Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Whitlock's Wisdom

As the years go by I find myself seeking out runners older than myself who continue to run well. Perhaps I do this because I am looking for reassurance that I can train and compete indefinitely. Another reason may be due to the fact that so many of the athletes I've known from decades past no longer run.With that in mind, I've been thinking alot about Ed Whitlock recently.  I can't imagine that there are many runners who haven't heard of Ed Whitlock. For those who haven't, he holds a multitude of age group records,most notable of which being a 2:54:48 marathon at age 72.Also, consider a 3:15:54 marathon at age 80 and a 42 minute10k during that same year.He has set other phenomenal marks you can read about on his Wikipedia page.
When there is a runner like Ed Whitlock who has accomplished what he has, it's a given that you would want to listen to what he has to say.The following is just a few excerpts from a past interview he did for Running Times.If you could condense what he said in a few words they would be: simplicity,mileage and proper perspective.Ed says:" I go out jogging. It's not fast running,just that I do it for a long time.I don't follow what typical coaches say about serious runners. No physics,ice baths,massages,tempo runs,heart rate monitors.The more time you spend fiddlediddling with this and that,the less time there is to run or waste time in other ways.Running should be a pastime. All sports should be a pastime. There shouldn't be all this professional stuff." Whitlock then goes on to say that a life that focuses exclusively on  performance as it does in the upper echelons of running is ultimately a life that is lacking.
A few thoughts on the above. In the quest for excellence, there is a tendency for athletes,especially newbies, to complicate the process by doing what are basically unnecessary activities.I'm sure many would disagree with what Ed has to say on sport and professionalism,I know at one time I would have. But,as the years have gone by, I've seen the cheating(doping,etc) that's gone on in every sport,all in the quest for victory,records and more$$,his view makes alot of sense to me.Finally, Ed's runs are done at a very easy pace for 2 or 3 hours a session with tremendous results.Think back to Van Aaken.
I remember what Herb Elliott once said,the ideal life for an athlete is one of simplicity. Simplicity in his training and simplicity in his lifestyle.

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