Sunday, October 23, 2011

Insights on Strength and Spirit By 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 don't 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.

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