Sunday, March 31, 2019

Checklist For Success

 What follows are a few of the attributes that Percy Cerutty believes are essential to achieve success. I believe he wrote the following in regards to athletic success, but, it's easy to see how they could be applied to any type of endeavor.

2.Finding the way and means.
4.Concentration on task.
6.Faith in oneself.
7.The quality of 'rather die than give in or be ultimately beaten.'
8.The recognition, until one's goals are achieved, that one cannot serve two masters, that one goal must, and does, take precedence over the other.
9.The recognition, as we overcome so we strengthen to overcome better, and as we weaken in our resolves, so we become weaker and less capable of worthwhile achievement.
10.Total commitment to your goal."

Hard to find fault with the above.#6, like #5, is something that comes up frequently in these types of lists. For a lot of people, faith in oneself is the forgotten key to achieving your goal. Why can't you be the 'guy'? What don't you have that someone else has? Quite often the only thing the other person has that you don't have is confidence. Many of us need to change our way of thinking.

#2.Looking into the right program that will get you where you want to be as opposed to following a generic, one size fits all program is essential. Adapting it (program) to your strengths and weaknesses is vital. This takes a motivated and thoughtful individual.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Carrel/Cerutty Connection

At the very end of this article you will see the link to the essay--On Sacrifice by Percy Cerutty.
As mentioned in a previous post, Cerutty was profoundly influenced by Alexis Carrel, particularly by his book, Man, the Unknown. If you are familiar with Cerutty's writings you can't help but see similarities in the following quotes by Carrel. As it is with posting any quote, it is easy to read them casually and move on. It is always best to stop and think about each one.
 Here are a few quotes by Carrel:

"Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor."
We all remember one of Percy's most famous quotes, "pain is the purifier".

"Men grow when inspired by a high purpose, when contemplating vast horizons. The sacrifice of oneself is not very difficult for one burning with the passion for a great adventure."
 Cerutty said: "Thus I urge you to go onto your greatness if you believe it is in you. Think deeply and separate what you wish from what you are prepared to do."

"All of us, at certain moments of our lives, need to take advice and to receive help from other people."
Cerutty believed that all athletes need a coach when starting on their path to athletic excellence,but, it was his (Cerutty's) intention that his athletes eventually become their own coach.

"Discipline brings us effort, sacrifice and suffering. Later it brings us something of an inestimable value: something of which those who live only for pleasure, profit or amusement will always be deprived. This peculiar indefinable joy which one must have felt oneself to understand is the sign with which life marks its moment of triumph."
Pure Cerutty.

I especially like the last quote. Cerutty once correctly wrote that when you are pursuing your dream and it becomes a part of your being, there are no sacrifices.

I believe his essay "On Sacrifice" has been posted on this Blog in the past. It is well worth reading.
Here is the link to it--

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Words of Encouragement From Cerutty

"Do not be discouraged because you may affirm that you were not born strong. It is true that some types seem to inherit the factor of physical strength, just as some seem to inherit more brains. However, life has taught me in very many examples I have known personally, that with some natural flair for anything at all we can achieve heights quite exceptional if we will only believe in ourselves, and do the essential work, find the true way."
"Indeed--those who are hell-bent to succeed are those who often do what others believe to be implausible or impossible ".  Percy

Alcohol and the Active Athlete

Like the recovering alcoholic with an agenda--I offer the following admonition to athletes who are still serious about performance--avoid alcohol consumption. Now before you blow off today's post and move on, give the following a read. I'm not talking long term effects here, I'm referring to the here and now. Thanks to former world record holder in powerlifting, Dr. Fred Hatfield, for providing the info. Oh yeah--I'm not an alcoholic, a former episodically heavy drinker maybe, but not an alcoholic.

"Alcohol can damage muscle cells. Some of these damaged cells can die from prolonged exposure to alcohol, resulting in less functional muscle contractions.  Alcohol will also result in increased muscle soreness following training, thereby requiring additional time for recuperation."

Not good, especially if you're a distance runner.

"Alcohol can cause several gastric, digestive and nutritional irregularities. This drug causes a release of insulin that will in turn increase the metabolism of glycogen, thereby sparing fat, resulting in more difficult fat loss. Since alcohol consumption can interfere with the absorption of many nutrients, it is possible to become anemic and deficient in the B vitamins."

In case you don't know, look it up and see how vital B vitamins are to maintaining health.

"Alcohol acts as a diuretic, large amounts of alcohol can place undue stress on your kidneys. With alcohol's diuretic action, large amounts of antidiuretic hormone(ADH) are secreted. This can result in elevated water retention, something no athlete wants."

As they say--knowledge is power. If you find yourself rationalizing or dismissing the facts, perhaps you need to take a look at your relationship with alcohol.

If you like this Blog then check out the one that came before this one. 350+ articles on running. Cerutty, Stotanism and more. Not the same old, same old running stuff.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Lessons From the Paleo Guru That History Forgot

The following is an excellent article about Percy Cerutty written by Christopher McDougall for Outside magazine in 2014. You may recall that Chris wrote the book, Born to Run. In my opinion it was the best book on running in the last 25 years. Chris references this Blog near the end of the article and I am most appreciative of him doing so. The title above is Chris' for the following:
"The doctor delivers your death sentence: You’re sick, you’re incurable, you’ve got just a few months to live. What’s your next move?
Head to the racetrack, naturally. That was Percy Cerutty’s attitude. Back in 1938, Percy was a binge-drinking, chain-smoking, chronically coughing, 43-year-old Australian postal worker who was bedridden with fainting spells, blinding headaches, and a mysterious pain arcing through his legs and back. Doctors were called to his bedside, where they found him smoking four packs a day despite wheezing with pneumonia. The only debate was how much time to give him.
Mr. Cerutty, they began, pronouncing it Ser-ootee.
It’s SIR-itee, Perce spat. Like “sincerity,” without the “sin.”
Well, that was debatable. The doctors agreed on six months.
So Percy decided to spend it watching ponies. He hauled himself to the track and there, sitting in the sun and making his peace with the world, he saw something he’d never had the patience to notice before: all horses—fast or slow, colt or stallion, lean or lumpy—move the same way. They flywheel their legs, keeping their hooves low and landing always under their center of gravity. Weird. It should have been obvious, but Percy had never heard anyone mention it before. The particulars of the technique didn’t jolt Percy so much as the fact that there was a technique. This was muscular logic at work, a law of locomotion that defined the species. And what was true for horses, Percy figured, must also hold true for people. If you could zero in on the One True Way, then hallelujah; you’d be hailed as a god of fitness. Because there was no reason the human animal should be exempt from this law of nature, right?
Too bad he’d never find out, Percy mused. He’d probably be dead by Christmas. Even if he survived, who’d take health tips from a wreck like him? The irony was excruciating; with the clock running out on his miserable life, he’d suddenly found a reason to live. Percy shuffled down to the nearby beach and waded into the freezing sea. Maybe he could, sort of, shock his body back into functioning. Every day from then on, Percy returned for an icy wade. He quit smoking cold turkey, and cut out all fried and packaged foods. He began feeling a little better and resumed his visits to the track, this time early in the morning when the jockeys were working out the horses. He stripped off his shoes and shuffled along, barefoot and flinging his arms in a lunatic-looking attempt to mimic a four-limbed gait. The jockeys didn’t care; the sight of a bony old white-haired freak cantering along behind them was pretty hilarious.
But amazingly, it worked. Percy bounced back from the grave in spectacular fashion. With his bonus time, he began to jog, then run, then fly: by age 50, he could run a mile in 4:54, a marathon in 2:58, and 100 miles (yup, the dead man was now doing ultras) in 23:45. He created his own nature-based lifestyle philosophy and called himself a “Stotan”—half Spartan, half Stoic.
Which means—what, exactly?
“A Stotan is one who hardens, strengthens, toughens and beautifies the body by consistent habits and regular exercises,” Percy preached. “My philosophy is based on communication with nature, this communication takes place when the person sleeps under the stars at night, hears the birds in the morning, feels the sand between his toes, smells the flowers, hears the surf. Nature can bring the mind and body into perfect harmony and balance with the universe. This is one of the factors that allows the athlete to reach new levels of excellence.”
Say howdy, in other words, to the world’s first Paleo CrossFitting locavore, a role he fit right down to the box: In 1946, Percy bought himself a half-acre of no-man’s-land on Australia’s rugged southern coast and hauled a shipping crate down there to use as the bunkhouse for his “International Training Center.” He began crafting his own system of natural-movement exercises, with lots of outdoor weightlifting, sand dune sprints, and open-water swims. He was a purist about running form, but a total savage with the steel: the best way to hoist a weight, Percy felt, was whatever way you hoisted the weight. He would awkwardly wobble around under a heavy bar while straining through snatches and shoulder presses and “cheat curls,” but that, Percy insisted, was the whole damn point. Did you think Mother Nature let your ancestors be sniffy about the big-game carcasses they hauled home and the logs they had to lift? Weight lifting should be intense, so intense that five reps should blow you out. True fitness was all about unsteadiness, uncertainty, and fear; you fought for balance and recruited every single fiber in your body every single time.
“Civilization has ruined youth in the activities that his fathers and forefathers had that kept the upper body strong. No longer do they chop wood, have to do manual labor,” the Stotan Warrior groused—which is fine if your chief goal is to keep the damn kids off your lawn but not too tactful if you’re hoping teenage track stars will leave their suburban homes and come follow you into the barrens to live in a packing crate with no phone, no electricity, and no indoor plumbing.
But the young hopefuls came anyway—and were transformed.
“He was not speaking theory. This guy based what he had to say to you in the practice of his own life. He knew that it worked,” recalled Herb Eliot in a later interviews with Australian media. Eliot joined Percy as a young man and became an Olympic champion and world-record holder who only lost one race—when he was 14 years old. “He started to study the great people of history and the challenges that they had. He started to read philosophy. He became incredibly well self-educated, and it was out of that that he grew into the person that he was.”
Each morning, Percy would rouse his Stotans and—since he always said, “You can only teach it if you can do it yourself”—he’d lead them into the dunes for a day like this:
7 a.m. — A five-mile run before breakfast in any direction our whim took us, followed by a dip in the ocean.
8 a.m. — Breakfast of uncooked rolled oats (without milk) sprinkled with wheat germ, walnuts, sultanas, raisins, and sliced banana. Perhaps a few potato chips to follow.
9 a.m. — Swimming and surfing or outdoor chores like chopping wood, painting and carpentry.
Noon — Training and lectures, followed by another swim.
2 p.m. — Lunch: fish and fresh fruit.
3 p.m. — Siesta
4 p.m. — Weight lifting
5 p.m. — Ten-mile run along dirt roads ending once more at the beach.
7 p.m. — Tea and a general discussion led by Percy
11p.m. — Lights out
The sweltering box on the beach became the white-hot center of an Australian distance dynasty. John Landy, another future superstar, came to train with Percy, as did the great Ron Clarke, although both eventually got tired of Percy’s guff and moved on. For decades, Percy was an unstoppable tribal chief of natural movement. At the 1952 Olympics, he banged on Emil Z├ítopek’s door and spent so much time praising the Czech champion for his own Stotan-like lifestyle that Zatopek finally left to go sleep under a tree. At the 1960 Games, Percy charged past soldiers guarding the track and shinnied over a spiked fence so he could wave Herb Elliott on to a new world record and a 1,500-meters gold medal. “All I saw was Percy’s towel swirling through the air,” Herb would later recall in a television interview, “and this V of gendarmes heading toward him.”
And then the lights went out. At age 80, Percy suddenly died of motor neurone disease without even being aware he was sick. His hut was boarded up, his athletes drifted away, and the mighty old Stotan was all but forgotten.
The reason I know so many details of Percy’s life? I’ve been gathering info on the fitness iconoclast for years (and shelling out painfully to Alibris for his out-of-print books with such perfectly-Percy titles as Be Fit or Be Damned! and Athletics: How to Become A Champion). That’s where I unearthed so many of these amazing anecdotes. I wanted to write about him in Born to Run and then again in my upcoming book, Natural Born Heroes, but both times he was a flavor too strong for the stew; Percy tales were so rich, they overpowered all other narratives. Luckily, the long backburnering turned out to be an advantage. Lately, there’s been a quiet but growing Percy revival and it’s turned up priceless material. Graeme Sims’ excellent biography, Why Die?, is now available in the U.S., and for the first time in 50 years, several of Percy’s own books are in re-issue. Australia media has rediscovered its forgotten national hero, airing fresh interviews with Percy’s surviving athletes and, best of all, unearthing fantastic archival footage of the Loinclothed Legend himself in action (for 10 seconds of pure joy, check out “The Amble” as Percy demonstrates his run-like-a-horse breathing exercise) Just this past July, a terrific Percy resource was launched by David Cavall on his “Living the Stotan Life” blog.
But the greatest validation of all has come from current elites who are now looking back and wondering if they shouldn’t have been paying more attention to Percy all along.
“It’'s a shame, as most of his training ideas and advice have been lost or ignored since the time of his athletes,” writes Steve Magness on “Learning from the Past,” his blog about vintage fitness wisdom. Magness is the author of The Science of Running and an elite-level coach who worked with the Nike guru Alberto Salazar. “The main reason his methods aren’t widely praised or known is that Cerutty was seen as eccentric or crazy by the public.”
Percy was really on to something, Magness is convinced. And now, bit by bit, others are starting to notice. Bet you have, too. Ever been to a CrossFit box? Watched a video by “Supple Leopard” innovator Kelly Starrett? Churned through a we’re-all-in-this-together Tough Mudder, or seethed because 50-year-old pretty boy Laird Hamilton is still surfing monsters like a 20-year-old punk? Tick any one of those categories and you have been face-to-face with the spirit of the Stotans. Percy’s creed came straight from the heroic ideal of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and it was all about three things: strength, skill, and awareness.
In practice, it looks like this:
Go Wild: The worst mistake you can make is believing you’re anything except one thing—an animal. You’re not a runner, or a lifter, or a yoga pretzel. You’re a beast, and beasts aren’t specialists. They don’t limit their movements. They don’t stay inside when it’s icky, or wait for race day. All-around athleticism is the key to perpetual improvement, Percy taught, and you achieve it through natural challenges. Wet roads, leafy trails, hot sun, foot-sucking sand—everything a gym was designed to help you avoid, basically, is exactly the fiber-firing wildness your body needs to develop agility, balance, core strength, deep lungs, and poise in the face of the unpredictable.
Get Raw: Percy was both ahead of his time and way behind it when he sneered at exercise machines. Machines were created for one purpose: to make work easier. They isolate, they cushion, they stabilize. Well, forget that noise. You want to recruit, toughen, and adapt. Down in Percy’s box, the Stotans relied on gear that any Roman centurion would recognize: chin-up bars, climbing ropes, parallel bars, vaulting horses, Roman rings, and trampoline. “He emphasized doing everything the natural way,” Magness writes. “Primitive and uninhibited.”
Train Your Gut, Then Trust It: “Nothing must be dictated, fixed, or regimented,” Percy instructed. “When an athlete goes out to train, his body should dictate his needs and he runs according to its capacities and demands.” That sounds a little chamomile for a guy so leathery that he once ordered his runners to keep going after one of them passed out in the sand. (“Leave him be,” Percy commanded. “He’s not dead.”) But it’s true; ultimately, you’re wasting your time trying to persuade people to do want they don’t want to. The greatest thing you can do for anyone, athlete or not, is light a fire within and get out of the way.
“He would just inspire you and then leave you pretty much to your own devices,” Herb Elliot explained. “He’d check on the sort of intelligence of your training, to make sure that it made sense, but he just seemed to know that you were committed or you weren’t committed. And if you were committed, he walked away from it at that point.”
To the Stotan chief goes the final word:
“We train as we feel, but rarely feel lazy.”
If you like this Blog then check out the one that came before this one. 350+ articles on running. Cerutty,Stotanism and more. Not the same old, same old running stuff.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

How To Stay Motivated

Staying motivated, who hasn't had a problem with that at one time or another? Losing motivation is why people give up their dreams and goals. Here are some suggestions on keeping motivated by the great Jack Lalanne (pictured above). After his I'll add a few comments of my own.

 "1. Read books and magazines that have inspiring stories and articles.

2. Organize your day so that you have the time to train.

3.Develop a positive attitude.

4.Set goals, short term and long term.

5.Daily, remind yourself what your goal(s) is.

6.Recognize that willpower has to be nurtured.

7.If staying motivated has been a problem in the past, find someone with a similar goal and have them as a training partner.

8.Break bad habits. No alcohol or drugs to interfere with your commitment."

I like his suggestions but would add one important thing---when you have a goal that you want to reach, you must truly believe that this goal is worthy of your time and energy. For instance, too many people believe deep down inside that the athletic goals they have set are not really 'worthy.' Not worthy like hitting the $70 thousand a year annual income mark or  getting that six figure home in a gated community. Your goal is worthy if you believe it is. Since when is a price tag or an income a sign of the worthiness of a goal(s). Have we really entered the age of money and what you have rules era?

Don't buy the lie, be an individual!
If you like this Blog then check out the one that came before this one. 350+ articles on running. Cerutty,Stotanism and more. Not the same old, same old running stuff.

The Necessity of Athleticism

The timeless wisdom of Percy Wells Cerutty:
"I will go so far as to say that it is only the athletes, in this broad sense, who truly 'live'; who can savour life in all its aspects. And being fit, being an athlete, in no way debars one from being a poet, an artist, a musician, or any other creative endeavor."

To be at the top of our game mentally and physically we have to achieve a degree of fitness that is probably higher that what most people believe is necessary.

There is something special about the state one realizes when the body is optimally fit and the brain has been fed and challenged by reading, study and involvement in stimulating mental activities.

A Few Comments From A Health and Fitness Pioneer

I have a picture taken of Cerutty with Paul Bragg, his daughter, Australian triathlete Bob Johnson and others at his training camp in Portsea, Australia. Bragg, a health pioneer since the late 1920's, and Cerutty shared many of the same ideas regarding health and fitness.
 Interestingly, they both often referenced a classic book by Alexis Carrel called---Man, The Unknown. This is a book I would recommend to anyone who is what Cerutty used to call, a "deep thinker".
 I first became aware of Paul Bragg in the early 70's. His health and nutrition books influenced me greatly. Exercise, natural foods and a healthy lifestyle is what he lived, preached and wrote about.
The great Jack Lalanne (pictured above) credits Bragg as being the one person who influenced him most. What follows are some insightful comments by Bragg on all things pertaining to athletics, health and nutrition with a brief comment by me after.
To those who believe 6 pack abs and a muscular body are signs of health, Bragg as this to say:
"Big powerful, bulging muscles do not necessarily mean internal health. The thousands who exercise daily but neglect healthful nutrition have no desirable record of longevity."
So true--as I have said in the past--too many people believe that just because they work out that gives them the right to eat and drink whatever they want, as well as much as they want.
And as far as good, healthy types of exercise, weight lifting alone is not one of them. When used in conjunction with aerobic exercising and stretching it is ideal. Pick an exercise that is complete, one that gives you muscular, respiratory, and circulatory stimulation.
Again from Bragg:
"The first exercise is a mental one. We must learn to discipline ourselves. We must learn not to overeat, even on good natural foods. We must learn to push away from the dinner table feeling that we could eat just a little more. We must eat a balanced natural diet."
The key word above is discipline--if people would discipline themselves--- millions of dollars would not be spent on diet books that say they have 'the secret' to weight loss and the perfect body.