Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Runner's New Year's Resolutions

As I said the other day,it seems as if it is becoming less fashionable to make New Year's resolutions. To those who choose to dismiss doing so, I would ask this,isn't there anything you would like to do or change about yourself in the coming year? I'm always amazed when I hear older people reflecting on the life they have lived and saying,"If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a single thing." As an older guy, I can tell you that years ago at the age of 40 there would have been a few things I would have done differently if I were given the opportunity. But,again, I digress. What follows are one runner's resolutions,if you haven't done so already,give some thought on what you are doing and what you would like to do in 2012.Here goes: 1. I'll not wait so long before buying a new pair of shoes. That means I won't let aching knees remind me of something I should have known prior to that occurring.
2. Really try to simplify all aspects of my life as Percy Cerutty instructed in his teachings. This means not just getting rid of "stuff" that is basically unused and gathering dust,but also, not overcommitting to too many activities and appointments as well as being preoccupied with obtaining more "toys" and things.Herb Elliott was correct when he said: "The ideal life for an athlete is one of simplicity."
3. In keeping with the theme of selection #2 above, get rid of my cellphone,it has become overused,misused and ultimately a distraction.
4.Stop overeating! I'm thin but overeating is not good for anyone, no matter what size you are.I will eat to live,not live to eat.
5.I will not drink too much beer after races. Oh boy,I think I've found a resolution I'll have trouble keeping. Perhaps I'm saying this because that resolution has been on my last 5 New Year's resolution lists.
6.Stop being negative and pessimistic. Remind myself daily that life is a gift and that tomorrow is promised to no one.Every time I go out for a run I should be thankful. Knowing all that,why do I allow myself to be negative?
7.Follow the Lydiard schedule all the way through this year. Sure, I do as he instructed and customize it to fit who I am as a runner but I will actually complete all the phases.
8.Do a race of a different distance or type,something I haven't done before. Something like the JFK 50,a race that is challenging and has a long,rich history.
9. Stop "kicking it in" on my long runs. It's embarrassing at my age to admit I even do that.
10.Lose the "just hanging on" technique and mindset at the end of races.Instead of maintaining a somewhat reduced pace,how 'bout surging at the end? It's not like I'm ever totally spent when the race is over.
11.A couple of times a week, for starters, I'll do a short,easy morning run,say 15 minutes long. Then,later in the day,I'll do my regular workout. I never raced better then when I did a very light morning "jog" years ago.
As the year ends, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Years'. For those who didn't see my previous announcement,blog posts will now be on Wednesdays and Saturdays. And again,if you haven't taken the opportunity to read the previous posts you can access them all by going to the Archive section on the right side of this page. Thanks to all of you who stop by and take the time to read my ramblings.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

With The New Year Approaching,Something To Consider From Ron Daws

Ron Daws was a treasure,a gift to the world of distance running who died way too young. You can see from prior posts that I have referenced Ron on several occasions. Among other things,he proved that you didn't have to be born with natural talent to achieve great success in distance running.He wanted other runners to know this fact and be encouraged by it. May the following be an inspiration to all of us to strive and challenge ourselves. Ron wrote: "Unless you go all out for something,you may conclude your life without actually having lived it. It doesn't have to be running,but it should be a quest for excellence,and it need be for only that period of your life that it takes to fully explore it. That's how you find out what you are made of. That's how you find out who you are. To live your life your way,to reach for the goals you have set for yourself,to be the you that you want to be,that is success." It has become fashionable in recent years to criticize the making of New Years resolutions. This is unfortunate because what better time to change or make a decision to accomplish something then at the start of a new year? Over the few days remaining before 2012,consider what you have just read by Ron and determine whether or not there is something you need to set about doing in the coming year. Perhaps this is the year you find out what you are made of.

Friday, December 23, 2011

One Runner's Christmas Wish List

For most of us, Christmas always brings back a flood of memories from years past. Hopefully, they are good ones for all of you out there and you are in the process of creating lasting memories this year. As kids, we at one time or another had our lists of what we wanted for Christmas. What follows is my grown up Christmas list. In no particular order:
1. I want running shoes that are the same year after year. Here's what I'm talking about and I'm sure many of you can relate to it: I've been buying Nike Pegasus for several years, I always get last year's model so I can get them cheaper. Each year they are changed in some way,the 27's I bought were,at least for me, negatively different than the 26's I bought the year before. The 25's were great and the 26th Pegasus' were OK. The same applies to the Asic Tigers' that go up in # each year,some are excellent one year and some are just plain bad the next. And now that I'm on the subject of shoes, what's with the, "shoe runs a half size small" warning? Right or wrong,I always get the feeling that this is a red flag as to the shoe's quality.
2.I want a truly great running novel to be published,one that incorporates the essence of long distance running. By essence I mean the sometimes hard to describe quality of distance running that causes some of us to have such a passion for it. Unfortunately, running novels are too often about someone going through various trials and then eventually competing in a national championship or the Olympics. You know,very formulaic stuff as some would say.
3. I want Yiannis Kouros' book to find an English language publisher. Let's see,the greatest ultra-runner of all-time,unquestionably,and he can't get an English language publisher? What is wrong with that picture? I will temporarily step out of my, "this is not a vanity blog" policy and say,in the 90's I attempted to find a publisher for his book,at his request, and was stunned by the lack of interest I encountered. It all basically came down to one problem, they didn't believe it would sell enough copies to warrant publication. For those who don't know the phenomenal personal records, and number of records Yiannis has set, do a search on the web and you'll be astonished. Begin with his record of 303km in 24 hours for starters.
4.I want a charismatic American born long distance runner to emerge who is able to compete with the best in the world. How 'bout another Pre,Shorter,Rodgers,Benoit,Slaney, or Salazar for starters? With this emergence would come a renewed interest in distance running in the U.S. Oh yeah,send along another charismatic coach like Arthur Lydiard,Bill Bowerman or Percy Cerutty while you're at it.
5. I want one more season of optimal running fitness and ability to race in peak form. That means no injuries and no interruptions in training.Come on, it's not as if I'm asking to be like the otherworldly and phenomenal Ed Whitlock.
6.I want new and challenging places to train.Preferably courses with trails and lots of hills that go on forever. If I must run on the roads may it be ones with minimal traffic and varying degrees of elevation.
7. I want a great running mag that I look forward to every issue that comes out.Remember when you used to anxiously await the arrival of a new issue of your favorite magazine? I do. You know what I'm talking about, a mag that has to do with distance running, not one that is filled with articles on cross-training,food,diet,dressing for bad weather,most beautiful marathon courses in the U.S., and 300 pounders that lost weight and have run marathons. Hey, I'll settle for an existing running magazine taking a small part of each issue and republishing their archived articles,interviews, and profiles from 30+ years ago.
8. I want more athletes like the one pictured in today's post,John Landy. Men who are not only great athletically, but men who possess intelligence,sportsmanship, integrity and dignity.Who hasn't read enough of the boorish,self-centered athletes from different sports that seem to predominate the athletic world these days?By the way,if you don't know much about John Landy,read the Wikipedia profile on him for starters.
Well,that's the list,I'm not asking for too much am I?
To everyone out there, have a great Christmas,may you get all you wish for,and,get your run in early tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Advice From An Unexpected Source

Bruce Lee was much more than a martial arts film star who died young. He was an innovator in his sport,a ferocious trainer,a philosopher and an incredible athlete. He struggled against, and overcame, the many obstacles he encountered during his all too brief life. There were times he became discouraged but he persevered and found a way to achieve what he desired. An example of this was when he suffered a serious back injury that required he wear a brace for 6 months,Lee used this time to author the book that eventually became, Tao of Jeet Kune Do, a work that summarized his martial arts philosophy and viewpoints. Bruce Lee believed life was to be lived to its fullest and that an ideal life was one that offered challenges. What follows is another take on the subject of goals: "A goal is not always meant to be reached,it often serves simply as something to aim at." Although we may believe that we'll eventually reach the goal(s) we have set for ourselves,sometimes it doesn't happen. The good thing is that having a goal(s) gives you a purpose and life to your training that you will never experience if you just go "out there" day after day.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Just Payin' My Dues

The journey to athletic excellence often means having to deal with occasional roadblocks,obstacles and disappointments.Overcoming these hurdles are a part of the process that will make you a better and smarter athlete if you allow them to.Viewing these things in a strictly negative light will not lead to you becoming a better athlete. What follows is something you can say to yourself in response to those hurdles that are inevitably going to arise.I'm sure all of us have experienced some or all of the following at one time or another.
You are 10 or 15 minutes into your workout and some type of unpleasant weather situation like blowing snow or driving rain begins,at this point you say to yourself:"Just payin' my dues."
You're 50 minutes into a tough workout,something like a hard fartlek over a hilly hour long course,your legs are weak and feeling like rubber,you're very conscious of the fact that the other guys might be closing in on you and you're just hoping to hang on for another 10 minutes, At this point you say to yourself: "Just payin' my dues."
You have recently been injured and found out you'll have to lay off running for at least two weeks. You are beginning to do the alternative aerobic workouts that will enable you to maintain the highest degree of fitness possible. You find them to be incredibly boring and unsatisfying, At this point you say to yourself: "Just payin' my dues."
You come to the realization that you are over your ideal weight,you eat too much,you drink too much beer,too often. You start the necessary process of cutting back,in the beginning it is uncomfortable and unnatural but you know you must do it if you are to run smoother and faster, At this point you say to yourself: "Just payin' my dues."
You turn down a job or promotion because you know it would require you giving up your running aspirations. As you turn it down you take a slow deep breath and say to yourself: "Just payin' my dues."
You've just hooked up with a new and faster group of training partners and you're getting smoked,embarrasingly so, in every workout. You know you are going to get better but still....,At this point you say to yourself, "Just payin' my dues."
And finally,on a lighter note,
Your wife,husband,girlfriend,boyfriend or significant other is giving you grief over the fact that every time she(he) turns around you are buying another pair of $100 shoes as well as making periodic purchases of running gear,food and supplements.Also, they are not particularly happy about the fact that you are chronically late due to a workout that went, "a little longer than I thought it would." At this point you say to yourself,"Just payin' my dues."
The journey to the goal can be almost as satisfying as achieving it if you have that true love for distance running.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Encouragement From An Unlikely Source

The following is from someone you wouldn't expect to give inspiration and encouragement on going for it. The unlikely source is from none other than William Shakespeare. Yes,the William Shakespeare from Macbeth,Romeo and Juliet and so many other plays and sonnets fame. I think the last time I read anything by him was in high school. I may be revealing my lack of erudition but I never understood what all the fuss about him was,perhaps I was still too immature to appreciate his genius. I will say this though, he really nails it on this quote from Measure for Measure: "Our doubts are traitors
And make us lose the good we oft might win,
By fearing to attempt."
Ever notice that as we get older, we get less bolder,less willing to dream and think big? When we consider some thing we want to do or accomplish, almost immediately negative thoughts and doubts pop up that say things like: "are you nuts, have you forgotten how old you are?" Or this one, "like your wife(girlfriend,boyfriend,significant other,etc) would ever put up with that if you....," Another common thought, "What have you been smokin', thinking you even have what it takes?" I recall a friend who told me that he wanted to do the Ironman Triathlon,almost immediately after saying that he began telling me how it would be almost impossible for him to even qualify. I suggested he take a look at last year's entrants,their ages and finishing times and then tell me if he still believed it was impossible. I also asked him if he really wanted to do what he said he did? A year or so later he called and told me he had just completed a Tinman and was confident that he would make it to Hawaii in the not too distant future.You've read it here before,the key to personal success is perseverance. Obviously, if you are of limited talent,toeing the line at the U.S.Olympic Marathon Trials is unlikely,but, you can achieve much more than you think you can if you commit yourself and reject those doubts.Someday, I never want to hear myself say, "I just wish I would have given it a shot." What an empty,crappy feeling to have to live with.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Live For the Run started in December 2010 and is now into it's 13th month. There have been about 200 posts since it began. I have tried to offer articles that are informative as well as inspiring. It is my intention to continue but for the time being I will be reducing the number of posts to two a week, the days will be Wednesday and Saturday.There is just so much you can write about running and still remain interesting and relevant. As I have said before, I don't want to get to the point where I am putting out excerpts from my daily training log and describing what I saw and how I felt along the way just to fill space. I still have more to offer and really enjoy doing it but it's time to step down on the quantity. In case you haven't checked out past entries, just look to the right side of this page,scroll down a little ways and you can access articles from the last 12 months. Many thanks to all for taking the time to visit this site!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Changing Times

I was recently checking out race results from "The Turkey Trot" held on Thanksgiving day in my former hometown of Buffalo,N.Y. This race,which is believed by many to be the longest continuously held footrace in the U.S., has grown in entrants over the last several years and now has a limit of 11,000 runners.The race was always a real community affair. People coming back to Buffalo for the holiday as well as all the area runners made it a point to run this 8k race that went straight down Delaware Avenue. Serious runners made sure they were ready to race on this day. College runners coming home for Thanksgiving also helped to make it a very competitive run. Another nice thing about the Turkey Trot, people who never ran a road race all year would train and do this one. Ah,the good old days,but I digress. When going over the results for this year I immediately noticed that the overall winning time and number of fast performances were noticeably slower then I recalled. A quick check into the record archives confirmed this. In 1981 a total of 137 runners finished under 30 minutes, in 2011, 76 runners. Keep in mind that there were several thousand more runners racing this year as compared to 1981. I was frankly stunned by the drop-off,I figured there would be fewer fast times,but not as few as there were. I then looked at some of the other races that have been held for 25+ years and saw that times had gotten slower in them too. I mentioned this to a couple of friends who live in other states and they said that the same situation existed there also. Naturally,I was curious as to the reason for this drop-off. Could the reason for it be,as a friend said,that Americans live a more sedentary life now then they did back then? I didn't give this subject much more thought until I recently looked through a copy of Runner's World from 1979.I should say here that Runner's World was,and still is,the biggest selling mag of it's kind out there.It was at one time the go to source for all running info and news,remember,there was no internet back then.Getting back to the old issue of RW, I was immediately struck by the underlying theme that ran throughout the whole magazine,it all centered around optimal performance. Whether it was in profiling various top American runners, or info and results about races, or advice from coaches,doctors and experts, you were provided with the best advice on how to run more and faster. Some of the monthly contributers back then were, Derek Clayton,Richard Benyo,Bob Wischnia,Amby Burfoot,Joe Henderson,Cliff Temple,Brooks Johnson,Arthur Lydiard and Dr.George Sheehan. Some of you readers may be a little young to recall all these guys but it was an incredible group of people who knew what was needed to run better. Oh yeah,another thing,they all ran. It only takes a casual glance through the latest RW today to see how much things have changed with that magazine. The slant is now towards running as a healthy lifestyle as opposed to racing better and faster.It's heavy on articles pertaining to food and diet,feel-good stories on runners who have overcome various obstacles,exotic locales you might choose for your next marathon and features on running gear. As I have written in the past, it is extremely difficult for a magazine to stay viable in this day and age,so to survive you have to have as many subscribers as possible.Who can fault Runner's World for trying to reach the biggest market possible? The truth is,is that they encourage and provide a needed source of information for those who run and want to be healthier because of it. Unfortunately though, there no longer exists a running magazine out there that will provide the articles and encouragement to help not only the serious runners,but also the newbies,to become as good as they can be in this,the purest of all sports,distance running. And that folks, is a real shame.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

When You Don't Feel Like Running

I had one of those days the other day,you know,you get home from work and you really don't want to go out and do your scheduled workout. I'm sure we all get that feeling every now and then. For those who are casual about their running and have no specific goals, it's not a big deal to take the day off. It is of course a different matter for runners who have plans and aspirations. The following are some suggestions for dealing with those days when you don't feel like running. #1. Assess yourself, are you burned out or overtrained? If you are, then you need to rest. If you're not, consider the following. #2. Tell yourself that you are going out for only 15 minutes instead of the scheduled 45,50 or 60 minutes. You may very well end up doing only the 15 but at least you'll be getting in the shortest amount of time you can run to reap the aerobic benefits. However,here is what will more than likely happen,10 minutes into the run you'll be glad you got out there and do the workout as you originally planned.Either way you go, at least you got out the door. #2. Change the original workout to an easy run,the longer the better. It's not like it's a common occurrence where you don't feel like running, so making a last minute change to save a run is not necessarily a bad thing. #3. W.W.P.D.--translation,what would Steve Prefontaine do? Well,the Prefontaine I read about would suck it up and do the run. You can replace Pre with the name of any of your running heroes. For those of us who live for the run,the running greats and legends from the past are an unending source of encouragement and inspiration. #4. Tell yourself that not going out for the run is exactly what 3/4's of the people at your targeted road race would do if they didn't feel like running. Skip the run and the other 1/4 gain a day on you. #5.Remind yourself that today's run is part of The Plan you have to achieve your running goal(s). Think of the guilt you'll feel later in the evening as you think about the run you blew off. #6. When all us fails,shame yourself. Ask yourself if you are a real runner or a wimp.
Happy Trails to You!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

When You Think You're Not Getting Anywhere With Your Running, Remember This

I think at one time or another we've been discouraged with our training,maybe we weren't making the gains that we think we should have or perhaps we've had a bad race or two. Bill Rodgers offers us some things to keep in mind during these difficult times. He says the following: "You have to hang on and look at the future. This is a very significant point. Running is never a waste. Everything you are doing now is all part of the grand plan. What's going to happen nine years down the road? The more you train, the more consistent you become." We tend to forget about the cumulative benefits of training year after year. It's not especially common to hear local road runners talking about where they think their running will be in five years. That's unfortunate because if they continue to train smartly and consistently, they will become stronger and more efficient runners.On a related note, I knew one athlete who raced frequently at the 5k and 10k distances and became discouraged one season with his times. He then reassessed his training and decided to make some changes.He stopped racing for a year and concentrated solely on increasing his mileage by running easily over varying terrains. Sixteen months later he ran his first marathon in the low 2:40's.This runner later told me that not running well was the best thing that happened to his running because it caused him to think and change what he was doing. He said: "My goal was always to race well and that's what ended up happening,the surprise was that it was at a distance I wasn't expecting to race at when I started." A thinking,determined and consistent runner can accomplish much.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Radical Thoughts on Food,Diet and the Serious Runner

You would think that runners who are serious about their racing would be serious about what they put into their bodies. However,it appears that the general public,despite figures which show that 60% of them are overweight, are not so particular as to what they consume. We live in an enviroment overloaded with fast food restaurants and stores that are stocked with an incredible array of what are benignly called, "snack foods." It is not my intention in this post to write about the obvious and go over familiar territory as it relates to food and diet. What I want to address is how the serious athlete should view food as well as what and how he eats. In prior articles I have dismissed the folly of eating as much and whatever you want because you train hard and long. I mean,does that assertion make any sense at all when you think about it? What this statement is,is a rationalization giving the person a clear conscience to eat and drink as they please.
Decades ago,the American public was given information that connected smoking with all types of medical problems,not the least of which is lung cancer. Since then,thousands have heeded the warnings and stopped smoking,while others have not and paid dearly for not doing so. Similarly,in recent years, this same public has been informed of the dangers of not only eating too much food, but eating too many fatty foods. Also,we've been advised to eat more fruits, vegetables and natural foods, these are foods that are less processed. It is clear, that unlike smoking warnings, the public has not followed the advice of the experts. Again,proof of this can be seen in the percentage of Americans who are overweight. Sadly, our children have never been fatter and more unfit then they are now.We have become a nation that "lives to eat" instead of one that "eats to live". This now brings me to some recommendations regarding food and diet as it pertains to the serious athlete,it can also be for anyone else who is serious about their health. What I'm about to suggest may seem radical to some but is the route to go if you want a healthy,active life.It is also the way to go if you want to be a lean,running machine who minimizes stress to your heart and musculoskeletal system.I begin by asking, do you eat to live or do you live to eat? I told a friend recently, running can cover a multitude of lifestyle "sins" such as drinking too much alcohol
and eating too much crappy food. You can be an extremely fit athlete while still being someone who lives to eat. People need to adopt an eat to live mentality. As you will soon see, it is not restrictive or something which requires denial and hardship. It simply requires a change in your thinking as it relates to food and a recognition that this way can help you to feel better each and every day.The key phrase here is, a change in your thinking as it relates to food. I will add that I believe eating is one of a handful of pleasures that exist in this life,but, all pleasures can be abused and consequently impact negatively on your life.
What follows are what I believe are the keys to living a long healthy life. First,it is essential to avoid overeating.Too many of us eat way more than we should at meals.You should leave the table feeling as if you could eat more. What you will find is that a little while after doing so you will feel decidedly more satiated than you did when you first left the table. This all has to do with the appestat and the brain getting the message to your body that you've had enough to eat. The specifics of what to eat go like this: for breakfast,the athlete eats a quality cereal or a yogurt or eggs with toast and fruit. Pick one as it relates to the eggs,cereal and yogurt. Of course, if someone is having issues with being too thin then they should add another selection from this group. Between breakfast and lunch eat a snack of fruit. At lunch, a soup or sandwich with a salad. Assuming that your workout is in the afternoon or in the early evening,a mid-afternoon snack of fruit and some type of quality energy bar is the way to go. Needless to say, the drink of choice during the day is water. Coffee and tea consumption should be limited to one or two cups. Soda shouldn't ever be a consideration as a beverage. For dinner,this is a time to indulge but in a controlled way. Ideally,dinner should have some kind of salad or vegetable,a small portion of meat or fish or meat substitute along with rice or a potato. A nutritionist one said something that made a lot of sense and that is that the size of the portion of meat you eat should be no bigger than what you can fit into the palm of your hand. If you desire a dessert then go for it. There are plenty of good ones out there that are well made and are not junk food. The key is always to not overeat.Junk foods have no place in the diet of serious athletes or for anyone that cares about their health. It's garbage that we all have been conditioned to think is OK to consume on occasion. On weekends, when most of us are off from work and many do a long run or extra training,have a time when you eat a pizza or something that is off the usual weekly diet and drink some beers or wine if you like. You will notice that in following the type of regimen above you will enjoy the foods you eat more,much more so than the person who picks up something to eat every time they feel like it.Billions are made on books pertaining to diet,food and eating. The irony of it all is,is that like training properly,the key to correct eating and diet can be found in using common sense,discipline and simplicity.