Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Training:Putting Down the Foundation

Due to intense pressure from sources I am unable to divulge, I am dipping into The Stotan News archives to give you a schedule for base training, or building a base as some call it.. Seriously folks,I thought it would be nice to get a relatively brief and concise schedule out to you. To me, this is the most important phase of your training. I have known many distance runners who have completed only this part of their schedule and still raced well.
Perhaps you have finished your fall racing season or just done a marathon; you've taken a few weeks off while giving yourself extra rest days combined with some very easy running, now you are thinking about 2013.I assume that as a thoughtful runner you have been evaluating how things went this past season,what went well, what didn't and what you could have done differently.I say this because it seems that most runners always believe they could have done better even when they've done pretty good. I guess it's the nature of the beast as they say.Make no mistake about it---building a base or foundation is essential to not only successful running but also to staying happy and healthy as a runner. From the archives dated 9/30/97--written in the wilds of South Wales,N.Y.on Fish Hill.
"Every single sport has fundamentals,the basics that have to be mastered before you can progress to the next level. For instance,in weight lifting,proper technique must be learned to lift the weights most effectively. More importantly though, you can't lift the heavy weights until the body is ready.This of course is accomplished by increasing the poundage gradually during training over a period of time. Running is the same way. The body has to gradually get used to handling an increasingly heavy(stressful) workload. It may come as a surprise to some coaches and running theorists but this is not accomplished in a month or two. In a time when people want results as soon as possible,it's very unfashionable to suggest that laying the groundwork(base) for a successful running program should take a minimum of four months.When building a base is done right,you minimize the chances of becoming injured or burned out plus you have the potential to produce your best possible racing performances.More importantly though,running will be what it always should be,enjoyable.
As a reminder to those who may have forgotten or those of you who still believe that running fast is the only way of racing fast,consider what Arthur Lydiard discovered and taught: aerobic(base) work increases cardiac efficiency,raises oxygen uptake and creates capillary development.You may recall that the more capillaries developed the better,this means more oxygen can be taken in and utilized. Aerobic training also strengthens and conditions the heart,lungs and legs. This is why it should not be rushed and why someone is defeating the whole purpose of aerobic training by racing during this phase.Once again,the fundamentals,imagine the weightlifter saying,"I've been training for a month,let me have a go at that world benchpress record."
A commonly asked question in developing the aerobic base is,how much mileage should I do? Famed exercise physiologist David Costill says that from his studies he believes between 75 and 90 miles per week is sufficient. He adds that if you do more,you are running for reasons other than achieving maximal fitness. Both Cerutty and Lydiard wrote that 100 miles per week is ideal for the marathon runner. However,both add that this number is not written in stone. If 50 or 60 miles is what you run that's fine too. What counts is how you do those miles. Lydiard suggests doing the base phase as long as possible. To me, from 3 to 6 months seems reasonable,especially when the rest of an ideal training schedule will take up to 4 additional months."
This ends part one of the base phase. Part two will be published tomorrow(Thursday). There may very well be a part three but as of yet I am not sure. I believe you will find what follows to be informative and helpful.It may be new info to some and a needed reminder to others.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Another Way To Experience a Morning

An Early Friday Morning Run

Dawn breaks over the trees in Chesnut Ridge Park,
it's quarter to six on a Friday morn.
Alone as I lace up my shoes,
it's perfectly still except for the birds greeting a new day.
The air is crisp and pure,
neither warm nor cool.
I am alone yet totally at peace,
running down a pristine trail banked by trees and ferns.
I realize what is truly important,
I understand why I am here.

May we never lose our connection with nature.So much can be gained and  experienced from that connection.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You Can Leave Your Watch Off

Awhile back I was getting ready to do an easy 7 mile run. As I went out the door I realized I had spent almost 10 minutes looking for my watch. While running I wondered, what was the urgency for having a watch on this run? It was over a familiar area,it wasn't a tempo run or time trial,so why the need for a watch?
I started thinking how wearing a watch less for runs would be a good idea. Consider this--ever go out for what you believe is going to be an easy run over a route you've run many times and found yourself checking your time at certain points along the way? Have you looked at your watch and thought, "I'm a minute and half off where I usually am at this point," then picked up the pace either consciously or subconsciously? What was originally intended to be an easy recovery run then became something else.
How many of you have done tempo runs,intervals,or time trials and found yourself obsessively checking your watch as you go? I certainly did it at one time and have seen countless other runners over the years doing it.
I think it would be wise if many of us rethought our use of watches in training and used effort as the gauge instead of timepieces. Cerutty once said: "Elliot may run faster than me but never harder." It is the effort put out that determines the time,so why the preoccupation with timing and the reliance on it has a determinent as to whether or not you had a "good" workout?
Of course the watch can be an aid to training but it is often the disruptor,inhibitor and discourager to training(forgive the grammar). Who knows why we sometimes run fast and smooth one day,and not so fast and smooth another.In some ways I think that it's just part of the way it goes in training.We shouldn't allow ourselves to be discouraged by these ebbs and flows,it's all part of the process.
Free up your training,try leaving your watch at home.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Some Stotan Secrets

Over the years I've gotten many inquiries as to what I thought of Larry Myers,the designated heir to the Stotan legacy and  author of Training With Cerutty.I tell everyone that the book is excellent because it's loaded with Cerutty quotes and that you have to respect Myers because,as the preface states, Perc had designated him to be his successor. Unfortunately,it appears that it didn't go well for Myers because he appeared to drop out of sight in the early 80's.However,before that time he wrote 100 Stotan Secrets---Training With Cerutty. It obviously was inspired by Percy and contained many good quotes by him.Much of what is in "Secrets" is worth paying attention to.Consider the following:
"A great coach inspires confidence in his leadership demonstrating in his own person what he wants an athlete do at practice and on the athletic field,realizing it is the intensity of effort that gets the results,not merely the effort being a slave to a printed training schedule. 'If a coach can't do it,he can't teach it' remarked Cerutty"
The above view on coaches seems almost unimaginable in this day and age. I don't believe I ever had a coach who actually "took us through our paces."
"Coaching hundreds of athletes over the years taught Percy Cerutty that it takes a gifted distance runner between 5-8 years conditioning and at least 10 yerars for an average athlete to reach their potential."
In the age of wanting results as soon as possible,the above time schedules may seem like a lifetime to many.Patience is the key.
"When a group of athletes train or run together,there is a lot more momentum build up throughout a workout,developing the 'soul power' one only vaguely thought existed from training alone."
Amen to that, there is something very special about training with a group of runners who all desire one thing,running success.For you Buffalo natives,remember the old days when groups of runners trained together in preparation for the Skylon Marathon?
'Never look backwards dwelling on past failures and defeat letting it get one down,but endeavor to move forward on the highest creative plane,focusing your energies on the future,working hard for winning and success,placing no limitations on yourself reaching, upwards to the stars and beyond."
Dwelling on past mistakes and failures only conjures up negative feelings.
As someone once said---"we can do infinitely more than we think we can."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Angry Al's Take on Lance

Sometime yesterday I got a call from my old friend Al,nicknamed Angry Al by all those who know him. Al has written two articles for this site in the past,opinionated and intense,he is always a good one to get you thinking,even if you don't agree with him. Everyone seems to be talking about Lance these days,his "fall from grace,"at least to me,far surpasses what happened with Tiger Woods. I say this because with Tiger,he never really connected on the personal,emotional level like Lance did.It is not a stretch to say that Woods was aloof and distant from the public while Armstrong has never been.Here Al offers a blunt appraisal of the recent events surrounding Lance Armstrong.

" Some questions: who in the top echelon of sports like professional bike racing,track and field,elite marathoning and road racing aren't using, or haven't used, performance enhancing drugs(peds)? The rumors and reports that attest to the fact athletes are using have been circulating for years as do the number of positive drug tests. Is there anyone out there naive enough to think that any of the 25 top finishers at the Tour de France didn't use p.e.d.'s prior? Are there still people who don't know that you can take performance enhancing drugs before a competition and avoid detection? And speaking of taking p.e.d.'s and avoiding detection, consider the following.
Have you ever wondered why a female marathoner was able to decimate the world marathon record with a 2:15? In a space of 7 months she ran a 2:17 and the 2:15 while never coming near those marks again. And please, spare me the she's been injured excuse,these injuries are often caused by maxing out your body over a period of time while using,ask Mark McGwire and Regina Jacobs about that one. How come "Flo-Jo" obliterated the world marks for both the 100 meter and the 200 meter in 1988 with times that no one has come close to before or after? Anyone recall Ben Johnson practically standing up as he left the blocks and still being able to set a WR in the 100 meters? Low 26's for the men's 10K,mid 12's for the men's 5k,2:03 for the men's marathon, how many of those times and the others I mentioned before were run 'clean'? Call me a cynic but I doubt any of them were. That's just the way it is these days in the world of big time athletics,there's tons of money to be made by lots of people.Again,some might say they drug test these athletes so how can they be using? As I said, thanks to modern chemistry,detection is very difficult,especially when you know when you will be tested.Obviously,more has to be done to find the cheaters if the governing bodies of these sports are going to catch them. I wouldn't look for that to happen anytime soon.Perhaps I'm more of a realist than a cynic.This all brings me back to Lance and the big question. Hasn't he said that he never failed a drug test? I don't believe I ever read in the News that he had. By the way,that wasn't the big question.The big question is,what was the reason or reasons for the seemingly obsessive investigation of Armstrong over the last few years to prove he used p.e.d.'s? I haven't seen that being done with other athletes.
I conclude with this---
Do I think Lance used,yeah,just like all the others in the Tour do. I think this because it is common knowledge in the biking world and a year can't go by without one or more of the top riders getting busted.Is it ok to cheat because everyone else does? Of course it isn't.
But my question remains, why the fixation on Lance?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Getting Philosophical With Cerutty

Cerutty taught the necessity of staying relaxed while running and provided useful instruction on how to physically do so.In the following, which is a testament to his ability to think "out of the box," he provides some reasons for athletes not being relaxed.They are things that one would not usually consider but they should cause us to stop and think.If anything, the following is provocative.
"I go further,I hold that as long as people retain fixed prejudices,rigid ideas,and convictions,lack a sense of humour in their attitudes to themselves,their fellow men, and life in general,there must be,and will be,tensions which extend from the mind to the physical body and its movements.
So relaxation,in the last resort,if we would be perfect,depends upon,firstly,freeing the mind of all restrictive attitudes and beliefs,and adopting,if it is possible, the carefree(but not irresponsible) attitudes of the child,trusting in our instinctive likes and dislikes,responding to,and giving to others,kindnesses to others more than ourselves. In a word--living fully,freely,with as little restrictions upon our good impulses,in particular,as possible.
Never was it more truly said that to enter the athletic kingdom of heaven one must become as a little child."
Although Percy denied any allegiance to a particular faith,the last sentence from this excerpt is his rephrasing of a passage found in one of the Christian gospels.
It is an unfortunate occurrence that as we get older far too many of us become cynical and negative,we lose the innocence and enthusiam for life we had as youths. I believe this is why so many turn to other means to find happiness, such as adopting unhealthy habits like alcohol and drug use as well as the endless quest for entertainment and satiation. We must not forget to appreciate the "little things" in life,the things that most take for granted(family,health,etc.).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nothing New Under the Sun

"There are no secrets to running success,anyone who says there are is probably trying to sell you something." Marty Liquori( former 1500 meter Olympian,outstanding American miler and the 3rd high school student to break 4 minutes for the mile).
New books,new training formulas,new gadgets and new accessories will never replace the tried and true path to distance running success--- the passage of time,persistence and mileage.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Take a Look at Yourself

Part of the process of becoming a champion,or at least achieving some degree of personal athletic success,is having the ability to look at ourselves in a critical way.Are we really who we think we are? Have we  been doing the necessary work or are we just "been playing the game?" Of course it's easy to find fault in others but not so easy when it gets personal.
Consider the folowing:how active are we in trying to improve ourselves? Except for the fact that we work out,are we basically living the same kind of life as the guy who is a spectator watching endless hours of television, eating and drinking whatever they want? When was the last time you read a book,did some study on the science of your sport as it pertains to you,went to a seminar or did some disciplines that could improve you physically as well as mentally? I've known alot of people who thought they were much more committed to running then they really were. I know there was one point in my career when I did. It took a look at the stopwatch and reading Cerutty's writings to wake me up to reality.                                                                                                                                      In many ways, for those who seek athletic excellence,it's almost like a calling. Why else would you pursue something that offers,for most at least, no financial gain and minimal amount of recognition? It's because there's something deep inside of you that wants it.and it's as worthy to you as any goal that's out there.
Cerutty touches on this subject as he tells us that we must evaluate ourselves in order to adequately evaluate our rivals.
"Thus it is far better to study oneself than to study others.When we have mastered ourselves as persons:accepted our weaknesses ,and tried seriously and conscientiously to overcome them: when we have discovered by trial and error(such as by tests,pitting ourselves against standards) we can then have a chance of reasonably evaluating ourselves as against our fellows."
"When we have mastered ourselves"---that's a process that takes time and effort,but,it's a labor of love if you have a love for what you are doing.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Something To Think About

Sometimes,certain things that seem to be unrelated to the subject of running really are. As the title of Lasse Viren's legendary documentary declared:"Running is My Life," a life that is intelligently committed to athletics should bring more than just pr's,records and medals.It is hoped that there would come an appreciation for life itself. A life that is not dependent on material possessions and the endless array of activities and entertainment.The following is a call for some to get back to the basics where true peace and contentment are found.
Inspired by Daisetz Suzuki---
We humans are too concerned with things.
Activities,things and too many people clutter our lives.
All this clutter causes us to lose sight of the beauty,the simplicity of this life.

Listen in an open room undisturbed by man made devices.
Do not be afraid of what you might hear or think.
We have forgotten to listen for the beauty.
The beauty of the ocean waves upon the shore or the wind through the trees and brush.
Accept and embrace this beauty which is life.
Leave behind the clutter and confusion we have created.
Only then will we truly experience the beauty of this life.

The Sage