Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Gauging Your Love For Running

The following came to mind during the last few runs. It is by no means the definitive indicator for everyone as to whether or not they love running. However, I believe there is a lot of truth in what you are about to read and if you go along with what it says, then it wouldn't be an exaggeration to assume you have a real love for the purest of all sports,distance running.
In no particular order.....
1.This is strictly a hypothetical consideration: Although you would love the acclaim and success,you would not take a 10 year career of national championships that concluded with no further running of any kind OVER a lifelong ability to run. You like to compete but the prime motivation to run is your consuming love of the sport and the feeling you get while taking part in it.
2.You don't need to be with others to enjoy running. Sure, you enjoy the social aspects of running with friends on those easy Sunday 20 milers,but,you can enjoy it just as much running alone. I have known lots of runners over the years who've had a difficult time getting out there for any kind of running without having someone along with them.
3.You run without using an Ipod and earphones, you don't need them, in fact,you look forward to the quiet of a run. The reality of #'s 2 and 3 is that,to you, running is never boring.
4. You don't need to examine your shoes to know when it about time to get a new pair. Maybe this one means you've just been running for a long time but I thought I'd put it in anyway.Perhaps this exemplifies your preoccupation with running.
5.When you wake in the morning you already know where, when and what kind of run you'll be doing that day. With a holiday or special occasion coming up you make it a point to schedule a run ahead of time to fit in with the festivities.
6.As you get older you continue to run(and race) despite diminishing speed and performance. I know runners who have quit after reaching a certain age and their per mile average slowed.
 I agree with the great Jack Foster when he said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "I don't feel as if I'm running any slower as long as I don't look at my watch." If you love to run,what's the difference between running 6 minutes or 9 minutes per mile?
7.You continue to run despite others telling you,you should quit. You've just had your third meniscus surgery and the Doctor,your wife and friends tell you it's time to hang it up. This is not even a consideration because you know that it was a simple reparative surgery, it wasn't like you had a knee replacement or anything.
The bottom line, a life without running is something you don't even like to think about.
8.This is kind of related to #7, you've tried other forms of physical exercise but none give you the feeling or enjoyment like the one you get while running.
So how do you truly feel about your running?

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Ceritty's Legacy, Pt.1

Cerutty and his teachings are needed and timeless. It is my belief they are needed now more than ever in these unprecedented times.
The following is taken from the book pictured above, it's by Gary Walton. I would highly recommend it. Not only for the profile of Percy but for the excellent ones of other coaches, several of whom I had never heard of. The insights are incredible.
A sample:
"In the 23 years Cerutty actively coached at Portsea, 30 world record breakers followed his methods and fell victim to the Cerutty virus. Some men thought him a crank, many viewed him skeptically, but all agreed he was unique. A philosopher and poet, an athlete and coach, and above all an individual, Percy Cerutty was a force in athletics like few others.
Cerrutty and his Stotans raised horizons and pushed forward our conceptions of human limits.
They did it by believing and living the Stotan Creed."

To that I say: "Stotan up my friend!" quote by Greg Walters.

Monday, August 10, 2020

On Becoming Successful

The following is a reminder that if you want to achieve a goal sometimes you have to make adjustments in the way you live and think. To many who are looking from the outside in, the adjustments may seem radical or extreme, but to that certain individuals who want it, it's all part of the process.
Once again, athlete, coach, philosopher, Percy Cerutty, explains it so well. I continue to wonder, why are there no athletic coaches offering observations like this these days?

"One of the evidences of greatness, either to be or arrived at, is the ability to live a solitary life, if need be. The person desiring success or greatness may find that they must act as if they abandon the world(as others know it): they must renounce all the petty goals and pleasures(as others understand them) and give themselves over to the task as they see it with as complete a dedication and subjugation of the self, as far as comfort and subsidiary goals are concerned, as if the whole matter was one of life and death. So, if you're not prepared to go it alone, if you are not able to stand firm on your decisions,if you do not feel you will go on---cost you what it may--if you do not have that almost constant need to strive higher, success may well elude you."
You may find that you have to be: "in this world but not of this world"to reach your goals.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Ultimate Goal of Athletic Training

Following the recent theme that athletics are more that just a way of getting fit I repost the following from 5 years ago.
Ideally, training,athletics and sport should elevate the athlete mentally and physically to a point where they become a complete person.
The following is an excerpt from Graem Sims biography,Why Die? The Extraordinary Percy Cerutty, Maker of Champions. Here Cerutty comments on what can be ultimately obtained through the RIGHT kind of training:
"A.The ability to withstand severe physical hardship,to accomplish feats of strength and endurance,to understand orderliness and the true meaning of intelligence.
B.To know oneself as an organism and a personality.
C.To emerge,eventually emancipated from all dogmas,creeds and beliefs,as well as worldly and unworldly hopes and fears.
D. To habitually function upon the highest planes of thought and physical effort.
E.To place the objective of an alert,informed intelligence,and a perfected body,as primary in Life. And to arrive at the conclusion that all else will follow on.
F.To learn that on this basis the whole world, and all that it has to offer,opens out as a vision splendid,normal and realisable.
G. To understand that Past,Futures,Fates,Fears,Death,Selfishness,Egoism,Pride,Envy,Hate and Prejudice can be replaced by Intelligence that controls emotion,dominates destiny,manifests completeness, and exults in Life.
H.To understand that in actuality, evolved man is a King, but without the trappings. That Kingship is his right and destiny. That we can make ourselves,in time, all that we would. That we honor real men but are subservient to none."
An especially noteworthy quote by Cerutty asserts that through proper training of the body and mind: "we can make ourselves,in time, all that we would."
So much for the stereotype of the one dimensional, dumb athlete here. Cerutty's philosophy on athletics involves more than just getting fit,strong and ready to race, it also requires what some might call "mental" work. This philosophy is what makes him unique,relevant and different from all other coaches. Cerutty knows that when you develop all aspects of yourself it positively effects the way you live and view life.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

A Stotan Profile: Gayle Olinekova

There are many attributes that can be used to describe a true Stotan. Perseverance, persistence, discipline, self-reliance, a love for nature, a zest for life, refusal to be dominated. There are more but those readily come to mind.
Gayle Olinekova was once the third fastest women's marathoner in the world. Her whole life, as you will read in the following article written by Lisa Goulian in 1986, was characterized by her overcoming obstacles, not being discouraged and finding a way to succeed.
Prepare to be totally inspired.

"Gayle Olinekova’s philosophy remains simple, as simple as putting one foot in front of the other: “When you’re sitting on the ground, you can’t fall any farther. But you’re going to stay there if you don’t get up and do something about it.”
The 33-year-old marathoner, author and fitness guru has picked herself up more times than she cares to remember.
Seeing Olinekova fly around the track at UCLA’s Drake Stadium, it’s hard to believe it was a little more than two years ago that she lay in a hospital bed, her head battered, her Olympic dream shattered.
Although she was once the world’s third-ranked woman marathoner, inexperience, illness and politics had kept her out of the Games.
But 1984 looked like her year.
Olinekova, a Canadian citizen living in the Caribbean, was to represent St. Lucia in the Olympic marathon in Los Angeles. But four weeks before the Games, she was training near her home in Westlake Village when a driver ran through a stop sign and hit her. She wound up with a severe concussion and was forced to watch from her bed as American Joan Benoit won the gold medal.
“You know when things happen to you and you say, ‘Oh, this must be a blessing in disguise,’ ” she said. “Well, on that one, the disguise was so damned good that I can’t figure it out to this day what the blessing was.
“I just couldn’t believe it. All of a sudden, one second you’re doing fine and the next second your head is going through the windshield. I was depressed. I got angry. I felt sorry for myself.”
Olinekova’s head didn’t actually go through the windshield, but she did suffer a severe concussion that kept her from running for six months. She picked herself up and took up swimming until she was healthy enough to jog a few miles each day. She has worked herself back up to long-distance running and is currently training with half-miler Deann Gutowski in preparation for the Los Angeles Marathon next March. This is a venture Olinekova calls “Comeback No. 4,021.”
“There have come some dark moments when I’ve felt almost that I’m a mistress to this thing called running,” Olinekova said. “And it’s broken my heart a million times, but I’m so in love with it that I can’t let it go.”
As a child, she would race the bus to school instead of riding it. At 15, she broke a Toronto girls high school record with a 62-second quarter mile. At 16, she represented Canada in international competition.
Olinekova, who grew up in a poor family, began running, she said, because she wanted to beat the little rich girls. “But I found out they were really easy to beat because they give up so easy,” she said. “Then, I suppose I wanted to run to prove something to everybody and to myself. Just that I could do it.”
The neighbors had always considered her a strange child. One day, when she was in high school, Olinekova ran through the streets of her Toronto neighborhood in a rainstorm. She was wearing a sweat suit and a shower cap, enough to raise a few blinds as well as a few eyebrows, and enough to embarrass her parents--again. But such attention had long since stopped bothering the free-spirited teen-ager.
“I think the most important thing I learned from my childhood is that I was different,” she said. “And the day that I discovered I was different, I think for the first time I really became happy because I realized I could succeed.”
Different in that she had legs so muscular she couldn’t find boots to fit over her calves, legs that Sports Illustrated would later call “the greatest to ever stride the earth.” Different in that she had the courage to leave home at age 17, eventually heading for Europe after a few running disappointments.
She had entered international competition with a bang, and in June, 1969, was named to the Canadian national team. She then contracted mononucleosis, which slowed her down until 1971, when she finished second in the 800 meters at the Pan American Games.
In 1972, she was injured a few weeks before the Canadian Olympic trials. She was sprinting on a Toronto track when she collided with a 10-year-old girl. Olinekova suffered a fractured skull and whiplash.
College was the next venture, but after one semester as a fine arts major at Toronto’s Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, the classroom became too confining. She cleaned out her bank account and four days later found herself sitting on a dock in Amsterdam with $50 in her pocket, the same amount she took home with her two years later.
In between, she fasted once for 40 days, slept in phone booths and worked as a barmaid and a grape picker. She hitchhiked across Europe, visiting the Soviet Union, Holland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Spain, studied a few languages, suffered from cholera and grew up fast.
And her love for running blossomed. Between adventures, Olinekova found time to train at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, and in August, 1974, she won the 800 in a prestigious international meet in Zurich.
When she returned to Montreal in the summer of 1975, she had her heart set on making the 1976 Canadian Olympic team. Still too weak from the effects of cholera, she was unimpressive at the trials.
Another blow, but not enough to keep Olinekova from getting back on the track.
She was running along Lake Ontario a few months after the trials, preparing for the upcoming cross-country season, when she met and fell in love with Michael Grandi, a singer-songwriter. When he first spotted her, she was so far ahead of him that he thought she was a man. Only a man, he assumed, could run that fast.
“As I tried to catch up with this guy, I was so out of breath, I was about to give up, when I saw these pigtails,” Grandi said. He introduced himself and after running a few hundred miles with her over the next several weeks, he convinced her to become a marathoner.
She was skeptical at first because whenever she ran long distances, she developed severe bronchitis. But Grandi helped her change her diet, took her to Florida, and in January, 1977, she ran her first 26.2-mile race, the Greater Miami Marathon. Her time of 3:29 was best among the women and qualified her for the Boston Marathon in April. She finished fourth among the women at Boston in 2:56:55.
By then, Olinekova had become impassioned with long-distance running. “When I’m out there,” she said, “I think about the pain, think of what’s happening, and I just try to go to the next tree, the end of the next block, to the next person in the crowd wearing the color red, to the next stupid little dog I see. If you’re on mile one and you say, ‘Oh, I have 26.1 miles to go,’ you’ve had it.”
In the next few years, her international ranking fluctuated between fourth and 10th, and she continued to cut her times--first under three hours, then under 2:50. In 1979, she won the New Orleans Marathon in 2:38:11.
After training with two- to five-pound weights attached to her ankles, Olinekova finished the 1979 Fiesta Bowl Marathon in Arizona in 2:36:12, the third-best women’s time that year. A few months later, she ran a 2:35:12 in New Orleans, the third-best women’s time ever.
She was striding toward the 1980 Moscow Olympics until Canada followed the U.S. boycott. Olinekova was devastated.
“Actually, 1980, in a lot of ways, was the worst,” Grandi said. “She was in great shape, but there was nowhere to go.”
She channeled her anger into organizing the Jordache Los Angeles Marathon, which had a purse of $100,000. Olinekova was one of a few thousand who attempted the run from the Hollywood Bowl down Sunset Boulevard to the Pacific Ocean. She broke her foot at the 11th mile when a tendon snapped and took a piece of the bone with it, but she kept running for another 10 miles. By that time, her foot had swelled so badly that one of her shoes had to be cut off her foot.
It was another “blessing in disguise” period in her life. She was on crutches for seven months and needed $10,000 for a leg operation. Athletes were calling her for advice.
“I thought, wait a minute, I don’t want to give any pep talks. I’m the one who needs the pep talk,” she said. “Well, I didn’t get it, so I thought, you want something done, do it yourself.”
The injury brought Olinekova to a crossroads in her life. She asked herself what motivated her to run, and the soul-searching yielded what she called her “10 commandments for success.”
“I thought, if I could motivate myself, then almost anyone could be motivated by this.”
The 10 commandments became the first 10 chapters of “Go For It,” a motivational life style book published in 1982. It became a best seller in 18 days. The book was dedicated not to world-class athletes, but to the masses.
“They just carry on, go for it every day and get the job done,” Olinekova said. “There’s no glory in it. They just do it to do a job well done, whether it’s raising their kids or whatever. You see people running. They’re not thinking about the Olympic Games. They’re trying to fit into their dress for the high school reunion.”
Olinekova threw herself into writing like she trains--all out. While touring the country to promote “Go For It,” she wrote her second book, “Super Legs in Six Weeks,” which was published in 1983. Last year, she wrote “The Sensuality of Strength,” an account of what it’s like to live inside an athletic body. Her publishers, Simon and Schuster, hired one of Vogue’s top fashion photographers to shoot pictures of Olinekova in the Caribbean, where she danced in the ocean in evening gowns and rode a horse on the beach.
Her latest book, “Forever Young,” an instructional work about the effects of aging and how to achieve longevity, will be out in January.
Olinekova and running partner Gutowski have also joined forces in forming Extracize, a program designed to get company health care costs and absentee levels down. It includes aerobics and smoke-stopper classes as well as motivational lectures.
“I guess this is our way of feeling maybe we could make a difference,” Olinekova said. “Maybe we could help people become more productive and kind of share the experiences we’ve known in being athletes. It’s wonderful to get a chance to see people just starting out and then they start getting turned on by this thing, by getting stronger before your eyes.”
Olinekova and Gutowski have been training together for six months, running 800-meter sprints twice a week at UCLA. Gutowski, a much more experienced short-distance runner, is amazed by her partner’s perseverance.
“I’ll start out ahead of her, but no matter what happens in the training session, she’ll come up on my shoulder, really try to push it and go for it,” Gutowski said. “She never gives up. It takes guts to come from behind and keep pushing, and that inspires me.”
Olinekova, who holds a nutrition degree from Bernadine University in Florida, has worked as a consultant for many athletes, including former Raider Lyle Alzado. She met him at Gold’s Gym in Venice after he had been traded to the Raiders from Cleveland in 1982 and helped him achieve a balance between weight lifting and running.
“She extended my career four years,” said Alzado, who retired from football after last season. “I used to have to hold on to her shorts to keep up with her. Gayle has a tremendous gift of not giving up on things. If we were doing a specific kind of weight training, if she failed on it once, she’d come back a few days later or a few weeks later and do it.
“She has an inner drive that’s probably unparalleled. I’ve been a professional athlete for 15 years and I’ve never seen anyone like her.”
One of Olinekova’s favorite training projects was a 74-year-old man who was preparing for a 10K in Beverly Hills in 1984. His goal was to finish in under 1 hour, 10 minutes, but he ran the race in 56 minutes, beating more than half of the field of 4,000.
In one of her less formal training sessions, she remembers being on the beach and seeing a heavyset man jogging by the shore. He was breathing heavily and then, disgusted with himself, he stopped.
“Why are you stopping now,” Olinekova asked him.
“I thought I’d run a lot further but I just tired out,” he answered.
“Well, just rest a little and then start again,” she said.
“Yeah really, I’m allowed to stop,” he said, and then started up again with new enthusiasm.
Olinekova has many such stories to tell and is currently in negotiations for her own weekly cable television show. She has been a regular commentator on ESPN’s “Sports Look” for the last year.
With all her responsibilities, running remains an integral part of her life. But once again, the motivation has changed. Now she wants to win to prove a natural, drug-free life style has its rewards. And with all the success she has achieved, running keeps Olinekova’s feet close to the ground.
“There’s an honesty in it that I really like,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what you’ve done the day before. You could be on national TV. Millions of people could have seen you. But the next day, when you go out to run 10 miles, it’s still 10 miles. I think it keeps you very focused, keeps you in touch with things.
“This may sound silly, but when I lace up my sneakers in the morning to go out, I still get excited. I think of running fast, think of finding a great hill, being completely out of control. I don’t know, I guess I’m grown up now but I still love that feeling. I just love that incredible power that you feel--personal power.”

Friday, August 7, 2020

From Cerutty: Mastery and Refusal


        More from Cerutty on how athletics can be more than just getting fit and competition,
        If (and that is a big If), you open your mind to that way of looking at your involvement
        in athletics.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Percy Wells Cerutty: The Seven Stages of Wisdom

If you look at yesterday's post with the picture and quote it shoudn't be surprising that a man who is thought of by most to have been 'just' an athletic coach would come up with the following.
As I have written many times, I find it strange that there are no athletic coaches around today that take his all encompassing approach to sport.
Consider what you are about to read. You may not agree with all of it but it is certainly thought provoking.
The Seven Stages of Wisdom
"There are seven main evidences of a high intelligence in individuals, which produce that enviable state called 'wisdom.' In order they will be found:

1.An inborn (innate) curiosity. Firstly about things: the physical world: then the world of experience: then the universe and the laws and forces behind it. This curiosity will not be satisfied until all things that confront the experience of the individual have been reasonably satisfied. He will admit of no impossibilities or submit to the 'unknowable.'
2.An instinctive distrust, and at an early age, of authoritarian attitudes, especially when based on dogmatism (opinions that are viewed as facts). All authority, especially religious authority will be suspect, and later rejected. This applies to all regimentations: social, military, political--and the demand for respect because of status, real or imaginary, of gods, kings, popes, powers and princes. The demands and submission to the alleged powers and authority of the headman, priests and the like will be resisted.
3. The instinctive recognition of the 'all-ness,' or 'one-ness' of all things, and an ability to identify one-self with nature in all its manifestations without fear, hates, even desire. This identification applies to all natural phenomena in nature, especially the sea. Thus is born a reverence for life in all its many forms.
4. A repudiation of the necessity to believe in the infallibility of the animal drives, which motivate the many, and which are recognized as an inheritance from our animal ancestors. Instead, a deviation towards the sublime, the ethereal, the ecstatic, the perfect, the pure and the self-less.
5. The instinctive and early recognition, which will be innate, that the overcoming of belly-hungers is the first step to the overcoming of all hungers and drives.
6. Evidence of survival, and not merely a decrepit survival. But an overcoming of all disabilities: the experience and discovery of the means of regeneration, so that to an advanced age the organism enjoys every normal function, and all upon a level higher than is customarily observed.
7. The ability to live without feelings of remorse, which is probably the most destroying of all emotions, since it must, of necessity, attack the ego and our belief in ourselves. Regrets are equally unintelligent.
Where fear has been overcome: where the function is above greed and selfish needs, and unworthy ambitions, there will be neither regrets nor remorse.
Remorse implies an inability to control ones actions, and ones destiny. Where there is true understanding there can be no regrets: no remorse: and no unworthy repercussions.
On the contrary, there will be some feeling of invincibility, and this without prides and obvious superiorities. Thus, the nature of the person will strengthen to the point of absolute self-reliance and complete self-responsibility."

I particularly like # 2,3, 6, and 7. I love Cerutty's use of the phrase--"decrepit survival". I agree that remorse and regret can be destructive emotions.
All the above provides insights and a path for us to become the complete person as well as athlete. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Cerutty's Wisdom

Many don't know that Cerutty was a voracious reader with a huge library. The books pertained to philosophy, religions, yoga, physical culture, nutrition, athletics and more. I am sure most readers are aware of the last part of the above quote "Athletics are a way of life".
Involvement in athletics can do so much more that just make you fit, but, the athlete must be open to, and willing to go down that path. As I have said, Cerutty's books and writings show the way.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

On Hiatus, Soon Returning

Humble apologies for the lack of posts recently. I felt a need to take a break with all the madness going on as well as work on a few writing projects.
People often ask me: W.W.C.D.(what would Cerutty do) in the midst of this "pandemic" and all that has accompanied it? My belief is, is that he would probably take a "only the fit are fearless" approach to it (for those who don't know this is one of his most famous quotes). Percy was a rebel and did not take kindly to anything or anyone putting constraints on him. In this day and age who knows how that would have played out.
I do know that in this present world where you have to be very careful about what you say, even in Australia, he would have been sent packing to his International Training Center at Portsea some time ago. Cerutty said many inflammatory things that were often viewed as controversial but taken in context of the time and era they seem understandable. Of course, in this age of political correctness I feel I have to say that I didn't agree with everything he said.
Now, I could do the old man thing and say how much better it was way back when but Cerutty taught the 'art of manliness' long before websites of that name and other people and orgs made it their focus.Cerutty wrote that you "say what you mean and mean what you say" and damn the people who don't like it. Let me quickly add that his principles and beliefs are universal. They are as relevant to women as to men.
Percy was all about rugged individualism, standing up for your beliefs, living life now and to the fullest, not waiting for the "hereafters." A saying that I was inspired by him to write is: Live Life Vigorously.
There is much wisdom, insights and inspiration in Cerutty's books, his Biography Why Die?  by Graem Sims and the many articles you'll find on the Web.
He was a philosopher, trainer, athlete.
I know I am talking to many of you out there when I say this but I am saying it because I give a sh*t: Put down that cellphone. Stop basically hanging on it all day. Read books. Read the posts on my site and my previous one that is referenced on the top right of this page.
Be a doer,not an observer.
Next post either this Tuesday or Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Work Versus Working Out

Cerutty railed against taking the easy way out physically and mentally. He wrote, in so many words, that the ideal life was one filled with challenges that were to be met and overcome. Jack Donovan has some thoughts on this and maybe it can serve as a wake up call for many of us.
"When I am doing a job that is truly tough and physical, I think of all the people in the gym paying personal trainers 60 bucks an hour to make them do squats with a 12 pound Nike medicine ball.
I think of all the schmucks doing lateral raises on Bosu balls to "activate" their "cores".
"Working out" is a substitute for work. It's forcing your body to do, what it's made to do. Modern life provides fewer and fewer opportunities to do real work. Hard work.
The next time you have the opportunity to do real work, take it. Take the physical challenge. Do the work. Don't try to make it easier so you can work "smarter."
It amazing how lifting heavy shit up stairs activates" your core."

Jack Donovan-- from an essay in his book--A Sky Without Eagles

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Random Thoughts While Out On a Run

From the archives but never published on this Blog.
I'm sure you can all relate to how your mind wanders, ruminates and thinks about a variety of things while out by yourself on an easy run. As someone said, and I have mentioned this previously, "I do my best thinking when I'm running."
What follows are some thoughts I had while running down the beach the other day.
1. It seems that as each year passes I see more people,men and women, with bigger and more numerous tattoos covering their body. It's my belief that most of these people would be better off working on their physical condition instead of decorating their bodies with tattoos that fade and age very badly.Heaven knows, most people I see need to do some serious training.
But then again,conditioning takes dedication and commitment.
2. What's with the recent obsession with exposing Lance Armstrong as a drug cheat? Granted,my knowledge of professional cycling is not extensive but from what I understand is that no one reaches the upper echelon of this sport without some type of "enhancement." I am not condoning drug use but lets admit what goes on in their world..
With that said, you've got to appreciate Lance running 2:48 in his second marathon while running fewer miles in training than I'm sure most of us did before ours'.
3. Put the cellphones down! Forget the safety warnings, I was training on the trails last weekend and some of the other runners were wearing them during their run. Others went to their cars looking to check them as soon as the workout was over. At first I thought they were going to get water.
 Give yourself a break,that's part of the reason for getting out there in the first place.
4. I don't find many interesting articles to read in Runnerworld magazine but enjoy many of the things they post and offer on their website.
5. Most of you are probably too young to remember but the yearly U.S. vs. U.S.S.R.(Russia) track meets held yearly in the '60's were riveting.This was a time when the "cold war" was going on between us and them.Pride and nationalism,as well as tremendous competition captured the whole nation's attention. It surpasses any type of competition you see in the Summer Olympics these days. It was high drama. Someone should write a book about those meets.
6. A nice thing about the barefoot, minimalist shoe trend,besides more business for the companies, is that it validates what Lydiard advocated many decades ago. Arthur said runners need light,flexible shoes, not the "gumboots" produced by most of the companies. He also said that the shoes you train in should be no different than the ones you race in. Remember the school of thought back then that said you train in the heavier shoes and race in the light ones?
7. As a coach and runner I can't help but gravitate towards observing other people's running form. The most common mistake I see is, runners don't relax their shoulders. They need to loosen them up, drop them. Too many hold their arms too high which causes their shoulders to raise. This becomes more extreme and noticeable when the runner is tired or trying to go fast. I always say, drop your arms down to your sides, feel your shoulders drop and take it from there. Adjust accordingly.
8. I often recall these words: "there is nothing new under the sun."
I believe this applies to training in all sports. The fundamentals of training must be observed. Fundamentals that are in synch with our anatomy and physiology where we recognize the need to introduce more stressful work progressively. Only after the groundwork has been laid by "easier" training then do we step it up. If you think I am stating the obvious then I would suggest observing running coaches for starters, especially high school ones.
Ignore the hucksters that are trying to reinvent the wheel.
In closing--Be different, and the difference--"Dare to Be a Daniel."

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Be Who You Want To Be--Dare To Be A Daniel

In one of Cerutty's books he once advised readers to, "Dare to be a Daniel." It was a reference to the biblical Daniel who refused to compromise his beliefs and was thrown into the lion's den.
The following that you are about to read by athlete, writer Dave Draper made me think of Percy's quote about Daniel.
Courage to be yourself and going against what you are being told, and in some cases ordered to, is not all that common these days. Consider the following by Dave Draper.
"This is not a startling revelation to you and to me. but it's worth repeating to our neighbor: The best thing we can do in a continuing effort to enhance our apparently declining world is to take control of our lives, personally, individually. Forget war, pandemics, crime and immorality for a minute and notice we are surrounded by masses just poking along like life was a chore, the late shift, a bad habit or a dull pain and not a fragrant gift.
Wake up friends, wake up. We're broken, we need fixing and it's in our control. It's simple, yet it takes courage and work.
Can you hear me? It takes personal courage and it takes hard work.
I'm losing most of the population, I can tell. 'Courage and hard work' do not ring a bell in the town square; they don't register on the scale of Popular Daily Behavior and I do not see them on today's list of Currently Applied Qualities in Vogue Magazine."
Well said.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Vulnerability and Weakness

The following is very Ceruttyish

Vulnerability Is a Synonym for Weakness
By Jack Donovan

Whenever a man brags that he is “not afraid to be vulnerable,” I picture that scene in The Hobbit where Bilbo notices the dragon Smaug’s missing scale.
That’s what a vulnerability is.
“Here it is. This is how you get to my soft tissue. This is how you could ruin me, if you wanted to.”
I’m vulnerable. We are all “vulnerable.” We are monkeys made of meat. “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” Acknowledging that you are fallible and “vulnerable” is simply recognizing reality.
The life-loving and strong-willed response to recognizing a weakness is either to accept it and build strength in other areas, or to attempt to protect it or eliminate it. To don armor and raise ramparts. This is what one does if one wants to assert his interests in the world.
Another survival strategy is to roll over and display that vulnerability openly. But this is not a position of strength. This is how you communicate helplessness and show that you are not a threat. It is submissive, surrendering behavior that begs for mercy and relies on the kindness of others.
We find this endearing in creatures whom we want to help. My dog rolls over on his back because he is at home in his “safe space” and he knows that I would never hurt him, because I’ve built that trust with him.
But then, every farmer has had to kill an animal that trusted him, so it’s never quite a sure thing.
Men have always been the protectors of women and small children, so they naturally want to help them. When you offer your help to someone who needs it, and they graciously accept your assistance, it feels good. Men find some measure of vulnerability endearing in women, so women experience a more positive feedback loop when it comes to displaying vulnerability.
When someone encourages a man to “be more vulnerable,” or to talk about his fears and weaknesses openly, it makes sense tactically for him to be suspicious of their motives. Those who appear to be friends often turn out to be…farmers.
When cultish therapy groups or feminists tell men they “need” to be more vulnerable, men should ask “for me, or for you?”
As I watch various men’s improvement groups evolve, I see a lot of all-embracing affirmation language creep in from the social frames of women’s groups. Weakness is strength, obesity is healthy, ugliness is beautiful, losers are winners. “Every conceivable negative is a positive if it makes me feel good in the moment.” How magical it must be to live in a world of lies where all of your faults are re-framed as talents. I can certainly see the allure…
It is not insane to want to be identified by your strengths instead of your weaknesses. Refusing to carelessly share your problems with anyone who will listen is not the same as refusing to acknowledge that you have problems.
Stating your problems aloud is merely catharsis. Fixating on them is poisonous. Talking about problems without discussing an action plan for overcoming them may actually prevent progress.
A more productive approach to acknowledging a problem or a weakness is to think of yourself as an employee who is trying to increase his value in the eyes of his employer.
If you want to advance and take on a leadership role, you don’t just go to your boss with problems. You say, “I see a problem here and here’s a plan I came up with that I think might help solve it.”
Imagine a leader who announces to the public that, say, the economy is about to collapse, and then shrugs his shoulders and turns his palms up. He wouldn’t stay a leader long.
Be your own leader. Take responsibility for your own life.
If you don’t want to be your own leader, I’m sure you’ll be able to find someone willing to tell you what to do.
Establishing any kind of relationship means opening yourself up. You give or share something, the other entity reciprocates, and if that works out, you move to the next level.
This is how you build trust, and sooner or later you’re going to have to trust someone more than you’d trust any stranger on the street.
But even if you trust someone, it’s better — at the very least it is better for you — if you open yourself up in the context of solving a problem, or coming up with a plan for handling or mitigating your own weaknesses. Otherwise you’re just whining (at best) or giving someone easy ammunition (at worst). And you should never be proud of your weaknesses and shortcomings. To take pride in weakness devalues pride itself.
So, by all means, if you want to build a relationship or solve a problem, be “vulnerable” and expose a weakness.
Build trust with someone.

Thoughts On Why Some Have This Passion For Running

Why do some of us have a passion for running that many would say borders on the fanatical? Over the years essays,books and articles have been written on this subject.
The following was taken from a 1998 issue of my newsletter The Stotan News and gives one man's view on why he loves distance running so much. Due to the fact that I could only find one page from the article,I am missing the name of the person who wrote this. I believe,but I'm not entirely certain, that it was written by Olympic gold medalist (in the marathon) Frank Shorter. He says:
" I am seeking an inner satisfaction that only I can determine,not the recognition of applause,headlines or alot of money.Running is not my job.Running is not, for me,working,though surely it is at times hard work.Running for me is a form of self-expression.Though I don't necessarily intend it as such,it is a statement of who I am and a lot of what I hope to be,even if what I become takes me away from running.Running is the absolute in my life,and I admit to its control over me--a control that may not always seem to be in my best interests,but then,who is to say? Above all else I run for fun,for the expansive feeling I get from running,and while that feeling is enhanced by winning,it is not enhanced by the prospect of being paid for it."
So well put---I particularly like, "above all else I run for fun,for the expansive feeling I get from running."

Monday, May 18, 2020

Personalize It!

It's the how to train books that take up most of the space in the running section at your local bookstore.Readers to this blog realize that a "one size fits all" approach to training is not always a good idea.
 Lydiard recommended that runners take his schedule, which build strength and fitness progressively, then personalize it to fit their strengths and weaknesses.
Bill Bowerman,Nike co-founder and great Oregon running coach offered these related thoughts on the subject: "If someone says, 'Hey,I ran 100 miles this week,how far did you run?' Ignore him! What the hell difference does it make? The magic is in the man,not the 100 miles."
 As far as the mindset that further or faster is always better he offered the following:
"Runners tend to think the farther and faster they run in training,the better it's going to be for them. A runner can have just as much success,if not more success,by finding what his limit is in relation to his progress.It just doesn't make sense to think,'I'm going to be successful because I have run farther than anyone else.' "
The go to guy on running physiology,Dr.David Costill, sums it all up in this excerpt from 'What Research Tells the Coach About Distance Running', "It is unlikely that any one type of training will produce perfect results for all runners since the combination of anatomical,physiological and psychological factors which compose the distance runner are too divergent."
What Costill and Bowerman recognize is that slavishly following someone elses training regimen or a schedule taken as is from a book is unwise and can be counter productive to a runner's development.
The answer lies in the runner evaluating his progress and discerning his needs along the way. This requires an athlete who is not only knowledgeable but thoughtful and patient as well.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Away From the Traffic, Distractions and People--Cerutty On Aloneness and the Athlete

"Those persons who cannot work alone,who must always be surrounded by companions,who do not instinctively prefer to train and practice alone,or as near to being alone as possible,such persons can never expect to achieve the successes that otherwise could be theirs," a quote from Success in Sport and Life by Percy Cerutty.
The above brings to mind a few things as it pertains to people who are seriously committed to running.
First, I think we've all known people who would rather not run then go for a long run alone. Some have told me it gets "boring" when they're out there for several miles and they don't have someone to talk to. I believe a statement like this shows, to a certain degree, a lack of mental toughness and discipline.
We are increasingly becoming a society that is continuously surrounded by sounds,be it music or someone talking. It should be a welcome relief to be able to engage in something where you can be alone in your enviroment and thoughts. I've heard runners tell me that they do their best thinking when they are out on a long easy run.
Others have told me that long runs,alone and away from traffic,provide a contemplative aspect to their running.
If you are indeed serious about your running,do not ignore the necessity and benefits that can be gained from running alone.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Getting Older, Making The Necessary Changes

I am often perplexed and somewhat amused when I hear people who are "old" make these two comments: "If I had to go back and do it again,I wouldn't change a thing," the other one is, " I wouldn't want to be (pick an age) again for anything."
 I say this to those two statements, gosh, would I ever like to go back and change many things I've done in the past,and, although I consider myself a very youthful 70,it would be OK with me if you wanted to take ten years off my age.
There is however one advantage to the aging process, and that is that for most with age,comes the attainment of a certain amount of wisdom that's gained from your life experiences.For those of us who live for the run and have been at it for years,we've learned many things about running and training.
With me,when I think about some of the things I once did and thought in regards to running,training and racing, I just shake my head. Much of what I did wrong was done either in ignorance or because I allowed myself to get so neurotic about trying to be a better runner.What follows are some suggestions as to what to do with your running as you get older,it's by no means the definitive and complete list.
I'll begin by stating the obvious,with increasing age comes a drop off in not only racing performance, but there is also a change in your ability to train hard and recover from workouts. Here is an interesting point though,everyone has a different age where they reach that drop off. For some it may begin at 35, for others 40, or for some of the lucky ones it may even be 45.Every experienced runner who is at least mildly in tune with their body recognizes when that point is. It's foolish to recognize this point and continue to train as you once did.
So,what follows are my humble suggestions and guidelines to deal with advancing age.
1.We all want to run forever so we must recognize that our running should no longer be primarily focused on optimal racing performance. I'll quickly add that this doesn't mean you shouldn't try and want to race faster.I'll address this point a little further down the list but keep this in mind,hard training and racing month in and month out is not condusive to a long healthy life.This is not my opinion,it's the belief of Docs and athletic experts who are runners and work with athletes, anerobic training and racing is very stressful on almost all parts of your body no matter what your age.
2.As we age there is a tendency to put on weight. To minimize stress on your joints and heart we must keep our weight at an optimal level even if that means making changes to our diet. I know I can no longer drink the beer and eat the pizza to the frequency and degree I once did.I find it amazing at local road races when I see overweight runners running as hard as they can.I give them credit for wanting to run fast but there's no way they should until they lose the weight.For them,longer,slower training interspersed with walking breaks should be the key as well as eating less(the VanAaken method).
3.Here's something I found to be essential as far as dealing with advancing age,maintain regularity with your running,don't take breaks from running. I realized that when I somehow wasn't able to run for several days I was more prone to things like calf,muscle and tendon problems. If I take any days off from training it is spent walking with some brief 10 minute per mile jogs thrown in.
4. Finally,as mentioned above,with age must come a decrease in the amount and degree of intensity of your running. Consider Ed Whitlock who set an outrageous marathon record for 70 yr.old runners by running well below the 3 hour mark. What made up the bulk of his training? Easy 2 hour runs daily at a park near his home. More of an emphasis on aerobic training is needed but Arthur Lydiard adds: "as we get older we are inclined to lose our speed;therefore it is necessary to put in more (aerobic) training to retain suppleness and also do some sprint training workouts.A good idea is to bring into your weekly training one or two sessions of fast relaxed running near your best speed but still keeping relaxed over over about 100 mtrs. with a 250 jogging interval before starting another."
I have found that doing an easy 10 or 15 minute jog before starting say 2 or 3 sets of four reps,depending on your level of fitness, is very effective.Ideally, these workouts finish with a slow jog and are run over a stable,firm grass or dirt surface.Once again,why run on concrete or other hard surfaces if you can avoid doing so?
To me, there is nothing sadder than seeing a runner whose running career was cut short far too soon because he didn't know or ignored the necessity of making some concessions to age.
 I'm sure we all know people that this has unfortunately happened to.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Elitism Versus the Ties That Bind Us Runners

Perhaps some of you out there can relate to the following.
There was a time,now many years ago,I viewed myself as one of the minority. I was a runner but one who lived for running,one who strove for excellence in competition. I believed I trained more seriously then most and I felt I was hardcore when it came to the way I approached all aspects of running.
Although I didn't dislike "joggers," or what some call fun runners,I certainly believed I was on a whole different level as far as the running experience goes. It would be safe to say I suffered from some elitist perceptions as far as who I was and what they were. Of course those feelings were not unique just to me,they still exist in many others,it only takes a visit to a few of the large internet running forums to see proof of this.
However, as the years have gone by,I've mellowed my views and perceptions. Advancing age has a way of doing that,But, I will add that I am as involved and committed to running as I was 25+ years ago when I was "hardcore."
This blog entry today was prompted by an experience I had recently training.As I ran easily down the street,I saw a runner coming towards me from the other direction. As I often do, perhaps because I have coached and been a runner for so long,I watched how this runner moved,sort of evaluated her form and probably was also trying to get a gauge on her level of "seriousness." As we passed she said with a smile,"hey,good morning!" she then held out her hand for a kind of sidearm high five.I was touched by the genuineness she exhibited,just one runner sharing the moment with another on a beautiful morning. I then got to thinking how all of us who love to run and get out there everyday are really not that different.We all share the same feelings and emotions when it comes to running and racing.
No matter the skill level we all share the following:
The pleasure felt from a quiet early morning run.
The pain sometimes experienced during a strenuous workout.
The anxious anticipation of a race that is about to start.
The agony of the closing stages of a hard run race.
The frustration of not reaching our goals or finishing "poorly."
The determination to continue on after those less than satisfying performances.
The absolute joy of running well or setting a personal record.
The inability to conceive of a life that doesn't involve running.
OK,I think you all see what I'm getting at,the above is a sample of the many,many reasons as to why distance running is such a great sport.
 For those who may want to hang on to their elitist mindset I say this, if you are fortunate to stay in this sport long enough; you,we, eventually all of us become joggers........again, and that's not a bad thing.

Thursday, April 9, 2020


With all that's going on in the world I thought the following might be relevant.
Most of us feel uncomfortable pondering our own mortality.
To a certain extent, it's even uncomfortable to write or talk about it.
I'll say this about the whole subject, why not turn what many view as a negative subject into a positive one?
Putting aside personal faith beliefs and considerations, let thoughts of our mortality become kind of a call to action, to live life more fully. No one is guaranteed health and being alive tomorrow, so why live and act as if we have lots of time to do things? Wouldn't it be smarter to get started on these "things" today?
I talked to a friend last week who lives in Florida, he said that unlike myself, he was going to wait until he was 66 to retire because that's when he would earn the greatest amount of pension and benefits. My question to him was, how did he know he would have the health or even be alive at 66 to enjoy it? His only response was: "My, aren't you the optimistic one."
Not to go on about this but I say we need to live like we don't take life for granted--do the things we want to do today--tell the people you love how you feel about them, today--and each and everyday for that matter.
 If you think you need to make changes in your life start the process now because tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Jack Lalanne On Negativity

"We have so many negative influences out there that are pulling us down. I try to keep all the negative stuff out of my brain because negativity is like a poison, it develops an acid condition in your body." Jack Lalanne.

Negative thoughts prevent you from going for it; they tell you, you can't do this because you're too old, or you have too many commitments or it's all just child's play.
Negative thoughts keep you locked into the safe and familiar.

What you want to do is as worthy as you believe it is. It has nothing to do with other's opinions. Never discount the fact that 'misery loves company.'
Most people who have resigned themselves to playing it safe can't be expected to enthusiastically encourage someone who is doing something  they wish they could do.

Cerutty On THE Way

This particular time we are living in is a good one to stop and think about priorities and what is really important in this life.
Consider the following by Percy Cerutty. I realize what he is primarily referring to here is his idea of the pathway to athletic success, but, Cerutty believed his program developed the whole athlete, mentally and spiritually, as well as physically. If you have read his bio by Graem Simms, interviews by former athletes (especially Herb Elliott) or his books, exposure to great works of literature, philosophy and music were an integral part of his training. This is referenced below in his quote "the art of living fully." Cerutty writes:
"1.Realization that,as Wordsworth the poet says, 'Life is real,life is earnest'.which denotes that there is no time for wasteful ideas and pursuits.
2.In place of wasteful hobbies there commences a period of supervised and systematic physical training,together with instruction in the art of living fully.This replaces a previously undirected life.
3. The programme implies the cessation of late hours as well as an overindulgence in amusements, both social and entertaining They should be reduced to a minimum and then only in the nature of relaxation from strenuous work.
I hold that the human being cannot be reduced to the status of a machine--and I attribute the success of the athletes who received their early training at Portsea on my specialized fartlek methods,not so much to the initial ability of the athletes,but to the form of training we favour at Portsea,and the terrain we train upon.
The introduction of resistance in the form of sand and hill is too important to be ignored and the track can never fulfill the lack nor the scientific formula replace 'natural and instinctive' effort."
As I have said before,it's hard to believe there was once an athletic coach who wrote things like the above.
I especially appreciate the quote: "there is no time for wasteful ideas and pursuits." I was thinking that most of the above would be especially excellent advice for the college age athtlete.
For the rest of us, the question we might ask ourselves is, are we wasting our time and ultimately our lives? 
Consider,Commit,Plan--then Proceed with a Dedicated Discipline.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Are You Living Like An Athlete?

As I was reading something about Van Aaken the other day,I was struck by a statement he made in relation to those seeking running success,he used the phrase: "live like an athlete."
That got me thinking about what it means "to live like an athlete."
I feel there are two types of runners, the fun runner and the serious runner.
As mentioned many times before, your degree of participation and committment to running does not make you any better or lesser of a runner than anyone else. It's a personal decision you've made due to a variety of reasons.
So what does it mean to live like an athlete? First off, running is an integral part of your lifestyle when you are an athlete. You plan your days,weekends and months keeping in mind the kind of training or racing you will be doing.
I will quickly add that this is not an excuse to neglect family obligations and relationships. Over the years I've seen guys who have left family to go off and train and race here and there, leaving behind loved ones who over time come to be resentful of what they are doing. As one who has done it in the past, you can easily involve family to the point that it becomes a kind of team effort.
Living like an athlete means you not only have a training system you follow but you plan for a specific racing season. Serious athletes establish short-term and long-term goals.
I'm always perplexed by athletes who say they are "serious" but basically race all year. I remember back in the 90's several Stotans trained specifically for one race,the Virgil Mountain Madness. Everything we did during the year was done while keeping that race in mind.
In living like an athlete we are also very careful of being restricted in what we can or can't do because of the materialistic or financial situations WE have created.
An example,do you really want that second new car if it means having to work more or taking a second job that results in you having less time for running? For those who think this is extreme let me say this again, tomorrow is guaranteed to no one! Don't think you can wait till........and then you'll........
If you are living like an athlete then you are eating and drinking like one. You should eat like someone who respects their body and hopes to live and perform at an optimal level. One of the biggest fallacies that was in vogue years ago, and thankfully seems to be fading away, is that training hard gives you a license to eat and drink as much as you want, and whatever you want.
Athletes have their times when they indulge and enjoy themselves but it is definitely not the same as what the "the world" does.
Some may wonder why I haven't included keeping a journal as an integral part of being a serious runner. The reason for this is that over the years I've read of many elite athletes who say they never used a journal. To me, keeping a running journal boils down to whether or not you personally see a need for one. My journal is the wall calender I have where I pencil in the mileage and where I ran. Probably one other thing that comes to mind in regards to being an athlete is that we learn and draw our inspiration from the great runners of the past. We seek out books and materials about them.
I also can't forget to add that we should be a help and encouragement to other runners,no matter what their level of committment is.
In closing I say this, living like an athlete means we are more focused and disciplined than most people but we have such a love of running that it is by no means a sacrifice,it's a joy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A Stotan Training Exercise Inspired By Cerutty

The following is something we used to do out on the hilly roads that surrounded Chesnut Ridge Park near Buffalo. It was a fun but surprisingly effective training exercise.
Here's how it went, during an aerobic run over a course that has hills,when you approach a hill that is ideally 150 yards or longer,run up to the half-way point of the hill, at that time slow to where you are basically jogging in place and do so for about 5 seconds, then, resume running up the hill at your normal pace, do this exercise throughout the run.
Why? The action of interrupting your rhythm and utilizing a certain amount of strength to resume running is unsettling. I have found that when racing, particularly on trail courses, there is a great deal of starting and slowing and "changing gears" as you make your way over the varying terrain.This can be potentially draining physically and mentally.This exercise will prepare you for this as well as make you stronger.
I recall running up a few hills near the Orchard Park area where the inclines went on for close to a mile, we would do this exercise several times as we made our way up because the hill was so long.
If you haven't incorporated hilly courses into your aerobic runs you are missing out on a great way to naturally build strength.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

One More Comeback

Anyone out there ever feel like this?

"All I want is just one more comeback.

Not to win races or set new p.r.'s, Nor is it from a desire to impress others.

No.........one more comeback means returning to the days when running was smooth and easy,

Feeling as if I could go on forever."

The sometimes forgotten and taken for granted aspect of  running is being able to run effortlessly.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Introducing Angry Al---You May Be a Trendy 21th Century Kind of Runner If

Years ago some friends and I used to do our Sunday long runs at Chesnut Ridge Park outside of Buffalo,N.Y. In this group of five or six runners was Al, a 2:50 marathoner who during the course of our runs used to entertain us with his views on running,politics and life.
Inevitably,the further we got into these runs the more critical and cynical he became, hence,the nickname angry Al.
After an article I wrote years ago for my other Blog (Live For the Run) Al sent me his version of what I wrote entitled: "You May Be a Trendie 21th Century Kind of Runner If"
True to form, Al demonstrates why he earned the surname "Angry".
Although I don't necessarily agree with all that he writes I find much of it humorous.
Here goes:
You May be a Trendie 21th Century Kind of Runner If:
1.You change training systems at least once every year.
2.Bemoan the fact that you can't find the fluorescent tights in the colors you like anymore.
3.Are certain running sleeves and knee high running socks are essential running gear.
4.Actually believe a certain exercise physiologist is the "World's Best Coach."
5.You eagerly await each issue of Runner's World and Men's Health(for the ladies, RW and Shape magazine).
6. Honestly believe that running a marathon is THE ultimate running accomplishment.
7. Believe a cool down is having a cold drink after your run.
8.You've been pricing bikes for months due to the fact you're now seriously considering a triathlon because running is getting to be "kind of boring."
9. You have no clue who Arthur Lydiard is but can tell me who formulated the V-dot system. 10.Believe "six-pack" abs are really a sign of being healthy and are something a runner should try to have.
11.You believe doing a trail race is "living on the edge."
My favorite is #11. Years ago when certain runners found out I raced on the trails they acted like I was doing something that was kind of dangerous.
The reality is,is that every person who races should try a trail race,it will forever change the way they look at running and racing.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Athletics: A Frivolous Activity?

It's interesting how people who don't run often have certain opinions of those who have a long and deep commitment to it. It's not unusual to hear some folks say that our love for athletics is excessive and misguided.
 In the following quote Percy Cerutty writes about this and offers his opinion:
"Athletics is still looked upon as possessing a freakish and juvenile quality only to be valued every four years---at Olympic Games time---is put a bad last in the national scheme and evaluation of things. Success in business--even if the successful one dies before fifty! Success in politics,success in almost anything is valued before success in the real business of living, living healthily, actively, artistically."
What makes the above even more insightful is that it was written in 1959,a time when the "world" was less materialistic than it is today.
 Unfortunately, career and how much one has, tends to determine whether or not one is viewed as being successful in the eyes of others. For committed athletes success is a subjective term, not determined by having this or being that.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Highly Recommended Reading For Runners

I referenced John L Parker yesterday and later asked myself if readers knew who John was.
John is known best for his novel Once a Runner which is considered a classic within the running world. What many may not know is that over the decades he has written for a variety of magazines. I recall buying one called Ultrasport just because John was a regular contributor to it.
He also headed Cedarwinds publishing that offered excellent books and videos on running. The highlight of the catalogue he sent out periodically was the article he wrote commenting on some aspect of the running scene.
John is insightful, blunt and sometimes sarcastic. He raced at an elite level and knows running like few others do. The title of his book that I highly recommend is: "Runners and Other Dreamers: True Stories About Long-distance Races and Those Who Run Them."
One of the many great things about the U.S. distance running scene was that up until around 1985, it was loaded with American runners who competed and did well against anyone else in the world. These runners were, for the most part, engaging and charismatic, coming from a variety of different backgrounds. Sadly, this is no longer the case in this 21th century, at least in comparison to the amount of U.S. runners that were around back then.
His book takes you back to those days and offers a veritable who's who list of great racers. It gets you into the heads and hearts of these athletes which is always insightful and inspiring. The book is also loaded with memorable quotes,a few that come to mind: "to judge a coach's ability I need only look to the performance of his or her athletes, period." On achieving running success: "You must be true to yourself and not create myths and excuses."
One article entitled, "Smoke and Mirrors," offered his thoughts on Jim Fixx and his untimely death. In case you don't know, Fixx's book, The Complete Book of Running (1977) was a huge best seller and led to him being viewed by many as a kind of "guru" on all things distance running.
Regarding Parker and his views on Fixx, it would not be a stretch to say that few writers would have had the courage and honesty to write the things he did about Jim.
His comments caused an outrage in many parts of the running community.
I recommend this book to everyone but especially to runners 40 years of age and under. I say this because they will get an idea of what elite distance running once was in this country.
It is my hope that those days will someday return.

Monday, March 9, 2020

The Marathon is Not For Everyone

From the archives. The following is an excerpt from Runners' Books and Smart Ware which was the title of a catalogue put out by John L.Parker's Cedarwinds Publishing Co. The date for this catalogue was Winter 1997-98.
To provide a little background on the excerpt you are about to read, he relates his impressions on aspiring marathoners after reading John Krakauer's book, Into Thin Air, which gives an account of some ill-equipped novices who attempted to scale Mt.Everest and ending up dying in the process. I should also add that Parker is not a fan of the trend that was quite popular at the time,and may still be, of taking a person who runs very little and having them do a marathon within a year or less.
Those who promoted this like Jeff Galloway and others, encouraged people to try it with the inference being that in doing so it would be a kind of transcending,be all, end all experience.
John writes: "Absent from some pre-existing medical condition, very few people will die attempting to run a marathon,but for many their effort will be every bit the fool's errand of those Everest climbers. They will buy the books,hire the coaches,join the groups,learn the latest techniques for carbo-loading or pre-race hydration. They will consider the "walking break" approach. They will follow the Galloway Method or the Henderson Method. They will do all of this with one goal in mind: surviving a marathon.Many of them will hardly consider or cede much importance to events of lesser distance. There is,apparently,no spiritual transcendence to be had overcoming obstacles not sufficiently imposing to the man on the street. Hardly anyone brags at a cocktail party about "finishing a 10k" anymore than a novice would set out to climb K2,the second highest peak in the world; no cachet,you see,no dining out for the rest of your days on such a non-brand name achievement(when compared to Everest). I would be the first to cheer would-be marathoners if their first event was a stepping stone to a well-rounded life of health consciousness,continuing fitness or regular participation in athletics. But so many of these efforts follow a well-worn pattern: months of intense effort,family disruption,happily lost weight,unhappily acquired injuries and fatigue,followed by the final,cathartic Event. Then after that,nothing. Once the merit badge is metaphorically sewn into place and the conquest rendered into a picture on the mantle,the great quest no longer resonates. Finishing a marathon now represents another ticket punched in a long life of restless accomplishment. Surely,you know them. Those energetic friends,relatives perhaps. Hell, Oprah's done it. And that all strikes me as a pretty fair prescription for becoming what might be called a spiritual dilettante(or amateur). Aspiring to be one in the marathon,while certainly not the unworthiest activity I can think of, is also surely not a direct path to enlightenment or even a more robust life."
John really nails it in this article. It is so unfortunate that the majority of people described above give up on running after it is all over.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Dr. Sheehan On The Pain In Racing

The wonderful thing about Dr George Sheehan was that he was not only a medical doctor, he was also a competitive runner.He experienced everything we competitive runners experience.He possessed remarkable insights into this great sport.Consider his thoughts in regards to pain.
"Pain is a private affair.My pain cannot be felt by another.When I am in a race I know the others around me are also in pain.But each of us is in a separate cell.I can never know quite what the runner next to me is going through.
There is but one answer to pain:go out to meet it,plunge into it,grasp it as you would the nettle.If your instinct is to withdraw,you are done.There is always the chance you will push through it into an area as calm as the eye of a hurricane.
The runner is not a masochist.He does not enjoy pain.But between the runner and a personal best lies pain in quantity.He does not seek sufferance but once it has been experienced he somehow feels better for it."
I would add to the last sentence that the runner also gets a sense of satisfaction after the race knowing that he resisted the little voice in his head that was telling him to ease up when things started getting painful.
A good point Sheehan makes is that every runner in a race is suffering as much as we are. We need to remember that fact because more runners than you think do back down or let up some once the going gets tough.This is especially true of the runners who come in after the first one third of the finishers at a road race.Frankly, from what I've seen these days, the figure may be closer to three quarters but that is a topic for another post.
As Cerutty,Lydiard and others have taught,acclimate yourself to dealing with the pain you'll experience during the closing moments of a race,practice finishing strong so it almost becomes a reflex action when the real thing comes,remind yourself to remain smooth and relaxed,maintaining form; tell yourself that everyone is hurting but you have prepared yourself better than anyone else in the race.
Successful racing is all about meticulous mental and physical preparation.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Cerutty On Keeping At It

"No door remains forever locked against the man of indomitable will and courage.What we most lack is the power to continue:continuity and perseverance---the never quit spirit allied to intelligence is the secret key to success: not great natural endowments." Percy Wells Cerutty.
The biggest excuse a distance runner can give to explain his lack of success is to say, 'I just don't have the talent.' The above quote applies to all facets of our life,not just running.
Also note, intelligence is a key ingredient to achieving success. As Cerutty use to say, the ideal athlete is a "deep thinker," capable of self-evaluation. The dumb jock may be successful in other team sports but not in distance running.
The path to success more often than not takes years.How many of us truly want to put the time in?
But as I always say,in distance running,the joy is in the journey.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Gayle Olinekova--Breaking Boundaries and Stereotypes

The following is proof that you don't have to be built like a stick figure to run a fast marathon-
Cerutty was often criticized by the running establishment of his time for advocating lifting weights and strength training-Gayle Olinekova is one example of how right he was.
Gayle was at one time the third fastest woman marathoner in the world.
This is an article from the S.I. archives. Incredibly interesting and inspiring.
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