Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Trojan Horse Syndrome--Two Possible Scenarios

In order to understand the following you need to have read the post from yesterday. What you are about to read is a fictional account of two possible scenarios by someone(Mike Marathon) in response to the concept that running is potentially hazardous to your health.
"Here are possible responses that could occur when someone read the running moderationists latest assumptions. We'll begin by providing a brief background description and then follow with two conceivable reactions. Mike Marathon is a 34 year old runner who resumed serious training about a year ago. Up until that time he had been jogging 5 or 6 times a week for about half an hour. He has experienced a good amount of racing success following a modified Lydiard training schedule. Mike recently told friends he's never felt better. Today however, Mike is in a state of shock after learning that a pea-sized growth on his left testicle will have to be removed surgically. He sits dazed in his living room.
Scenario #1--Mrs.Marathon: Honey,it says in this article in Runners World by Dr.Cooper that running may cause cancers. Mike: I read it......I don't know. Mrs.M: But he's a DOCTOR who's written books on running, he should know! Look here, it says he's the Father of the recent running boon(Editor: yet another "father" of the running boon). You have been running alot. Mike: I love to run, besides, I've only been running 55 miles a week. Mrs. M: Dr.Cooper says here that,that's too much. Mike: Oh boy,I just want to get through this. Mrs. M: If,I mean when this is over you should take Dad up on his offer and start golfing with him at the Country Club. After all,you're 34, you shouldn't be running around like a high schooler! Mike:(long pause) Yeah....maybe I should, everyone at work golfs, they're always telling me I'm crazy to run and that I'll end up like Jim Fixx. Honey, hand me that Dick's Sporting Goods catalogue.
Scenario #2--Mrs Marathon: Honey, I read here in Mike Deebe's running column that he say's Dr. Cooper believes too much running may cause certain cancers. Is that what happened to you? You have been running alot! Mike: Yeah,Yeah, I read that same crap in last month's Runners World. I called Dave of The Stotan News and he referred me to Dr. Colon Towers a cancer surgeon who runs. He told me that testicular cancer is the most common cancer found in males aged 25 to 35. What I got is easily treatable because it was found early,thanks to your weekly checks. Dr Towers also says there is positively no definitive medical research that proves running causes cancer. Actually, findings have shown that eating less and following an aerobic based program prolongs life. Dr Towers believes Dr. Cooper is just using sensationalism to promote his forthcoming book, Run Long,Die Early! Mrs. M: But Honey? Mike: Haven't I told you that you can't believe everything you read? Oh yeah, don't throw out the Runner's World,I need it to line the bottom of kitty's litter pan."
Wasn't it written somewhere, 'You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.' Be very wary of reports and people who say running is a dangerous or unhealthy activity.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

From the Archives,pt.4--The Trojan Horse Syndrome--Betrayal From Within

The following is an article from The Stotan News first published in 1998. The subject is as relevant today as it was when it first came out. Dr. Kenneth Cooper, an early exponent of what some call "jogging", later published a book that warned of the potential dangers of running. Back then, he made the statement that if you ran more than 15 miles a week you were running for reasons other than fitness. It was easy to dismiss those statements for a few reasons; the first being, he's an author, and all authors are hoping to sell as many copies of their book as possible so sensationalism sells.However,when Richard Benyo, ultramarathoner and past editor of Runners World and current editor of Marathon and Beyond agreed with Cooper's bogus assertions by publishing an article to that effect, I had to respond.Here goes: " Just when you thought it was OK to go out and do your weekly 20 miler here comes yet another running moderation scare. This one however is from a most unlikely source. It comes from writer,veteran ultramarathoner Richard Benyo. In the editorial of the May/June issue of his Marathon and Beyond he cites unproven speculation by Dr. Kenneth Cooper that 'Too much exercise could lead to excessive production of free radicals which could in turn open the way for certain cancers and heart disease.' The seven reasons Rich provides are some of the weakest and flimsiest you'll ever read. Briefly they are: 1. Dr. Cooper believes it therefore its got to be true(editor:honest). 2. Benyo spouts his beliefs about evolution and that 'primitive hunting man' had a range of 8 to 10 miles per day from the tribe's center hence running any longer than that is unnatural. Hey Rich, existence of a primitive hunting man is at best pure speculation. 3. All running is not necessarily good running. I thought Rich might have gotten to the point on this but then blows it by saying bad running is mileage. 4. 'No two people are made the same', got that one right! 5. Run too many miles and an overuse injury sets in, rest too little and burnout occurs. So let me guess, do I rest more and listen to my body or run 3 days a week like Jeff Galloway now advocates(Jeff for a time heavily pushed the dangers of mileage,he may still for all I know). 6. Bill Rodgers used to get sick often before a major marathon. He'd have flu-like symptoms. Rich! Rodger's illness was a classic sign of burnout. It's common knowledge he ran 120-150 miles per week with intensity of effort,his illness was the result of this type of training. Training too long and too hard will cause this,Rich finishes this section by saying, 'when you breakdown in training the more susceptible you are to whatever comes along, from flu bugs to cancers.' What? Let me see,from overtraining you'll either get the flu or cancer,how absurd! 7. Benyo names two runners who had run the Western States 100 miler as well as other ultras and had died prematurely in an attempt to justify his running is unhealthy theory. Hey Rich, I've known people who've died in car accidents after drinking alcohol, am I gonna stop driving? That wouldn't make sense,neither does your premise. He almost touches on the real reason but again misses the mark on why (possibly) some runners have encountered cancers,heart problems,and other serious illnesses. To understand what the real reason might be I refer Rich and others to a book written in 1976 by a former runner and medical doctor named Ernst VanAaken. His book the Van Aaken Method describes the consequences,performance-wise and health-wise, of running too hard and too frequently. He says that suppressing the immune system and weakening the runner are just a few of the things that happen. Van Aaken goes on to give a convincing argument in favor of strengthening the athlete by doing large amounts of aerobic runs and then running intervals much below the speed and quanity recommended by today's 'experts'. He gives Harold Norpoth as a prime example of the success of his training system. So Mr. Benyo and Dr.Ken, it's not the running that 'may' cause certain health problems,it's the intense training and racing month in,month out,year after year that may(once again,show me the real medical evidence) cause serious health problems. I mean, isn't it logical,hard interval work and hard racing are very stressful? Racing too many marathons or ultras coupled with hard training is too much,period. We don't realize that because our bodies allow us to abuse them year in and year out we think that it must be OK to do so. Do I need to remind some of you that we are not machines? To Rich Benyo I say this, quit putting misinformation in the minds of unsuspecting readers. You have a responsibility to your readership and with this editorial you have failed them badly. To the illustrious Dr. Kenneth Cooper,first you told us it was good to run,then you reassured us after Jim Fixx's death that running was still a good form of exercise,now you are potentially scaring people off from running. In my opinion it appears you have tapped out things you can say about running, may I suggest another area with the unlimited opportunity to provide conflicting information and advice,have you considered writing a nutrition and diet book?" I remember writing a letter to the editor at M & B totally refuting what Rich had written,I was happy that they chose to print it. I also recall making it a point to not renew my subscription to that magazine. Van Aaken was right,when done correctly, running is an extremely healthy form of exercise,Dr. Cooper and Benyo totally blew it on that one,they should have both known better.I decided to reprint this article because even today you will see certain "experts" warning you of the various "dangers" associated with running. Tomorrow I'll try to inject a little humor on the subject by printing a response by a couple of people who bought into the premise that running is potentially bad for you.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cerutty On The Benefits of Hill Running

Do all of us recognize the many ways in which hill running can make us better runners? It is my belief that for the average runner,if they did nothing but running up hills that varied in length and steepness,as well as aerobic work, they would become fitter than if they just did track and aerobic training.Cerutty mentions the sometimes forgotten benefit of running hills on a regular basis in the following excerpt. Percy writes: "Flat-out hill running,on roads or grass, help more than any other type of training,as they teach the 'habit' part of our mentality to deliver full effort irrespective of pain and fatigue. The more it hurts,the harder we try to run. In time,one of two things will happen to us. We will have developed a 'retreat complex', which means we will avoid very painful efforts,irrespective of our will,or we will become one of the few who can do the super-normal on occasion, which means we have learnt to run through the pain barrier, that barrier that stops so many. We all know that little voice that says, 'postpone your effort to the next lap or mile...He will come back...It is not my Saturday I'll do it.... Is it so important after all...? and many other equally disconcerting whisperings. We all know them. Only a few ever learn to dominate them. The sandhill and hill running are the answer if we are ever to learn." The above brings a few things to mind.First,that "little voice" that Percy mentions,who hasn't heard it and succumbed to it at one time or another? Remember how crappy and angry we felt after we did? Also, what he says regarding hills goes nicely with what Elliott said about the spirit in my post before last. Something else, Cerutty used to teach that we should "thrust against pain" and that "pain is the purifier." There is no question that pain can be a purifier if you enter into the workout with that thought in mind and allow it to do so. In closing, if you have been neglectful of hill work for whatever reason,now is the time to make it an integral part of your training.For those whose fitness may not be where it should be,try incorporating an easy aerobic run over a hilly course for starters.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Runner's Spouses,Friends and Significant Others

It is my continuing desire to provide info and articles that aren't readily available on other sites dedicated to running. With that said I will ask this question, when was the last time you read a post that pertained to what is written in the above title? Ideally, what I am about to write would be most appropriate for those who are young or people who have recently discovered that they too live for the run. I have written in the past that those who are considering committing to another person must make it clear to them from the onset regarding their zeal for running. If this person has a problem with your "passion" then you have two choices,either end the relationship or give up your "passion." The problem with giving up your "passion" for a relationship is that if your significant other doesn't understand your zeal for running, then this might be a "red flag" indicating that this person has a problem with anything you are into and they aren't. If that's the case, then this doesn't bode well for a healthy long-term relationship.

Now lets look at running and relationships from another angle. During the several decades that I have been to races I've seen many runners neglect, use and abuse their spouses,friends and significant others because of their running and racing.Let me give you some examples: Joe likes to go out of town several times a year to run marathons and other races. This usually involves being gone at least Friday,Saturday and Sunday with "the boys" to cities like Boston,N.Y.C.,Charlotte, and Tampa. He spends alot of money in the process and has never taken his running supportive wife to any of them. His idea of a vacation for him and her is to go off-season to Myrtle Beach for 5 days,every September. Then there's Tony, he 5 years out of college and is the local road racing stud. His long-time girlfriend from college is his #1 fan and supporter. Tony has issues,when he doesn't perform up to HIS expectations,which is 65% of the time,he barks at her and is a pain in the ass to be around for the rest of the day. I should add that if he wins it doesn't necessarily mean that he will be in a good mood. The key here is if he performs up to his (Tony's) expectations. When he does have a "good day" he spends most of his post-race time with the other local "heroes" getting his ego stroked while the girlfriend hooks up with another neglected significant other.It doesn't take a Rhodes scholar to see what the problem is with both of these characters,they are among other things,quite selfish.Running is potentially a self-centered endeavor if you don't consider the feelings and needs of others close to you. Sure, you have a right to go here and there to run,but,you must reciprocate by making time for that spouse,friend or significant other. I've known those who are partners of runners who've come to hate the sport because they believe it has become a hindrance to their spending time together. The reality is,is that it's the runner who is the hindrance to the relationship because of his selfishness.As far as guys like Tony? Hey guy, grow-up! Being the local stud at the races doesn't give you license to go off when you don't race well. After all, this isn't like it's a national championship.It's a local road race! And what I say goes to the others who finish back in the pack yet behave after some races like they were the 4th man at the Olympic trials.Getting back to the guys who make it a point to leave their significant other and go off to "exotic" locales with the boys to race I ask this,would it kill you to bring that certain someone along? Take it from a guy who saw the light many years ago,having that partner along as a support and encouragement is no sacrifice,it's a huge plus. Ultimately, it all comes down to this, it's not just about you or me,it's about having consideration and not being selfish.Unfortunately,for too many runners,they never realize that.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Insights on Strength and Spirit By Herb Elliott

Interviewer James O'Brien, while talking with Herb Elliott in regards to the things that Percy Cerutty taught him early in his career, made this comment: "It does seem that you were totally immersed in what you were doing." Elliott responded: "Certainly that was one of Percy's beliefs, that if you immersed yourself in something and wanted it enough,made it part of your total being,then it was inevitable that it would be achieved.One of the things he suggested that I read were yoga books. Yoga(editor: for those who don't know,yoga is much more than just stretching) is based on quieting the appetites and the demands of the body and allowing the strength of spirit to come through. That's very appropriate for athletics,to challenge the weaknesses of your body and develop the inner drive to carry you through the pain and lethargies and all the things that athletes go through. It was a matter of taking total control of the external part,or the unreal part, to enable the real part,or the internal part to dominate." O'Brien had this to say in response to these remarks: "You were addressing philosophical issues that 99% of runners didn't even look at then and probably still don't now." Herb answered with these insightful comments: "Perhaps so. It was a matter of understanding that you're driven by that bit inside you that for a want of a better word we call the spirit, and that the spirit needs to be nurtured and developed and that to do that you need to subjugate your body. And you need peace and you need quiet and you need beauty; all of those sorts of things which enable the spirit to grow. Your strength comes from that. The development of the aerobic power and the muscle efficiency and all that sort of stuff just comes as a by-product. I think that was a slightly different approach.My goal was to subjugate the body and master my weaknesses."
Some look to Jerry Lynch and other mind body,sports psychology types to gain an edge but what Herb Elliott talks about above comes from a voice with the experience and the results that validate what he says. There are athletes who consider only the body in training, some are wise enough to also consider using and developing their minds,but the key is to involve the body,mind and spirit. This however takes a willingness to put in the time and to be able to recognize the immense benefits that can be gained from doing so.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Advice For Novice Marathoners by Arthur Lydiaird

When Arthur Lydiard speaks, everyone should listen, whether they are a novice runner or an experienced one. What follows is from an article he wrote sometime in the 70's. It was geared for the novice marathoner but I found things in it that were relevant for those of us who've been around for awhile. Anyway, sometimes we veterans need to be reminded of the basics. "Eat normal meals during race week. People who have been training thousands of miles have a greater ability to lift their blood-sugar levels than the untrained.You've been hearing alot about carbo-loading these days,take my advice,forget about the carbohydrate-loading and eat your normal meals. Don't overeat on race day. If you have eaten well the week before a race and lightened the training workload,you should not require very much food on the day of the race. If you are racing early, a light breakfast of cereal with some toast and honey,tea or coffee should be sufficient---and the less the better. On race day and the day before,do not eat foods that will form gas in your stomach. Gas can cause pain and cramps throughout the large intestine.

Wear clothing that fits well and that you are sure is comfortable. Many runners suffer discomfort wearing clothing that they have never been used during a marathon.You can run races of 10k or longer and never have problems with your clothing. But clothing can take on a new significance when you're running for up to 3 hours at a time. The wrong type of clothing can cause chafing,irritation and pain. It pays to try out your racing gear for as long a time as you intend to race.

Wear shoes that have been broken in. If you don't you will be heading for disaster.

Lace your shoes well. You shouldn't have to stop and lace them up during a race--still,I see runners doing it all the time.

Put your feet firmly into the backs of your shoes. If you don't do this when putting them on, you can create a small gap at the heel that will allow your foot to move slightly. This can cause blistering when running down hills,and can allow your feet to move forward enough to bruise toenails.

Do not overdo your warm up. Marathons should be run at a consistent pace. You should start at an easy pace well within your ability to go faster. Therefore,it is usually wise to warm up in the first few miles of the race. Wear enough clothing to keep your body warm prior to the start. Stretch a little and jog easily; not more than a few minutes at the most. Save all the energy you can--you'll need it.

Prepare your replenishment drinks for a hot race day. A balanced electrolyte at half strength is usually suggested. Be sure that it contains calcium,magnesium,and potassium to reduce the possibility of cramps.

Take a small drink just before the start. You will soon be perspiring, and this can act as a replacement until the first aid station is reached.However,do not drink too much before the race.

Drink throughout the race and do not wait until you think you need it. Consider the conditions on race day and make allowances. Toward the end of a marathon you cannot possibly replace liquids fast enough for your body's needs. Help yourself in the latter stages of the race by drinking early.Do not lift your knees too high in the beginning of the race. Be aware of your knee lift throughout the marathon; an exaggerated knee lift can tire the leg muscles and cause you to slow down near the end of the race. Keep an economical and relaxed stride throughout.

Control your early pace. Remember that races are usually lost or not completed by going too fast in the first five miles. If you go too fast too early,you'll have to pay for it. Try to save speed for the last five miles.

Sponge down continually on hot days. Keeping the body wet on a hot day is the best way to stop dehydration and the need to drink excessively. Carry a sponge and soak it in water at each aid station.Always jog for at least 30 minutes the day after a marathon.The stiffness resulting from running a marathon can be substantially reduced by an easy run the following day. Running for short periods of time will help your overall recovery."

Much of the above caused me to cringe as I recalled many of my early marathon screw-ups. I wish I had come across this article prior to starting my marathon racing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Something To Keep in Mind

"Without exception,mental fatigue sets in before physical fatigue. Even the greatest of athletes thinks he is tired before his body is really physically tired. Through courage,pace knowledge, and confidence, you can overcome this feeling of being tired and perform much closer to your real capacity." (author unknown). Very insightful and true, this is something that should be considered before every race. Think about it, isn't it our desire when racing to achieve maximum effort and finish with nothing left at the end? The question to ask ourselves is, are we reaching that point, and if not, what do we need to do to get there?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rambling Running Thoughts,pt.1

Some recent rambling thoughts conceived while out on a long easy run.
Shocking!: Still thinking about this one. Dug out a Runners World from July 1979 which covered that year's Boston Marathon.Guess how many Americans ran under 2:20 in that race? Come on, give it a guess. Are you ready for this? I'm asking because I know no one out there will get it right. Thirty-five Americans, yes 35, ran under 2:20. How many Americans finished under 2:20 at Boston this year? Were there 5 runners? I tried to get a number but had trouble obtaining complete results. From what I was able to piece together it may have been 5. What has happened? I have some ideas but that is a subject for another post.
Don't Eat: If you don't do so already try running on an empty stomach as recommended by Van Aaken. It really makes the run seem easier.
Think About This: As far as your commitment to running,you're either into it or your not.
Breakthrough Runs: You've got to love them. These are the runs(workouts) where you realize you've reached your next level of fitness.
The Three D's: Dedication,Discipline and Determination. You must have all three in your quest for excellence in running and life.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

From the Archives,pt.3, Beware the Nouveau Riche Runner

Before reading today's article I would urge you to read my post from this past March 11th entitled,An Old Timer Looks at Today's Racing Scene. In many ways it relates to what you are about to read. The following was written sometime in the mid to late 90's. It profiles a type of runner that was very much a part of the Western New York racing scene at that time. Safe to say he was(is) the antithesis of a Stotan athlete.Perhaps you have runners like this in your area.
Beware the Nouveau Riche Runner
You may have seen this runner before. They are usually,but not always, male and under 30 years of age. They prowl the chat rooms on certain websites,always looking for the key to the magic training formula that will bring results easier and quicker. They dismiss Lydiard as being archaic and think Percy Cerutty was a grade B British actor from the '50's. The Nouveau Riche runner(N.R.R.) was heavily into the Daniel's program but has reached a "sticking point" where his 5k times have gotten slower instead of faster. However,he's convinced that he needs a coach who has a background in exercise physiology because, "they really know your body." The N.R.R. believes he's hardcore because he never reads Runners World,thinks Running Times is the "Bible" of the sport.Oh by the way,he is very seriously considering doing a triathlon.
The Nouveau Riche runner is generally someone who was an excellent runner in high school. He may have run for awhile in college but gave it up for some reason(editor: possibly due to repeated injuries or no longer being the big fish in a small pond). Since college he has emerged as the local hero,kicking some serious butt at the road races in your area. You may have even seen him around. He's the guy wearing the $300. Gortex suit and sporting a singlet and shorts that cost more than your shoes(editor: forget that,his Oakley sunglasses are worth more than your shoes).You may have even spoken to him although he's not a very good listener. He'll talk endlessly about his chronic painful hamstring(editor: caused by too much track work) or next weekend's race. Your casual comments about the Fukuoka marathon are met with puzzlement and indifference. The N.R.R. can only speak of "the Kenyans" when referencing elite runners past and present. His talk of hot tubs,Gold's Gym for twice weekly weight training sessions,$150.running shoes and getting to the track early(editor:10:30am) have your head spinning and looking for a polite way to get out of his presence. As you walk back to your car reaching for that cold drink and thinking about your late afternoon run,the N.R.R. is rushing off to Starbucks hoping to make it home in time for the Final Four Basketball Championships on television.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dave Power on Coaches

Come on now,admit it,when most of you saw the title today you said Dave who? Often forgotten when discussing Percy Cerutty is that he trained many champions besides Herb Elliott. One of those athletes was Australian Dave Power,a bronze medal winner in the 10,000 meter run at the 1960 Rome Olympics.He offers some thought provoking comments on Percy as well as coaches in general.What he has to say about Cerutty is something that all coaches should provide their athletes.
Power had this to say about him: "He was motivational and gave me alot more confidence in myself. Up until then I'd been playing second fiddle to the likes of Al Lawrence and Albie Thomas. Once Percy convinced me I was every bit as good as them,if not better,I started to win races." Offering his opinion on the coaches of today as compared to those of the past Dave remarked:"We had better coaches then you have today, coaches who taught from the heart and experience like Cerutty and Lydiard." The subject of coaches is always an interesting one. For instance, I tend to agree with Tom Osler when he said, "there are just a few good coaches in the world. Coaches are mostly drill masters. There are only a couple of original thinkers out there." Osler then went on to refer to Arthur Lydiard and Bill Bowerman as being great coaches,who among other things, "knew not to hurt their runners." I like what else he said when he provided this interesting insight: "Talented runners will succeed,then the coaches are asked what they did." This thought came to mind as I read that,have you ever noticed that many top American runners are either injured or recovering from an injury and this seems to be an ongoing situation with them? Do you also ever wonder why the focus in regards to that injury is on the runner who got injured, while the coach, who lays out the training schedule, is never mentioned as possibly being responsible for that athlete's injury? But as Osler said,when this runner has success, the coach is always a part of that success and is held in high esteem because of it. Bill Bowerman was very careful about his runners overtraining,that was one of the qualities that made him such a great coach. What many coaches don't realize today is that there is more to being successful at coaching than team victories and winning events and races. There is no question that these things are very important but they don't encompass all the qualites of what makes for a good coach.Minimizing injuries,instilling confidence and taking the time to help a runner reach his full potential,among other things, should be included in the criteria for determining who is an exceptional coach. On a related note, in the archives I posted an article several months back entitled,On Coaching Runners that you may find interesting.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Raw Dogs,Living the Stotan Life,pt.2

The following is part two of a previous article entitled,"Raw Dogs,Living the Stotan Life." Part one was posted last month on September 19,2011. As I mentioned in the previous article a member of the Raw Dogs had called me recently and we talked for quite a while about what has been going on in our respective lives. What he revealed was fascinating,as well as encouraging. Frankie,as he likes to be called,said that in 1999,he and six other members,as well as one wife and two girlfriends,left Dryden and moved out to Boulder,Colorado.Working from notes I took at the time,Frankie recalls: "we figured that was the place to be, it was supposed to be the Mecca for distance athletes. We hooked up a place to stay with the idea that we would get something more permanent after we got more familiar with the area. I'll never forget the first time all of us walked into a section of Boulder a day after we arrived. It was like realizing you had just made the worst mistake of your life. Looking back on it I can laugh but it was anything but funny at the time. For those who haven't been there, Boulder represents the worst aspects of what happened to the hippie movement. There is this pervading preoccupation with the self accompanied by crass commercialism under the guise of being hip or should I say being a hippie?You know what I mean, things like girls in organic cotton peasant dresses that cost at least $15o+, guys wearing $130+ Birkenstocks,16oz coffees going for close to four bills. There was every kind of weird ass religion,guru and philosophy you could imagine,they had as many yoga places as they had bars in Buffalo and you know how many bars there are in Buffalo. The worst part though was that we weren't getting a very friendly vibe from the locals,especially some of the runners. When we went into a couple of the running shops to get ideas on places to run I got the distinct impression that many of these people thought we were just a bunch of rubes (translation by me: hick,bumpkin). Domenic went off on one guy at a shop when the guy suggested that he probably wasn't ready for the kind of terrain he and his buddies ran on. You remember how Dom is,we had to walk him out of the place he was so pissed.There was a fairly brief period where we were all very discouraged. But, what did Cerutty say? These obstacles are part of the process and can be overcome, inevitably making us better people and athletes. So from the first week there we decided to make the most of it while looking for a place that was more suitable for the Stotan life.We soon found the trails and did some great training runs,we got temps jobs, "the professor" hooked up a per diem gig that really helped us get through it all. Two of the girls did the waitress thing,we were in pretty good shape financially. After six months we found a place not too far from Boulder in a town called Pinecliffe. It's about 8 or 9 thousand feet above sea level, we are on three acres of land with a huge house that, to put it kindly, needed repairs. When we first got there the bathroom was a shack in the backyard,how do you think that went over with the girls? But we had the option to buy and buy it we did as soon as we could,once again,thanks in large part to the professor. This area is heaven, we've got access to trails and the Golden Gate State Park and all that surrounds it. We are redoing the house bit by bit because the focus continues to be running and living the Stotan Way.We've developed a garden that goes a long way towards taking care of our food needs,we've even been able to sell some of it. It's all organic,uncertified of course. The beauty is that we pool our money to meet various needs,if someone doesn't make enough cash then there are things in the house and garden to do which cover their lack of funds.There is minimal bitching because we are all working towards the same thing and the option is always there that you can leave. The beauty is that we don't view things the way "the world" does,we are not hung up on having lots of stuff. Among other things, we want to achieve physical excellence in the way Cerutty taught,some of the guys have done Pikes Peak,others have run Western States as well as various mountain and trails races.We all have specific running goals and we are all working together to achieve them. Two more of the old gang want to move out here but we have to put up some kind of additional housing,temporary or permanent, or we'll all be living like rats in a box. Of course we continue to work on the The Stotan Manual: A Guide To Stotan Training and Living. It's now at 500 pages but almost done except for revisions on certain sections.Think about it,we've been working on it for 8 years,8 years! The professor is contacting various publishers with little success so far. A rejection notice feels like we've accomplished something,at least they've gotten back to us. The question I keep asking the professor is, do you really think that publishers like Human Kinetics or Rodale Books are going to publish such a book? We keep telling him to contact the smaller indie publishers but..... As far as the name Raw Dogs,we've dropped that and gone back to calling ourselves what we are,The Stotans." In closing I asked Frankie what the families of the members thought of what they have done and the way they are living, he said: "some thought we had lost our minds but a few of them didn't think that way after they came out for a visit. I mean think about it,what are the alternatives? Become a breadhead,buy lots of things like cars and toys,live in a house you can't honestly afford while telling yourself over multiple alcoholic beverages that this is the life? All this while watching your body deteriorate because you made the wrong choices your priorities? I don't think so! That's a lot of what we get into in The Stotan Manual. People have to realize that there is a better way and Percy Cerutty revealed the way a long,long time ago. Because of the way the world is today,his message is more relevant in these times than it was back then." You've got that right Frankie.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Manfred Steffny: Regarding the Marathoner

As we are now into the fall marathon season, what follows is a description by German marathoner and author Manfred Steffny into what the sometimes forgotten benefits of being a marathon runner are,or for some,should be.Too often the mental,physical and spiritual benefits of our training are overlooked due to our preoccupation with achieving excellence.Steffney writes:
"Civilization,hand-in-hand with its readily available poisons, is robbing man of innumerable physical perceptions: of the sensation and internal feelings through limbs and organs. Nowadays we are aware of our insides only when they begin to hurt yet the body is man's greatest resource. The marathoner has his body well under control. This gives him a decided advantage in his life. He knows how much he can do physically, and in many ways he's able to transfer his athletic abilities into the occupational or private sphere. He becomes skeptical about blind acceptance of the automation of our lives and he is wide awake to assaults on the enviroment. The marathoner is aware that his car can take him quickly into beautiful running country,but he also knows that the auto is the reason he doesn't like to run around his own block.
The marathon runner counts his capital not in houses and cars,but in the reserves of his own body. Rising health care costs tell even the man who's nailed fast to the dollar that he is wisest to let overtime and penny-pinching go in favor of investing a few hours in his body."
The above,written in 1977, reaffirms many of the truths taught by Percy Cerutty. For those of us who live for the run, we should never forget them.
Tomorrow's post will be an update and conclusion to the Raw Dogs article written last month.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Training Diary

The following gives some convincing reasons why runners should keep a training diary if they truly want to race well. Personally, over the years I have kept a very sparse running log. To be honest, the reason for my not keeping a proper diary can be attributed to laziness. The excerpt you are about to read is from a booklet written in 1967 entitled,Olympia Cross Country Clinic Notes, no author is given.
"One of the reasons why men stop running is that they lose their belief in future development. Without a training diary,a runner cannot see the pattern of training that preceded his own best performances and his own best seasons. Nor can he see the differences that led to poor performances and poor seasons.The diary keeps track of the quality and quantity of training and allows one to plan on which of these should be emphasized depending on event and time to train. Evaluations,predictions,comparisons, and future planning can be made with greater accuracy and reliability as a result of information accurately recorded in a diary. The benefits available are well worth the relatively small effort involved in the daily upkeep of a diary."
Another reason people stop running is because of repeated injuries. A running log or diary has the potential to help us avoid injuries and poor performances.

Monday, October 3, 2011

More From Dr. Sheehan: Rise To the Challenge

Dr. Sheehan reminds us that ultimately our view of success is a personal thing, unique to each individual. Too many have lived unhappy lives because they attempted to achieve a type of success that was determined by others,not themselves'. The following quote can also apply to those who feel your passion for the run is excessive and inappropriate.
"Live your own life. Success is not something that can be measured or worn on a watch or hung on the wall. It is not the esteem of colleagues,or the admiration of the community or the appreciation of others. Success is the certain knowledge that you have become yourself,the person you were meant to be from all time."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Man Who Thinks He Can

As we approach the fall racing season most runners will reflect on the months of preparation done prior and consider their readiness for "the big race." As has been addressed so many times on this blog,one's mental and emotional state will go a long way towards determining if a runner will achieve their goal(s). There are certain moments during a race when fatigue or pain can raise doubt in our ability to reach those goals. Football coach Vince Lombardi uttered this famous quote that probably most of us have heard before but is worth repeating: "fatigue makes cowards of us all." If that isn't a quote applicable to running and racing I don't know what is. So,if we've done the preparation for THE race and the weather is not a factor, then what else do you think could potentially sabotage your race? You guessed it, it's your head,your mind,the way you think.The following by Walter Wintle may seem simplistic to some but it brings up truths that need to be considered before a race which you have spent countless hours preparing for.
The Man Who Thinks He Can
"If you think you are beaten,you are;
If you think you dare not,you don't;
If you want to win but you think you can't,
It's almost a cinch you won't.
For in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow's will,
It's all in the state of mind.
For many race a race is lost
Ere even a step is run,
And many a coward fails;
Think big and your deeds will grow,
Think small and you'll fall behind;
Think that you can and you will---
It's all in in the state of mind.
If you think you're outclassed,you are,
You've got to think high to rise,
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win the prize.
Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins,
Is the fellow who thinks he can."

A key line in the above is,"life's battles don't always go to the stronger or faster man." I've seen many a time when the faster athlete on paper didn't have the proper mindset to win the race. Don't ever underestimate the power of your mind,next post tomorrow.