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.