Friday, 4 March 2011

Ask a Question - Maybe I Will Have Some 'Words of Wisdom'!

Hi Again,

Yes, exactly a month since my last post!  Those of you who have followed my blog for a while may have noticed that the frequency of my posts have reduced quite a bit recently.  Having a break from racing, hence no race reports to post is one reason for the decrease, however, I feel like I have covered quite a few topics within my earlier posts and I don't want to start repeating myself.

When I set up this blog last March the intention was to "try to stimulate thought amongst other ultra runners", and "although I will be sharing my thoughts on various things to do with ultra running, it is not to suggest that others do the same, but more for the readers of my blog to simply question what they do. Is an alternative approach worth a try?" (Post No. 3)

Over the last year I have received a number of positive comments to my posts, as well as a number of encouraging e-mails like the one below;

Hi Stuart,

Just wanted to say how much your blog has helped me with my running. Most of all you have given me the confidence to adopt my own beliefs on what works for me rather than being overwhelmed with what I 'should' be doing.   ..............    Anyhow, just wanted to pass on my thanks and say 'keep up the good work'. Its refreshing to think there are people out there that have the ability to look at the wider picture.
It therefore is apparent that on occasions my posts have stimulated some thought and encouraged consideration of alternative approaches to ultra trail running.  So instead of posting nothing at the risk of repeating myself, I have decided that maybe I should ask you, the reader, what topics would you like me to offer my thoughts on.  If you look to the right you should now see a new ?EMAIL YOUR QUESTION tab.

If you click this tab, it should load my e-mail address into Microsoft Outlook, or whatever programme you use to send e-mails.  Then all you have to do is type in a subject title and ask me a question on a topic you have been thinking about, related to Ultra Trail running.  Then within the following week or two, I can give your question some thought and then post my views regarding the topic.  I just thought this approach could be worth a try, in order to re-increase the frequencies of my posts, so I can continue to stimulate thought amongst you readers out there.

Just before I sign off, a brief story to introduce my signing off quote.  Whilst in New Zealand over Christmas my Dad moved out of our family home which we had lived in since 1964.  As I was helping in packing up, I came across loads of things from the past that brought back loads of pleasant memories, including a number of old running books.  Kiwis Can Fly (1977) was great to read again.  Mainly about great New Zealand athletes John Walker, Rod Dixon and Dick Quax, but also other NZ athletes such as Boston Marathon winner from the sixties Dave McKenzie.  One other book really gained my attention; Every Runners Companion by Alison Roe and Gary Elliott (1983).  A few of you may not be aware of Alison Roe's status.  She won both the Boston Marathon and the New York Marathon in 1981, setting a world marathon record of 2:25:29 at New York.  I have pasted her photo from the book below as I consider it such an awesome photo.  It was taken during the 26th mile of the New York Marathon, which she covered in 5:08.  I can feel from the photo the busyness of the crowd, the motorcycle escort beside her, but yet she appears so relaxed, focused, at peace within herself.  She is running hard, no signs of strain, simply really enjoying the present moment! 

Back in 1981 Alison Roe was a real inspiration to me as a young runner, especially as I had run my first marathon the year earlier as a seventeen year old.  So when her book came out I immediately bought it.  Although the book consists mainly of training log pages for the runner to fill out, throughout the book are short sections where Alison Roe, but mainly Gary Elliott, her coach, express their 'Words of Wisdom'.  I recall at the time back in 1983 that I wasn't overly impressed with their thoughts.  It all seemed too much 'airie / fairie', too much to do with the mental approach.  At that time I thought running performance was all physically determined!  Reading again now, with me now having 30 years of running wisdom to draw upon, Gary Elliott definitely had it sorted back then, and he was able to pass on his 'wisdom' sufficiently for Alison Roe to be the best in the world during 1981.  What is interesting is that back then I couldn't see it, I wasn't ready to 'think outside of the box'.  I think this just further illustrates that we need to continue to adjust our perceptions of ourselves as we continue to learn and develop over time.

No doubt over the coming months I will expand upon some of Gary Elliot's thoughts, but I will start tonight with probably my favourite quote of his.  It seems to follow on nicely from some of my recent posts regarding self expectations.

"The way we perform is the result of the way we see ourselves.  To alter our performance we need to alter or change ourselves and it is that changing that's difficult."  Gary Elliot (1983).
I look forward to receiving your questions.

Keep on questioning,


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