Friday, October 17, 2008

34 Years of Running - 28,347 miles and still going

If I had the chance to set down in heaven to talk to runners, the three I would really like to talk to would be Steve Prefontaine, George Sheehan and Arthur Newton. My guess is that most of you know who Steve Prefontaine was (US greatest distance runner who died in 1975), and a couple of you might know Dr. George Sheehan (Runner Philosopher who wrote some incredible articles on running in Runners World Magazine), but I doubt many of you would know Arthur Newton.

Arthur Newton is in my opinion the Father of Distance Running. He ran all over the world from 1922 to 1935. He won 5 Comrades Marathons, held the world best marks for 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 60 and 100 miles and the 24 hour running record. He logged something like 102,735 miles...I'm only at 28,347 miles. He ran in the legendary Transcontinental Race from Los Angeles to New York in 1928.

But his influence on running is maybe the greatest of any one individual in history. Tim Noakes in his book "Lore of Running" identifies 9 Rules of Training that Newton devised from all his years of running. In the next few weeks, I'll cover them all, but today the first two in honor of my anniversary of being a "serious" runner.

Rule #1: Train year round. On October 17, 1974, I started running every day and the result was my running dramaticly improved. I know that today is the anniversary of my running...because I kept a log and kept a running total of my mileage for each day, week and month. But the key to training year round was I could improve and keep improving over a longer period of time. I remember the football/track coach tell me when I first started this year round training, that I was going to ruin myself because the body wasn't made to do that. Well, my senior year when I won 3 races, I sure did hear him taking credit for my improvement with the other coaches.

Rule #2: Start gradually and train gently. AMEN...When others tell me they hate running, I can understand. In elementary school, then junior high and if we kept running into high school, we always ran full out at top speed. If we didn't run at full speed, all the time we thought we couldn't run. And it hurts to run like that. Running easy at that time was not acceptable. When I started back in October 1974, my first run was 3 miles. I ran hard. The next day, I ran 3 miles. I ran hard. After about 2 weeks I was hurting and ready to quite...but a neighbor (Coach D) who lived down the road saw me out running. Coach D came over to invite me to in a AAU race and offer to train me...he was a real running coach. He got me to slow my runs down, change the distance, and even take a day off to rest my body. His philosophy that I still use today: "Go out easy, have fun and keep the desire to run."

I don't want this to be too long, so I'll share more of these rules of Newton in later postings. But today...go out easy, have fun and keep the desire to run.

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