Friday, July 12, 2013


If you are new to this blog please read the post just below this one first. Before you do though--I would like to say that there are over 300 articles on this site that cover every aspect of running and more. You can see the archive section to the right of this page. A good place to start would be to read the very first post entitled---What This Site is All About published on December 24, 2010.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


For those of you who are new to this site,if you look to the right side of this page you will see an archive section,check out the articles that began at that end of 2010 and after.You will also see there are things  that you will never read on any other running website.Encourage your friends and those who live for the run to delve into the archives and read those past articles.The key is,they have to have a love for the run.I write for those who can't imagine a life without running.
I am also writing to say that today brings to a close new postings on this site.

I feature a pix of Steve Prefontaine for this last post because he was the last true charismatic hero of American distance running.He was one of those rare runners who provoked interest among people who wouldn't normally be considered fans of Track and Field. No one since his time time has ever captivated the American public like Pre,not Shorter,not Rodgers,not Salazar,not anyone.The fools that occasionally post "on the world's largest running forum" like to remind us that many Americans have run faster than Pre but they miss the whole point,Pre excited us,he got us involved,he showed us what running could be.
Let me leave you with with this:To run is to live. Feel free to contact me anytime at: 
A thank you to everyone who frequents this site!!!!!!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

On Dogs and Runners

I guess this is one of those soapbox kind of days. Before I begin I would like to say that I am a dog owner. I would also like to say that I view most bad behavior by dogs as being the result of their owners not controlling their pets.Over the years I've always ignored the articles that's appeared,usually in RW,regarding runner's encounters with dogs.Perhaps I should have read them. I say this because for the third time in three months I've been attacked by the same dogs.The first time  was nasty.The dogs came charging around the corner and hit me just below the knee,upending me,resulting in an injured elbow and hip.Thankfully,the owner was close by to call them off.They looked to be pitbulls or a mix of that breed.The owner was somewhat apologetic and explained that her dogs were actually going after the dogs behind a fence I was running by.Let me say this about her comment,why is it that dog owners seem to make comments like that after their dogs behave badly or they say other ones like,"he's never done that before." Maybe they should try this one,"You know,I really need to keep them on a leash." Well,a month later,they came charging at me again.Fortunately,I yelled and the owner called them off.Finally,the other day one of them came charging out again and it was scary.The owner appeared but it got a little tense as they say.It was at that moment I said to myself,"enough is enough." When I got home I called the police with the intention of filing a complaint.Now, some of you may be wondering why I just didn't find another place to run but you see this route is a perfect one,a little bit of country in the middle of the city.It's about a mile long dirt service road that runs behind my house with tons of foliage on either side.
Well,the policeman arrived and was sympathetic but said it was more a matter for animal control and he would call them and have them talk with me.All I could think was, can't he just go over there and tell them they need to obey the city's leash law? He said they'd be over in about two hours.A day later and still no animal control.It was at that point I called them myself and it wasn't just about me and my running that I called.In the past I've seen children walking and on bikes in the area where these dogs ran loose.
I knew things weren't going well with the call when the lady from animal control who was taking the report seemed to have alot of trouble distinguishing between my address and the address where the incident occurred.I had to repeatedly say,"no,I live at that address,the address of the dogs is....." She assured me that someone from animal control would stop out there to "educate" them. Oh yeah,I'm sure that was effective.A little education,yeah,that's all that's needed.How 'bout a ticket? How 'bout the owner being told to obey the leash law or else?
In closing,I finally decided to find another route to run.It's not quite as nice as the other one but at least I know I can run safely......for now!
Next soapbox topic--How can you call yourself a serious or hardcore runner when you do your long runs with your cellphone hung on your shorts?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Speedwork and Distance Running

Perhaps the biggest fallacy in distance training is that you have to do lots of speedwork to be successful.There is no denying you need to do work at the appropriate time that is harder and faster, but,the benefits of grinding out multiple reps and sets of 200's--400's--800's etc. are grossly overrrated.I recall in high school that it was a rite of passage to do all out 200 and 400 meter reps in track practice.Now,I am not saying that some runners will not do well if they go heavy on the intervals,I'm simply stating that they are not a necessity to achieve distance running success.
Joe Henderson,who know running as well as most anyone says this:
"At the risk of sounding like a heretic,I'll state right off that speed is the most overrated commodity in distance running.Speed doesn't come in appreciable amounts,no matter how many dashes a young runner puts in.Speed is there,inborn.Some have it,some don't. Training can only alter the maximum level by a few scanty tenths of a second,yet hours of effort are poured into the search for it.The paradox is obvious:the average four minute miler(or even five minute miler) does 10 times as much speed training as a 9:1 sprinter.Speed,the speed needed to race adequately at distances longer than a mile,anyway,is quickly sharpened down to the limits of our ingrained abilities.After reaching that point,additional speed training is of dubious value.And worse,it hurts.It hurries the inevitable rush of fatigue producing lactic acid through the muscles.And,it raises the risk of stress injuries."
Don't buy into the, 'if the training doesn't hurt, you're not going to get better' fallacy.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Ideal Athlete Is

Perhaps the following would be most appropriate in referring to the competitive athlete.C.Al Huang wrote the following. The ideal athlete is:
Has the courage to risk failure,learn from setbacks and forge ahead.
Sees the event as a means to gain greater self-realization.
Knows his or her vulnerabilities and trains to strengthen them.
Sees success as one part of the process of sports.
Understands that performance is a roller coaster and has the patience to ride the ups and downs.
Enjoys the sport for the pleasure it gives."
The athlete who views his sport the way Mr.Huang details above is a thinking and sensitive person.Consider his reference to self-realization.You learn alot about yourself when you compete against others.Those who have seriously raced,or do so now,know what I'm talking about.You also become aware of your vulnerabilities and weaknesses along the way.
The runner who thinks his training and racing are strictly physical endeavors,something to push through with little thought,gain nothing in the mental and emotional departments.Consequently,this person loses out on the opportunity to grow as a person.
The ideal athlete knows failure and disappointment are part of the process,he expects it and deals with it when it comes from time to time.Who he is as a runner and a person is not determined by how he did at his last race(or workout).
The final entry says it all,"enjoys the sport for the pleasure it gives." The ideal athlete doesn't lose sight of that no matter how much success,or failure,he encounters.
The ideal athlete is a unique individual.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Some Characteristics of People Who Persist

Determination and persistence are the keys to distance running success.Consider the following by C. Al Huang,those who persist tend to:
"Create fun in the process of accomplishment.
Have a strong sense of self and feel that,regardless of the outcome,they will be still worthwhile.
Have the courage to act and take risks.
Make changes gradually and patiently.
Reward themselves periodically for small gains they make.
Seek the support of others when times get tough.
Like variety as a means of maintaining interest.
Expect positive outcomes.
Focus on the joyous aspect of the journey.
Know that progress is always two steps forward and one step, backward."

I really like what the above has to say.One thing that really hits home are the references to the joy and fun aspects that must exist in order to stay persistant.Why turn a great activity like distance running into an ego driven quest for success? Enjoy the journey.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Advice For the Long Run

Most of us who live for the run want to run till,well.....we're not around anymore.Consider the following:
"The runner who keeps going is one who is friendly with himself,who grows and adapts to changing conditions as he goes, and whose greatest pleasure is in where he is,not in where he has been or where he is headed."
The above makes me think of the song by James Taylor entitled,"The Secret of Life." The first line of this song goes,"The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time."
So many runners I've known refuse to face the reality of aging and continue hammering workouts in the desperate hope of delaying the inevitable drop-off in performance that comes with age. These runners are definitely not being "friendly" with themselves. They are opening the door to frustration,discouragement,and inevitably,a diminishing of the enjoyment that can be gained from running.Is anything worth killing our love for the run?
"Living in the moment" has over the years become a new age cliche but it is very applicable to aging and the running experience.Instead of mulling over the fact you are not running the times you once did,be thankful you are still able to run today and make the changes that will minimize "the passage of time."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Some Reasons Why We Love To Run

Why do we love running so much? Joe Henderson says it best when he writes that running is a "vital counter balance to the often oppressive weight of modern living."
Consider these other reasons as to why running is so appealing:
"1.The more we are burdened with mental work,the more we need to strike a physical balance."
And for those who don't seek the physical outlet,the more likely they are to seek solace in unhealthy activities like overeating,drugs or alcohol.
"2.The more we meet with collective repression,the more we need individual expression."
Most of us are controlled by others in the workplace,not so in our running life.
"3.The more we're alienated from one activity,the more we need strong attachment to another."
I don't know about you but with some jobs I've had,if I didn't have running I would have lost my mind.
"4.The more complex our lifestyle,the more we need a simple uncluttered routine."
Running should always be a return to all things simple and basic.As Cerutty said,running should never become regimented work.
"5.The more we become civilized,the more we need to revert to a more primitive state."
What do you think the reason is that you feel so good and free when you are running the trails deep in the woods somewhere?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Qualities Needed and Not Needed

Much has been written about what is required to be a successful distance runner. Cerutty's classic, and best book was entitled,Athletics:How to Become a Champion.Over the decades of my being involved in this,the purest of all sports,distance running,I have found some qualities you need, and some you don't need to become successful. By successful in distance running I mean either competitve success or becoming as fast and fit as you can be.Obviously,determination and persistence are essential but everyone should know that,let me present a few that are frequently overlooked. Here goes:
1.A love for the sport of distance running is an essential quality needed.This love, that is a part of your being, takes you through the years,the injuries,the changes in your life,the times when you feel you are getting nowhere and every other obstacle that arises along the way.For instance,I'm sure you've seen  runners come and go over the years,some have enjoyed varying degrees of success only to abandon the sport after the success fades,the injuries arrive or they move onto some other activity.When you really love something you stay with it because it.
2.You don't need to be born with natural talent to do well in distance running.Buy a used copy of The Self-Made Olympian by Ron Daws,look up an article I wrote entitled,The Lesson of Ron Daws and you will see how true this statement on talent is.You will find you have to pay more attention to details than the naturally gifted runners but Ron wrote the textbook on achieving much after starting with less.By the way,The Self-Coached Olympian is on my top 5 list of greatest running books of all-time.
3.You must be organized.Having a training program with an accompanying racing schedule is a must.The schedule must reflect work and family demands.More on this below.
4.You need to be goal centered,some may call it self-centered,others maybe selfish.What I mean is,if you really commit to excellence in distance running,you lay out the plan that includes training and racing,you go over it with your significant other or family and then you work your life around that.There are 24 hours in the day so I hardly think taking 2 hours out of 24 is being selfish but.......On a related note,I still haven't figured out why self-described hardcore runners marry people who don't respect their love for running.I mean,it's a part of who they are,it's what in many ways makes them the kind of person their partner finds appealing, so why does this person resent their degree of involvement in running? For far too many significant others it's about control and doing what they want,it's not just about the running.
A refusal to be methodical and organized indicates a questionable desire to succeed.The proof as they say is in the pudding,what you do proves what you say you want.It's easy and fun to lace on the shoes to do a run; for many,it's less exciting to sit down and write in a journal,lay out a schedule or any of the other seemingly mundane tasks that you need to do sans training shoes.
I could go on, but for me,the above are the essentials. I think of other things like you don't require much money to be a runner.I have a friend who has spents thousands of dollars on being a triathlete.His bike cost more than the used car I bought a year ago. I guess that's one of the reasons I refer to distance running as the purest of all sports.It's natural simplicity is what makes it so great.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ron Daws On Beginning Track Work

Those who are familiar with this site recall that I have referenced Ron Daws previously.He was a member of the 1968 U.S. Olympic marathon team.His list of pr's prior to making the squad would be at best be described as unremarkable. Ron was an example of what persistence and determination could accomplish.He also wrote one of the truly great books on running,The Self-Made Olympian.Here he gives some sound advice on how to begin training on the track.Track work has to be approached carefully and with a certain degree of restraint at first. Four sets of 4 --400 meter reps all out,for most,is not the way to begin but you see people doing this all the time. Here's what Ron says:
"When first going on the track,capitalize on what you have most of, endurance and stamina.Therefore, do not start with fast runs or sprints,no matter how anxious you may be to test yourself after two or three months on the roads.Track training should evolve from high volume,relatively slow work with short rests to faster,shorter workouts with more rest,and finally to fast workouts with little rest.Cutting out all rest from an interval workout leaves a time-trial or a race.
The best introductory interval workout I've devised is the following:
Two mile jog; two x 220,two x 440,two x 660,two x 880, 220 jog after each;1320(3 laps),880 meter jog, two x 880,two x 660,two x 440, two x 220,220 jog after each; two mile warm down jog."
You can tell the age of this schedule by the fact yards are used instead of meters.
Daws does not recommend using a watch the first few times you do this workout.The reasons why should be obvious,one,you don't want to be so preoccupied with time that you run too hard before you are ready,and two,you avoid becoming discouraged when your initial times don't meet your expectations because this is a new phase of your training.
Take a look at what the total mileage is for this workout,this type of training is going to make you fit and ready to race.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Quote That Says it All

The quote that says it all about distance running was written by Kenny Moore,perhaps running's greatest writer.Not surprisingly,he was an excellent runner himself.If you have not read his books and articles I would highly recommend that you do.Begin with Best Efforts for starters and then search out the Sports Illustrated archived article on  marathoner Mamo Wolde( a link to that article is in the comments section below). Whoever said winning is everything didn't know distance running.
Kenny Moore writes:
"The enduring satisfaction of distance running is not in in records that will inevitably be broken,not in knowing that you were the best on a given day.It lies in knowing that you have learned how to be brave and to do something better than you first thought you could,and perhaps in knowing you amazed a few people along the way."
Not much you can add to that.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Now Is the Time

"The credit belongs to those who are actually in the arena, who strive valiantly; who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at best know the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if they fail, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Quote by Theodore Roosevelt.

If you haven't, now is the time to really challenge yourself physically; consider shooting for a sub 3 hour marathon, try a 50 or 100 mile road,track or trail race. For that matter, consider any challenge that makes you a little nervous when you think about it.
It might take a few years or more to get there but as Roosevelt says, it's in the commitment and striving that we truly feel alive and grow as people.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

More Words of Wisdom From Arthur

"Your schedules are only for guidance.Study your reactions to training from day to day and if you feel jaded or suffer from any soreness allow time for recovery.
Never do speed training when your muscles are sore or you are feeling very tired.Just jog easily,irrespective of what is on the schedule for that day's training.You can never do yourself any harm by jogging and it will usually help to overcome the soreness or tiredness.
Control your training so that you are not racing it,except when full efforts are called for in the schedules.Run strongly and easily in effort,always keeping something in reserve.As you feel improvement,gradually increase your training tempo but never use that reserve." Quote by Arthur Lydiard.
A common mistake by rookies and  runners who can't control their anxiety is not being able to back- off. They believe that any letting up on, or changing a workout to accomodate their physical condition, will negatively effect racing performance.This of course is nonsense.Easy jogging when feeling overly tired or sore, in place of "gutting out" a training session that will  ultimately be debilitating instead of constructive,allows the body to recover and come back strong.As a sidenote,studies have shown that a conditioned runner will lose only 5% of his fitness if he does no running for a week.I would quickly add that this percentage increases if the inactivity goes into 2 and 3 weeks.
It's a cliche but we must "listen to our bodies" and not treat them as if they were machines.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Is Your Racing In a Rut?

Early writings by Joe Henderson are filled with much relevant and useable info.Joe was a runner first and then he was in on the formative days of Runner's World when it stressed mileage and performance.Consider the following self-evaluation which helps to determine if your racing or training has bogged down or is in a rut.Sometimes we runners just don't see or ignore the fact that we are.This of course will prevent us from improving and fully enjoying our running experience. Ask yourself:
1. "Do you insist on matching to the minute the amounts of training ordered by the schedule?
2.Are you nagged by chronic low-grade aches and pains that you must not allow to interfere with your program?
3.Do you frequently get bored with your training but still run your daily quotas?
4.Do you often find yourself dreading and delaying the start of your runs until you can psych yourself up to do them?
5.Would you stop training as you do if the races races didn't require it of you?
6.Before races,do you magnify every minor physical complaint into a race threatening crisis?
7.Have your racing times stopped improving even though you work as hard as ever?
8.Are your confidence and enthusiasm badly shaken by any racing slump?
9.After races,are you more likely to complain about what went wrong than to bring up what went right?
10.Have you come to expect better results from yourself than you can produce?
The more you answer yes,the more sure you can be that you have raced yourself into a rut. If more than half of those questions describe you,ease up on yourself. The training and the racing are running you--rather than vice versa."

How true that last line is, 'The training and racing are running you---rather than vice versa.'
I can relate to #'s 3,4, 5,6 and 9. I know runners who have driven themselves crazy because they just don't recognize that they are in what Henderson aptly describes as a rut. How 'bout you?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

More From Bruce

Those who excel in other sports often have much practical advice to offer those in distance running.Bruce Lee was much than just a martial artist and actor.He was a deep thinker who throughout his life challenged himself physically and mentally,not unlike Cerutty.
Consider the following:
"The doubter's said,
'Man cannot fly.'
The doers said,
'Maybe,but we'll try,'
And finally soared
Into the morning's glow,
While nonbelievers
Watched from below.

The doubters claimed
The world was flat.
Ships plunged over its edge,
And that was that!
Yet a brand new world
Some doers found,
And returned to prove
This planet round.

The doubters knew
'Twas fact,Of course,No noisy gadget
Would e'er replace the horse.'
Yet the carriages
Of doers,sans equine,
Came to traverse
All our roads in time.

But to those who kept saying
'It can't be done,'
Never are the victories
Or the honors won.
By the believing,doing kind,
While the doubters
Watched from far behind."

Lee added this to the above,"I warn you that negativeness very often unknowingly creeps up upon us.It helps occasionally to stop all thoughts(the chattering of worries,anticipations,and so forth,in your head) and then once more refreshingly march bravely on."
So much is determined by what is in our head and by our attitude.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

No Limits

"Bruce had me up to three miles a day, really at a good pace. We’d run the three miles in twenty-one or twenty-two minutes. Just under eight minutes a mile [Note: when running on his own in 1968, Lee would get his time down to six-and-a-half minutes per mile].
So this morning he said to me “We’re going to go five.”
I said, “Bruce, I can’t go five. I’m a helluva lot older than you are, and I can’t do five.”
He said, “When we get to three, we’ll shift gears and it’s only two more and you’ll do it.”
I said “Okay, hell, I’ll go for it.”
So we get to three, we go into the fourth mile and I’m okay for three or four minutes, and then I really begin to give out.
I’m tired, my heart’s pounding, I can’t go any more and so I say to him, “Bruce if I run any more,” — and we’re still running — “if I run any more I’m liable to have a heart attack and die.” He said, “Then die.” It made me so mad that I went the full five miles.
Afterward I went to the shower and then I wanted to talk to him about it. I said, you know, “Why did you say that?” He said, “Because you might as well be dead. Seriously, if you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”

The above was recounted by someone being trained by Bruce Lee. We runners can learn alot from the last seven sentences.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Tom Osler on Runners Negative Obsessions

I have referenced Tom Osler many times on this blog before.For those who don't recall,he is a former outstanding ultra runner who back in the mid-60's wrote the now legendary booklet,The Conditioning of Distance Runners.Written in a time when precious little sensible distance training info was available, Osler provided the kind of guidance that runners needed.
Tom Osler has an insight into running that isn't as common as one would think.It is a fallacy to believe that former standouts become outstanding coaches and writers in their respective sports.When asked about negative obsessions runners develop in running and racing he ofered the following observations:
"Some runners make a fetish out of never missing a day's training.Their streaks of continuous days running can number into the years.There is probably no direct harm in this. However,it distracts the runner from his legitimate concerns.He should first concentrate on listening to his body.Take a day off  if the body needs it. There is no loss but actually a gain in such actions.
Another obsession runners succumb to is the minimum mileage for the week syndrome. Runners will kill themselves to make that magic 60 miles,or 100 miles,or whatever it might be.Again,this distracts the runner from his first concern.He should be monitoring his training according to how he feels and not according to some preassigned silly number.
A dangerous obsession is the refusal to quit in races.Of course,there is no honor in quitting simply because you are being beaten.There are however times when continuing poses a real threat to your health.At such times,it is the wise runner who quits."
I don't know about you,but I've been guilty of all of the above at one time or another.As I look back, I recognize that it was almost always related to fear or anxiety.I believed that by backing off I would lose "my edge." Foolishness it was!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Yiannis Kouros Requests
It's not very often that I begin a post with a link to another site but there is a reason why I have. A startling number of self-described fanatical runners still don't either know who Yiannis Kouros is, or aren't aware of the number of records he has set.
Quite simply,Yiannis Kouros is the greatest runner of all-time.Now, I recognize that determining who is the best is a somewhat subjective task but Kouros' records are spectacular. Another thing,the link above doesn't note the numerous point to point victories he's had.
I recall reading on one of the running forums awhile back that someone viewed the ultra running stars as people who ran slower,longer.Interesting comment, made in an era when,as I saw recently in a major metropolitan city, that the 20th place male competitor out of three thousand plus runners ran a time of 20 minutes and change for a 5k. These kind of times are going on all over the country. Thirty-five years ago 20 minutes would have maybe gotten you into the top 100,maybe.But again,I digress.
Suffice to say that most of the running public does not understand ultra running. Factors besides extreme aerobic fitness are needed to be great, and not surprisingly,those factors are all mental.
Recently I came across a set of conditions that Yiannis' handler says must be met before he will compete in a race.Not surprisingly,they mostly relate to keeping the event honest and accurate.Kouros is very zealous about maintaining the integrity of the sport.He has "gone off" on those who are called ultra superstars because they do what some call ultra stunts instead of winning true ultra races.By ultra stunts he means things like running x amount of marathons in so many days or running without stopping for extended periods of time.
Yiannis is now 57 years old and has recently returned to the ultra scene after a long lay-off. He recently set some age group records and last month ran from Athens to Sparta and back in 61 hours.By the way,that's a distance of around 306 miles.So for any of you race directors out there, if you'd like Yiannis to appear at your race,consider the following, it is most interesting:

Standards that should apply in order to invite Y. Kouros to a race:

by Yiannis Kouros admin. on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 11:37am ·
1. The race director or the first in charge person for the race would have achieved an exceptional and outstanding performances in distances longer than 100 miles or 24h. Otherways, how can we could communicate, when I speak the language of real Ultra-running and they speak the language of fun-running, or the language of the spectator, or the language of marketing/media etc?
2. Judges should be present at the entire duration of the race in every spot that should need to be controlled. Beyond that extra persons from at least two other nation should be present, checking out the lap scoring area and/or other critical spots by shifts.
3. The course should be measured according to international rules.
4. If it’s a road race the distance of the loop should be 1, or 1.5 or 2km and nothing in between.
5. Competitors who have taken part in events with cheating history should NOT be allowed to take part, unless they have reported in written form whatever they have experienced, plus the evidence can be considered by supporting in practice the fair play by not taken part again to that event.
6. Anti-doping control should be available according to IAAF rules.
7. Minimum competitors should be 6 and, for maximum the following should apply: if the course is 400 meters, 40 competitors, if 500meters 50 competitors, if 1000meters 100 competitors and if 2km 200 competitors.
8. Competitors who do power walking from the beginning of the race should not be allowed to take part, as (on top of the fact they belong to another sport) they bother those who are after great performances and who are trying to pass them from outside lines, something that is repeated more frequently and, therefore, they cover extra distance which can’t be considered –not even measured- and, so, their extra effort is wasted.
9. Among the lap-scorers, crew members and other people involved with any activities on the venue of the event should NOT be SMOKERS.
10. Movable/chemical toilets should be placed only there where Yiannis Kouros will suggest.
Competitors who do not sweating or do not urinate should be an alarm for drug testing…
I love the #1 standard and #8.The list of potential race directors is significantly reduced by #1.As for #8,it only makes sense,it's an ultra race,not a walk.
Some have said Yiannis is being unreasonable but it's all about the integrity of the sport to him.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The 11 Elements

According to Arthur Lydiard there are eleven factors(elements) that determine how fast you will race.He writes"You must always be realistic and understand your limitations in running certain distances and,within that context,consider all the following principles,particularly that of basic speed."
Arthur writes:
"1.The athlete's basic abilities and development.
2.Basic speed or the ability to sprint.
4.Ability to maintain a fast steady pace.
5.Ability to vary speed in a race.
6.The most suitable distance for a finishing kick.
7.Ability to exercise control during a race.
8.Consideration of opposing runner's abilities.
9.Ability to observe,assess and exploit any strengths and weaknesses in the opposition.
10.Ability to relate one's own weaknesses and strengths to the opposition.
11.Ability to judge pace.
My first thought on the above is that it takes an intelligent and well-conditioned runner to understand and implement several of the above elements.But,that's all part of achieving optimal running performances.
Another thing,you were born with a certain amount of speed,or lack of it.As I used to say to my students,the reason you are running distance instead of the sprints is because you don't have the natural speed. I could have you guys do wind sprints and speed drills all day and you would still not be able to race the 100 or 200.
The beauty of distance running is that you can become faster by doing the work,intelligent work, as Cerutty called it.I should add here that I'm not referring to endless sets of 400 meter intervals on the track.That's foolish work. You want to know yourself as a distance runner and implement some of the elements Lydiard is referring to? Then build up your aerobic base as far as you can, do it over varying courses,distances and terrains.Do fartlek runs, also, run the same courses each week as you build up your maximum aerobic threshold.You do this for a long time and you will know yourself as a runner,you will become highly conditioned,you will be able to switch gears as you run and race.
The beauty of distance training,contrary to what the nouveau running theorists will tell you, is its simplicity.
Go long Sunday!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Frank Shorter On Running and You

Frank Shorter won the 1972 Olympics gold medal in the marathon.In many people's minds he won the '76 Olympic marathon even though he was awarded a silver. I say this because a few decades after that Olympics it was revealed the winner that year was a drug cheat. Frank belonged to an era of U.S. distance running that we will never see again,it was a very special time,a great time for U.S. distance running.Along with Bill Rodgers, they dominated the road racing and marathon scene. Frank,who was self-coached, knows training and the running experience like few others.Consider the following:
"You have to know your body.It's part of the beauty of the training process,and once you've determined how much your body and mind can take,you can then begin to reach your potential."
I should add here before we continue with Frank's comments that it takes a thoughtful athlete to recognize how his body is responding to his daily workouts.The days of going out and 'getting it in' and that's the end of it should be over for those who really want to achieve optimal performance(s).

Frank then says that you can "grow to know your body and exactly how it reacts to running .You can detect subtle changes in the way you run and feel which better enables you to gauge the effort you put into running and the training effect you might derive.You will know when you're fit and why,you'll know when you're not and why."
If you've been running for awhile and are aware,you recognize how true the above statement is.Sometimes the road to optimal performance means getting as much out of your body as possible without causing injury or illness.It can be a fine line. But remember this:
"Running is developmental and no matter how much talent you bring to it,the results you get will come from hard work more than anything else.This is a physiological fact.Almost anyone can become a runner and achieve success in it up to a point."
Know your body,see how far you can take it.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Proper Running Form

Something that is most often overlooked by runners is the importance of good running form. Poor running form can add seconds and minutes to your time,and worse yet,lead to injuries.
I believe there is a mistaken belief that we think the way we run is just the way we run,that it's something which is unique to us as a runner and there is no real need to "tinker" with our running style.The majority of runners I see could use varying degrees of instruction on their form,most notably in the way they carry their shoulders.
Here Lydiard gives some great insights on this neglected subject:
" Most people you see running don't know how to run.Invariably,they bring their arms up around their chests somewhere and roll their shoulders.If you run that way,you lose forward momentum by throwing kilos of bodyweight from side to side.Tight shoulders are another fault which wastes effort.
You do need to know how to run properly and how to develop a technique which will direct all your effort into going forward comfortably and as economically as possible.
The key to good running is relaxation.You must be nice and loose in the shoulders.The arms should be loose,relaxed and coming straight through as they do when you walk.The hands come from behind the hips and,when the elbow gets alongside the torso,the arms should flex so that the thumbs are in a line directly in front of the shoulder blade.
Check your footfall by running on sand or across a dewy lawn.To be most effective,your feet should form almost a single straight line."
Any of the above comments speaking to you? Making adjustments to our form takes time,concentration and a self-monitoring of how we are running. What we've been doing for years won't suddenly change overnight.If we stick with it though, we'll become faster and more efficient runners.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cerutty Speaks,pt.1

"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." Percy Wells Cerutty.
The biggest excuse a distance runner can give to explain his lack of success is to say, 'I just don't have the talent.' The above quote applies to all facets of our life,not just running.
Also,the path to success more often than not takes years.How many of us truly want to put the time in? But as I always say,in distance running,the joy is in the journey.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Running As I Teach It

"Running as I teach it is not a sport or physical activity so much as being a complete expression of ourselves,physical,mental,spiritual,if we can admit of this being something above the mental and artistic.Therefore running as I teach it is to teach the full and complete development of the athlete. One of the ways he attempts to express this development is in superlative running.The training for running therefore becomes an integral part of our life plan and not merely a pastime to be dropped as of no further value when we leave high school or college as does appear to be the case in the USA.
Such a basic human activity as running surely must still have a deep importance to us in our physical and psychological states.Not only can we continue to express ourselves happily as long as we live,but quite incidentally,to do so implies an intelligent aptitude to how we life---in a word intelligent fitness." (Quote by Percy Cerutty).
One of the many things I derive from the above is that a life is incomplete without some type of physical activity, or physical expression, as some once referred to it. Cerutty wrote this in an era when most adults viewed "working out" and participation in sports as something to be done only by the youth. Another thing,although more adults than ever are doing some type of fitness regimen, most are missing out on the true benefit of training when they simply view it as a means of "keeping in shape." To those who feel this way,read the books of Cerutty,get a copy of his biography,Why Die. Your training and life will take on a whole new dimension.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Pain in Racing--Words of Wisdom From Dr.Sheehan

The wonderful thing about Dr George Sheehan was that he was not only a medical doctor, he was also a competitive runner.He experienced everything we competitive runners experience.He possessed remarkable insights into this great sport.Consider his thoughts in regards to pain.
"Pain is a private affair.My pain cannot be felt by another.When I am in a race I know the others around me are also in pain.But each of us is in a separate cell.I can never know quite what the runner next to me is going through.
There is but one answer to pain:go out to meet it,plunge into it,grasp it as you would the nettle.If your instinct is to withdraw,you are done.There is always the chance you will push through it into an area as calm as the eye of a hurricane.
The runner is not a masochist.He does not enjoy pain.But between the runner and a personal best lies pain in quantity.He does not seek sufferance but once it has been experienced he somehow feels better for it."
I would add to the last sentence that the runner also gets a sense of satisfaction after the race knowing that he resisted the little voice in his head that was telling him to ease up when things started getting painful.
A good point Sheehan makes is that every runner in a race is suffering as much as we are. We need to remember that fact because more runners than you think do back down or let up some once the going gets tough.This is especially true of the runners who come in after the first one third of the finishers at a road race.Frankly, from what I've seen these days, the figure may be closer to three quarters but that is a topic for another post.
As Cerutty,Lydiard and others have taught,acclimate yourself to dealing with the pain you'll experience during the closing moments of a race,practice finishing strong so it almost becomes a reflex action when the real thing comes,remind yourself to remain smooth and relaxed,maintaining form; tell yourself that everyone is hurting but you have prepared yourself better than anyone else in the race.
Successful racing is all about meticulous mental and physical preparation.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

As the Racing Season Begins, Consider This

Racing and competition can be a healthy endeavor or it can be a frustrating and discouraging experience. It all depends how how you approach it. A preoccupation with how you place in comparison to others and winning age-group awards can be one way of setting yourself up for disappointment.Consider this excerpt from an article published in Racing Techniques many decades ago.Allow me to quickly say that it does not promote the "everyone is a winner" mentality because everyone is not a winner in a footrace.It suggests taking a different view of competition.
"You never need to lose a race.And you never need to keep anyone else from winning,because everyone can win. The way to win all the time is to concern yourself mostly with yourself.This is the one factor you can control.Let other people worry about themselves.They are uncontrollable as far as you are concerned.Thinking this way,any runner can maximize himself without reducing anyone's elses chance to do the same.Two nice features about running makes this possible.
1.It has objective standards.Times offer a measure of success and a comparison that transcends the immediate competitive setting.
2. Races are personal. The longer ones particularly are more a struggle with the man inside than the men outside.
Competitive times give every runner meaningful and personal standards.He doesn't have to beat anyone to reach them;only to control himself.No matter how many other runners finish before him,he has won if he has met his own standards."
A few thoughts on the above:
Anyone who has run a marathon or longer recognizes the truth contained in statement #2.It is so true.
Too many people with limited conditioning,training and/or experience take an unrealistic and unhealthy approach to racing.The above view of competition would be a better route to go until a runner begins to demonstrate that he can race with the front runners.
An unhealthy attitude towards racing has killed more runner's love for distance running than anything else.And that's truly a shame!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Working With Your Body

"More often than not runners see their bodies as another obstacle in their path (to running success).When a runner does well,the impression one gets is that success has come in spite of the body,rather than because of it.

It appears that many (if not most) runners have lost touch with the simplest of realities.They have lost sight of the fact that it is the whole organism which achieves and not just the power of will. Most runners are too busy conquering themselves with high-mileage weeks to see the profound significance of this idea.

If we could only realize that we can gain more (in the largest sense) by cooperating with the body then by trying to conquer it,everything would fall into place. We would begin to see running as a means to develop the body to make maximal performance possible. Words like 'nurture,coax,and develop' would replace 'thrash,push and force'.The necessity of rest would become dramatically obvious." By E.C.Fredrick.

Well put.Runners tend to take an adversarial approach to their bodies as it relates to training and racing.Listen to your body,have respect for your body.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Hill Phase---Building Strength

A few months back I posted the article, Putting Down the Foundation,which was about building an aerobic base.Those who are serious about racing well,must follow a training schedule that culminates with a specific racing season.In a nutshell,well planned training schedules in any sport should be sensible and logical.That means the body is introduced to increasing stress as it is ready to tolerate it.
After you have put down the aerobic foundation,your body has become accustomed to the miles,it's now time to step it up.The hill phase means harder workouts but the strength gained from them makes it more than worthwhile. Most runners I've known over the years spend way too little time on a hill training phase.
This is Part II in a series of three articles on formulating a Lydiard-type training program. The hill phase is a period of developing speed,power,and the ability to exercise anaerobically. There are other benefits to be gained from this phase. One is that it builds strong quadriceps which allow us to maintain a good knee-lift while running. Granted, knee-lift is essential for speed but for the marathon runner it can help the knees maintain a height that gives the most economical stride length and frequency. Another plus to the hill phase is the confidence that develops as you feel yourself becoming fitter and stronger.

 Before beginning I should say that Lydiard did make allowances for some racing during this period but said "If you train and race too soon without proper consideration of the various aspects of training you are doomed to disappointment." Also,although this is a modified version of the Lydiard hill program, it's still a physically exacting phase. It's intended to last six weeks; as you become fitter, speed and intensity of effort will naturally increase. These words of Lydiard should be ingrained in the mind of every runner and coach; "The  wise only train according to their age,physical condition and their capacity to exercise." How many injuries and how much discouragement could be prevented if all runners heeded those words? Regarding the amount of mileage you do during this phase,it obviously will not be as much as it was during the base phase.

Lydiard recommends doing 3 hill and 3 leg speed sessions per week with the remaining day being reserved for a long run. Initially, I believe 2 hill workouts and 2 leg speed drills per week are plenty. The other two or three days should include easy distance runs and a day [if desired] of rest. At the beginning of your fourth week, If you feel you are ready to add a third hill session,go ahead.

 The first step is to find a hill that is 200 to 300 meters long. Lydiard recommends a hill that rises at a gradient of nearly one of three -- what that means exactly, I'm not really sure,but seriously,a quick Google search will let you know about the scale in case you don't. The hill should definitely not be too steep and have a flat area at the top where you can do your recovery jog. It should also be flat at the bottom to provide an area for you to do sprints.

Lydiard believes each hill session should last an hour discounting the 15 minute warm-up and warm-down. Needless to say,you can start at 30 minutes and work your way up to an hour. Once again, intensity of effort in doing the hills and sprints just naturally increases as you become fitter and stronger during this phase. Don't jump into this by going full-tilt right off the bat.

So you've done the warm-up and you're ready to go. It's at this time that I'll offer an alternative to the way Lydiard recommends you go up a hill.He describes a hill springing action  that may be difficult for a novice to do without personal guidance from an experienced hill runner.If you desire to find the correct way I'm sure Youtube can show you,simply type in, Lydiard Hill Springing drill and several videos will appear.With that said,it is OK to just run up the hill. However, you must run up with a high knee lift, hips forward [to avoid the tendency to "sit down"], head up and looking forward. Reminding yourself to keep your hips forward is important. This makes it easier to keep those knees high going up the hill. At the top,take a recovery jog about 3 minutes before heading back down. You might think that since you're at the base of the hill, you're just going to head back up, right? Not so fast! On every other hill rep you do a little something called sprint repetitions. At the base of the hill, sprint 50 yards and float 60 yards three or four times before doing your next hill rep. These sprint repetitions begin development of your capacity to exercise anaerobically. As this hill phase progresses you can lengthen and intensify the sprint reps to 100,200 and 400 meters. Feel free to mix up the distances of the sprints and floats. Some things to remember when doing these hill reps:
1.While going up, keep the arms, shoulders,neck and facial muscles relaxed
2.At the top of the hill,try not to stop. Do a slow job to recover.
3.At various times during the workout, make a conscious effort at "flexing" the ankles as you run.
This develops ankle strength and leads to increased striding efficiency.

So you've done a hill rep session and the following day you've gone for a leisurely run -- now you are ready to do the leg speed drill. Begin with at least a 15 minute warm-up jog. Pick a flat area that is 100 to 120 meters long, perferably with a slight gradual decline. Run over this distance thinking only about moving the legs as fast as possible. Forget about stride length, keep the knee action fairly high and think of pulling the legs through fast. This exercise is designed to develop fine speed. After each rep give yourself 3 minutes of very easy jogging to recover -- don't rush this exercise!! Lydiard suggests doing 10 of these sprints plus making sure you do at least a 15 minute warm-down. For the mature, experienced runner, he also recommends a supplementary aerobic run each day. Lydiard said half an hour is ideal.bit even 15 minutes is good. He believes light aerobic exercise aids recovery. Of course, you have to determine if and when you're able to do these additional runs. Perhaps this is something you can gradually introduce to your program one or two days per week. However, if this doesn't seem feasible to you, it's no problem -- you've done the hill reps and leg speed drills, that's what really counts.

This hill phase toughens and strengthens your body in a way that no other training regimen can.
Following a program that ignores or downplays it will definitely impact your overall fitness. A sample schedule for the hill phase might look like this:
Sunday - long aerobic run.
Monday- hill workout
Tuesday - easy aerobic workout
Wednesday - leg speed drill.
Thursday - easy aerobic workout.
Friday - hill workout
Saturday - leg speed drill.
Of course you're free to mix this up to fit your individual limitations and needs.Want to maintain a fair amount of mileage during this phase? Simply do longer warm-ups and warm-downs.
Doing a Hill Phase and doing it right, builds strength and speed,it also minimizes chances of becoming injured.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mind Over Matter

"The athlete,through being trained and practised properly,will find that the mind can dominate the physical body,and he can maintain an effort long after other competitors have abandoned all hope of holding the speed required to win." Quote by Percy Cerutty.
"Percy helped me to world records not so much by improving my technique,but by releasing in my body and soul a power that I only vaguely knew existed." Quote by Herb Elliott.
A strengthening of the mind and will should be the product of a well planned training regimen.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Advice For Marathoners From Cerutty

"Little or no training should be done on the bitumen or concrete roads.I am one who does not believe that the body can ever get used to running fast with free movements if it is trained on hard artificial tracks and roads.It is bad enough that the athlete has to race on such mediums: to me another illustration of how far intellectual decisions made by officials differ profoundly from the conclusions arrived at by serious experimenters and knowledgeable performers.The marathon man must watch that his musculature does not respond to his type of training by a shortening of his stride and the development of a restricted gate that almost completely inhibits the possibility of being a a free mover with commensurate high speeds." Comments by Percy Cerutty.
And you thought that running on the roads and hard tracks only caused undue stress on your knees? As a sidenote,years of running and training on hard surfaces also greatly increases your chance of having back problems.If you desire a long healthy running life you should make it a priority to seek out parks and courses that have hard packed dirt surfaces.
Perc's above comments were made in reference to marathon training.He wanted runners to be wary of the restricted,shuffling gait that is sonetimes adopted by athletes who do alot of long easy runs.It was his desire that marathoners run smoothly and efficiently,maintaining good form.
Interestingly,although written sometime in the late 50's,Cerutty had very definite opinions on who should and shouldn't run marathons.Again,keeping in mind the era and mindset of when this was written,he said those who run a marathon just to finish it "tend to make a burlesque of one of the toughest events in any sport any man can compete in." Whew!  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dr.Van Aaken on Eating....and Not Eating

Dr Van Aaken was a physician who ran,coached runners, and wrote about running and diet.He's been featured many times on this site before.His views,particularly on eating,are still considered by many to be provocative. In an era where there is a unhealthy preoccupation with what we should eat,Dr Van Aaken recognized that healthy eating was much more than what we did or didn't eat. Consider this:
"Nutritionists as well as food faddists are forever specifying what one should eat.But it seems obvious that not the 'what' but the 'how much' is decisive. To keep one's weight at an ideal level,one should take in a n minimum of food and a maximum of oxygen."
The good doctor was referring to getting a maximum amount of oxygen by mostly easy running.However,Dr Aaken recognized decades before the general public,so-called nutritionists and food faddists did, that "excessive amounts of food overload the digestive system and metabolism and increase demands on the liver and kidney." He went on to write that this was a major cause of disease and the reason we encountered poor health as we aged.
During the, endurance athletes must consume mostly carbohydrates years,Van Aaken repeatedly spoke out against the folly of  such a way of eating. "If a person emphasizes carbohydrates in his diet,the excess is turned into fat. The organism acts as a depot for stored energy,since otherwise carbohydrates would be burned up to quickly.And so, while most carbohydrates enter metabolism via the detour of stored fat,the organism uses proteins and fats directly.A consequence of depot fat is water retention and excessive perspiration.At the same time,normal heat regulatuion is disturbed because of unfavorable surface-area-to-heat production relationships."
Most of us these days I'm sure are aware that too many carbos in the diet leads to more body fat but how many were aware of the other problems that come with a carbohydrate heavy diet?
Van Aaken lays it out that just running more to lose weight will most likely not work.
"To burn up one kilo of body fat requires 2000 liters of oxygen,corresponding to walking 350 kilometers in 70 hours or running 120 kilometers in 16 hours.So it should be obvious that a daily one hour stroll isn't the wayto lose weight."
The last line seems almost heretical in an age where walking is repeatedly touted as the best all- around exercise for health and fitness.
Take heed to this runners:"The runner in the middle and long distances should learn to fast again,and run best with a certain feeling of hunger."
Why you ask? Because,"Digestive work shortly before and during a run wastes energy.
In this 21st century,people have made what to eat and what not to eat so complex and confusing.It's all very simple,it's natural,it's logical,is it any wonder why people have become neurotic and paranoid over their diet(way of eating) with so many "experts" giving contradictory direction? Again,I digress.
In closing,Van Aaken tells us that the distance runner who is in training" should eat no more than 2000 calories per day,"  of which should include 50 grams of high quality protein.
The food should be fresh and natural.
Maybe that's why more people don't follow such a plan,it's too simple,too logical,no books to buy,no miracle claims offered.
Sinple Living,High Thinking.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Facing Reality

If you read the running mags,particularly ones from years past,you undoubtedly would have read profiles on runners who were standouts in their age groups. Something I noticed repeatedly were the stories about masters runners(40 years+)all had a similar element to them. It went like this; former excellent high school or college distance runner returns to competition after many years of not running and begins to have alot of success at road racing. I recall being surprised as I read these profiles at the workouts the runners did. They were intense,heavy on the intervals,not unlike what you would see your average college coach giving his charges.There was also something else I noted,the majority of these runners would make an impact on the national scene for a year or two only to drop out of sight.On occasion I would read an update on one of them and find that they had been hampered by injuries.I think you know where I'm going with this.There is a necessity for competitive distance runners to make accomodations to the aging process.I am always amazed at the runners who seem oblivious to this fact or are unwilling to make adjustments as needed.
I mean,isn't it a physiological fact that as we age changes occur in our body?
I have found,and it varies from runner to runner,that there is an age where you notice a drop off in your ability to recover from tough runs and workouts.For me, I think it was around age 44 or 45.
Now,at 63,I have reluctantly come  to the conclusion that when I take a day off a few times a week I feel fresher coming back after an off day.Yeah,I could, and have run easy on the days that are now my days off but my legs don't ever feel as fresh as they do when I'm coming back after a rest day.In fact,the quality of that run is always good whether I'm going long or doing something like a fartlek.There is a misguided machismo that exists in distance runners which implies that to back off,take a day off or ease up means you are a wimp. It's no surprise that this thought exists among master's runners as well. That's unfortunate because no matter what you do,time stops for no one.
There are simple adjustments everyone can make and still perform well. A big one is changing the aerobic and anaerobic percentage in your training.As you age it is best to do alot more aerobic work and less severe anaerobic training.Those who dismiss this should read info by Dr Ernst Van Aaken,Jack Foster and Ed Whitlock for starters.
Another adjustment to consider is finding alternate workouts you can do on certain days.They must however be ones that won't physically exhaust your body.I say this because if you do an alternate workout you want to come back fresh the next day.If you hammered 50 miles on the bike, then what kind of rest is that?
I personally use certain days to rest,I may do a walk or lift weights but they feel like rest days to me.There is another thing I also do,if I want to be competitive and since I am not running as much as I once did,I don't eat and drink whatever I want.If you are not particularly active,stop eating like you are.
As often is the case,ego plays a large role in using common sense when considering the aging process and being competitive.I guess you could throw a little ignorance,anxiety and denial into the pot as well.
But again,the enduring and successful runner,and by successful I'm referring to it subjectively;the enduring and successful runner is one who uses his head.He considers and thinks things through.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday For Sunday

A quick note to let you know that there will be a one day delay in the usual Saturday post.The article,Facing Reality,will be published Sunday evening.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Time To Live

"There are those of us who are always about to live. We are waiting until things change,until there is more time,until we are less tired,until we get a promotion,until we settle down,until,until,until.It always seems as if there is some major event that must occur in our lives before we begin living." (Quote by Dr.George Sheehan).
Change can be intimidating,even scary. That's one thought that comes to mind when you read the above.The other thought,and one not so often considered is that as we get older we seem less willing to venture out of our comfort zone. Yiannis Kouros was once quoted as saying that an ideal life is one that takes risks and has many challenges.You feel alive,your life has a sense of urgency and purpose when you make the decision to "live" in the manner Dr.Sheehan is referring to above. His quote makes me think of the excerpt by Jack London which was on the back cover of the early editions of Pre! by Tom Jordan.I'm sure most of you have read it but it's well worth rereading and considering.
"I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out
in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom
of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time."
So why are you hesitating?


Saturday, February 16, 2013

On Courage

"It's not something that is talked about much by runners,but there is no getting around it:Some of us face the pain or discomfort of the training run or race better than others. A great deal of pain is actually a fear of the unknown.The elite runner feels the same sensations as all other competitors but they have learned to interpret them not as alarming signals that the body is self-destructing but as indications that the pace is too fast,warning signs that lactic acid is too high or that reserves are too low. What is pain or discomfort to the relatively inexperienced runner is merely information to the elite runner.Physically it feels exactly the same,the difference comes when the brain(conditioned by long hours of training)interprets those tiny electrical impulses." (Quote by Marty Liquori---once ranked #1 in the world at the 5k and mile distances.)
The sooner we dispel the thought that those who are successful in distance running occupy a 'different realm' or are people who don't experience what us average folk do,the more likely we will be to recognize that we can accomplish more than we ever imagined. That is of course if we put the time in and do the work.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Message From a Runner

I spoke with a runner a few weeks back,I'll call him Joe. Joe is a runner I've known for quite a while.He was very competitive at one time and racked up some impressive pr's, a high 33 for the 10k,a very low 16 or 15:50 for the 5k and a 2:50 for his debut in the marathon.There were other excellent times at different distances but I can't recall them,however, I do remember thinking I wished I could have run those times.
Well,Joe was telling me how after a fairly minor injury he quit running for 3 months and was having alot of trouble getting back into it.When I asked why he took such a long period off he had this to say.Perhaps what Joe told me might be a help to some of you.
"You know me Dave,I was always a competitive guy.After college I kept playing basketball in the town leagues until recurring ankle injuries forced me to quit.Then I needed some type of physical outlet so I started working out at a gym regularly.My ankle healed and I got very fit.At the gym I ran into some people who were part of a local running club and they invited me to join them on their biweekly runs.I had done very little distance running in the past but I was fit and didn't have much trouble doing an easy run on one of their five mile courses. As I ran at this comfortable pace I kept thinking how good it felt,the pace was smooth and easy,the conversation between us was interesting.               After a month or so I saw there was a local 5k race that the people I trained with were going to do.I thought that sounded like it might be fun so I entered.Surprisingly to me,I finished really well in my age group.I think at that moment I became hooked on racing,like I said,I am a competitive person by nature,whether it's at work or playing a pick-up game at the house.
The one thing that is great about running is that early on you see great improvement in conditioning and performance if you do the work,and improve I did.Age groups and high finishes in the road races came fairly quickly.As they did,the type of people I trained with changed.I started training with guys who were younger and better than me,their workouts were consistently tough.There weren't too many of those easy runs with enjoyable conversation anymore.As I think back,myself and the guys I trained with had an unhealthy,'we're the elite runners they're not' attitude.
Well,as anyone who's been around running a long time knows,eventually improvements in performance sort of plateau.It's at that time when those who know distance running recognize that training and racing seasons, as well as proper rest become things you must pay attention to.I didn't.Although I still raced well I started having nagging little discomforts and injuries,I often had a kind of 'washed out' feeling.I felt anything but energetic.In the past where I looked forward to working out with my 'elite' training partners I now had a subtle sense of dread before a workout.I think this was not only due to the fact that I knew I'd probably be going all out in the training session but it had gotten to the point that these guys,at least most of them, were not that much fun to train with anymore.To them it was all about the race they just ran and the one they were about to do.
Also,I once looked forward to races with a kind of childish enthusiasm, now I fretted about whether or not I'd perform up to my,and even my training partners expectations. I was constantly checking my watch in the early part of the races and freaking if I wasn't hitting the checkpoints like I had planned.I'm sure my wife would want me to add how moody and irritable I could get before certain races,I won't mention how I was after bad ones.
So,after a few years of this nonsense,when I got a calf injury and had to lay off for a couple of weeks, I felt a sense of relief in being injured,like a burden had been lifted,like the pressure was off.Then one evening,I was sitting on the back deck of my house having a few beers when it suddenly hit me,what am I doing to myself ? It was at that point I took another few months off and worked out at the gym like I used to. Then one evening I went to this park I hadn't been to in at least a year and went for an easy 5 miler. It was great. A week later I hooked up with some others who joined me in these easy runs over varying distances and terrains.The conversation was great and I felt great when it was over.As far as competing in the future? I honestly doubt I ever will,maybe that's  because I recognize that I don't have the right perspective on racing,or maybe it's because I just love running too much."

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Living Long and Healthy

Who doesn't want to live a long healthy life? Billions of dollars are spent in the U.S.on all things pertaining and relating to living long and healthy.For most,but not all,running is what we believe is a means to staying healthy.
I have also noticed that people adopt certain types of eating and diets in hopes of remaining healthy,vigorous and active well into what some call their "golden years." As one who has studied health and nutrition for about 40 years I have come to two conclusions on the subject of diet and nutrition.
1.Be cautious of the person,author, or health "expert" that is advocating a certain way of eating. Recognize that their livelihood depends on what they are advocating.By this I mean, would someone who has made money from book sales and seminars advocating a particular type of diet be willing to admit they were wrong if evidence came out to the contrary debunking their claims? I personally have never seen this happen. Actually,I've read of instances where some "experts" promoted one style of eating but didn't adhere to it themselves. This is a personal thing with me and may not be relevant but I always look at how the health advocate looks. For instance,you say you've been a "raw-fooder" for 25 years,then how come you look like anything but the picture of health? Perhaps I digress.
2.This is important,show me the proof that the diet and/or way of living you advocate is the way to go.Where on this earth are the people who over the generations have lived long and vigorous lives doing what you are advocating. If there aren't any, then you're just speculating brother. A wise man once wrote: calling yourself a preacher or a health expert are about the only two professions where you are not required to provide real credentials.That,is a true statement if there ever was one.
What follows are some findings pertaining to health and longevity backed up with the facts to verify what the person is reporting.I will inject a comment or two,as usual.
"Dr Alexander Leaf,a former professor at the Harvard Medical School, years ago visited three isolated areas of the world--Hunza in Pakistan,Vilcabamba in Ecuador and Abkhazia in the USSR---where men and women routinely live beyond 100. He discovered that these three groups shared several traits:
1.They live in mountains.
2.They are somewhat cut off from the mainstream of modern life.
3.They give high status to the aged and let them participate fully in the community.
4.Their everyday life demands constant endurance activity.
5.They eat lightly,with the diets including little or no meat."
Consider #5. They eat lightly. This is a recurring belief among those who study diet and longevity.Research has found that what some call, systematic undereating prolongs life and vitality.There is no way around the fact that light eating slows physical deterioration. I have referenced this fact on previous occasions when I did posts on Dr Van Aaken.We have been so conditioned to eat to excess that what I just said seems to be an invitation to starve yourself but it isn't.It is however an invitation to consider that you adopt an eat to live mindset rather than a live to eat one.I know fit,healthy older people who eat lightly throughout the day and have a dinner which they enjoy but would be called anything but heavy.You can still enjoy eating and foods while not doing so to excess.I always felt bad for the people I worked with who sat at a desk all day but ate breakfasts and lunches that seemed more suited for what a construction worker should eat.Sadly, their bodies reflected this but the biggest impact of this lifestyle choice will come in the future.
Lastly,notice the comment in #5,little or no meat, one of the biggest falsehoods promoted by some is that a vegetarian diet is a one way ticket to health and longevity.As a vegetarian for decades I can say from my experience that some of the people with the worst kind of eating habits were vegetarians. Many seemed to think that junk and fatty foods were ok if they didn't have any animal in them. I don't think so! The key is the amount of meat we eat,we need much less of it than what most Americans eat.Dr Barry Sears once wrote that you should eat no more meat at one siting then what you can put in the palm of your hand. I would add that you try to get it from organic sources if at all possible.
To close,live life vigorously and with purpose,eat light!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Do Not Be Discouraged!

"Do not be discouraged because you may affirm that you were not born strong. It is true that some types seem to inherit the factor of physical strength,just as some seem to inherit more brains.However,life has taught me in very many examples I have known personally,that with some natural flair for anything at all we can achieve heights quite exceptional if we will only believe in ourselves, and do the essential work,find the true way."
"Indeed--those who are hell-bent to succeed are those who often do what others believe to be implausible or impossible ".  Percy Cerutty.
Don't let the thought of what you believe it may take to achieve your athletic goals intimidate or overwhelm you.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Angry Al Presents Fred Funt

Some of you may recall Angry Al, he has contributed two articles over the last few years to this blog.For those who don't know him,Al was a guy myself and several other runners used to do our Sunday long runs with in the mid to late seventies. Al was a talker during these runs,always giving his two-cents on the state of running and the world.As his conversation became increasingly opinionated and strident, we would pick up the pace in an effort to shut him up. To his credit,Al,now in his late 60's, is still running.He's as opinionated as ever.Recently,he was bemoaning the state of today's American male distance athlete as compared to the one of decades past.What he had to say was interesting so I asked him to write something up to express how he felt. That he did in about eight hours.What follows is what he sent me.To you younger readers I should give a little background on a few of the things you are about to read. One,Jeff Galloway.Al doesn't like Jeff Galloway.In the early 90's, and perhaps still,Galloway has preached about the dangers of running too much. Al believes Galloway cites flawed and personal prejudices as to why he believes this is so.Meanwhile,Galloway has made a career out of  selling his books and seminars to people on how to get from zero mileage to a marathon in x amount of months.Also,Al is not a fan of the sensitive male runner.Beers and sweat suits are still the way to go. Cross training and fancy gear and gadgets are not for him.To sum it all up,he believes in a time when 'men were men and women were glad of it.' Consider the following by Al,he writes:
"Runner's World Profile:Fred Funt
Runners of some of the U.S.' major marathon's may recognize Fred but it won't be for his finishing times.He's known for the funny hats he wears in the marathons he runs.At the recent Disney Marathon he wore  a huge Mickey Mouse figure on top of his sombrero.Although it weighed close to eight pounds,Fred had a smile and wave for everyone on his way to finishing in 4:58:34.
We're profiling Fred this month for the work he's done  with former Olympian,now coach and writer,Jeff Galloway.Together they have started an internet support group for runners who haven't yet achieved their marathon goals.'It's long overdue Fred states,'  'Jeff has been such a help in offering his computer software programs at a fraction of their cost to runners who are going through some very difficult emotional times.Not reaching your marathon goal(s)can impact every aspect of your life.'  Readers who are interested in their support group can email Fred and Jeff at .
Runner's World salutes Fred for making the running world a better place.
Fred's Profile:
Name:Fred Funt   Age:39
Occupation: Clerk,Fred's working part-time at the college bookstore where he is pursuing a second PHD at SUNY Buffalo. Says Fred, 'My wife says I'm a schoolaholic.'
Marital Status: married to Elizabrth Clare Farrant,an assistant professor at SUNY Buffalo.
Religion:Zen Buddhist
Political Affiliation: Liberal
Favorite Movie:Titanic--'I've watched it at least 9 times.'
Hobbies: 'Elizabeth and I have recently started clogging.'
Favorite Musician: Adele
Favorite adult beverage:Skinny Margarita---
Favorite Food:I'm a strict vegan. I love my celery/tomato bisque.
Favorite non-running sport: Golf
Current Book Your Reading: History of the Modern Women's Movement,1965 to 1969,Vol.1.
Years running:12
Favorite runner: Katherine Switzer Robinson.
Favorite running magazine: Runner's World.
Mileage last week:45, my all-time high. I'm gearing up to hopefully qualify for Boston.
Most important aspects of your training right now: 'my 3x's a week yoga sessions,the hot yoga is a bear! Also, my monthly 20 milers are a cornerstone to my marathon preparation.'
Burning running question: 'Why do I keep running out of gas at the 21 mile mark in my marathons?'
Advice to other runners:'Try not to take it too seriously,after all,it's only running.'
Runner's World Salutes Fred as our Runner of the Month."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Random Quotes

There's nothing like getting insights and knowledge that can help us be better distance runners and people.Consider the following:
"One thing we must all be aware of is mental toughness is learned. You are not born with it.Personality is unrelated to mental toughness.Either introvert or extrovert,quiet or boastful,dynamic or reserved,these characteristics have nothing to do with your success as a competitor." Coach Joe Vigil.
I think many forget this,people believe that mental toughness is a quality that is inborn,like being able to paint or play a musical instrument well. Thankfully it's not, through proper training you can become as mentally tough as any champion.
And one more from Coach Vigil:
"Most athletes are ready to make an effort in a race. Few are ready to carry their efforts through months or years of training and racing."
The often forgotten key in training.As I watch the ads for workout videos advertised on television,the big selling point is that the person achieves fitness in the shortest possible time. Not so for distance training,it's a cumulative process that takes years to reap the full benefits.I believe Lydiard said it took something like 7 years of adhering to a training program.
"Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body." Seneca.
If we are open to that happening and don't take a "why me" attitude.. On a related note:
"To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others." Guatama Buddha.
For many,overcoming their fears,anxieties and insecurities, along with being disciplined is the true challenge. When we do,we can accomplish what we set out to.

Let what we do(distance running) become part of our life,not something we fit into our life.Again, on a related note:
"Motivation gets you started,habit keeps you going." Jim Ryun.
And lastly,as it has been said many times here,one of the keys to happiness and success is simplicity.Clutter and having much,contrary to popular opinion,will not bring a deep lasting happiness.
"Manifest plainness,
Embrace simplicity,
Reduce selfishness,
Have few desires." Lao-tzu.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

For a Runner,Happiness Is

In the next few posts we'll take a look at some different types of runners.The one I'll be referring to today is the runner who lives for the run.This is a runner,who in large part, determines how his day went by how his run went.His(her) life would be described by many as simple,free from an unhealthy preoccupation with possessions and money.She(he) still retains that child-like enthusiasm that,for most, is lost as we get older.What makes him happy and gives him pleasure might seem strange to those who don't have the love this person has for the purest of all sports,distance running.Consider the following and say 'Happiness Is' before each entry.I'll add a comment here and there after.
For a Runner,Happiness Is:
1.A new pair of running shoes.After all these years it still makes you feel good to get them.
2. Being with a core group of running friends you train and often race with.These are people who understand you and are a part of this running life you live.
3.That unexpected pr (personal record) or performance that seems to come out of nowhere.
4.The first beer you have with your running friends after that great run.They know how you feel and are interested in what you have to say.
5.That one route you train on where you always feel good running it. You find yourself looking forward to doing it each week.
6.The feeling you get when you realize that all your training for a big race is starting to come together. You feel light and smooth as you go.
7.A good meal a few hours after that easy long run and shower.
8.The cup of coffee you have from the place you make a point of stopping at on chilly mornings after your long run.
9.Finding closeout running gear that you can really use at incredibly low prices. I still treasure the Nike Pre running hoodie that was marked down forty dollars.
10.Travelling with friends to do a race out of town. The camaraderie,the time spent together,the anticipation of the race, as well as the race itself and the time spent after create memories that last for years.
I'm sure many of you can relate to the above.Treasure what you have,take nothing for granted.