Saturday, April 28, 2012

After the Race,The Need For Adequate Recovery

I have found over the years that far too many runners do not allow themselves proper recovery time after races. I've sometimes wondered if it's become a forgotten aspect to the training,racing cycle. Proper recovery allows your body to rest,heal and recover from the race.Also,it gets you optimally ready to race again, ready to race in an energized state instead of a debilitated one.Most runners feel they can race as often as they desire.For example,the day after the race you may feel a little sore,two days after you may feel even sorer.However, things usually start to get better physically but there's something most runners don't realize,just because you feel better,it doesn't mean you are ready to race again.The reality is that our recovery from fatigue and muscle discomfort(pain for some) happens quickest.It takes longer to restore your body chemistry to its former normal levels.I've mentioned in a previous post about the significant damage that occurs to the body chemistry after someone races a marathon.
What follows are some things to remember in regards to post race recovery. Tom Osler,who I have referenced on this site in the past and is as knowledgeable about running as anyone wrote this: As a rule of thumb,for the well-trained runner it takes about one day for each mile of the race for complete recovery....The runner will require longer periods if he is not thoroughly trained....I believe those runners should double the above-mentioned recovery time before he attempts another all-out performance." The one day for each day raced should be familiar for most experienced runners,sometimes ignored is that less well trained runners require more time.So what kind of running should you do as you recover? Easy running,"maintenance running" as some call it,running for 30 to 45 minutes a day. You don't want to run too long, too hard or too fast.Remember, feeling good is not the go ahead to abandon your recovery schedule.
Here is something that should also be considered in the whole race recovery process.You've done the one mile rest for each mile raced,now I will describe part two of your recovery program which is called the rebuilding period. After you have raced,say a five miler, and have completed the necessary five day recovery, you can resume longer and harder runs with some speed,but, you don't race. Don't race until you've completed the five day rebuilding period. As Joe Henderson wrote: "You owe yourself all of this time to clear away the damage done by a race. If you keep tearing down faster than you repair,the mild and temporary pains of racing eventually turn into the bad kind that slow and stop you." Reading that makes me think of the old saying,"an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"? I knew dozens upon dozens of runners in the 70's who paid no attention to proper recovery after races,even marathons. Guess what? The overwhelming majority of them no longer run. They no longer run because they are physically unable to. We sometimes forget that are bodies are not machines. They can take a tremendous amount of abuse for seemingly endless periods of time but there comes a point when your body will break down if you treat it without care and respect.Who wants that? Again,it takes a thoughtful, thinking athlete to make the right choices,not mistakes, as it relates to their running and health. Don't we all want to run forever?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Evaluating A Poor Racing Performance

Over the years I have found the quote, "Those who don't learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them,"  to be so true.  It is especially applicable to this running life. I begin by asking the question, who hasn't had a bad race? Of course we all have. So what do you do after you have raced poorly? Move on and hope for a better finish the next time you toe the line? I have known too many people who do exactly that. Oh,they might train a little harder before the next race but they won't do much more than that. As an old running vet used to say,"you have to use what's between your ears as well as your legs when you race." What follows are some suggestions on what to ask yourself after not racing well.
Were you physically ready to race? How was your preparation? Did you follow a training plan all the way through to the racing season or are you one of those people who train and race pretty much all year? If you do,let me give what I believe is a biblical reference,"you reap what you sow." It a crapshoot performance wise when you combine training with a regular racing schedule.
How were your performance expectations? Were they realistic? Were they in line with how your training appeared to be going? How did they(expectations) match up with past performances?                            Did you really do as bad as you thought you did? Serious runners have a tendency to be hyper-critical of everything relating to how they finished a race(where they placed, the time,how they felt,etc.).
How had your training been going,any prior indication that you might not do as well as you hoped? Think time trials and pace work for starters.
Was this the first race of your season? If it was,the fact that it is your first race is reason enough not to be too hard on yourself, more races will be coming.
Did you rest enough prior to the race? This is perhaps one of the most forgotten reasons for a poor race. I have known so many guys who won't back off on their training before a race. Let me get this right,you've been training for months but think if you go easy the week of the race you will perform poorly? Admit it,your pre-race anxiety is preventing you from getting the rest you need.                                                                                                                           Speaking of anxiety,did you go out too fast at the start,or as Percy used to say, did you take off "like a frightened hare"? If you've been around for awhile,why are you still doing that?
Did you finish too fast or have too much left? If you did, take note of that and make the necessary adjustments.
At what point in the race do you believe you let down and the opportunity to race well was lost? For instance,some runners know that in the 2nd mile of a 5k they have to really think about keeping on pace or their overall time will not be what it should be. It's important to be aware and thinking throughout your race,no matter how bad you might feel.
Finally---what are you going to do and what are you going to change to get the kind of results you desire?It's important that a runner considers such things if he wants to achieve the success he trains so hard for. Recall Cerutty's words,"the ideal athlete is a thinking athlete." Although I am not a devotee,there is wisdom in the words of Sri Chinmoy when he said, "Think and Become." In our quest for success, we must think about what we have done, as well as what we are doing.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Odds and Sods

Random thoughts,opinions and writings.
Makers of Vibram Five Fingers "shoes" have recently been sued by someone who said the company made false claims in regards to their product's "health benefits" and that the shoes provided a significant injury risk for the wearer.As I mentioned previously,Vibram owes much to the book Born to Run for touting its footgear. Since that book came out, Vibram  has grown to a 70 million dollar per year company. I laughed when I read that Vibram claims that it cautions runners that it may take a year or more to transition into regularly running in their "shoes".A year? Come on! I've used them on trails and on the beach and wasn't particularly impressed with them. In fact,I had some problems with the lack of protection it gave my feet while running on the trails over rocks,gravel and tree roots.I believe they have their place for use and can work well for a minority of runners,but that's just my opinion.I don't believe Vibram was deceptive but I do believe some of the proponents of barefoot running who claim that barefootin' it is THE way to go are.They'll tell you that wearing shoes is unnatural and that they will inevitably lead to injury. Not surprisingly,these people are the ones who often profit from their connection with barefoot running. When reading glowing endorsements pertaining to running gadgets and other products always follow the money.Example,a few decades back a prominent college running coach was in advertisements promoting heart rate monitors,coincidentally,shortly after he came out with a heart rate monitor training book.

The Secret of Life(Is Enjoying the Passage of Time). Thank you James Taylor for those words.They're especially relevant to us runners who are getting up there in years.I've come across runners who bemoan the fact that they can no longer hit the times they once did. I can't help but notice that this attitude puts a damper on their enjoyment of the whole running experience.With age comes new challenges,accommodations to be made and changed expectations,hardly something that should be dreaded.

How the mighty have fallen.At one of the biggest running forums on the web the big topic of discussion regarding the latest issue of Running Times was about the physical attributes of the female runner featured on the cover.I recall a time when people eagerly awaited each issue of this mag because of the excellent race result coverage from around the country and the profiles on the top runners. But then again,maybe it not RT,maybe its what the readers these days deem as important. I do miss RT's old format though. On a related note,I find Runner's World website vastly superior to their magazine as far as interesting and relevant features are concerned.

Guys who tell you they don't really mind when they are beaten by girls are lying.

Just sort of wondering how many native born American runners will be able to hit the Olympic qualifying times for the 5000 and 10,000 meters. If any of you out there have the number of runners for each race who have qualified so far I'd appreciate if you could post them in the comments section of this article.

Ever go out for a hard paced run with a few other runners and notice this: As you are just heading out all fresh and ready to go, you make it a point to go around the large puddle along the way,as you are returning feeling all the effects of the run and trying to maintain to the end,you go straight through that puddle you avoided earlier.Once again,on a related note, an important time trial  with some other guys can have all the nervousness and tension usually reserved for a race.

Give back to this great sport of running. Go out of your way to talk up the pleasures and benefits of distance running. Even go as far,when able, to take a neophyte out on a run. Teach them to have realistic expectations in the beginning,offer to be there for them if they want advice. The nice thing about distance runners is that there is a lack of bravado and conceit that seems to be a part of so many other sports.

Go long Sunday!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Achieving Mastery of Your Sport

Success in our sport,be it personal or competitive,is what all serious runners desire. The process towards achieving success can offer the distance runner an opportunity to learn much about himself,but, he must be open and reflective as to what is happening during the process.Learning and growth do not occur when the runner has the view, "it's just another race(or workout),tomorrow I'll do this and the next day......." The following is by an unknown author.What he writes about below is thought provoking and worthy of consideration.
"When you move down the road towards the mastery of your running--and you know, you are constantly moving down that road--you end up coming up against these barriers inside yourself that will attempt to stop you from continuing to pursue your mastery of running. And these barriers are such things as when you come up against your own limitations,when you come up against the limitations of your will,your ability,your natural ability,your courage,how you deal with success--and failure as well for that matter.And as you overcome each one of these barriers,you end up learning something about yourself. And sometimes,the things you learn about yourself can,to some individuals, convey a self-knowledge that has an almost spiritual sense to it."
Aren't we all moving daily "down the road towards the mastery of our running?" With this mastery of our running can come a mastery and understanding of ourselves.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

From the Archives,pt.3,The Stotan Manifesto

I should preface today's post by offering a few comments. It was written in the mid to late 90's and was sent to members of the Stotans instead of the The Stotan News readership at large.The "Manifesto" was inspired by several experiences that had occurred to me during one summer. Each year the Stotans travelled to the Tuscarora Indian reservation and ran a 10k road race they put on. It was a great race with a fast and scenic course. After the race one year, Lanny, an Indian race organizer,approached myself and a few of the other Stotans I was with and started up a conversation. He spoke of what he was hoping to accomplish on the Reservation,the plight of the Indian in society at that time, and what the U.S. government had done,and was not doing to the Indian.Lanny also spoke about some of his traditions and beliefs. I was struck by his honesty and dignity. I was not surprised when he told me he did liason work for his tribe and the communities around the State in an effort to increase understanding of Indian life. After that day I had several telephone conversations with him and eventually took part in a ceremony which is called a Sweat Lodge. What an experience that was. The Stotan Manifesto was written shortly after the Sweat Lodge,actually, it was written in my car off to the side of the road before I left the Reservation. For those who don't see the Cerutty,Stotan connection I'd remind them that Cerutty once said that Stotans were "nature lovers". He stressed a life that was simple,devoid of materialism and had a respect for the land. Oh,I should add this.I noticed in our converstions that Lanny kept referring to himself and others as Indians. When I asked him about the phrase,Native American, he laughed and said that,that was a term used by guilt ridden white liberals, he said the Indians he knew never used that term. To me,as a Stotan,the following is still relevant but I recognize and admit that others may not feel the same way about it.
The Stotan Manifesto
Stotan,the word was originated by the athlete,coach,philosopher, Percy Cerutty. Stotan is formed by combining the words stoic and spartan.
More than just a group of runners, we are a brotherhood.
We recognize and love the beauty of this land,our goal is to live in peace and harmony with it.
We are not like the majority of this land who care primarily for themselves and whose God is pleasure.
We confess and admit the sins of our fathers and forefathers that have been committed against this land and its many people.
We realize that one thousand years of restitution will never make up for their sins.
We as Stotans look to make amends for the abuses of our ancestors.
We totally reject the ways of the government which has grown fat and corrupt.
We recognize that corporate greed encouraged by the government is destroying this land.
We support all efforts that stop the polluting and "development" of this land,no matter how extreme they may be perceived as being.
We,when appropriate,will take part in such efforts.
We are not,nor ever will be,conformed to this world.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Two Cents,pt.1

Some rambling thoughts while out on a run today.Someone once said,maybe it was George Sheehan,that they did their best thinking when running.I'd hardly call the following my best thinking but here goes:
Boring? Oh Really?!
I don't know about you but I can always gauge a person's degree of love for running if they describe this run or that run as being "boring." For those of us who live for the run,is there really any kind of running that you would call boring? Maybe it's the endorphins, maybe it's just the way your body feels while running, but for me, once I get going, running always makes me feel good. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.
Drug use in athletics.
Drug use by athletes to improve performance spoils their respective sports and makes the records they set a sham.For instance,what's a home run record worth when it's common knowledge that the competitors for that record were steroid users? Sadly, drug use for enhancing performance is also quite common in the world of "major league" distance running.With hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as appearance fees and endorsements on the line, athletes in any sport seem willing to cheat. Just wondering,do you believe anyone who races the Tour de France these days is "clean?"Just think, records and winning performances in most sports are tainted by drugs.
Prophet without honor.
Saw Percy Cerutty's, Athletics:How To Become A Champion for sale on Ebay. The initial bids, were in my opinion,ridiculously low for a book that good and that rare. Why hasn't it been re-released? About 20 years ago I had some friends who were going to Australia, I gave them a paper with Cerutty's name on it and asked them to go to a bookstore and pick up a few copies of whatever they had by him. They went into three stores and found nothing.
Glad they waited.
I sure am glad the African "invasion" onto the world distance running scene started in the late 80's instead of the early 70's, otherwise most of the American,British and European stars would have been relegated to being also rans. Just think, for those of us in the U.S., runners like Salazar,Rodgers,Shorter, Curp,Beardsley,Tabb,Sandoval,Meyer,Gregorek,Wells,Eyestone and so many others would not have had the success they did if the Africans had been on the scene in the numbers they are now.
At least something good came out of it.
Although I enjoyed the book Born To Run, I never bought into the barefoot running fad that was a result of that book's success. What was great though was that the running shoe companies began coming out with many excellent minimalist shoes. The kind of basic,lightweight shoe that Arthur Lydiard had been advocating for decades and was briefly produced by Converse under his direction(editor:not to be confused with a later Converse running shoe endorsed by Lydiard).
Happy Trails To All!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Advice From An Unexpected Source,pt.2

When people hear the name Bruce Lee these days most think of him as a karate guy who made martial arts movies. There was much more to him than that however, he was a man who trained hard and overcame many obstacles to achieve success.After he left Hong Kong he established martial arts studios on the west coast of the United States and eventually formulated a unique martial arts style.While in the States he tried to get into films and television but initially found it difficult to get past the stereotypes and prejudices connected with Asian actors.Lee was a big advocate of running as a conditioner. In addition, he was what I like to call a deep thinker,well read and someone who wrote down his thoughts and opinions. He was continually evaluating and reassessing his progress as an athlete. Sounds kind of familiar doesn't it? One thing you will notice is that there are athletes out there who you could describe as Stotans yet they wouldn't have a clue as to what that word meant.Bruce Lee was a Stotan in so many ways. The following quotes are from some of his journals published after his untimely death in 1973.After some of the quotes I'll offer a few comments.
"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough;we must do."
It is necessary to find your system of training and follow it. Sure, you may make some changes as needed to accommodate things that arise but you must have a plan if you have goals and aspirations in running. I am always surprised by people who just sort of go day to day in their training,improvising as they go along. You have to commit,part of that committing is designing and going with a course of action and doing it.
"True refinement seeks simplicity"
Aren't we all a little wary of the programs that require alot of calculating,adding and subtracting here and there,determining this percentage of pace and that percentage of pace? Training should be simple and logical,you shouldn't need a degree in exercise physiology to follow your program.
"It is the will that makes men---success takes perseverance."
There's that word again,perseverance.
"Yesterday's dreams are often tomorrow's realities."
A quote to keep in your training journal.What once seemed like a long shot can become a reality if you stick with it.
"Pessimism blunts the tools you need to succeed."
Wow! Is that ever true! I was probably as guilty of the above as anyone till I eventually smartened up.Add negativity to the mix also.
"Self-education makes great men."
I can almost hear Cerutty saying the same thing.We should never fit the stereotype of the one dimensional or what some call the "dumb athlete." Ever speak with an an athlete who seems like all he can talk about is his current and past workouts and races? I don't know about you but after a half hour of this my eyes sort of glaze over and my mind begins to wander.
"One great cause of failure is a lack of concentration."
Again,a thinking athlete is a successful athlete.
"If you think a thing impossible,you'll make it impossible."
What's the saying? "As a man thinks, so he will become?"
"If you love life,don't waste time,for time is what life is made up of"
Tomorrow is promised to no one, some of us have to remind ourselves of that fact so we will appreciate the things that are too often taken for granted.
I'll close with this,and what a great quote it is:
"A goal is not always meant to be reached,it often serves as something to aim at."
The running and the journey are sufficient in itself.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Computer Glitch

Yesterday's post entitled 'Persistence', listed below this one, was published with some of the content not displayed. How this happened I don't really know but I'll blame it on the computer. The content has been restored,next article will be published as scheduled on Saturday.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


In this day and age we are inundated with information from so many different sources.Movies,books,newspapers,magazines,television and radio supply viewers and readers with a staggering amount of things to watch and read. Always popular with the public are the success stories written about,or by, someone who has overcome obstacles to finally reach their goal(s). It's also common to read quotes and sayings by these individuals,you may see them on posters,bumper stickers,online or in magazines. Most of us read them and say something like, "that's really good," and continue on. I'd like to offer a few suggestions for the next time you come across a really good,insightful quote. First off,recognize that the person quoted is not just saying this to titillate you,the intention is for the reader to learn from it, and in many cases,act on it. Secondly,the person giving the quote is operating from his personal experience, what and how he did something led to his learning from or accomplishing something. What follows are some quotes by notable people on persistence. Regular readers to this blog have read that persistence is the key to running success. Persistence has to do with sticking with it when MOST others have "bagged" their goals and moved on to something else.My advice to myself and others on what you are about to read is: Read,Learn From and Act On It. Here goes: "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence,talent will not;nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Education will not;the world is full of educated derelicts.Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." This quote,believe it or not, is by President Calvin Coolidge. "Energy and persistence conquer all things." Quote by Benjamin Franklin."We are made to persist. That's how we find out who we are," Quote by Tobias Wolff. As I used to tell the High School athletes I coached, "you can't make an average sprinter great by just training,but,you can make an average distance runner a very good one if the athlete is willing to stick with it and do the work. The above quotes are by people, who through their experiences, know what they are talking about. For those of us who are sitting on the fence in regards to going for it, isn't it time "we found out who we are?"