Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Few Thoughts on Training Methods

Go to any running forum and you will see that one of the most common topics discussed deals with training systems. Questions about them, as well as debates as to which one is best, are usually the focus of the discussions. The following is by an unknown author and brings up some points to consider as it relates to the training system you choose.The author begins by cautioning runners not to assume that the training methods that give the quickest or best results for other runners will be the best for you. "Only the good results of a method become public and often a runner succeeds, in spite of, rather than because of the way he trains. Failures of a system and comparisons with other systems aren't easy to see. It appears too that the methods which work best on a short-term basis aren't always the best over the long haul. Tom Osler wrote: 'It is ironic that those techniques which produce the quickest improvement over a period of a few months do not result in the greatest possible improvement when continued for several years. This is because their effects are short-lived and do not necessarily result in significant gain in conditioning of the body'." Osler knows conditioning like few others do. It only takes a read of his Serious Runner's Handbook or The Conditioning of Long Distance Runners to realize this. You need time to build and strengthen a distance runner's body. I believe Lydiard once wrote that it takes seven years of continuous training to reap the optimal benefits of his system. However,the process of getting there is a labor of love for those who live for the run.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Before Committing,Consider This

I spoke with a runner who was very disappointed by his time at a recent marathon,he had expected to race much better than he did that day.The weather was ideal,he ran the first 13 miles as planned but as he said,"things just sort of slowly came apart." This runner at one time had,had hopes of qualifying for the Olympic marathon trials." I felt bad for him when he said, "I don't know what's going on with my running." Hearing this I couldn't help but think of something Cerutty had written that applies to runners like him and others who express a desire for success in this great sport. Cerutty wrote: "It therefore behooves every would-be successful person to sit down quietly and examine,not only themselves as to ability,but as to their ambition,whether it is a new enthusiasm,an idea entertained as an escape from studies,work or some duty,and, the reasonable probability of success. In a word,do they really want it!" I wonder how many runners who say they want to put in the time and effort to race well ever consider the things Cerutty writes above? This also goes for my friend and runners like him,there comes a moment when some should re-examine whether they still really want what they say, or are they just going through the motions?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ron Daws On Improving Your Training

Ron Daws was a remarkable runner,writer and person. For those who haven't read my entry from this past January 9th, I would encourage you to do so. Ron knew training, and as I said before, his times prior to running the Olympic trials gave no indication that he would eventually race in the 1968 Olympic marathon. His book,The Self-Made Olympian, is a must have for any distance runner who aspires to run well.It is vastly superior to any other bio/training book written in the last 30 years.Ron had this to say about those who desired to race well: "When runners understand what kinds of physiological and psychological changes they should be trying to induce, they will be able to organize and balance their methods. This will enable each runner to get the most of their efforts according to his goals and talents." You may recognize that the above is similar to statements made previously by Arthur Lydiard and Percy Cerutty. The beauty of his book, The Self-Made Olympian, was that you read how Ron took total control and responsibility for every aspect of his training and race preparation,from customizing his shoes to preparing for potentially different types of weather.This took time and effort but for Ron it was a labour of love combined with a focused determination.
Ron offers the following as Five Ways To Improve Training"
"1. Use wasted time for training. Thirty minutes regained a day for training is 30 miles a week...It can make the difference between finishing in the middle of the pack or front." When I read this it makes me think of the benefits of fitting in an easy morning jog several days a week,even if it's only 20 minutes.
"2. Innovate to sidestep setbacks." Ron then gives an example that if you can't get to the hills for resistance work then improvise by doing stairs,running into the wind or in sand,water or snow.
"3.Persist through setbacks and mistakes." Try not to make the same mistake twice, be aware and attuned to what you are doing.Persistence is the key.Most people give up,don't be one of those people.
"4.Stick to your schedule. After you have blocked out your training,stay with it unless something is wrong." Daws also advises us not to go prematurely into another phase of training. Things I've noted relating to what he says are guys who race when they are still in the training phase,or my favorite, at the 16 mile mark of your weekly easy 20 miler, Joe Stud decides to run the last 4 miles at 5:30 and then actually brags about doing so when he meets up with you later, apparently not realizing that he's sabotaged the whole purpose of the run.
"5.Don't be intimidated by the odds. To hell with the odds. Caution never did big things. Go for the big ones at some point in your life."
Distance running really needs a guy like Ron Daws around today.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thoughts On Competition By Percy Cerutty

Percy offers some unusual yet helpful insights into competition. He had the following to say in regards to racing and the racing season: "The athlete should be aroused simply by the idea of competition,this should be enough to make him emotionally ready,and draw on what has been developed through practice. This arousal can be hampered by worry about the race or the competition,lack of interest or staleness. These are the enemies of good racing. An athlete can put in months of grueling,exacting workouts and then be defeated by them in a race situation. Elliott was immune to them, but most runners have a harder time of it. When the serious racing season is underway,races take priority. Training should be limited as much as possible,usually to no more than a little sharpening work on grass. The runner has to save his best efforts for the race. Many waste them in time trials and workouts. If the runner has trained properly and is 'mentally tough,' the race should be run as fast as possible. Since the runners physical condition doesn't change very significantly in the space of a week or two, if the runner is doing his best, his racing times should not fluctuate much from race to race. They should be progressively faster." I think of two things when I read the above,first is his saying, "The runner has to save his best efforts for the race. Many waste them in time trials and workouts." As some say,many runners leave their race on the practice field by continuing to hammer in workouts during racing season. As I wrote previously,the reason runners do this is either because of ignorance as to proper training or anxiety as it relates to the upcoming race(s). Secondly,if you have planned your training correctly, you should become progressively faster during racing season. As a running sage once told me,you use your head as well as your legs in training.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gauging Your Love For Running

With Thanksgiving almost upon us here in the States the following came to mind during the last few runs. It is by no means the definitive indicator for everyone as to whether or not they love running. However, I believe there is a lot of truth in what you are about to read and if you go along with what it says, then it wouldn't be an exaggeration to assume you have a real love for the purest of all sports,distance running.In no particular order.....
1.This is strictly a hypothetical consideration: Although you would love the acclaim and success,you would not take a 10 year career of national championships that concluded with no further running of any kind OVER a lifelong ability to run. You like to compete but the prime motivation to run is your consuming love of the sport and the feeling you get while taking part in it.
2.You don't need to be with others to enjoy running. Sure, you enjoy the social aspects of running with friends on those easy Sunday 20 milers,but,you can enjoy it just as much running alone. I have known lots of runners over the years who've had a difficult time getting out there for any kind of running without having someone along with them.
3.You run without using an Ipod and earphones, you don't need them, in fact,you look forward to the quiet of a run. The reality of #'s 2 and 3 is that,to you, running is never boring.
4. You don't need to examine your shoes to know when it about time to get a new pair. Maybe this one means you've just been running for a long time but I thought I'd put it in anyway.Perhaps this exemplifies your preoccupation with running.
5.When you wake in the morning you already know where, when and what kind of run you'll be doing that day. With a holiday or special occasion coming up you make it a point to schedule a run ahead of time to fit in with the festivities.
6.As you get older you continue to run(and race) despite diminishing speed and performance. I know runners who have quit after reaching a certain age and their per mile average slowed. I agree with the great Jack Foster when he said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "I don't feel as if I'm running any slower as long as I don't look at my watch." If you love to run,what's the difference between running 6 minutes or 9 minutes per mile?
7.You continue to run despite others telling you,you should quit. You've just had your third meniscus surgery and the Doctor,your wife and friends tell you it's time to hang it up. This is not even a consideration because you know that it was a simple reparative surgery, it wasn't like you had a knee replacement or anything.The bottom line, a life without running is something you don't even like to think about.
8.This is kind of related to #7, you've tried other forms of physical exercise but none give you the feeling or enjoyment like the one you get while running.
Forget the turkey,be thankful you're running and have a great run tomorrow!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

From the Archives,pt.6, Big Race Preparation:Quieting the Beast Within

An all too common occurrence among runners is when weeks or months of preparation for a "big" race end in a poor performance on race day. Too often this is the result of letting our fears and anxieties take control. Quite frequently, runners attempt to deal with these feelings by training hard practically up to the day of the race and not using their heads once the race starts.
Studies have shown that if a reasonably fit runner does not run for a week he'll lose only 5% of his overall fitness.However,this percentage increases dramatically if he goes into a second and third week of not training. So I ask, what can you do in terms of training in that final week to improve your performance? I say not much. What can you do in this same final week to ruin your race? A whole lot! I at one time had naively believed that not backing off before a big race was something that only novice runners did, I've come to find that this is also quite common among experienced runners who you think would know better.
You may be thinking,"OK I need to rest before a big race." Yes that's true, but, there's more to it than just easing up or resting, it's about having our mind in control of every aspect of our being.It's about putting our body into subjection. As Cerutty said: "Total subjection of the body by the mind is a necessity for the athlete who wants to reach his potential."
How well I recall days past as a coach of going on 6 hour van trips the day before a cross-country meet. Arriving tired and stiff,many of the runners had an almost frantic compulsion to get to the motel,change and go out for an easy half-hour run.Those who opted to take the head coach's suggestion of going to an area mall and walking around for awhile were looked upon as wimps.Thinking back on it,was anything really gained from that half-hour run? Outside of temporarily subduing an anxious mind,nothing was accomplished. It would have been better for them to relax and walk around with their teammates, getting the muscles stretched out while enjoying themselves. There would be plenty of time the next morning to focus on the race.I have found one thing about the fears and anxieties that may be a part of our racing life, and that is if you don't get control of them, they will always reappear.
Some other examples of fear and anxiety run amuck: how 'bout the pre-race warm-up? How often have you heard runners say, "I feel terrible." You've probably said it yourself at some time. Then,after starting the race, when you're a quarter mile or so into it, you're thinking something like,"Boy do I feel crappy." From this point on you become open for any sign that will reinforce these negative thoughts. The good news is that you can overcome the fears and anxieties connected with racing but it takes time and is an ongoing process. To accomplish this I strongly recommend having a list that you bring out a week before each race.What follows are some physical and psychological guides that comprise this list. By the way, I'm referring to races from 1,500 to 10,000 meters here. A 30k,marathon or longer distance requires a specific physical tapering schedule. Obviously, the "mental" aspects of this list are applicable to any distance.Ladies and Gentlemen,The List:
1. Tell yourself,I've done the work,I've put in months of hard training,now it's time to rest and allow my body to be totally prepared to race. As an aside,this may come as a surprise to some but our bodies are not machines that can be worked hard day in and day out. Rest is a necessity,it is one of the three vital components to race preparation along with training and nutrition.Neglect one of the three and it will negatively affect performance. A sample race week tapering schedule might look something like this:
Monday: a moderately hard workout,some type of fartlek comes to mind.
Tuesday: an easy jog.
Wednesday: an optional day off or light fartlek run,emphasis on light here.
Thursday: a short jog
Friday: an optional day off or easy jog in the morning.
Note: Distances,intensity,and duration of even your easy runs are lessened race week.
2. Expect to get antsy race week. You're not doing as much this week as you have in past weeks and months,so it's only natural that you are going to get restless. Expect it and deal with it,but don't do so by training "as usual."
3. It's a race. Keep things in proper perspective. For most,this won't be the Olympic trials,your legacy as a runner does not hinge on this race. You'll be running many,many more. It's better to be blase about a race than to arrive at the start in a panicked state. Remind yourself that most everyone in the race is feeling nervous and anxious,but,unlike you,they don't have these feelings under control.
4.At the start,Stay Calm! As the race begins remind yourself to run your race.Ninety percent of most road races are made up of runners who start out like "frightened hares"(rabbits) as Percy used to say.For most, that first mile is run way too fast,don't get suckered into going out with them.In the beginning you must control the adrenaline and excitement. Remember,your mind is controlling things,not your body. If you do find that you are suffering a little as a result of going out too fast too soon,drop your pace down,concentrate on staying relaxed,breathe deeply and tell yourself you'll recover. The well-conditioned athlete will recover and be able to resume his pace.
Let these four points be the start of your list. Add other things you may need to remember. Don't be like so many others who,race after race,year after year,make the same mistakes and wonder why they don't get the results that correspond to the training and effort put forth. Serious runners deserve better.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

George Young on Speedwork

OK,here we go again,who out there remembers George Young? For those who don't recall this great runner I'll give you a little background. He competed in 4 Olympics from 1960 to 1972 where he participated in a total of 3 different events. In the 1968 Games he won a bronze medal in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and placed 16th in the marathon. George at age 34 became the oldest man,at that time,to run a sub 4 minute mile. Blunt and outspoken,I'll have more from him in the not too distant future. The following is for the runners I call seasoned,or experienced, ones who are seeking ways of doing speedwork without getting on a track. The advice given below is not,in my opinion,intended for a runner who isn't fit.It's for the runners who've been around for awhile and always seem to be just a little ways away from achieving what I call optimal fitness. George had this to say: "There's no better way to get in speedwork than by running a race. You talk of speedwork in terms of repeat quarter miles and all those other things,but you don't get the speedwork there that you gain in a race. You just never really reach the pain barrier,or whatever you call it,in any other way than running the race and hurting that way." Young really makes a good point when he speaks about the pain barrier in a practice as compared to a race setting.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Something To Keep in Mind As You Plan Your Training

As we plan our training it is important to keep a few things in mind. The great Bill Bowerman articulates so well what we need to do as we formulate the plan and set our running goals. He says: "I think a person can make the most of his running experience if he is enjoying it,if he has a plan,if his objectives are realistic and if he carries on over an extended period of time. If he becomes tired of running,he should lay off for awhile. If he's still tired of it after that,maybe he ought to look for another activity."
It's a sad thing when an athlete follows a training schedule that takes all the joy out of running. I'm sure most of us at one time or another have experienced this. Hopefully,with time, we come to realize that we can have it both ways, achieve optimal fitness without losing our enjoyment of the sport.Also,too many people sabotage their running by not making changes to their training despite being repeatedly injured.Be realistic in your planning, by doing so can break the cycle of setting goals that you either give up on or don't come close to achieving.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dr. George Sheehan On Training,In Case You've Forgotten

Dr.George Sheehan,runner,writer,physician and philosopher, is one of those people who has become a part of what some call the fabric or framework of modern distance running. Besides providing practical advice as a physician and runner,his reflections and insights on running are thought provoking. What he has to say below may be familiar to most of you but the question to ask as you read the following is,when was the last time you considered what he's saying here? "Over the years I have come to believe in two rules about training. The first: it is better to be undertrained than overtrained. The second: if things are going badly I am undoubtedly overtrained and need less work rather than more. This is in line with Bill Bowerman's belief that a bad race almost always indicates too much work. Most runners and coaches,of course, take the opposite view. For them a bad race is an indication to double the training rather than cut it in half. We must remember that your body is always trying to tell you where you are. Listen to it. For instance, beware when you become tired and listless,when you lose interest in workouts and approach them as a chore rather than a pleasure." So much of our inability to ease up on our training is rooted in a fear or anxiety that we will go backwards instead of forward in our conditioning. Months of work cannot be lost because of a temporary reduction in training.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What a Coach Should Look For In An Athlete

So, you've taken a job as the running coach for a track team,or perhaps you will be coaching a cross-country squad,then again, maybe someone has approached you in hopes of having you coach them.Coaching requires a commitment of time,effort and energy. However,the rewards gained from coaching can be well worth the time,effort,and energy you put into it. I know it has been for me. Lydiard once wrote about the criteria he looked for in an athlete he was going to coach. I would agree with the attributes he listed but would add a few of my own to his list. He began by saying he looked for sincerity.That would seem to complement some of the other things Arthur mentioned, such as being ambitious and determined, as well as having pride in themselves.Lydiard did mention one other quality that is essential for a prospective athlete to have and that is coachability, a willingness to follow the program you prescribe for them. I have worked with certain runners,invariably older ones,who did not seem to have the confidence to follow a particular program for the period of time needed to see it to fruition. They interpreted every poor workout or performance as evidence that your program was not working. Or worse yet,they wanted to pick and choose from other coaching regimens they had heard or read about. The red flag with these athletes is when they casually reveal the number of programs or coaches they've gone through in the last 3 years. Coachable, they're not. One characteristic that Lydiard did not list and THE quality I look for is a love and enthusiasm for running. This is just my opinion but I will take a less talented runner who has a love for the sport over one that isn't coachable or one who participates primarily because he does well at it. The beauty of distance running is that you can produce quality runners, even among those who may not be naturally talented, if they possess the qualities listed above. That is one of the things that makes this sport so great.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Being a Coach Is More Than Just Training An Athlete

The following represents some well-intentioned opinions I have in regards to coaching. Over the last several days I have given consideration to what the responsibilities of a coach are, and should be. The situation at Penn State has caused me to consider this as well my recently observing the behavior of a coach of a local soccer team. When I think of the ideal coach,people like Arthur Lydiard and John Wooden readily come to mind. Both of these men conducted themselves in a way that earned the respect of athletes and coaches alike. I recall reading recently that Lydiard believed that it was of the utmost importance for a coach to be honest. John Wooden believed that developing good character in his players was as important as achieving success in basketball. Character as you may know, refers to moral strength and integrity. It's a huge understatement to say the athlete lives in a vastly different society then the one that existed 45 years ago.In recent decades records and performances in several sports have been tainted by drug use and athletes have been more frequently apt to get into trouble then they once did. Would it be a stretch to assume that good character is not as prevalent in our athletes as it once was? I don't think it would be. I believe this is due in part to a few things. In society, I have observed the cultivation of a me first,gotta do what's right for me mindset. Not surprisingly,it has found it's way into the sporting world. You see it in the ads that promote the win at all costs attitude where you read things like, 'you may have finished in second place but it still means you are a loser.' Of course money plays a major factor in problems that develop in pro sports,major college teams,the Olympics and top level running of all distances, from the 100 meter run to the marathon. Personal integrity has often been compromised and sacrificed in an effort to achieve success.One last factor that I will mention that has had a profound effect on the development of character among our youth has been the huge increase in the number of broken and dysfunctional families, as well as the children that have been effected by the alcohol and drug abuse of their parents. I don't make this statement as a casual observer but as someone who spent 8 years working at a child and adolescent psychiatric hospital.The overwhelming majority of kids who found their way into the hospital were in there due to bad parenting.
So what does coaching have to do with all this? I say plenty. Coaches should be role models for good character and behavior. Let me recount some examples I've witnessed of coaches behaving badly. I saw a soccer coach recently tell his 10 to 12 year old players that a player for the opposing team was a cheater. The motivation for his saying this was that he disputed some of the calls that this athlete was involved in. His assertions were baseless and it was totally inappropriate that he expressed his feelings in front of these kids. All I could think was,what kind of example was he setting,not only for this match but for the whole season? Another one,how 'bout the male coach for a girl's college x-country or track team who views his team as his personal dating service? I've seen that occur before and there is no way it can be justified as being appropriate conduct by a coach.We now look at the Penn State fiasco and we see troubling behavior in two areas. One concerns the head coach who was told of the abuse and reported it to his Athletic Director and later claimed he did all he thought he needed to do. He said this despite the fact that after his report the perpetrator was still on campus. What kind of character is this coach exhibiting here? Was he more concerned with maintaining the status quo and a multi-million dollar football enterprise then protecting the welfare of children? A child sex offender was still around and he was OK with that? The other concern relates to the reaction by the students and faculty at Penn State as well as some in the media who defended the coach by saying he did enough and should never have been fired. I can't find the words to describe how ignorant that kind of thinking is.
Yes, coaches must be role models for good character and behavior. Whether they like it or not,they occupy,especially among the younger ones, a special position in the lives of their athletes they oversee that is in many ways parental. What coaches say and teach, as well as how they act, is observed and often copied and emulated by their athletes. Honesty,sportsmanship,discipline,dedication to a goal,and courtesy are attributes that a coach must not only exhibit but instill in those who are under his care.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Miss the Time

Those of you who have been around for awhile understand that the running scene has changed alot in the last several decades. I got to thinking about this the other day and came up with a "I Miss the Time" list. Those of you who are 30 years old and younger may not realize what the running scene was like back then but perhaps the following will give you an idea. It was a unique and exciting time. In no particular order of importance,here goes.
I miss when the age-group qualifying times for the Boston Marathon were actually difficult to attain. You had to work hard to reach those times,if you did at all. If you don't know what they were, Google, "the Boston Marathon qualifying times as they existed in the 70's" and you'll see what I mean.
I miss the era when you could race at the major U.S. marathons and there would be less than 10,000 entrants.The key word here is 'major' U.S. marathons. I really am amazed how people can go to places like New York and Boston where there are 20,000 plus entrants with wall to wall people before and after the race,where if you are not careful,you'll spend an inordinate amount of time searching for family members and friends. Does anyone actually enjoy walking or slow jogging for 5,10 or 15 minutes before you actually get to the starting line?
I miss the days when American runners were in the top 10 of the 'world' rankings for distances ranging from the 5k through the marathon. On a related note, read the next entry.
I miss the time when U.S. runners regularly finished in the top 10 of the major road races and marathons around the world.These guys and girls became our running heroes,we read their interviews and studied how they lived and trained.
I miss the time when the running scene had charismatic athletes like Slaney,Salazar,Prefontaine,Benoit,Shorter, and Rodgers. There were more but these are a few who readily come to mind.
I miss the time when entry fees for races were anywhere from 7 to 15 dollars. Now, I understand that this is the 21st century and all, and the $25 and up fees are for the charitable cause that is sponsoring the race, but....
I miss the time when the running mags were really good. When they were geared towards doing mileage and getting as fast as you possibly could. Running Times was an especially great magazine back then. They focused on race results from around the country as well as having a section recognizing outstanding performances in various age groups. For example,you could get a short report on a race that Bill Rodgers ran somewhere in New Hampshire with top ten results in the different age groups.The few articles they carried were outstanding. Runner's World? In the 70's and first few years of the 80's they were the go to source for running info,they had the experts and the people in the know writing and working for them. Let me quickly add this,I am not criticizing the way these two mags are today because to stay in business you have to be in the 'black' to survive. American Runner and Marathoning were great magazines but they failed because they couldn't get the numbers to stay viable.
I miss affordable running shoes. Personally, I see very little difference in the quality of running shoes today as compared to the ones in the later 70's, especially when compared with the lighter,minimalist shoes(I'm not talking about the Vibram Fingers here). I'm still replacing my shoes as often as I used to but now I'm paying much more.
I miss the great running books,especially the bios. Bill Rodgers,Ron Daws,Herb Elliott,Derek Clayton,George Young,Tom Jordan's Pre bio,as well as training books by Lydiard,Bowerman and Cerutty were a few of the classics that were published. Also,the training books back then were geared towards performance not just finishing like the ones you see dominating the bookshelves these days.
In closing, it was a unique era. However, as nice as it was,and as nice as it would be to have it still around,ultimately,and thankfully,the beauty of running is in the actual participating,the going out and just running.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Listening To Jack

This past January 26th I dedicated an article to the late Jack LaLanne who I described as a modern day Cerutty. If you haven't read it you can access it by going to the Archive section that is to the right side of this page.The picture that accompanies the article is simply incredible,it's of him doing fingertip push-ups with his arms extending out in front of him,at the age of 85! Jack was totally committed to personal fitness as well encouraging others to recognize the benefits of working out and eating right. He "walked the talk" as they say. What follows are some things he said that all of us can learn from and be inspired by.When asked if at the age of 84 he still worked out 7 days a week he responded: "Absolutely,see I'm one of these guys who don't want to take a step backward. I either want to hold on to what I have or improve a little bit. My workouts are part of who I am." I think most of us can relate to that last statement. Commenting on training Jack said this: :"Fitness starts between your ears(editor: where have you heard that before?). You have to figure out what you want and then go ahead and do it. Your body is your slave. We must learn to control the bestial and sensual sides of ourselves." A few thoughts on these remarks: many times people who say they desire running success are a bit hazy as to exactly what kind of running success they want outside of the generic,"I just wanna race well." If you really want success you have to be much more specific then that or chances are you will simply continue on by just sort of going through the motions. Jack was big on the quote, "As a man thinketh in his heart,so is he." If you really want it, then commit,totally! Finally,"controlling the bestial and sensual sides of ourselves" has become less common in this day and age,even among athletes. It is a qualitywe must have to not only achieve success but to become better people.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

From the Archives,pt.5, Sport's New Fundamentalists

It's interesting how every sport has its fundamentals for learning and training. These fundamentals are basic to their respective sports and have been for ages. In running and other sports like weightlifting, stress is added to workouts progressively as the athlete becomes fitter. In sports such as basketball,baseball and football, how you throw,hit,catch and shoot has remained the same for decades.These fundamentals have not changed because they take into account the basics of anatomy and physiology. What follows was written sometime in the early '90's and inspired by some of the people of that time who believed they had a new and better way to train distance runners. The name of the author mentioned in the article you are about to read was changed around yet may still be familiar to some despite the change.
Sport's New Fundamentalists
" So you thought running was the only sport where advocates of new training systems and techniques existed? Wrong! Combing through coaching journals I found what I call the new fundamentalists existing in America's most popular sports,basketball,baseball and football. This month we'll profile a gentleman whose revolutionary approach to basketball is changing the sport as we know it.
Dr. Andy Owenson M.S.,P.H.D. is heralding a new way of dribbling the basketball, and that is by using both hands. Dr. Owenson believes the time for players from grade school to the pro ranks to adopt his technique is now. He says: 'studies have shown that utilizing just one arm in dribbling creates unnecessary wear and tear on the player's rotator cuff, using the Owenson technique avoids this plus athletes can actually maintain greater control of the ball.' After initial skepticism, Dr Owenson is beginning to receive wider acceptance of his technique. Two-hand Junior and Muny basketball leagues are cropping up all over the country. The good Doctor and his associates are going full-time with seminars and promotion of his book, A New Path Two Success." I have found over the years that the introduction of a "new and revolutionary" way to distance training is always accompanied by the selling of books and seminars.It's interesting how these "new fundamentalists" make an initial splash,get the coverage in the running mags,sell alot of books,then a decade or so later they are pretty much forgotten.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Arthur Lydiard on the Young American Runner

What follows is an excerpt from the excellent biography, Arthur Lydiard Master Coach. It was written by long time Lydiard collaborator Garth Gilmour and published in 2004. While reflecting on the American long distance running scene and some of the problems he perceived that it had, Lydiard had this to say: "A major trouble in America is a misunderstanding of the value and purpose of anaerobic training which they use excessively in both volume and intensity,even in high schools. The potential of the modern-day American middle and distance runners is huge,as they have proved before,but it is not being properly tapped. Potential Olympic distance and middle distance champions would emerge if coaches would concentrate more on aerobic conditioning and not burn their young runners out with excessive anaerobic training to try to gain quick results and points for their institutions." The Master doesn't mince words when he says this about those who improperly use anaerobic training while coaching their young athletes: "I consider those people to be the real menaces of the sport because they continually overlook the problems now known to be associated with the excessive use of anaerobic training. They are responsible for retarding the development of the best potential of the athletes they are handling." As a former coach of high school runners I saw first hand the truth of what Lydiard says. Although I would agree with him to a point that the motivation for coaches to overuse anaerobic training is a desire to get quick results, I believe the main reason for them doing so is based on an ignorance as to the proper way to train athletes. Too many of these people are clueless and actually believe that you have to run fast most of the time to race fast. Over and over again I heard and saw how coaches would give their runners a couple of weeks of "easy" distance running at the beginning of the season,then, would move into a program stressing mostly speed and hard workouts. This was pure folly because the majority of athletes were not anywhere close to being fit enough to begin such a regimen.Injuries and burnout are all too common among our young runners. Something else,Arthur correctly reminded us that young developing hearts, as well as the athlete's muscular,skeletal system, should not be subjected to excessive amounts of stressful anaerobic work,simply put,it's bad for their health to do so. This is just my opinion but in a perfect world every coach of a young athlete would be required to read at least one book by Lydiard on training.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thoughts On the Run--Have An Attitude of Gratitude

I believe it was Dr George Sheehan who once wrote,"I do my best thinking while out on a run." What follows are some thoughts that came into my mind recently during the course of a workout. If you haven't considered what you are about to read, take a few moments when you have time and do so.
Be thankful: Be thankful that you have the ways,means,time and health to indulge in the purest of all sports,running. More people than we can imagine don't.
Don't take things for granted:I know people don't like to read this but we are an accident or diagnosis away from losing it all, each day is a gift,make the most of it. People should remind themselves of this daily,I know I need to.
Don't put off tomorrow what you should begin today: I can't tell you how many people I've known who've had big running plans and said they were going to start on them as soon as they did this,or got finished with that. Guess what? Tomorrow never came. I've said this before,it's not a good feeling when you realize you should have gone for it years back when you were able to.
Be your own boss: You're the one who is in charge of your destiny. You're the one who has to answer for the mistakes you make as well as take credit for what you do right.So why do some of you allow others to dictate to you as to how you should live and determine as to whether or not what you do is worthy or not? I will quickly add that what I say is not advocating being selfish and insensitive to others.The reality is, it's your life,be in control of it.
Don't abuse yourself: too many people drink too much alcohol,eat too much, as well as eat too much crappy,unhealthy food. One of the biggest fallacies in the athletic world is that because you train,you have a free pass to do eat and drink whatever you want. If you believe that and do it year in and year out, you will eventually have to "pay the piper" somewhere down the line.