Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Pioneer of Long Distance Training Speaks

How many out there know who Tom Osler is? Tom is probably best known for his book, Serious Runner's Handbook. Anyone who loves running should own it. However, his self-published book written in 1967, The Conditioning of Distance Runners,introduced to the masses the necessity of aerobic mileage and proper peaking in order to be ready to race your best.In 2009, after 47 years of running an estimated 88,000 miles and 1,540 races, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Osler has put in the time and paid the dues. With a mile p.r. of 4:54 he proved that "miles make champions" as Arthur Lydiard used to say. I say this because when he upped his mileage to 70-75 miles a week, he found success beating runners with much faster mile times while winning a variety of marathons and ultras including the National 50k Championship.What follows are a few insights from Tom that I'm sure you will find helpful. Asked what he would change in his first book Osler said: "I once recommended training on roads,now I'd recommend running on soft,natural surfaces like grass or trails." Amen to that,grass and trails for training are the key to a long running career and minimizing the chances of injury. When asked what was the most common training mistake he responded by saying:"It is easy to ignore the early,mild signs of overtraining and train hard after a bad race. This can push the runner into a slumping spiral,and even cause an injury." Osler had this to say regarding what he liked about racing: "I enjoy that moment in the race when you must use willpower to overrule the body." What does he enjoy most about running? "Running offers both pleasure and pain. There is nothing like the purification of the soul through running.Running helps you connect with what is important in your soul." Well said Tom!

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