Monday, April 29, 2019

You May Be A Throwback,Retro Runner If

The following is kind of a companion piece to an article I posted recently called: "An Old Timer Looks at Today's Running Scene." In some ways this article may seem to be geared towards the older runner but those of you who are younger and want to keep your running simple and basic, this one's for you too.
With all that said, it is not my intention to offend. Whether you are geared out to the max or your per mile pace is 9:55, if you live for the run, I salute you!
You May Be a Throwback, Retro, Runner If:
1.You have little interest in the "new and improved" methods of training that come out periodically because the training system you've been using for 10+ years actually works for you.
2.Your weekends are planned around your runs.
3.You're travelling further and further to find interesting and challenging races.
4.For men (politically incorrect alert): In races, you absolutely hate it when women beat you.
5.You don't "get" arm sleeves and leg sleeves on runners.
6. Again, For Men: the pair of running tights your girlfriend bought you have only been worn under some type of sweatpants.
7.You make a point of buying your running shoes at a small independent store even though it's 30 miles away. No online or chain store purchases for you, at least when it comes to all things running.
8.It's 15 years later and you're still going to the same coffee shop after those weekend long runs.
9.You can't understand why they still don't make Adidas Marathon Trainers.
10.It irritates you when people refer to you as a "jogger".

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Just Payin' My Dues

The journey to athletic excellence often means having to deal with occasional roadblocks,obstacles and disappointments.Overcoming these hurdles are a part of the process that will make you a better and smarter athlete if you allow them to.Viewing these things in a strictly negative light will not lead to you becoming a better athlete. What follows is something you can say to yourself in response to those hurdles that are inevitably going to arise.I'm sure all of us have experienced some or all of the following at one time or another.
You are 10 or 15 minutes into your workout and some type of unpleasant weather situation like blowing snow or driving rain begins,at this point you say to yourself:"Just payin' my dues."
You're 50 minutes into a tough workout,something like a hard fartlek over a hilly hour long course,your legs are weak and feeling like rubber,you're very conscious of the fact that the other guys might be closing in on you and you're just hoping to hang on for another 10 minutes, At this point you say to yourself:
"Just payin' my dues."
You have recently been injured and found out you'll have to lay off running for at least two weeks. You are beginning to do the alternative aerobic workouts that will enable you to maintain the highest degree of fitness possible. You find them to be incredibly boring and unsatisfying, At this point you say to yourself:
"Just payin' my dues."
You come to the realization that you are over your ideal weight,you eat too much,you drink too much beer,too often. You start the necessary process of cutting back,in the beginning it is uncomfortable and unnatural but you know you must do it if you are to run smoother and faster, At this point you say to yourself:
"Just payin' my dues."
You turn down a job or promotion because you know it would require you giving up your running aspirations. As you turn it down you take a slow deep breath and say to yourself:
"Just payin' my dues."
You've just hooked up with a new and faster group of training partners and you're getting smoked,embarrasingly so, in every workout. You know you are going to get better but still....,At this point you say to yourself,
 "Just payin' my dues."
And finally,on a lighter note,
Your wife,husband,girlfriend,boyfriend or significant other is giving you grief over the fact that every time she(he) turns around you are buying another pair of $130 shoes as well as making periodic purchases of running gear,food and supplements.Also, they are not particularly happy about the fact that you are chronically late due to a workout that went, "a little longer than I thought it would." At this point you say to yourself,
"Just payin' my dues."
The journey to the goal can be almost as satisfying as achieving it if you have that true love for distance running or your chosen sport.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Our Incredible Bodies

The following is by Dr. Fred Hatfield. It describes the regeneration that occurs in our bodies daily. It really is astounding. We have the ability to 'upgrade' our body's condition by changing our lifestyle and paying attention to what we put into our bodies. Consider this:

"Although your body appears to be unchanging, it's always in a constant state of flux. Body protein is constantly being turned over as old cells die and new cells replace them. Science has proven that 98% of the atoms in your body are replaced within one year. In three months, your body produces an entirely new skeleton. Every six weeks, all the cells have been replaced in your liver. You have a new stomach lining every five days. Every month you produce an entirely new skin as dead cells are shed and new cells grow underneath. The proteins in your muscles are continually turned over as muscle is broken down and new tissue is synthesized. Every cell in your body is constantly being recycled. Where do all these new cells come from? These new cells come from the protein you consume every day."
Amazing isn't it? Let me leave you with this: In the past I have always said, and believe it to be true based on the studies and findings of trained experts, that there are fundamentals to everything, be it mathematics or athletic training, physiology or the nutritional needs of the body.
Our bodies have very specific needs as it applies to our intake and usage of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. This subject has been studied and researched by scientists and experts for decades. Their findings, although not as glamorous and fashionable as going 'raw,' vegan or whatever, is based on research. Research that has been done by people who have degrees and titles from actual accredited universities, not from some nebulous online, mail order 'universities'. Their research has been done by people who have no financial gain in what they discover.
I know I have written on this subject previously but I see millions of people going down a road nutritionally that will lead to premature aging and poor health. Our bodies can take a tremendous amount of abuse and neglect, but, there will come a time when you will pay the price for your ignorance or vanity.
I'll leave you with this from Dr. Hatfield and it relates, again, to the necessity of getting quality protein in order for our bodies to thrive. It also speaks to the deficiency that exists in most of today's most trendy diets.
"In order for protein synthesis to occur, an adequate supply of both essential and non-essential amino acids is vital. If one of the essential amino acids is missing, synthesis is halted. Any amino acids that are not used within a short time cannot be stored for future use. Restriction in protein intake will result in protein degradation and muscle breakdown (catabolism)."
Contrary to what appears to be a current trend, minimizing quality complete protein intake, especially for an athlete who trains and competes, is counter productive.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

A Pioneer of Long Distance Training Speaks

How many out there know who Tom Osler is?
Tom is probably best known for his book, Serious Runner's Handbook. Anyone who loves running should own it. However, his self-published book written in 1967, The Conditioning of Distance Runners,introduced to the masses the necessity of aerobic mileage and proper peaking in order to be ready to race your best.
In 2009, after 47 years of running an estimated 88,000 miles and 1,540 races, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Osler has put in the time and paid the dues. With a mile p.r. of 4:54 he proved that "miles make champions" as Arthur Lydiard used to say. I say this because when he upped his mileage to 70-75 miles a week, he found success beating runners with much faster mile times while winning a variety of marathons and ultras including the National 50k Championship.
What follows are a few insights from Tom that I'm sure you will find helpful.
Asked what he would change in his first book Osler said: "I once recommended training on roads,now I'd recommend running on soft,natural surfaces like grass or trails." Amen to that,grass and trails for training are the key to a long running career and minimizing the chances of injury. When asked what was the most common training mistake he responded by saying:"It is easy to ignore the early,mild signs of overtraining and train hard after a bad race. This can push the runner into a slumping spiral,and even cause an injury." Osler had this to say regarding what he liked about racing: "I enjoy that moment in the race when you must use willpower to overrule the body." What does he enjoy most about running? "Running offers both pleasure and pain. There is nothing like the purification of the soul through running.Running helps you connect with what is important in your soul."
Well said Tom!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Boston Marathon 2022

From the ancient archives, just having a little fun. The Boston Marathon is unquestionably a major part of this country's running history. I should have posted it last week.
 The following is taken from the archives of The Stotan News(a few decades back). With the Boston marathon soon approaching I thought I would reprint this article. The inspiration for it was a conversation I had in the early 90's with a friend who finally realized his dream of running Boston.Unfortunately for him, his dream started to go bad when he attempted to make hotel reservations ten months before the start of the race. I'll always remember him saying,"I could get a room in Manhattan for half the price I paid for one just outside of Boston." Sadly for Dave,it was only the beginning of him feeling as if he was being "ripped off" everytime he turned around in Boston. What follows is a parody of his experiences put in a year 2022 setting.As a sidenote,the reference to Dr. Kenneth Cooper here may be unfamiliar to some readers. Cooper,who was an early advocate of aerobic training,garnered alot of press in the early 90's when he wrote that running too much was basically unhealthy. He said something to the effect--if you run more than 3 miles a day you are running for reasons other than health. Runners were quite surprised that he had said such a thing,people who were sedentary embraced it using it as validation that running was inherently dangerous to your health. "Remember what happened to Jim Fixx" they used to say.

Without a doubt the Boston Marathon is America's oldest and most prestigious marathon. These facts however haven't exempted it from criticism. As popular Buffalo runner Dave Phivekay has said,"you are gouged from the minute you plunk down the overpriced entry fee till you check out of your hotel(motel) that's made a point of doubling or tripling the price of every room in and around the Boston area."

Readers of "The News" will be happy to hear that we have obtained an advance copy of the B.A.A.'s(Boston Athletic Association) plans for a 125th anniversary celebration of the marathon to be held in 2022.What follows are some of the excerpts.

"In order to allow as many people as possible to "celebrate" and participate in this anniversary marathon,10 minutes will be added to all qualifying times. Those who are still unable to achieve their time can gain entry by paying a special $100. access charge in addition to the standard marathon application fee.Runners doing so will be given a free t-shirt (X-L only) that says on the front; "I'm training for the Boston Marathon." and on the back,"Everyone wins at Boston."

We will however be adding some new rules and making some changes with this 2022 edition of the marathon. The entry fee has been raised $55. to $199., but, this includes a free short-sleeved race t-shirt (X-L only),a $10. discount coupon for the pre-race pasta feed and free admission to the runner's expo(a $5. savings). In an attempt to deal with the anticipated massive influx of runners in need of accomodations,applicants will be directed to a particular motel(hotel) for lodging. Those desiring a hotel within 50 miles of the starting line can have one by paying a $75. finders fee. A 2 day committment for lodging is of course required by all prospective patrons. The B.A.A. wants everyone to have the opportunity to fully enjoy "Anniversary Marathon Celebration Weekend."

The Runner's Expo will be the pre-race gathering point for all runners and their families. A full slate of activities and vendors will be available. Past Boston marathon winners as well as elite U.S. runners will be at the Expo to sign autographs($10. each) plus pose for photos with all those who desire a picture ($20. for each 3"x5" pix).

Dr. Kenneth Cooper is directing the medical support team for the race. He'll be giving a 15 minute pre-race talk to the runners regarding critical health warning signs that you must be aware of as you traverse this difficult 26.2 mile course. At Dr.Cooper's recommendation aid stations will now be at each mile of the 26.2 mile course. Trained medical professionals will be at every station and WILL have the authority to remove any runner they perceive as being in "distress."

Finally, no race is complete without a post-race party. For a nominal fee ($10.),runners and their families can rehydrate and listen to pop recording stars Kool and the Gang sing this year's marathon theme song "Celebrate" as well as their other hits. Come on,be a part of the fun,history and tradition that is the Boston Marathon!"

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Greatest Sport's Comeback?

Congratulations to Tiger Woods on one of the great comebacks of all time. May we learn from what he accomplished today. You too can achieve more than you think is possible.
To those who believe I am exaggerating, the Masters is the most prestigious golf tournament in the world.
My link to an article I did on Tiger a month ago.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Van Aaken On True Health Versus The Appearance of Health

I guess it's one of those opinionated days. It's odd what passes for fitness and beauty these days. For most men, big muscles and 6-pack abs are indicators of fitness.Large or prominent breasts,even if surgically enhanced, seem to have become a prerequisite for the female to be deemed,"the perfect package." And,lest I forget,well defined,firm and prominent "buns" are sought after by men and women.I suppose I could also add in a perfect tan while I'm on the subject.
It's of course all nonsense,as Solomon once said, "Vanity of vanities,all is vanity." Health, and what passes for fitness, as promoted in the media and by far too many "health experts" these days is based on shallow and superficial criteria.
I often think of Van Aaken's quote,"health has nothing to do with mass,and a well tanned skin after two weeks at the beach is often nothing but varnish over a rotting interior."
 In case you don't know, Van Aaken was a runner, physician, writer and coach. I highly recommend his book The Van Aaken Method.
What is health? What constitutes health?
What follows are some thoughts on these questions. I should begin by saying that this is not intended to be a comprehensive listing of everything that comprises what health is in an individual,just some thoughts on the subject.
For starters, health is the absence of disease,sickness and any debilitating physical condition.Also,one is neither overweight or emaciated.What I've said so far is stating the obvious,but, lets look a little deeper into what health is and what qualifies as true health.
Van Aaken said this about health: "Health is a constantly changing,multifaceted sensation with feelings of freshness,endurance,comfort,strength and performance capacity which also includes reliable vigor,as well mental and emotional strength."
Is that how you feel?  As an aside,due to the fact that Van Aaken's writings have been translated from another language sometimes the phrasing seems awkward but what I just quoted is profound.He also says,and this was written 40+ years ago,that what is perceived as health these days is anything but, that the criteria for determining it is weak and has been compromised by the passage of time.Health can be "characterized by performance capacity,and a high performance capacity demands true health."
Van Aaken writes that performance capacity, in say a weight lifter, is diametrically opposed to what is done by a marathon runner.He also indicates that the performance capacity of the weight lifter is clearly inferior to that of the distance runner.The reason why is obvious,he writes that the athletic activities of the weight lifter which require "pure skeletal-muscle strength and increase the heart's work by increasing blood pressure within the heart itself and in the arteries,are detrimental to the durability of the organism and to the work of this most important motor,the heart."
 If you have read the prior posts where I have referenced Van Aaken you know that he found that heart strength and health, as well as longevity, are best achieved by regular and sustained aerobic training.Repeatedly stressing out the heart by "explosive" muscle functions is not the way to health.With that said,a fitness program can be made complete by the addition of weight training.
In closing,the good Doctor says,and we should remember this,and I know I do when I see pix of former pros,past Olympians and elite athletes looking like shadows of their former selves, "Health is not static but full of movement,and it has to be re-won,maintained and heightened daily,through the years and decades, up to highest old age."
So excuse me,I have to leave now and do a little "maintaining and heightening."

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Insights on Strength and Spirit By Herb Elliott

The timeless wisdom of Percy Cerutty and his most famous student, Herb Elliott.
Interviewer James O'Brien, while talking with Herb Elliott in regards to the things that Percy Cerutty taught him early in his career, made this comment: "It does seem that you were totally immersed in what you were doing." Elliott responded: "Certainly that was one of Percy's beliefs, that if you immersed yourself in something and wanted it enough,made it part of your total being,then it was inevitable that it would be achieved.One of the things he suggested that I read were yoga books. Yoga(editor: for those who may not know,yoga is much more than just stretching) is based on quieting the appetites and the demands of the body and allowing the strength of spirit to come through. That's very appropriate for athletics,to challenge the weaknesses of your body and develop the inner drive to carry you through the pain and lethargies and all the things that athletes go through. It was a matter of taking total control of the external part,or the unreal part, to enable the real part,or the internal part to dominate."
O'Brien had this to say in response to these remarks: "You were addressing philosophical issues that 99% of runners didn't even look at then and probably still don't now." Herb answered with these insightful comments: "Perhaps so. It was a matter of understanding that you're driven by that bit inside you that for a want of a better word we call the spirit, and that the spirit needs to be nurtured and developed and that to do that you need to subjugate your body. And you need peace and you need quiet and you need beauty; all of those sorts of things which enable the spirit to grow. Your strength comes from that. The development of the aerobic power and the muscle efficiency and all that sort of stuff just comes as a by-product. I think that was a slightly different approach.My goal was to subjugate the body and master my weaknesses."
Some look to Jerry Lynch and other mind body,sports psychology types to gain an edge but what Herb Elliott talks about above comes from a voice with the experience and the results that validate what he says.
There are athletes who consider only the body in training, some are wise enough to also consider using and developing their minds,but the key is to involve the body,mind and spirit. This however takes a willingness to put in the time and to be able to recognize the immense benefits that can be gained from doing so.

Friday, April 5, 2019

The Ideal State of Mind

The following is something I came across recently, it is by Dr. James Loehr, who is among other things, a sport's psychologist. Dr. Loehr lists what he calls the "12 aspects" that comprise the ideal way to feel if you are going to perform optimally. He developed this list after interviewing hundreds of successful athletes in a variety of sports.
I believe this is an excellent checklist that appears to cover everything in regards to how one should feel and be prior to competition. Here goes: 1."Physically relaxed 2.Low anxiety 3. Optimistic 4. Effortless 5. Alert 6. Self-confident 7. Mentally calm 8. Energized 9. Enjoyment 10. Automatic 11. Mentally focused 12. In control".
How do you feel prior to competition?

Thursday, April 4, 2019

More Than Just Fitness

Cerutty taught the following and Dr. Sheehan affirmed it. Too many people forget or don't give thought to the following:
"Physical fitness programs have long been based on the desire to lead a long life, to forestall heart attacks, to feel better generally or to improve your figure.
 No one ever told us that the body determined our mental and spiritual energies. That with the new body we can put on the new person and build a new life, the life we were always designed to lead but lost with the body we enjoyed in our youth."
George Sheehan, runner, writer, physician.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

An Old Timer Looks at Today's Running Scene and Gary Cantrell

Way back when, three or four decades ago, I read the following article by Gary Cantrell (pictured above) in Ultrarunning magazine. I loved it, still do for that matter because I can relate to it.
 I ran AAU Developmental races towards the late 60's and began to run the few road races around my area in the early 70's and continued to do so until I switched exclusively to trail running and racing in 1990. I saw the local road racing scene change over the years.
Fast forward as they say, two years ago friend and veteran trail runner Emmett Harrigan suggested I watch a documentary on the Barkley Marathon. For those who may not know, Barkley is way beyond the 26.2 distance. It is a quirky, grueling, gut and soul busting ultra run. Evidence of this is that at this year's race there were no finishers.
Getting back to the documentary, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Cantrell was the man who founded and guides this "race"( survival run?) with his twisted sense of humor still intact.
The distance world needs more Gary Cantrells.
Gary's article is between the quotes below. Enjoy
 "There was a time, only a few decades ago, when those of us in the tiny running community used to smugly tell one another that running would never be popular---No one will be willing to work this hard but us---The running boom of the 70's dispelled that myth and changed the face of our sport. It seemed that the cozy, insider atmosphere evaporated and we were absorbed into the huge mass of newcomers.
As the 90's kicked in, an excursion into sub-marathon racing is as disturbing as a visit to our childhood home. Once we were the masters of the sport, dispensing our hard-earned wisdom to eager novices. These days, the old-time runners are peculiarities, outcasts among the denizens of the sport we once called our own. The same people who found acceptance into the running community required nothing more than showing up and giving it a shot, now huddle in cliques with a dress code for acceptance. Battered racing flats that once bespoke a foot warrior who had paid his dues now draw stares of derision from those who spend over a dollar a mile on footwear. Faded shorts and moth-eaten t-shirts are ostracized among the tight little circles of polyester peacocks. Maybe I am too touchy but it is a little irritating for my baggy shorts to draw snickers from men who come to race in their wife's underwear.
It's ironic when I consider the running scene today that it has come to pass that the real running community of the 90's is just as small and just as isolated as that of the 60's.There can be no question that today's running is sterile and poor by comparison with that of the "good old days" Growth and progress simply do not always go hand and hand."

 I understand what Cantrell is getting at here. He sees a running scene that has evolved and has lost some of the qualities that made it unique.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Training Alone

Training with others is a good thing to do at times. If you are a runner, easy workouts or long runs are an excellent time to have others along.
However, there are occasions in training when you need to be alone, alone with your thoughts, alone to think and prepare mentally, free of the distraction of having to interact with others.

Percy Cerutty, athlete, coach, philosopher, had this to say on the necessity of training solo:

"For the mind to become lost in the subject at hand there must be no serious interruptions, or any interruptions at all. There must be ample training opportunities wherein the activity and the person merge into one. This can never be attained other than in reasonable isolation or solitude."

He goes on to state that he believes that those who will not take what he calls, at-one-ment time, "will most likely never achieve the successes that otherwise could be theirs."

Monday, April 1, 2019

Take The Cerutty/Stotan Challenge

I got the idea for this challenge from the great bio on Cerutty called, Why Die? The Extraordinary Percy Cerutty Maker of Champions by Graem Sims.
I quote: "It had become his annual test to run a mile each birthday, on January 10. In 1965, on his seventieth, he had completed the distance in 6 minutes, 36 seconds. It became his plan to run under seven minutes throughout his seventies, then under eight during his eighties. In 1967, at 72, his time was 6:56."
We know that  challenging yourself is essential for those of us who seek excellence.
 I like this one and plan on doing it, but, I don't know if I'll be hitting 6:36 this August 21 when I turn 70 (a very young seventy I may add thanks to a life of running).
Then again, it's five months away.
Give it a try.