Saturday, April 9, 2011

Jack Foster Speaks

In February I had a post entitled "Remembering Jack Foster" where we read about the remarkable running success he achieved at an age when many world class athletes have either retired or seen a downturn in racing performances. As with the other greats in athletics they have much to offer in the way of wisdom and insights for those of us who want to do well. Jack was known for his honesty,candor and humour. I wish the running mags today would have a monthly "column" in which they'd print quotes by the champions of the past. Regarding training: "A reporter asked me about the training I did. I told him I didn't "train" but just went for a run each day. He was a bit baffled at that. The word "training" conjures up in my mind sessions in a gymnasium or out on a track grinding out 200-400 meter intervals or other such repetitive hard work. I refuse to do this. I believe it is possible to achieve results in a less soul-destroying way." For those who might think Foster was just gifted and didn't have to train hard he described his training as such: "Almost all my running is done over very hilly country. The grass is very short but it is quite difficult running,real work. The legs ache,lungs burn and the heart pounds mightily. The very nature of the country(New Zealand hilly trails and farmland) works you quite adequately. " Continuing on about this type of "country training" he says this: "This kind of running has left me without companions most of the time. But I think it is necessary to train alone as it is the long,lonely running which helps develop the persistence and self-reliance peculiar to distance runners. I can no more understand the person who needs the company of others for fulfillment in sport than the gregarious person can hope to understand me." And a few thoughts on focusing too much on placing and winning:"Winning races is not all-important to me. The race themselves are, as they provide the stimulous which is necessary for putting in that extra effort to help me excel and achieve the standards I've set. I think the runner should base his success on attaining his own standards,not merely winning races.Young runners particularly seem to think winning is the be all end all in running. I consider the improvement to be what it is all about." The above is worth considering and reflecting upon. Some of it may be familiar but certain truths will reoccur as you read the words of the legends of this great sport.

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