Friday, July 29, 2011

Declining Times

I was speaking with a friend not too long ago who made a comment that times at the road races in his area (Buffalo,N.Y.) were slower then they were 25+ years ago. He went on to say that there was a lack of depth in quality performances from the 5k and up.He bemoaned the fact that guys running 17 minutes and change in the 5k were finishing in the top 10, something he said hardly ever happened back "in my day." A little search of the archived race records confirmed what he had said was true. For instance, one of the big road races of the year in my area was the Depew/Lancaster Boys Club 10k. I went back as far as I could,which was unfortunately only till 1986, and found that 81 runners finished under 40 minutes. In 2005 only 31 runners broke 40 minutes. Further seaches confirmed what my friend had said,times have gotten slower over the years. As many of you probably know, this trend exists over much of the country.So what's happened? What's changed? If you look back to the days of the running boom in the early 70's you will find your answer. The main avenue for getting news and information on running,racing and training was through the running mags, particularly Runners World. If you are fortunate to have copies of RW from the 70's till '83, you will immediately notice a difference between then and now.I should start by saying I am in no way bashing RW for how they are.One of the hardest things to do these days is to keep a magazine financially viable. You will not stay in business very long if you produce a mag that only appeals to a group of runners which comprise a minority of the running population,ask James O'Brian, former head of the excellent,but now defunct, American Runner about that. Returning to the RW's of the 70's, one of the first things you will notice is back then their writers and contributors included people like Joe Henderson,Dr.George Sheehan,Arthur Lydiard,Derek Clayton,Bill Squires, and Amby Burfoot, just to name a few. There was a theme and preoccupation that was evident throughout each issue,and that was,how to go about achieving your best racing performance. There were also interviews with American runners who were successful nationally and internationally. They also contained lots of race results and accounts of the races. Again,the focus was on improving your running and racing. I should add that Running Times was a nice alternative to RW because it had tons of race results and recaps of races along with schedules of upcoming ones from around the country. Their age group race highlights and rankings was a great feature.Somewhere in the mid-eighties things began to change with RW. Writers and contributors were replaced and the theme went from racing performance to the "running experience". Jeff Galloway gained a large readership and following by teaching moderation in miles and effort as well as showing the way from basically zero miles to a marathon in 6 months,or was it 9 months? Jeff was quite vocal in his opinion that too many miles were bad for runners,a point that I was very happy to call him out on when he spoke at a pre-marathon clinic in Buffalo years back. Interviews and stories in RW changed from being about successful runners to ones who had overcome personal issues and tragedies through running. Arthur Lydiard and Derek Clayton's columns were replaced with people like Owen Anderson and those of a similar mindset. Food and diet,stretching,cross-training,exotic locales for racing,and my favorite,attaining the 6pk abs are the norm in RW today. What exactly does 6pk abs have to do with running anyway? But I digress. You get the picture though,what was once THE vehicle for reaching the runner changed its perception of what the running experience should be and most of the public has followed along. The consequence of this being slower times overall. I suppose this is why we should be thankful that we have the internet to fill the need for those of us who want more. I still miss the days when RW was the source to go to for runners and racers.
Sorry for the single post this weekend,I took my once a month trip out of town to run on some real trails.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ticking Golden Moments by Roger Bannister

What you are about to read below is something very special. It is an article that was written for the September 19,1960 edition of Sports Illustrated. It was authored by Roger Bannister,the first man to go under 4 minutes for the mile.Here he gives his account of Herb Elliott winning the 1960 Olympic 1500 meter run.Bannister provides the kind of unique insight that only runners can give to such events. "It was a relaxed and attractively casual Elliott who turned
up for the 1,500-meter heats, walking barefoot, without a sweat suit and carrying his spikes in his hand. No one else can afford to look as casual as he. Inside him it was different—as Dave Power, his Australian companion and teammate, put it: "He's a killer, in racing and training." The heats saw the elimination of the only European Elliott gave any sign of having heard of—Siegfried Valentin of Germany, who has run a 3:56.5 mile and a 3:39.3 1,500 meters.
As Elliott and his eight rivals walked out for the final, the frenzied crowd was already tautened to the breaking point by a world-record 400-meter finish. The 1,500-meter finalists were halted on the way to the start by the 400-meter victory ceremony. There was polite and sincere applause for America's first-place Davis, and a baying ei ei ei for Germany's second-place Kaufmann, the sort of premonitory roar that gives a 1,500-meter runner waiting for the gun a final spurt of adrenalin—one that nearly makes him ill.
If Elliott thought of his tactics, and he barely ever needs to, his thoughts must have run something like this: "A loose track, but bound by last night's storm, fast enough for a world record. An awkward wind up the finishing straight, so I hope someone will lead. Percy wants a record, but right now I'll settle for the medal. The sooner I start my finish the safer I am, with this bunch of fast finishers." But niceties of pace, judgments and tactics have previously been superfluous for Elliott, and so it proved this day.Having drawn the pole,Elliott let Bernard of
France, Waern of Sweden and Vamos of Rumania pass him, and held the fourth position. Bernard seized the lead decisively and took the field through a 58.2 first lap. This was a piece of rare good fortune for Elliott and brought the world record within his grasp. At the time it looked like collusion between the French, with Bernard attempting to help his teammate Jazy, but Bernard later stated that, according to Olympic tradition, he and Jazy were running their own races. He led only because he thought, unwisely I am sure, this improved his chance of winning.
Burleson and Grelle stayed at the back, out of trouble. The reduction of the size of the field to nine men helped the Americans, who lack experience of crowded fields. Since no more than 12 yards covered the whole bunch, with an effective pacemaker at the head, this was by far their wisest course of action.
In the second lap Elliott remained fourth, running slightly wide, but happy, no doubt, to pay this small price for preserving his tactical freedom. Jazy and Rozsavolgyi trailed warily behind Elliott. Percy Cerutty, a wizened man with the blazing eye of an Old Testament prophet, who first fired Elliott with enthusiasm for running, could be seen crouching on the outside of the track at the start of the last bend. An infringement of international track Rule 18 (no coaching from the sidelines) apparently was imminent.
At the half mile, passed by Bernard in 1:57.8. Elliott moved deliberately into second place at Bernard's shoulder, boxing Waern and keeping Rozsavolgyi outside him. With 600 meters left, Elliott eased past Bernard, and there was no challenge from the astonished Frenchman. Bernard was no doubt horrified that there was any athlete alive who could find a 1:57.8 half mile so unsatisfactorily slow that he felt obliged to take the lead himself. Bernard never recovered from this shock.
Elliott seized a five-yard lead in the next 30 yards, with Rozsavolgyi now second, Jazy third, Vamos fourth, Bernard fifth and Burleson sixth. Elliott continued to apply a steady stretch to his unfortunate rivals, pulling Jazy and Rozsavolgyi out of the vanguard. Elliott's smooth stride would have looked deceptively slow but for the trail of fading runners he left behind him. He passed the three-quarter mile in a relentless 2:54.4, having thrown a 56.6 third lap into the race. This was certainly the fastest third lap in miling history—a fractional easing at this point being traditional.
Now Cerutty entered the picture. He jumped the ditch between the spectators' enclosure and the track, tore off his white flannel shirt and waved it frantically, until the broad-minded Italian policemen finally decided to return him to his rightful place. The signal, we afterward discovered, means in Australian bush language, "Go for the world record." When asked afterward if he saw Cerutty, Elliott commented, "I could hardly have missed him."
Those last 150 yards looked to us, and to Elliott must have seemed, an eternity. The gaze of 60,000 was fixed on him, the greatest miler the world has ever seen. Certainly I noticed Burleson running a fine race in sixth position, but it was out of the corner of my eye. It was Elliott who filled every brain and heart. It was Elliott, with the hawk nose, the gaunt viking face; Elliott of the lean body and the smooth stride; Elliott, lithe and stealthy, about as gentle as a tiger. This was a man made for this form of self-expression, the rest of the field having somehow learned it painfully and inadequately. This was running, the instinctive and unfettered expression of every potentiality.
Then the superman we had watched for a hundred yards suddenly became human again. His stride shortened, his body grew more upright. Was it conceivable he could experience so frail and human a feeling as fatigue? He was back at Portsea now, in Cerutty's training camp, running wild and barefoot until it hurt, seeking to replenish a primitive energy that does not quite last through the artificiality of track racing.
Elliott crossed the finish line tired partly by the head wind but mainly by his own ferocious speed. He won by 18 yards from the gallant Frenchman Jazy, whom nature had never intended to be a metric-mile medalist. When asked his opinion of Jazy in the press room afterward, Elliott replied, "Who's Jazy?"—and I do not think he mistook the pronunciation.The result is now part of athletic history. Elliott had spread-eagled the field and broken his own world record, set in Goteborg in 1958, by .4 second. The first six, including Burleson, were inside Delany's 1956 Olympic record." I know I'm prejudiced but the above is about the best account of a race you will ever read. The picture that precedes this article is of Vladmir Kuts,the man whose victory at the 1956 Olympics inspired Herb to pursue his own Olympic dream.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Quiet Strength

"It's a quiet strength,not one borne from slogans printed on t-shirts or bodies. It's a strength acquired from a conditioning and lifestyle that has no need of vain proclamations. It's a strength earned by challenging yourself daily within the simplicity and sometimes harshness of nature while striving to obtain victory over oneself in the process. Ultimately, it's a quiet inner strength gained from a life you've chosen, understanding that there are no sacrifices in this process,it is a labour of love devoid of pretense" (written by The Sage).

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Marathon,Better Later Than Sooner

There was a time when racing a marathon was thought to be something a distance runner worked up to during the course of his or her running career. The reasons for this belief are both sound and logical. They were well articulated by Bill Rodgers many years ago when he said: "I believe you cannot reach your maximum potential in a marathon until you're in your middle to late twenties or early thirties. You must build your mileage up slowly over a period of years." It's my belief that if you were to start racing marathons in your late twenties it should only be after having many years of distance base in the bank. I am not saying that young American runners cannot race fast marathon times, it's just that years of distance running, say 10 and more, help to prepare,condition and strengthen the body in a way that there is no short cut for. I have seen college age guys who had the potential to race well at the 5k go directly to the marathon and eventually become physically and mentally burned out. This is because marathon racing takes both mental and physical maturity. Arthur Lydiard once said that no one should have been surprised that Carlos Lopes at age 37 won the 1984 Olympic marathon. He cited the type of training and racing Carlos had done in his career as laying the foundation for his victory in '84. By the way, he was a silver medalist in the 10k at the 1976 Olympic Games. Let's not forget that drops in racing performance due to age are less pronounced as the distance gets longer.What's the old saying, "to everything there is a season?" Build your competitive running career in a way that has the potential to maximize performance in each distance you transition into.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Greatness of Herb Elliott

I know that many are aware that Herb Elliott won the 1500 meter race at the 1960 Olympics. Readers to this site,as well as people during his time, recognized that Elliott trained using what most would view as very unconventional conditioning methods. I doubt however that people actually realize what an otherworldly run he had at those Olympics. Before I show why this was "otherworldly", I want to give a few quotes by some people who recognize what an effort it was. The first comes from Roger Bannister, the first man to go under 4 minutes for the mile. He said: "No other athlete in Rome commanded such superiority over his rivals,no other athlete emerged with that elusive magic of victory which the Greeks sought,in such abundance." Next, a few quotes from Michael Jazy who came in second to Elliott in that race: "If I didn't have Olympic champion luck I had other luck and silver medals. Remember,to be second behind Herb Elliott is like being an Olympic Champion." When asked to describe Herb after the race Jazy said: "A being from another world." The comments were not only accurate but somewhat prophetic. I say this because if you look back to the Olympics of 1896 and go all the way through to the one held in 1996(23 Olympics),only two people beat Elliott's time of 3:35:6, and one was faster by only half a second. It truly was a performance for the ages. At the bottom of this post there is a link that will take you to a film of the 1500 meter final that includes commentary from Elliott himself. You may be able to simply click on it or you may have to cut and paste to get there. If all else fails just go to Youtube and type in Herb Elliott,1500 meters. It's so great to watch,especially when he puts the hammer down in the second half of the race. Many ask why Elliott retired so young at age 22? There are several reasons he's given,one being that he had a family to care for and support.Back then athletes had to actually work for a living. Another reason was that he believed he had accomplished all that he had set out to accomplish. He also admitted that he experienced alot of anxiety prior to racing that impacted every aspect of his life. In addition he admitted to being preoccupied with maintaining his unbeaten streak at the 1500 meter and one mile distances. Whatever the reason, I'm thankful Herb Elliott was around no matter how long because he continues to teach and inspire runners from all over the world. Let this video get you psyched for your weekend runs. Stotan Up!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Learning From The Legends,pt.7,Bill Rodgers On Hill Running

Once again,what more can be said about Bill Rodgers? There are so many great things you could write about him but for now, lets just say that he was an incredible marathoner in his time. If you haven't read the post from March 9 of this year entitled, Learning From The Legends,pt.3, I would encourage you to do so because it gives a partial list of Bill's running accomplishments. No American marathoner has run the number of outstanding races at that distance that he has in his career.Besides his excellence in the marathon, Bill was considered to be one of the best downhill runners. What follows is an excerpt from an interview done many years ago where he describes his downhill running technique. It will start by giving his method for running uphill which is,not surprisingly,THE way it should be done. "Going uphill,I try to run at a very steady pace,similar to the pace I run on the flats,my stride shortens some going up and I try to keep my arms moving very symmetrically,very rhythmically. When I run down the hill,I often lift my hands up high for balance and to keep them off my sides. This permits me to expand my chest and take more air into my lungs. I also run with with my hands out in front of me for a short distance,if it's a steep downhill, I may do it for a longer stretch. This is primarily for balance. Going downhill I let the hill take me and I turn it on." As I read this I recall running long races over very hilly courses,usually on trails,where my quads got so beat up after awhile that going downhill hurt alot more than going up.Ah, the good old days. In closing, I would like to say that if you are new to this site or perhaps you haven't noticed, there is an archive section to the right of this page where you can access posts that go back to December 2010. As of this week I believe there are close to 130 articles available. Thanks to everyone for taking the time and stopping by to read Live for the Run.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Sometimes Forgotten Benefit Of Hills by Arthur Lydiard

Over the years I have been amazed at the number of people who appear to be oblivious to the benefits of hill work. I am not just talking about specific hill training workouts here,I'm also referring to any runs you do over a course that has hills. Is there a better way to build leg strength? Let's also not forget that training on the hills help to build character and can humble even the most self-assured runner. Something else, I've seen many an inexperienced flatland warrior lose on a hilly course to a lesser talented trail runner. Where I live there are virtually no real hills,a fairly common situation I'm sure for other runners. The remedy for this is finding a place near you that has stairs.Fortunately, I live in an area where they have outdoor stairs that go up five flights. It's not as good as the real thing but...In the following quote, Arthur Lydiard reveals an often forgotten benefit of hill training: "Hamstring injuries are rife in modern sports, but they could be avoided if the athletes did hill training. It doesn't have to be fast, just enough to make the muscles feel they've been working. Balancing the muscles between the front of the thigh and the back is essential to ensure hamstring problems don't arise. Some athletes seem to be constantly getting over or suffering from these injuries."

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Why I Believe In Fartlek by Percy Cerutty

"Man is an animal. Naturalistically he fluctuates from day to day---his feelings,strength,abilities,desires. Capacities vary from day to day,hour to hour. His strength ebbs and flows. Civilization,the daily routine of school and work,disciplines him, conditions him, and mostly reduces him to an automation,a robot. How futile to add to such a regime to his athleticism. How much better to use his training,conditioning and racing as a means,as it should be, to at least temporarily to remove him from this artificial,and harmful, civilizing mediums that result from normal school and work. In his ordinary life he has little chance to escape from the humdrum,the routine. Why,then, as I say,add his exercise,his athleticism,to the list of compulsions. Athletics should be, and with me is, the prime means to escape from these imprisoning conditions, to exult in our liberty,free movement,capacity to choose. Our training should be a thing of joy, of hard,battling exhaustion and enthusiasm,not a daily grind upon a grinding track,artificially hard and carried out under full circumstances and unaesthetic enviroments as a rule. How much better to run with joy,shear beauty and strength,to race down some declivity,to battle manfully to the top of another. At Portsea we train along paths that are found along the cliff tops,descending at times to beach level,in the midst of of some of the finest scenery in our state.We run for miles on the heavy sand with the great waves crashing and pounding and swirling,at times,to knee depth as we run. Or we run upon the the golf links,or moors,or some speed work,occasionally on the grassed oval in one of the prettiest and most natural amphitheaters,surely,in the world. Here, in this enviroment, over this terrain,the spirit of beauty and high endeavor enters our souls. Seek out your Portseas,train and run as the impulse comes on you. An hour,two hours of training slips away as so many minutes. You become tired,exhaustingly tired, but never unhappy. It is work,but it seems only fun. Exhilarating,satisfying fun." Whew--that about says it all to me as far as what is the essence of Stotan or Cerutty inspired running. Something to especially take note of is written near the end when he says: "Seek out your Portseas..." You can establish your version of Portsea somewhere around where you live. When you do, your running will reach a whole new level in regards to enjoyment and performance.

Friday, July 15, 2011

You Know Running Is Your Life When

I know there are common thoughts and feelings among those who live for the run. Take a few moments and consider the following reflections on running. You Know Running Is Your Life When: 1.How your run or workout went has alot to do with the kind of mood you'll be in for the rest of the day. 2.On a related note, you find yourself obsessing over any twinges or aches experienced during a workout,repeatedly "testing" it to see if it's still there. 3.It still feels good to get a new pair of running shoes. 4. You know there is a silent camaraderie that exists among runners as you pass each other along the way. 5. Shortly after getting up each morning you think about how your legs feel and remind yourself as to what and where your next run will be. 6.You are truly baffled when a long-time running buddy says that he's quit running ,or, that he is planning to take up cycling. 7. You've got a few running shirts that you make a point of wearing to certain workouts and races. 8. You definitely believe that despite getting older, you still think you can hit your times from years ago, it's just gonna take some "tweaking" of your training schedule. 9. You bite your tongue when your significant other tries to console you after a bad race by saying: "Your 61 yrs. old for heavens sake, I think you did pretty good." 10. You feel ageless while out on a long early morning trail run. After,when you are standing around having a drink before heading home, there is this kind of calm, satisfied feeling you have that is impossible to describe to those who don't run. May everyone have a run like that this weekend.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What Out Athleticism Should Be

Sometimes when we commit to achieving certain goals in running there is the possibility of becoming so preoccupied with reaching them our running turns into something it never should,a chore or a job. I've known many runners over the years who became so obsessed with performance that running was no longer an enjoyable activity. Perhaps you have known people that this has happened to. In the following quote Cerutty reminds us what athleticism should be: "Our athleticism must be, and should be, adult play. It is when we make it work---dull,routined,scheduled,treadmill work---that we depart from the natural; the joyous;the exhilarating. Those who slavishly follow the printed schedule,the daily do this coach authority, are little likely to know the joys and pleasures that true athleticism can bring us,young or old." What made Cerutty's teachings so unique and timeless is that he showed that you can achieve success in athletics without making the process rigid,regimented and unnatural. More on what he taught about this coming soon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More Than Records

"One does not have to set world records to feel accomplished. But it is important that you have lived and strived,trained and disciplined yourself as if you had set world records. The setting of the record,or any record,even a personal one----is of no real consequence,except as evidence of something. That something is the knowledge of accomplishment: of power within us: of a job well done."(quote by Percy Cerutty from Athletics: What It Takes To Be A Champion.) There is something to be said about the benefits of setting personal goals in running, even if it is only to achieve a certain time. Doing so can invigorate and give a purpose to your running. It takes focus, committment and discipline on a continuing basis to pursue your goals. You may not win something but there is much satisfaction to be found and a sense of accomplishment in knowing that you stayed the course and made the effort.Cerutty recognized that the qualities needed to train and discipline oneself built character and had a positive impact on all aspects of an athlete's life. I have often wondered if the reason more people don't set goals is because it takes time, discipline,committment and work.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Some Thoughts on Racing: Before,During and After

I went to see a friend compete in a 5k road race recently. As I watched it I got to thinking how little has changed over the years in regards to the way most people approach racing. What follows are some thoughts on things pertaining to the time before, during and after a race.To begin: I overheard a few runners discussing what they had eaten that morning,as if it was an essential part of their pre-race preparation. I tend to go along with what many have found,that at least in the shorter distances, outside of water,juice or some electrolyte type drink,the less in your stomach the better. A good meal the night before a race will work just fine. For those who absolutely must eat something, I've found having a Powerbar with fluids works great. Obviously,if you are running long races, consideration as to what you consume before a race will be different. I also noticed that alot of people do some rather elaborate stretching routines before racing. If this is what you need and it works for you then I say that's what you should continue to do. Personally,I think that the necessity of stretching has been overplayed in recent decades. I believe how much one needs to stretch depends on the individual.The inference in many articles on stretching is that if you don't do it you are just asking for problems down the road.What's worked for many is a little walking around,then some easy jogging followed by a few basic stretches and then finishing with a little more jogging.Another thing, keep the race in its proper perspective. It's a road race, there's one every single weekend somewhere near you so don't allow yourself to get "worked up" about performance and expectations.If you don't hit the time you want then a week later you can go at it again. Stay calm and relaxed before a race. Now the race itself: while I was watching this race I noticed that the majority of people were going out way too fast which has always been the norm at road races. Except for the very fit,you will pay dearly for doing this later in the race. Again,the necessity of staying calm at the start line is essential. Begin the race in control,unless you are one of the "studs" up front,realize that everyone around you will be going out too fast.You have to control your adrenaline and pre-race anxiety. Understand that when you see people charging out ahead of you at the beginning of a race that you'll be seeing them later. There is nothing worse than planning to run 6:30 miles and then cruising through mile one in 5:25. As a runner once told me after I went out way too fast and crashed in the last several miles, "you run using this(pointing to his head) as well as your legs." Also, people tend to lose form during a race as they become tired. It is absolutely necessary to remind yourself to keep your arms and shoulders relaxed. I repeatedly tell myself to "drop" my shoulders and relax as I near the end of a race. We've all seen the runners who are clenching their fists with their shoulders kind of scrunched up as they are in the final part of a race. One last thing in respect to racing,when you are starting to feel spent,this is the time to go to your arms,use them,keep the shoulders relaxed but start moving the arms more, even if it feels a little exaggerated. Too many runners don't recognize the neccessity of using their arms while running, especially during races and when going up hills. A forgotten factor in racing is that runners should be thinking about more than just how much longer it is till they're done.Monitor and evaluate yourself as you go. After the race: walk around a little while drinking lots of water,then do a very easy warm down jog followed by some basic stretches and some more walking.This goes a long way towards preventing day after soreness and stiffness. Now,at this time, I reach for the yogurt which seems to be at every race I've ever been to, then I go to my favorite spot at the road races,the beer tent. Since beer acts more as a diuretic than a fluid replenisher,proper hydration before you hit the tent is essential. Finally,as you are kicking back thinking about the race,consider what you did right and what you did wrong during it, make a mental note to change the things that need to be changed. Appreciate the fact that you can race and have the ability to change.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

One More Comeback

"All I want is just one more comeback.

Not to win races or set new p.r.'s, Nor is it from a desire to impress others. more comeback means returning to the days when running was smooth and easy,

Feeling as if I could go on forever." (The Sage).

The sometimes forgotten aspect of being racing fit is being able to run effortlessly.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Child's Play?

Before I start today's post I want to let readers know that I have been experiencing some minor difficulties with this site. To begin with, I can't access the section that allows me to respond to reader's comments but I hope to have that fixed shortly. Also, for some reason Sunday's article was listed as being published this past Friday(July 1). Some have asked if that was me pictured above the last article entitled,Live Like An Athlete. Yes it was. I was running the Cape Cod Marathon and probably at the time this picture was being taken I was wondering, where did all the hills come from? In retrospect I recall that it was a beautiful course but surprisingly hilly. Somehow I wrongly assumed that since the race was in Cape Cod and near the ocean it would be flat. Today I am going to post a pre-Cross-Country season schedule and then ask a question after.Here goes: Monday: 12 miles at 1/2 effort--32 110's (jog 50 between). Tuesday: 13 miles at 1/4 effort (32 110's). Wednesday: 2 hours Fartlek. Thursday: 13 miles at 1/4 effort. Friday: 11 miles at 3/4 effort. Saturday: 16 miles at 1/4 effort. Sunday: 12 miles of accelerations. You are probably thinking this is a schedule from a major college team like Oregon or Arkansas. No,try the "veterans" training schedule for York High School in Elmhurst,Illinois. This schedule is from Coach Joe Newton's classic book,The Long Green Line. If you recall the May 1, 2011 post I did on Character you read about Joe and the incredible success he's had as Cross-Country coach at York.I would assume that by specifying it's a "veterans" schedule he is referring to his juniors and seniors, guys that have a few years of his kind of training under their legs. From time to time I used to think of that schedule when I thought I was training hard. Articles to follow: Thoughts For Before and After a Race, One Last Comeback.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Live Like An Athlete

As I was writing the post about Van Aaken the other day,I was struck by a statement he made in relation to those seeking running success,he used the phrase: "live like an athlete." That got me thinking about what it means "to live like an athlete." I feel there are two types of runners, the fun runner and the serious runner. As mentioned many times before, your degree of participation and committment to running does not make you any better or lesser of a runner than anyone else. It's a personal decision you've made due to a variety of reasons. So what does it mean to live like an athlete? First off, running is an integral part of your lifestyle when you are an athlete. You plan your days,weekends and months keeping in mind the kind of training or racing you will be doing. I will quickly add that this is not an excuse to neglect family obligations and relationships. Over the years I've seen guys who have left family to go off and train and race here and there, leaving behind loved ones who over time come to be resentful of what they are doing. As one who has done it in the past, you can easily involve family to the point that it becomes a kind of team effort.Living like an athlete means you not only have a training system you follow but you plan for a specific racing season. Serious athletes establish short-term and long-term goals.I'm always perplexed by athletes who say they are "serious" but basically race all year. I remember back in the 90's several Stotans trained specifically for one race,the Virgil Mountain Madness. Everything we did during the year was done while keeping that race in mind. In living like an athlete we are also very careful of being restricted in what we can or can't do because of the materialistic or financial situations WE have created. An example,do you really want that second new car if it means having to work more or taking a second job that results in you having less time for running? For those who think this is extreme let me say this again, tomorrow is guaranteed to no one! Don't think you can wait till........and then you'll........If you are living like an athlete then you are eating and drinking like one. You should eat like someone who respects their body and hopes to live and perform at an optimal level. One of the biggest fallacies that was in vogue years ago, and thankfully seems to be fading away, is that training hard gives you a license to eat and drink as much as you want, and whatever you want. Athletes have their times when they indulge and enjoy themselves but it is definitely not the same as what the "the world" does. Some may wonder why I haven't included keeping a journal as an integral part of being a serious runner. The reason for this is that over the years I've read of many elite athletes who say they never used a journal. To me, keeping a running journal boils down to whether or not you personally see a need for one. My journal is the wall calender I have where I pencil in the mileage and where I ran. Probably one other thing that comes to mind in regards to being an athlete is that we learn and draw our inspiration from the great runners of the past. We seek out books and materials about them. I also can't forget to add that we should be a help and encouragement to other runners,no matter what their level of committment is. In closing I say this, living like an athlete means we are more focused and disciplined than most people but we have such a love of running that it is by no means a sacrifice,it's a joy.

Stotan Training Exercise,pt.1

The following is something we used to do out on the hilly roads that surrounded Chesnut Ridge Park near Buffalo. It was a fun but surprisingly effective training exercise.Here's how it went, during an aerobic run over a course that has hills,when you approach a hill that is ideally 200 yards or longer,run up to the half-way point of the hill, at that time slow to where you are basically jogging in place and do so for about 5 seconds, then, resume running up the hill at your normal pace, do this exercise throughout the run. Why? The action of interrupting your rhythm and utilizing a certain amount of strength to resume running is unsettling. I have found that when racing, particularly on trail courses, there is a great deal of starting and slowing and "changing gears" as you make your way over the varying terrain.This can be potentially draining physically and mentally.This exercise will prepare you for this as well as make you stronger. I recall running up a few hills near the Orchard Park area where the inclines went on for close to a mile, we would do this exercise several times as we made our way up because the hill was so long.If you haven't incorporated hilly courses into your aerobic runs you are missing out on a great way to naturally build strength. Tomorrow's post,Live Like An Athlete.