that he hadn't been tested early in his career and been given those findings.
 He said: "Being tested would have eliminated the elements of the unknown. It would set limits that may only exist on machines that measure physiology rather than psychology.It is what a runner thinks he or she can do that creates success."
So true!
Derek closes with this statement that all of us should keep in mind, "Natural ability and determination are must haves,however, of all factors involved in distance running,I would say that the most important is determination."
Where most give up,successful runners and champions persevere.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Manfred Steffny: Regarding the Marathoner

As we are now into the fall marathon season, what follows is a description by German marathoner and author Manfred Steffny into what the sometimes forgotten benefits of being a marathon runner are,or for some,should be.
Too often the mental,physical and spiritual benefits of our training are overlooked due to our preoccupation with achieving excellence.Steffney writes:
"Civilization,hand-in-hand with its readily available poisons, is robbing man of innumerable physical perceptions: of the sensation and internal feelings through limbs and organs. Nowadays we are aware of our insides only when they begin to hurt yet the body is man's greatest resource. The marathoner has his body well under control. This gives him a decided advantage in his life. He knows how much he can do physically, and in many ways he's able to transfer his athletic abilities into the occupational or private sphere.
He becomes skeptical about blind acceptance of the automation of our lives and he is wide awake to assaults on the enviroment. The marathoner is aware that his car can take him quickly into beautiful running country,but he also knows that the auto is the reason he doesn't like to run around his own block.
The marathon runner counts his capital not in houses and cars,but in the reserves of his own body. Rising health care costs tell even the man who's nailed fast to the dollar that he is wisest to let overtime and penny-pinching go in favor of investing a few hours in his body."
The above,written in 1977, reaffirms many of the truths taught by Percy Cerutty.
For those of us who live for the run, we should never forget them.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Planning Our Training, Something To Consider

As we plan our training it is important to keep a few things in mind.
The great running coach Bill Bowerman articulates so well what we need to do as we formulate the plan and set our running goals.
He says: "I think a person can make the most of his running experience if he is enjoying it, if he has a plan, if his objectives that are realistic and if he carries on over an extended period of time. If he becomes tired of running,he should lay off for awhile.If he's still tired of it after that,maybe he ought to look for another activity."
Cerutty wrote, in so many words, that our training should not become like work.
To me, and I am sure most of you, running is a release from every day events and pressures. The last thing we need to do is add running and racing to our list of potentially stressful activities.
It's a sad thing when an athlete follows a training schedule that takes all the joy out of running. I'm sure most of us at one time or another have experienced this. Hopefully,with time, we come to realize that we can have it both ways, achieve optimal fitness without losing our enjoyment of the sport.
On a related note,too many people sabotage their running by not making changes to their training despite being repeatedly injured.
Be realistic in your planning, by doing so you can break the cycle of setting goals that you either give up on or don't come close to achieving.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Final Interview, Arthur Lydiard

I hesitate to say that the following is the final interview Arthur did before he died because it seemed as if he was continuously doing interviews.
With that said, it would not be a stretch to say it was one of his last ones. I've singled out portions of the interview that contain information I hope is unfamiliar to most readers. I'll put my "two cents" in here and there.
A reader has suggested to me recently that I should not assume that in this day and age every runner knows who Arthur Lydiard was. Quite simply, he formulated the basic fundamentals of distance training. They are time tested and rock solid principles.
He also coached many champions and world record holders. I would highly recommend that you read his bio on the Wikipedia page if you don't who Arthur is. It's brief but you'll get the picture as they say.
The interviewer begins by asking: How much stretching should a distance runner do?
Arthur: "You should do some,particularly when you do faster training.However,if you do lots of hill running or cross-country running,your muscles will be stretched."
A few thoughts come to mind regarding the above. If you are one who desires peak conditioning and/or racing excellence,you are making a serious mistake if you exclude cross-country and hill running from your training regimen.The benefits are irrefutable.
As an aside, I have known many runners who won't do cross-country or the hills because they:
#1. don't want to bother finding or travelling to a locale to do that type of training.
#2.the uneven footing and terrain are uncomfortable when compared to the roads.
As far as stretching? Personally speaking,I agree with Lydiard, it's need and benefits are overrated.There was a time decades ago when stretching was considered essential to a runner's ability to continue running injury free.All types of stretching routines,yoga workouts,etc., were being endlessly promoted in books and magazines. Sometime after, articles came out stating that runners were often doing themselves more harm than good by stretching improperly.
The reality is, for most, when beginning a run, you can warm or stimulate the muscles by doing some walking, followed by a period of easy jogging after which you start your workout. You should finish a workout by jogging slowly, then walking and ending it with a few basic stretches(quad and calf) familiar to most every runner.
If you talk to those in the running community whom I call the "old-timers", you will rarely find one who has found it necessary to spend too much time stretching.
Another interesting subject Arthur addresses, how many quality marathons a runner will be able to run? This subject was brought up because it was once believed,and may still be for that matter,that every serious marathoner(emphasis on serious)  has only a handful of excellent marathons "in him." Arthur responds to this school of thought. The interviews asks:
One elite marathoner said to me that he thinks there might only be about five good marathons in the body. Is there a limit an elite athlete should race at the marathon distance?
Arthur:"That's alot of rubbish. You can run more than that. That's the question of recovery. With so much money involved in marathon running today,some elite runners have run a marathon,picked up a check and moved on to the next marathon to get paid again without adequate recovery. That shortened their career. But, if you're careful about recovery,you can keep on running marathons and keep improving."
The above goes for us mere mortals too. I've known many runners who have started running road races less than two weeks after racing a marathon. As I've said before,just because your body may be able to tolerate doing so,doesn't mean you should or that it's good for you.
Interviewer:What is the most important component to marathon training?
Arthur: "The most important thing in running a marathon is muscular endurance.If you want to run a good marathon,you've got to do long runs.If you are a serious runner,it helps to go as far as 30 miles in preparation."
I guess the key words here would be,a seasoned runner, as well as a serious runner.It only makes sense that you'd have to have put in the time and the miles before going out for a 30 mile jaunt. Lydiard also advocated,for novices and those who were gaining in experience, running for a certain amount of time as opposed to counting miles.
I call it time out on your feet. I have found that in preparing for a marathon,that by going out for a run interspersed with some walking breaks for a total of 4 hours has been very effective. I should add that previous to this I had done some 20+ mile runs. Once again, you work up to that over time.
I close with some words by the Master that sums up what is needed to train successfully:
"If you want to be a successful runner,you have to consider everything.You have to take a long view and train on all aspects of development(anaerobic,aerobic,etc.) through a systematic program. It's a lot of hard work for five,six or seven years. There's no secret formula. There's no shortcut to success."
Athletes who aspire to achieve running excellence recognize that hard work is a part of the process,however,for those of us who live for the run,that work is a labor of love.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Frank Shorter on a Forgotten Aspect of Aging and Training


I think by now we all realize that with age we have  to make some changes in our training.When we should do so differs from individual to individual.For myself, I noticed that beginning at age 45 I didn't recover as quickly from hard workouts and races as I once did.
I'm sure everyone realizes that less intensity and more recovery time is necessary as we age.
In the following, Frank Shorter talks about an aspect of ageing and training that isn't often brought up but is essential to recognize and deal with if we are to minimize the negative effects of getting older.The aspect he is referring to is the loss of muscle mass.
Frank says: "I think that athletes believe if they maintain the same body weight, they maintain the same conditioning.For instance,although my weight hasn't changed in 17 years,tests showed my body fat had gone up 4 percent. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you body fat goes up 4 percent and you weigh the same,there are many pounds of muscle that are no longer there. Based on that alone,I think logic would indicate that the more of that muscle one can maintain,or get back in my case,the more it will help.
Obviously,the loss of muscle mass will have a significant impact on your performance. That's why I do a 30 minute weight routine several times a week to build and maintain muscle."
Shorter then brings up this interesting point:
"As you get older and still maintain the same daily goal as to how much training you'll do,you lock into a certain amount that you feel is a day's exercise.If you maintain that amount from age 30 to 45 and you've been losing muscle mass,in essence you've been slightly overtraining as you age. You're aiming to reach your daily quota but you've had less strength to do it.Consequently,you're going to be taxed more and obviously it will take you more time to recover."
If the above isn't an incentive to do regular weight training I don't know what is.
For many,it's easy to tell yourself that lots of running will take care of everything but in truth it won't. I know that I often have to force myself to do the weight workouts but recognize that if I don't do them then I won't reap the full benefits of all the running I do.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Athletes, Doctors and Medicine

I should begin by saying that I spent close to 36 years in the healthcare field. During this time I was employed in many different capacities within the areas of medicine and mostly psychiatry.It would be a huge understatement to say that things have changed over the decades.
What follows,in no particular order, is some advice  I would give to athletes in regards to their health,medicine and seeking medical treatment. Forgive me if some of what you are about to read is already familiar to you.
To begin,prevention is always the key,meaning,you want to do all you can to avoid going to the doctor or taking medication. Obviously, I am not discouraging physicals and diagnostic tests,they are an essential part of assessing your health and wellness.What I'm referring to here is reducing or eliminating risk factors that could eventually lead to you  needing medical treatment.Things like poor diet,overeating,smoking,and excessive alcohol consumption over the years will take a toll on everyone.
I recently heard a health practioner say that up to the age of 40 the body can tolerate many abuses inflicted upon it but after that age it will start to break down.I would also add that for athletes who train hard,compete and have been doing so for years have to be very careful to give adequate time to rest and recover.
You must not over race.Years ago when I was into the ultra scene,I would read about these runners who would emerge out of nowhere and run some incredible races,many within a relatively short period of time.You'd read how this athlete did a 24 hour race one weekend and a month later was in the top ten at the Leadville 100. Then within a couple of years after, you'd never hear from them again except to read that they were struggling with some type of chronic injury,blood disorder or muscle wasting.The body can tolerate tremendous amounts of abuse for only so long.
Concerning doctors:I can't tell you the number of runners I've known who've gone to a doctor for an issue that was obviously related to overuse.For example,the runner who wanted to increase his mileage but did it too quickly and started to develop knee problems. What is a physician going to do for him in this case? He's going to tell him what any runner should know,rest,ice in the beginning,motrin as needed,assess your training and make the necessary adjustments.
And while we're on the subject of doctors,are there any of you out there who still go to one who thinks running is basically bad for you or that doing more that 12 miles a week is folly? If you are, why? Decades ago it was commonplace for docs to warn the masses that running would ruin your joints,cartilage,etc. With that said,here's what I look for in a physician:
1.Does he listen to my concerns and at least act concerned?
2.Does he respect the fact that I try to take control of my health by exercising, taking vitamins and eating a certain way?
3.Does he take the time to explain why he is ordering certain tests?
4.Does he explain how he has come to a certain diagnosis?
5.Does he address ways of preventing problems?
6.Does he recommend follow-up care and interventions?
Now to the subject of medicine.
I have found that in my years as medication nurse that there is an action and a reaction to all meds.
It is always the desire that the effects of taking a med resolve the problem while the reaction(side effect) to it is minimal.
For instance,lets look at the seemingly innocuous drug motrin(Ibuprofen).Runners like myself popped them as if they were vitamins in order to deal with muscle and joint pain.Motrin works.The problem with it is when taken long term it causes stomach problems,is not good for the kidneys,and perhaps worst of all,causes an increase in blood pressure and can contribute to heart problems.
So am I advocating never taking motrin? No,but I am advocating looking for other ways first to relieve the problem.
I recall that after very long runs or races I would soak in a tub of cold water.My muscle soreness was never a problem after I did this.
Thinking along these lines goes for other drugs too.Cholesterol drugs,blood pressure drugs,drugs for adult onset diabetes;if you make certain lifestyle changes your need for medication for these disorders and others are greatly reduced.
The key in medical treatment and medication should be,look to eliminate the cause of the problem,don't just treat the symptom.Taking control of your health requires a desire to think,study,and a willingness to monitor and assess yourself and your training.
Who knows how you feel physically better than yourself?
Take control,be in control!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

When You Think You're Not Getting Anywhere With Your Running


I think at one time or another we've been discouraged with our training,maybe we weren't making the gains that we think we should have or perhaps we've had a bad race or two.
 Bill Rodgers offers us some things to keep in mind during these difficult times.
He says the following: "You have to hang on and look at the future. This is a very significant point. Running is never a waste. Everything you are doing now is all part of the grand plan. What's going to happen nine years down the road? The more you train, the more consistent you become."
We tend to forget about the cumulative benefits of training year after year. It's not especially common to hear local road runners talking about where they think their running will be in five years. That's unfortunate because if they continue to train smartly and consistently, they will become stronger and more efficient runners.
On a related note, I knew one athlete who raced frequently at the 5k and 10k distances and became discouraged one season with his times. He then reassessed his training and decided to make some changes.He stopped racing for a year and concentrated solely on increasing his mileage by running easily over varying terrains. Sixteen months later he ran his first marathon in the low 2:40's.
This runner later told me that not running well was the best thing that happened to his running because it caused him to think and change what he was doing. He said: "My goal was always to race well and that's what ended up happening. The surprise was that it was at a distance I wasn't expecting to race at when I started."
A thinking,determined and consistent runner can accomplish much.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Larry Myers and Some Stotan Secrets

Over the years I've gotten many inquiries as to what I thought of Larry Myers,the designated heir to the Stotan legacy and  author of Training With Cerutty.I tell everyone that the book is excellent because it's loaded with Cerutty quotes and that you have to respect Myers because,as the preface states, Perc had designated him to be his successor.
Unfortunately,it appears that it didn't go well for Myers because he appeared to drop out of sight in the early 80's.However,before that time he wrote 100 Stotan Secrets---Training With Cerutty. It obviously was inspired by Percy and contained many good quotes by him.
Much of what is in "Secrets" is worth paying attention to while some are not.
Consider the following:
"A great coach inspires confidence in his leadership demonstrating in his own person what he wants an athlete do at practice and on the athletic field,realizing it is the intensity of effort that gets the results,not merely the effort of being a slave to a printed training schedule. 'If a coach can't do it,he can't teach it' remarked Cerutty"
The above view on coaches seems almost unimaginable in this day and age. I don't believe I ever had a coach who actually "took us through our paces."
"Coaching hundreds of athletes over the years taught Percy Cerutty that it takes a gifted distance runner between 5-8 years conditioning and at least 10 years for an average athlete to reach their potential."
In the age of wanting results as soon as possible,the above time schedules may seem like a lifetime to many.Patience is the key.
"When a group of athletes train or run together,there is a lot more momentum build up throughout a workout,developing the 'soul power' one only vaguely thought existed from training alone."
 There is something very special about training with a group of runners who all desire one thing,running success.For you Buffalo natives,remember the old days when groups of runners trained together in preparation for the Skylon Marathon?
 But, I should add this, Cerutty did write that there were occasions when running alone was beneficial.
 "Never look backwards dwelling on past failures and defeat letting it get one down,but endeavor to move forward on the highest creative plane,focusing your energies on the future,working hard for winning and success,placing no limitations on yourself reaching, upwards to the stars and beyond."
Dwelling on past mistakes and failures only conjures up negative feelings.
As someone once said---"we can do infinitely more than we think we can."

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Lessons From Lydiard

"The idea that you can't lose contact with the leaders has cut more throats than it has saved,"
Quote by Arthur Lydiard.
The above quote contradicts the instruction of every running coach I've ever had. It would probably not be an exaggeration to say that it also goes against the advice I've heard most other coaches give.
However, Arthur's quote makes alot of sense when you stop and think about it. I say this because you cannot make all encompassing statements about racing strategy. You need to consider the length of the race as well as the type of runner that is racing.
Runners have strengths and weaknesses, not all do well with the mindset that you must keep in contact with the leader no matter what.
We've all seen races where a runner has made his way up through the pack or surged over the last lap to win.Conversely, we have also seen the front runner of a race eventually fade near the end.
There is a time to hang with the leader but using your head and assessing the competition as well as yourself during the race is the smart way to run.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Runner's Spouses,Friends and Significant Others

It is my continuing desire to provide info and articles that aren't readily available on other sites dedicated to running. With that said I will ask this question, when was the last time you read an article that pertained to what is written in the above title?
 Ideally, what I am about to write would be most appropriate for those who are young or people who have recently discovered that they too live for the run. I have written in the past that those who are considering committing to another person must make it clear to them from the onset regarding their zeal for running. If this person has a problem with your "passion" then you have two choices,either end the relationship or give up your "passion."
The problem with giving up your "passion" for a relationship is that if your significant other doesn't understand your zeal for running, then this might be a "red flag" indicating that this person has a problem with anything you are into and they aren't. If that's the case, then this doesn't bode well for a healthy long-term relationship.

Now lets look at running and relationships from another angle. During the several decades that I have been to races I've seen many runners neglect, use and abuse their spouses,friends and significant others because of their running and racing.
Let me give you some examples: Joe likes to go out of town several times a year to run marathons and other races. This usually involves being gone at least Friday,Saturday and Sunday with "the boys" to cities like Boston, N.Y.C., Charlotte, and Tampa. He spends alot of money in the process and has never taken his running supportive wife to any of them.
His idea of a vacation for him and her is to go off-season to Myrtle Beach for 5 days,every September.
 Then there's Tony, he 5 years out of college and is the local road racing stud. His long-time girlfriend from college is his #1 fan and supporter. Tony has issues,when he doesn't perform up to HIS expectations,which is 65% of the time,he barks at her and is a pain in the ass to be around for the rest of the day. I should add that if he wins it doesn't necessarily mean that he will be in a good mood. The key here is if he performs up to his (Tony's) expectations. When he does have a "good day" he spends most of his post-race time with the other local "heroes" getting his ego stroked while the girlfriend hooks up with another neglected significant other.
It doesn't take a Rhodes scholar to see what the problem is with both of these characters,they are among other things,quite selfish. Running is potentially a self-centered endeavor if you don't consider the feelings and needs of others close to you. Sure, you have a right to go here and there to run,but,you must reciprocate by making time for that spouse,friend or significant other.
I've known those who are partners of runners who've come to hate the sport because they believe it has become a hindrance to their spending time together. The reality is,is that it's the runner who is the hindrance to the relationship because of his selfishness.
As far as guys like Tony? Hey guy, grow-up! Being the local stud at the races doesn't give you license to go off when you don't race well. After all, this isn't like it's a national championship.It's a local road race!
And what I say goes to the others who finish back of the pack yet behave after some races like they were the 4th man at the Olympic trials.
Getting back to the guys who make it a point to leave their significant other and go off to "exotic" locales with the boys to race I ask this,would it kill you to bring that certain someone along? Take it from a guy who saw the light many years ago,having that partner along as a support and encouragement is no sacrifice,it's a huge plus.
Ultimately, it all comes down to this, it's not just about you or me,it's about having consideration and not being selfish.
Unfortunately,for too many runners,they never realize that.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Do Not Forget!

"But don't forget my ideas are only what's been written down in history by the great people of the world who've gone before.
All I've done is condense the wisdom of the world into an attitude for athletics.
Athletics aren't just running, it's a way of life."
Percy Wells Cerutty


Percy Wells Cerruty was a voracious reader who had a huge personal library.
His books covered a wide variety of subjects,not just athletics.
He assimilated much of what he read and personally experienced into what later became known as his Stotan Philosophy.
He is shown above training the great Australian sprinter Betty Cuthbert at his International Training Center at Portsea on the coast of Australia.
Betty was a 1956 Olympic Gold medalist in the 100, 200, and 4x100 meter relay.
She was also (now get the time lapse here) a Gold medalist in the 400 meters at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.
Cerutty's words contained in his books continue to be relevant today.
Perhaps even more so judging by what I see being published for the athletic world in this 21th century.





Thursday, October 3, 2019

Nature or Nurture

I remember when I was much younger it always used to sound kind of reassuring when I would read or hear a coach say,"champions are made,not born." I believe I got this feeling because as a competitive runner since the age of 8, I had been beaten by enough runners to come to the conclusion that some runners were just born to be better than me. But that statement by the coaches gave me hope that I too could someday beat the best.
Well, as the years went by and I ran for my high school cross-country and track teams, I noticed that certain runners were much better than me despite the fact that I ran and did every bit as much work as they did. Since that time,as I've continued to run and coach H.S. runners,I found that there is no denying that some people just seem to be naturally talented. They get fit fast, they have natural foot speed,perfect body type,great foot strike,ability to recover quickly,etc.,etc..
 So what am I getting at,that there is no hope for us mere mortals? Not at all, but I am saying that you can have a certain degree of success but it will probably not include toeing the line at the upcoming U.S. Olympic 10,000 meter qualifiers.
Getting back to my H.S. experiences,one thing I consistently found was that when the star distance guys went off to college they frequently were never heard from again. Their wins ended and they often struggled to just place. The reason was due to the fact that they went from being, "a big fish in a small pond," to being a big fish among many other big and bigger fish.Suddenly they were on a team loaded with other natural talents. Many runners did not take their change in "status" well,most I knew eventually quit running sometime in college. I guess they came to the point where they were confronted with a question that is not always asked audibly,it was: do I want it bad enough? And this brings us again to the question of nature or nurture.
 There IS something that the average guy and the H.S. phenom who got the rude awakening in college have in common, it has to do with whether or not they have the desire to make the adjustments and do all the work necessary to achieve success. From my observation over the years I would say that most don't.
 If you have not read my earlier post entitled, "The Lesson of Ron Daws," I would  recommend you do so.Read the part where Daws said he paid attention to things and details that other more talented runners didn't even bother with. Remember that Ron Daws was once an incredibly average runner whose times in H.S. and college showed zero indication that he would someday qualify for the U.S.Olympic Marathon team.
The key for any runner,born good or not,is that to get to the next level, attention must be paid to all aspects of your training and life. Things like achieving optimal(maximum) aerobic mileage and conditioning,minimal bodyweight while having developed overall strength,ideal diet with correct supplementation and hydration, as well as being able to train progressively to the point where you arrive at race season in peak condition.
There are other things but these are some which readily come to mind.Daily evaluation of your training is required and adjustments made where needed.Training becomes a focus and pre-occupation.
In addition,there are the life questions,will my family, job, and others understand and tolerate what I want to do? Of course,the biggest question is,do I really want to commit to seeing how far I can take my running? Count the cost but remember that one man's dream may be another's idea of madness. Some of you out there might need to get a little crazy.

Burn Your Bridges

Cerutty often spoke about going against the norm in an era when it was not so common to do so as it is today. Remember this, he was not only talking about doing this in athletics but in one's daily life as well.
The following is an excerpt from his book, Success in Sport and Life:
 "Be a rebel against the perfunctory, the orthodox, the traditional, even the secure, the safe, the satisfactory, the conforming. It takes courage with a blend of so-called stupidity to burn one's bridges. I would hazard a guess that all great men at some time in their careers, burnt their bridges, said good-bye to what looked to others sane and sensible. It is true that not many will not pay the price. It would be awful if everyone wanted to stand on the summit of Everest at one and the same time! But many can, if they rebel against mediocrity and complacency."
As an aside, with over 30 years working in the psychiatric field I've seen the effects brought on by people living a life or having a mindset of "going with the flow," doing what others expect, not taking risks.
 Many are plagued by feelings of frustration and unhappiness. As a result they often seek solace in alcohol and drug use (or abuse).
The bottom line is this, be who you really are and live the life you love while respecting others and being responsible.

Recurring Thoughts On Distance Training From Joe Vigil

So who out there knows who Joe Vigil is?
Joe was Track and Field and Cross-Country coach at Adams State College in Alamosa,Co. for nearly 30 years. Vigil led teams in both sports to a total of 19 national championships. His overall record at Adams State stands at 94.2% with 3,014 wins and 176 losses. He produced 425 All-Americans and 87 individual national champions during his time at Adams State.
 He coached Cross-Country superstar Pat Porter who won 8 consecutive U.S. National Cross-Country Championships as well as Deena Drossin who was a silver medalist in the marathon at the 2004 Olympics. I could go on but you get the picture,Vigil can coach.
 In addition, he is an exercise physiologist who actually has a record of producing athletes that achieve national and international success.
So as I have said in the past regarding certain other coaches and athletes, when Joe Vigil speaks,runners that desire success should listen.
 The following quote will be familiar to readers of this site but is well worth reading again coming from yet another person who knows training.
 Universal truths do not change because we are in another era or because some author thinks he's found a new and better way.
 Joe gave this advice to his runners: "You've got to eat as though you were a poor man. You've got to do endurance training daily. And you can't let your mind go to seed. I think if runners would observe these three things,they would have a complete life, in which they would get satisfaction from their world."
One thing that struck me about the above is that Vigil, like Cerutty, recognizes that the ideal athlete is one who also develops his mind as well as his body.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

After the Race,The Need For Adequate Recovery

I feel the following is one of the more "important" articles I've written. I say this because it deals with respecting your body and keeping you out there running. Here goes:
I have found over the years that far too many runners do not allow themselves proper recovery time after races. I've sometimes wondered if it's become a forgotten aspect to the training,racing cycle. Proper recovery allows your body to rest,heal and recover from the race.Also,it gets you optimally ready to race again, ready to race in an energized state instead of a debilitated one.
Most runners feel they can race as often as they desire.
For example,the day after the race you may feel a little sore,two days after you may feel even sorer.However, things usually start to get better physically but there's something most runners don't realize,just because you feel better,it doesn't mean you are ready to race again.The reality is that our recovery from fatigue and muscle discomfort(pain for some) happens quickest.It takes longer to restore your body chemistry to its former normal levels.I've mentioned in a previous post about the significant damage that occurs to the body chemistry after someone races a marathon.
What follows are some things to remember in regards to post race recovery. Tom Osler,who I have referenced on this site in the past and is as knowledgeable about running as anyone wrote this: "As a rule of thumb,for the well-trained runner it takes about one day for each mile of the race for complete recovery....The runner will require longer periods if he is not thoroughly trained....I believe those runners should double the above-mentioned recovery time before he attempts another all-out performance."
The one day for each day raced should be familiar for most experienced runners,sometimes ignored is that less well trained runners require more time.
So what kind of running should you do as you recover? Easy running,"maintenance running" as some call it,running for 30 to 45 minutes a day. You don't want to run too long, too hard or too fast.Remember, feeling good is not the go ahead to abandon your recovery schedule.
Here is something that should also be considered in the whole race recovery process.You've done the one mile rest for each mile raced,now I will describe part two of your recovery program which is called the rebuilding period. After you have raced,say a five miler, and have completed the necessary five day recovery, you can resume longer and harder runs with some speed,but, you don't race. Don't race until you've completed the five day rebuilding period. As Joe Henderson wrote: "You owe yourself all of this time to clear away the damage done by a race. If you keep tearing down faster than you repair,the mild and temporary pains of racing eventually turn into the bad kind that slow and stop you."
Reading that makes me think of the old saying,"an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"? I knew dozens upon dozens of runners in the 70's who paid no attention to proper recovery after races,even marathons. Guess what? The overwhelming majority of them no longer run. They no longer run because they are physically unable to.
We sometimes forget that are bodies are not machines. They can take a tremendous amount of abuse for seemingly endless periods of time but there comes a point when your body will break down if you treat it without care and respect.Who wants that?
Again,it takes a thoughtful, thinking athlete to make the right choices,not mistakes, as it relates to their running and health.
Don't we all want to run forever?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Hold the Course, It's All Been Said

The following is from 2003 and was a type of "call to arms" for Stotans and others to commit or recommit to what they had learned in previous years.At the time I perceived a weakening of resolve in certain Stotans, who as they became older, had appeared to compromise the teachings they once believed in.
 Also,some were going after every new training theory that came around the bend.
In retrospect, what I wrote seems a bit extreme but the intention was well meaning.
Perhaps the following might provide some things for all of us to consider.

It's All Been Said---" Athleticism in my view is not a sport,it is a way of life. It is only the athletes who truly live and can savour life in all its aspects. Only those who excel in something physical yet exercise the mind can ever hope to be balanced and to live balanced lives. What profits a man if he makes a million and ends up dead at fifty. It is not the arrival that is important but the journeying to. The athlete lives now,right at this moment." The preceding quotes are from Percy Cerutty's, Athletics: How To Become A Champion.
Olympic gold medalist and former world record holder Herb Elliott once said that Percy was more of a philosopher than simply a trainer of athletes. This fact is what makes Cerutty still relevant today.
How many coaches these days are teaching that athleticism is life? Zero! As I have said repeatedly, you are either totally into it,or.....your not. There is no half-way here. The sad thing is that it seems as if the majority,including self-described serious athletes, are not. Acquisition of money,toys and possessions,plus satiating every desire, takes precedence over living the athletic life.
 Athleticism,as Cerutty taught it, is supposed to encompass all facets of one's life. There are far too many people who believe athleticism pertains only to your workouts and competition. How wrong they are! It is also about how you approach,view, and live your life. What am I getting at here? Folks, we've been shown the way,the search is over, it's all been said. Don't be like the rest of the world, doing what they do,wanting what they want,chasing after every new fad trend,idea and coach. Cerutty wrote about THE way in his books.
 Athletics: How To Become A Champion should be read and studied by every person who claims to be a serious athlete. Cerutty shows the hows and whys of the athletic life,we find that there are teachers, like Arthur Lydiard, who provide athletes with the fundamentals of training in every sport. These fundamentals are time tested and ageless.
 If you need to,go back and relearn what they taught, Stop wasting your time with those who say they have found a new and better way. And to you runners, Arthur Lydiard discovered the fundamentals of distance training. It could have just as easily been someone else who experimented and found the way. As fate would have it, a onetime shoemaker from New Zealand did the work and put in the time,thank God for that(and Arthur).
 Leave the complicated systems,the v-dots and the lactate thresholds for the running hobbyists. It appears that the rest of the world is ready to embrace every new,hyped idea that is sent their way,we know better,in large part because of the two men I've mentioned above,be thankful and content with that fact. In closing: The choice is yours. Nothing more needs to be said.
 Read,study,write and practice.