Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Do You Have Championship Character?

There are certain traits that are evident in successful athletes.Many of us have the traits I'm about to list below but certain athletes have it to a greater degree than others. Cerutty believed in self-evaluation as being essential for those who desired to do well. The following is a partial list devised by Dr. Ogilvie of what he called championship characteristics.Examine Yourself!
1. Desire to win or be successful.
2.Aspires to accomplish difficult tasks.
3.Sets and maintains high goals for himself in athletics.
4.Responds positively to competition.
5.Desires to attain athletic excellence.
Right off the bat I'll say that I frequently fall short on #4. I don't always approach competition positively. That is definitely a work in progress,still,after 40+ years.
1.Willing to practice long and hard.
2.Works on skills until exhausted.
3.Often works out willingly by himself.
4.Persevering, even in the face of great difficulty.
5.Patient and unrelenting in his work habits.
6.Doesn't give up quickly on a problem.
I believe #6 is the key to running success, sticking with it well after the time the average Joe would have bagged it.
Mental Toughness
1.Accepts strong criticism without feeling hurt.
2.Does not become easily upset when performing badly.
3.Can bounce back quickly from adversity.
4.Can take rough coaching.
5.Does not need alot of encouragement from others.
I'm almost afraid to ask what rough coaching is. I used to wonder why professional boxers, when they were beaten convincingly,always seemed to come up with a rationale as to why they lost,some would call it an excuse.Perhaps #'s 2 and 3 are the reason. Yeah, I did poorly but............What is the alternative? I got whipped,he's just one of a slew of guys that can beat me. Once an athlete says and believes that his ability to compete is seriously below others, he is done as a competitor.
More on this subject to follow.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

An Old Runner Reflects On What is to Come

No slow decline or painful fade to black for me.
No,I want a night before filled with trading stories and drinking beer with my friends,
Followed by a morning after run along an old forest trail under a misty overcast sky.
Let me feel that effortless glide as I go that only comes but once in a great while.
Just give me an hour,no make that two,as I cruise on down that increasingly dark trail
that will suddenly turn to light.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

So You've Decided to Commit

So you took the survey that was in the last post and decided that you need to totally commit to your running and racing.
The following are a few thoughts on what you need to do next.
You can begin by either wrting down or telling yourself daily that this is something you truly want to do. It's funny how getting caught up in "worldly" affairs can cause us to forget or view our athletic dreams as being frivolous.One day you have these dreams,the next they are forgotten and you are focused totally on all things monetary.Remind yourself daily as to what you really want.
Now,recognize the fact that you are in control of what you do and what you want irregardless of what others think.Obviously this is not a license to be selfish but think about it, we're talking about a committment that takes how many hours a week, 6, maybe 10 hours at most? There are 168 hours in a week. As a sports psychologist once wrote, "determining your own path with a minimum of outside influence increases your level of investment."
This seems like a given but now is the time to set short amd long term goals. I'm always surprised to find that many athletes don't do this. Obviously these goals,especially the short term ones, need to be changed periodically.Setting goals is an essential part of the committing process.
Begin today to live the life you love.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Gauging Your Level of Commitment

Been contemplating the inclusion of the words, F-bomb and Man Cave in the new edition of Webster's Dictionary.Ah,further proof I'm getting old.
Many of you can relate to this--the joy of finding new running routes.
Running is the only thing that consistently keeps me grounded and happy.
The following pertains to determining your level of running commitment.
Is it any surprise that the higher your level of commitment to running the better your performance?

Rate yourself on each of the ten conditions by circling one number from one to five.Then add up all the numbers you circled  for your total score.A score of 32 to 39 indicates average commitment. 40 and above shows your commitment is strong.

                                       Low                                                                         High
                                     (completely false)                         Avg.                                  
                                                  1            2                  3                   4              5

Commitment Conditions

1. Willing to sacrifice other          1             2                   3                4           5
things to excel in the sport.

2.Really want to become an          1             2                  3                4            5
outstanding runner.

3.Never let up or give up in           1              2                  3                4          5
a race.

4.Work hard to correct                 1                2                 3                 4         5
mistakes from past events.

5.Give 100% effort when                1                2                3                 4         5

6.Train during all weather                 1               2                  3             4           5

7.Put in extra time preparing              1                2              3                4           5
for big events.

8.Push hard even when it hurts           1                2                 3           4            5
(races or training).

9.Feel more committed to improve-     1                2                3               4        5
ment in running than anything else.

10.Feel more successful or gain           1                2                 3              4        5
more recognition in running than
anything else.

I really like numbers 9 and 10. Reportedly the above chart was devised by Terry Orlick, I think it's quite good. If you honestly look at yourself you can get a good idea of your level of commitment. Some runners think their level of commitment is higher than it actually is. The above chart can be a true reality check in that regard.Hopefully this scale will make you aware of the areas you need to work on. With a raising of your score will eventually come an increase in your level of performance.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Some Self Examination Thoughts

So many runners read the books and magazines that describe the exploits and successes of other athletes.For many, they are living  their athletic lives vicariously through the lives of these "superstars." You see abundant evidence of this when you browse through some of the more heavily visited running forums on the internet. Cerutty taught that it is better to be doers rather than spectators. It is in the doing that we become fully alive,that we feel there is something special going on in our lives.
In many of us lies a persistent feeling that we need to fully commit,to explore what we can accomplish athletically.
If you feel this may be speaking to you, consider the following:
Do you have the desire? Have you tried to suppress and ignore these desires,yet still they persist?
Do you have the urge? The feeling that it is something you must pursue.
Do you feel there is a need? This means, irregardless of who you are or your age, you recognize that there is a worthiness that is inherent in fully exploring what you can do athletically.
In closing,things have gotten a little out of wack in this world when most believe that the pursuit of possessions and money,no matter what the cost,is the way to go,while living out your athletic dreams is pure foolishness.
Ignore the hype and pressure, it's an empty,superficial way, don't ignore your desires,follow your heart.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Katherine Switzer,Bobbi Gibb and Being Truthful

It's going to be a 20/20 Investigative Reports kind of post today.
It's funny how sometimes you think you know everything about an event and then you later find out that you really didn't.This happened to me recently and I'd be willing to bet that most of you weren't aware of what I discovered either.
I begin by asking this question,who was the first woman to run in the Boston marathon? I'm sure most of you would answer as I did, it was Katherine Switzer. We know this because Katherine herself has said so over the years and the media has regularly referenced her running Boston as a landmark event in women's sports as well as the feminist movement.Who hasn't seen the photo of Boston marathon official Jock Semple trying to pull Katherine from the 1967 Boston marathon? Switzer has had a high profile and lucrative career as a result of the perception that she was the first woman to run the most historic marathon in America.
The reality is,is that she wasn't and she has been less than honest about her place in running history.
Before I tell you how I came to know the truth,let me ask you this,whenever you've seen Switzer introduced on television, she's described as the first woman to run Boston,have you ever seen her deny it,or attempt to clarify that remark? I never have.
Recently I was on Bill Rodger's website called the Bill Rodgers Running Center.As I was looking at the front page,I scrolled down the left side and saw some interesting things to access,one was entitled,An Interview. I clicked on it and it took me to a lengthy and most interesting interview with Bobbi Gibb. I would be willing to bet that most of you probably don't know who Bobbi Gibb is, I didn't. Well,in 1996,on the 100th anniversary of the Boston Marathon, Bobbi Gibb was officially recognized as the first woman to ever run the Boston Marathon and as the three time women's winner in 1966,1967 and 1968.
What,1966? I thought Katherine Switzer was the first woman in 1967? On Gibb's suggestion to readers I went to Katherine's website and her Wikipedia entry,it was there that I read something most interesting.Switzer now describes herself as the first numbered female entry at Boston.That certainly is a different portrayal of her participation than what I've heard since 1967.It's been reported for ages that Switzer got a race number by sending in an application with the name K.V. Switzer. In the interview Bobbi reminded me of something I had forgotten: "In those days the men had to submit a certificate from their doctor and take a pre-race physical as well as submit the application." Other reports that Switzer got a race number from a male friend are more accurate.Gibb said she had written in for an application to run Boston in 1966 but had gotten no response so she then hid herself till the start of the race. She goes on to say that in his book,Call Me Jock,Semple had seen her but didn't attempt to stop her because she "hadn't cheated to get an illegal number."  Gibb said that Semple felt that with Switzer ".....he had been tricked. More importantly,under the rules of the A.A.U., if a race allows an unsanctioned or unqualified runner,it can lose accreditation and that would invalidate all the running times of the qualified runners." Hence, we have his trying to pull her from the race and his unfair admission to the Hall of Running Infamy with the likes of Rosie Ruiz and Stan Cottrell. I say this to you younger readers, it was a far different and more stringent racing scene back then than it is now.
The logical question is,what is the purpose of describing yourself as the first numbered entry at the Boston marathon when you were deceptive in obtaining that number? Does that make your portrayal as the first woman to ever run Boston  correct and okay?
My purpose here is not to trash Katherine Switzer but to right a wrong and in some small way give recognition to the rightful person, Bobbi Gibb. I find it interesting that on Rodger's site,the man known as Boston Billy, has this interview available.His attempt to also set the record straight? I can't encourage you enough to go and read this interview. Bobbi Gibb is a talented and fascinating person.
Years ago the running world was outraged when Rosie Ruiz cheated and was initially declared the winner of the 1980 Boston marathon.My question is this,when you present yourself as something you aren't you are being untruthful,are there degrees of being honest or truthful? Are some degrees of deception okay while others are not?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Reward For Perseverance by Percy Cerutty

"No door remains forever locked against the man of indomitable will and courage. What we most lack is the power to continue: continuity and perseverance--the never quit spirit allied to intelligence is the secret key to success: not great natural endowments,powerful friends and favourable environments." By Percy Cerutty.
Is telling ourselves that someone else's athletic success is the result of their being a "natural" our attempt to ignore the probability that it was the result of hard work? The kind of hard work we may not be willing to do?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Carrying On the Stotan Message, Please,No Merchandising

A couple of things prompted me to post this article. The first was a question I read directed to a prominent running writer years ago asking,in so many words, who was going to carry on the Stotan  message now that Cerutty was gone? Obviously,this person had not read the book Training With Cerutty by Larry Myers,because if he had, he would have seen that in the foreward, Percy designated Myers as the man to carry on in his place. Unfortunately, that didn't work out too well,Larry seemed to disappear from the public scene sometime after 1980.It's a familiar occurrence though, a charismatic leader dies and his movement loses momentum or just fades away.When you think about it,the Stotan philosophy would be an increasingly "hard sell" to most in the years since Perc's death. I mean,with it's disdain for consumerism,materialism and pretension, as well as it's emphasis on keeping it natural with all that means and entails,it only takes a peek in a running mag or running catalogue these days to see that Stotanism is not going mainstream in the running community anytime soon. Come to think of it,I wonder what Percy would think of spandex tights,headphones and heart rate monitors? But,again,I digress.
The other thing that inspired the following pertained to a link someone sent me,it was entitled Stotan Racing.This person wanted to know if this was THE group that was carrying on the true Stotan way.A quick look over the site revealed that it was a Nike sponsored club described as an, "excellence driven distance club."  Nothing wrong with that, I saw they had a page taken from Percy's bio,Why Die? which quotes what some call the Stotan Creed or Code, also a very nice touch. Their training grounds had access to parks and hills which certainly fits in with Stotanism. They did say they were a place where post collegiate runners could come  in order to continue to develop their potential, something that is badly needed in this country. I was a little put off  by their seeking donations so they could finance their runners but I've  always had a problem with this type of thing just as I do appropriating the name Stotan to promote something that is not truly Stotan all the way through. To their credit though, they did say that their athletes worked.As most of us are aware,the greatest athletes from decades past, like Derek Clayton for example, were employed and still managed to do a prodigious amount of training.
Well,I got back to my friend and told them that,no,this group was not THE group that was carrying on Percy's legacy and all things Stotan. However,I did say they were performing a good work that used some of what Stotanism involved but the key word here is some.As anyone who has read Cerutty's books,his bio, and posts on this site will realize, Stotanism is an all encompassing philosophy.It's more than just a way of training.You can't take bits and pieces out of what I'll call the philosophy and use it as you choose, not at least if you want to be considered truly Stotan. But let me quickly add this, a little bit of any kind of the Stotan principles in your life or training is a very good thing.
Herb Elliott summed it up best years ago in an interview he did for a British radio program. In responding to a question that asked,"who's going to carry on Cerutty's philosophy?", he said their wasn't a need for a specific person because we have his books and articles to guide us.How true that is, it's all there in his writings,what being a Stotan really means. Now it's up to us to read and act on what we've learned,it is THE way to live,we can be the messengers.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

One Day Delay

Due to my getting back late from the trails in Umstead Park near Raleigh, today's scheduled article will be posted on Sunday.
For those of you who are new to this site I would encourage you to check out  past articles that date back to 2010,they can be accessed by going to the Blog Archive section on the right side of this page.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

This Running Life,pt.1

I enjoy the early writings of Joe Henderson,long time editor and writer for Runners World magazine. In reading his books and articles over the years,it's quite evident that Joe has had a lifelong passion for running.He is often quite insightful as to the essence of running. Consider this quote: "Running satisfies needs far deeper and more basic than showing me I can run a three hour marathon....running serves as a vital counter balance to the often oppressive weight of modern living." What Joe relates is more relevant today  then when he wrote it 38 years ago if you consider how much our society has changed since then. In the following he provides some convincing reasons why running is an integral part of our lives. After some of the entries I'll add a few comments.
"The more noisy and crowded life becomes,the more we need a quiet time alone with our thoughts."
How true,that's why we should leave the ear phones and the music at home when we go out for a run.I know runners who will not do a workout without them.Are they afraid to be alone with their thoughts? We must break away from the urge to always want to be entertained.
"The easier and more comfortable our daily existence, the more passive,the more we need activity,effort,even a bit of pain."
For some reason this makes me think of the commercial I saw last night encouraging parents to get their children outside to do an hour of activity a day. I felt like I was watching something from another planet. We've gotten to that point in society? If one is not active, there is a grim future awaiting that child or adult.Take a walk through a Mall or down a street and do a survey of what percentage of the people are overweight.It's shocking. We feel best when we are fit and active.
"The more we are forced to live and work indoors,the more we need to escape to the outdoors."
You know when people really understand how true this statement is? It's when those who normally don't go outside much spend the day in a park,the woods or on a quiet beach.Indoors is unnatural.I feel bad for those who work indoors all day and then go to a local air-conditioned gym to get a workout. We have come to accept being indoors.Too many of us have gotten away from the simple pleasure that comes from being a part of nature.
More to follow.......