Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Have You Been Debased?

I was recently looking through a book by Mike Spino, author and former Director of the Esalen Sport's Center.The book, published in 1976, was entitled Beyond Jogging;I bought it because it had a lot of Percy Cerutty stories in it.As an aside, Spino attended seminars with Cerutty and briefly went on a lecture tour with him in the early '70's. In 1977, Spino released another book entitled,Running Home,which also contained a fair amount of Cerutty references. While reading a section of that book on nutrition Percy was quoted thusly,"A philosophy of foods,when the appetite for food is not debased,when the food eaten is plain and wholesome,when the eater realizes the nature and value of various foods,then his enjoyment of simple,plain,and natural foods will be enhanced to an extraordinary degree." My first reaction to this quote was to ask what he meant by debased. A quick look in the dictionary gave me the answer,it means to lower in quality,value or character. I then wondered if there were other ways in which we,as serious athletes, could have been "debased." Consider the following: In regards to foods Cerutty brings up something that we should all ask ourselves,are any of us so removed from eating healthy that attempts at doing so are unappealing? Nutrition,along with training and rest are the three keys to achieving athletic success. Keeping it natural and simple with your foods is essential. For instance, if you prefer cooked foods with fatty meats for breakfast as opposed to one with fruit and a quality cereal,bread and/or yogurt,then your appetite for food has been debased. Someone once asked me how they could get into eating healthy and gain an appreciation of fruits and vegetables which they admitted they rarely ate.I gave them the surefire cure,I told them to go 16 to 24 hours without eating any food and to drink only water. After that, I told him to eat a few pieces of fruit. When you are truly hungry,foods in their natural state are delicious. Something else to think about: has our view and belief in the correct way to train been debased? Have we been swayed to think that there are other ways to achieve athletic success,ones that are quicker and easier? Have we chosen to forget or ignore the time tested and proven ones? Ones that say it takes 4 to 7 years of consistent quality training to reap the maximum benefits of a proper program?Here's another thing to think about: Have we allowed our minds to be debased? Do we watch things on television and in the movies that have absolutely no redeeming value? If the television suddenly disappeared from the earth would we be lost and confused? What type of things do we read, do we even read? Do we look to be entertained or do we find and initiate our own entertainment?Have our everyday lives been debased? Do we think that owning lots of things is the way to go and that they are the key to happiness? If we do,then the way we view life has been debased. I can't tell you how many former zealous,hardcore runners I've known who've traded in their athletic lives for owning an overpriced house and expensive car(s), only to eventually discover, as their waistlines got bigger with each passing year and their health went into a slow steady decline, that they made a huge mistake.Remember what Herb Elliott said,"An ideal life is one of simplicity."I think everyone out there sees what I'm getting at, you can plug in your own, "have you been debased" question to other facets of your life.
What I'm saying is that as athletes we need to be aware and discerning people. This takes an alert,inquisitive and active mind. Dulling it with useless mind numbing activities, consuming too much drink (as in alcohol,the true opiate of the masses) and crappy food is an easy lifestyle to settle into.Daily involvement in edifying pursuits that stimulate the mind and lead to growth as a person is a one way ticket to true satisfaction and success mentally, as well as physically.For some, shaking off their accumulated debased habits and views will take varying amounts of time and effort.The key is in being able to recognize if you've been debased in the first place. Here's hoping that the above may be a help.


  1. I have been going back through your old writings, and this is a gem! I hope you are doing well, and look forward to reading more.