Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Advice For Runners of All Ages

The following is a portion of an essay written by British coach Brian Mitchell many decades ago. As with all good advice,the information offered is as relevant today as it was when it was originally published. Although supposedly geared towards the younger athlete,it is applicable to every runner out there. Ultimately,the athlete who is content and at peace with who he is,is a person who thinks,plans and considers all things.
"In the beginning,do one thing: take a long,thorough look at what you wish to achieve,how you think it can be achieved,and how long it will take you. Time spent on this survey of ambitions is time well spent.Study carefully the factors involved in your training and racing,and accept that there has to be long-term preparation.
Intelligent forethought is the foundation of success,and positive pride its creator. Thinking will map out a route,and pride will ensure progress along that route. Intelligence--seeking and using knowledge--is a necessary quality of the successful athlete. The more you know about training and racing,the better you will be as a competitor. The more self-respect you have, the more you will stay on the route that you have worked out.
Although it will probably help to have someone to persuade and support you,in the end you will train and race successfully because you want to,not because somebody else wants you to. This strength of mind and character is best seen in those men and women who do essentially solitary deeds or carry essentially solitary responsibilities.
The true athlete must have this kind of spirit--vigorous,sane,not easily demoralized or defeated. Allied to intelligence,it prophesies success.
The cultivation of this spirit,or will-power,is possible. Running coach Franz Stampfl has said, 'It is capable of tremendous development under training and stimulus, or of near extinction under neglect.'
Accept the very severe limitations under which the animal body must work(need for sleep and rest,capacity to function only within a narrow range of temperatures,need for proper nourishment,sensitivity to heavy and repeated doses of fatigue,etc.). And while not giving way to slight signs of discomfort, learn to judge when you have started to break yourself down rather than build yourself up. The history of running is littered with the bodies of people who believed that all they had to do was an exert an iron will in order to succeed. Their success was finally not much greater than that of men and women who lacked the necessary will; their frustrations and disappointments were bigger.
The best advice is that given by a former British Olympic runner,Frank Sando, who recommended that young athletes should "make haste slowly.". Nature cannot be hurried, as coach Percy Cerutty is rightly fond of pointing out.There are no crash courses in the preparation of a runner, but the iron-willed athlete who lacks intelligence thinks there are(editor: so true!). It is when that iron will is a partner to intelligence that athletic greatness emerges.
Cultivate your physical resources. Don't try to thrash them into life, or you may end up killing them.
The pride which is an integral part of an athlete's character operates to make him or her, want to carry through whatever plans have conceived. It also operates to make the athlete want to beat other athletes.This,after all,is what competition is all about. There is satisfaction in beating a stopwatch.There is more satisfaction in beating other runners. While this kind of pride need not--and preferably does not--become an arrogance that sees defeated opponents as necessarily inferior people,it will be very stubborn and evident to its owner.
Finally,the athlete is well advised to keep running in its place. Be passionately involved in it,certainly. Exert yourself to succeed. Get from running the massive satisfaction that running offers. Yet be a rounded,sensitive,literate human being. It is not the job of athletics to produce people who know or care for nothing except athletics. Keep it in its proper place."
The writer brings forth many good and insightful things to consider.
By the way,when was the last time you went to a site or mag and read a quote by coach, and Cerutty nemesis,Franz Stampfl?

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