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.