Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Ran Alone Today

Soaked with the first step from the Queens South tram,
I walk quickly to Churchill’s Park for my afternoon run.
A tattered black sack with my clothes takes its familiar rest in the bushes by the Cape.
I start my run with slow heavy legs, rain beating down as I go.
Gone are my mates of that sunny yesterday, no one to share the load of this rainy afternoon, no chatter to wile away the miles.
With my first pass done my body starts to warm, legs lighten and the run refreshes.
As each pass comes ‘round I realize I’m no longer running alone, I’m with my heroes Landy, Elliott and Clarke.
The miles fly by, I dream of races to be run as I go longer than ever planned.
My run finished, I duck into the bushes and change to my still dry clothes.
My thoughts turn to tea at a favourite shoppe and the next run with my friends.

So what relevance does the above have to do with this site? It reaffirms two things: one is that weather and day of the week don't deter us from doing something we love, and secondly,for those of us who live for the run,we don't need to have people with us to go out every day.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Coaches and Coaching, pt.2, Percy Cerutty

Back in the early '90's when I published a monthly newletter called The Stotan News, not many people in the U.S. were aware of who Percy Cerutty was and even less about the word Stotan he originated. In recent years,perhaps due to the excellent bio about Percy written by Graem Sims and released in 2003, there has been an increased interest in "Stotanism." It is not my intention here to simply provide biographical info on Cerutty,that you can find online. What I am going to write about is something that I've noticed people who say they follow the Stotan philosophy miss.It is that Stotanism is much more than just running hard on the trails,sand dunes or hills. Cerutty was as much a philosopher as he was a coach and motivator.What he taught is essential to all of us who live for the run.
In Why Die,Percy's biography by Graem Sims, you read "The Stotan Code" which you'll see is more than advice on how to do a workout. Here is an excerpt: "A Stotan is one who hardens, strengthens, toughens and beautifies the body by consistent habits and regular exercises, which are consciously and irrevocably made part of the life plan of the individual, as well as consciously determining that the mind will be cultivated upon such abstractions as purity, beauty and logic. Erudition, in as complete a degree as possible shall be the lifelong aim: Truth, in relation to all aspects of life, the unending search." The above is quite profound. The true athlete will develop his mind and intellect as well as his body because to be complete as a person, both must be developed and that is a lifelong endeavor. As I write this I think of the stories I've read in recent years about sponsored U.S. runners whose lives revolve around training,eating,sleeping and playing video games. If only we had a Cerutty guiding U.S. runners today perhaps we would be having greater success on the world distance scene.But I digress, Percy wrote so much that should be read by every athlete in this day and age irregardless of the sport they are involved in. In the future I intend to offer a series of excerpts from his writings but the essence of the Cerutty philosophy is that in our daily quest for physical and intellectual excellence, we equip ourselves to be able to deal with whatever challenges come our way,and perhaps most importantly,enable us to live life to its fullest.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Quote for Today from Yiannis Kouros

When you look at the names of the greatest all-time runners,you must include ultra legend Yiannis Kouros on that list. Many who consider themselves experts in the field of running continue to view ultrarunning as a fringe sport that is not particularly deep in talent when compared to say,the 10k. While that may or may not be true the fact is,is that Yiannis Kouros holds every ultra record from 100 miles to 1,000,as well as 12 hours to 6 days. Briefly consider this,Kouros ran 303k in 24 hours.That's over 188 miles in one day! Do a search of all his records and you will be astonished at the range of marks he has set. Still think ultrarunning is a sport slim on talent? Who cares! Yiannis' records would be remarkable whether or not there were other competitors. Kouros is a deep thinker who expresses his thoughts articulately and has so many insights that can benefit us as runners. His documentary,Forever Running, is a must have for those who live for the run.The fact that he can't get a publisher for an English language translation of a book he wrote a few years back speaks volumes of the state of running today but that's a story for another day.This is a quote from an interview Yiannis did years ago:
"Each horrid event should equip you with the necessary provisions so that you can confront the next one; it shouldn't make you yield. The continuous confirmation is that despair and hopelessness supply you with means--inconceivable at first, and they make you discover hidden unexpected powers." I take much from the above quote,especially that personally I need to remind myself that when the suffering comes I must leave myself open to being aware and learning from that suffering in order to become a better runner and person from it.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Coaches and Coaching,pt.1

Years ago I wrote an article that was published in Track Coach entitiled: "On Coaching Runners." In retrospect, I see where it could have probably used one more rewrite but the content was solid and it was a needed critique on coaches. I was very happy to have it published by the people who also give us Track and Field News as well as Track and Field Technique.At the end of this article today I will post the link where you can read "On Coaching Runners" if you wish.
What I want to address at this time will be more about coaches and their training programs than about actually having what I would call a "hands on" coach.The local bookstores,magazines and internet are loaded with training schedules written by athletes,coaches and training "experts." Unfortunately, there is a fair amount of misinformation out there as it relates to training schedules.
As for those of us who live for the run, we have all had the coaches and tried the different programs over the years. For many of us, we have a program we've adapted from years of experience and it's one that fits us well. We know it works because it can bring us to a point of fitness where we can compete if desired, and,this is important, rarely get injured from following it.
However, there may be some of you who are having trouble choosing or adapting to a training schedule. You feel you want one because at some point of the year you would like to race and be as fit as possible. Here are some things to remember while seeking the right program for you. I would start by saying that you don't have to be an exercise physiologist to understand a training schedule.A schedule is all about common sense and being logical. You start out easy to gain optimal aerobic fitness, then you move into a training period that builds basic strength through workouts that incorporate hill training, and then you move into a sharpening phase that incorporates faster,speed centered workouts that leads inevitably to a specific racing season. It all makes sense doesn't it? This training builds from an easy base period to where you can gradually handle more strenuous demanding workouts and eventually races. Think of this analogy, if you wanted to bench press 300lbs,you wouldn't begin by training at 250. You would work up to that point by using progressively heavier weights.This is the essence of all physical training,easier conditioning sets the foundation for more stressful work. The man who originated the training program I outlined above was New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard. I'm sure most of you out there have heard of him. If by some chance you haven't, simply Google his name and you will see the incredible and lasting contribution he has made to running. No other coach has come close to what he has has accomplished in distance running.I'd strongly recommend his updated book,Running to the Top, published by a German company(Meyer and Meyer) if you are seeking training advice that works.Meyer and Meyer has also published books by Lydiard geared specifically to masters' and women runners. The one thing to keep in mind,and it is the thing that Lydiard taught repeatedly, was that you adapt his schedules to fit who you are but you don't deviate from the essence, which is making sure you follow the base,hill and sharpening phases. Remember,easier to harder in training. One of the many things you learn from Arthur Lydiard is that you can't race at your optimal level all year,there will come a point where performances drop off. That is just part of the natural cycle of conditioning and how your body works. Lydiard's program is time tested and has produced Olympic champions,world record holders and successful runners of every age,from child to well into the master's divisions.
On Coaching Runners--link---

Saturday, December 25, 2010


I think we've all "been there" in regards to racing. Whether we started racing in school or at the local road races,there was a time when racing was the prime motivator for making sure we got out there every day. Many of you may still have this mindset and if you enjoy this aspect of running then that is good. What I am about to address is the subject of racing being viewed as the be all end all for many runners. Have you ever known runners who have either stopped running or become chronically injured as a result of their preoccupation with racing? I have,plenty,myself included. I remember a runner who was extremely successful at local road races telling me that he viewed the training he did as a job.To me that sounded downright depressing. Not surprisingly, to my knowledge, this guy no longer runs. I know another guy who got alot of notice regarding the fact that he used to run the Boston marathon and then another marathon two weeks later.His whole identity as a runner was connected to the fact that he was tough and placed well at races. Today,chronic back problems have limited his running dramatically. As for myself, I got so neurotic over doing well and following very specific training regimens that I actually began to dread racing.I was mentally and physically spent. For awhile I just bagged the whole thing after getting reinjured,again. But of course, I resumed running because life without running wasn't an option. Running is as much a part of my life,and yours, as eating and sleeping.So,I think you know what I'm getting at but it still must be be said and runners need to be reminded, don't let a preoccupation with competing ruin your love for running.

Friday, December 24, 2010

First Post--What This Site is About

This blog is for those whose lives revolve around distance running.You may be a good runner,you may be a plodder,it doesn't matter because the one thing you both have in common is that you live for the run.What you will read in this blog will relate and pertain to your passion for running,it will inform as well as encourage. I feel that my many decades as a runner and coach covering distances from the sprints to ultras,to track,road,trail and mountain runs,has given me a wealth of experience. I've read tons of books and visited as many sites pertaining to running and would like to say that it is not my desire to go over familiar territory here. There are runners who run because they like to compete,there are others who do it purely for social reasons,while others do it to keep fit.I am writing to the runners who recognize, that for them, a life without running is one they don't want to imagine.To them it's more than just about being social,keeping fit or competing.Maybe that describes you,or perhaps you think you're headed to that point.Those who live for the run approach running and life differently than the other running groups I just mentioned. What you will read in this blog will be more often than not different from anything you've read in other running mags,books,sites and blogs.There will be something for every kind of runner.