Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Running Inspiration

I was listening to Marathon talk earlier today, hearing the scholarly tones of Bruce Tulloh talking to Martin Yelling. It reminded me of hearing Bruce talk at a UKA day I went to two years ago, where he spoke to a group of coaches and runners, hanging on his every word to gain knowledge and assist their running. In British athletics, Bruce has been around longer than most, written many books on the subject and talks with authority and academic rigour on the subject, without boring his audience. For that reason he is an inspiration to me, and what I try to do on this blog and to people I meet. I try and impart some of the science (which I'm less knowledgeable on) and psychology of endurance. If you haven't already, check out the Marathon Talk archive - its a whose who of distance running!

The same day I met Bruce, I also met Bud Baldaro for the first time. Bud is a strong character. Based in Birmingham and a hugely respected coach to a number of top level GB athletes over the years. Both he and Bruce were keen to emphasise desire and motivation in athletes to succeed and push themselves harder to win, and set record breaking times. They state that talent goes so far, but determination on the part of a runner is the key ingredient to improving to fulfil your potential.

This got me thinking for a blog entry. Who are the people that inspire me most? Both in terms of coaching/sport psychology and my own running. Of those I met, I can see why Alberto Salazar is such an inspiring figure.  Most known in the UK for his work with Mo Farah, Alberto was a legendary marathon runner in his own right in the 80s, and has transitioned to become one of the most respected coaches in the world. Added to this, as he told me in 2010, he has worked for the past 5 years with sport psychologist Darren Treasure for the Oregon project, and greatly values the input of psychological training as much as the underwater treadmills, trusted methods and first hand knowledge that keep him at the leading edge of endurance.

From my world of academic research, Matt Buman at ASU has conducted a lot of research on hitting the wall (bonking in triathlon terminology) and encouraged me when I was doing my thesis. He inspired me to get my work finished and offered advice afterwards on getting published. Similarly, my unofficial mentor, Dave Alcock at UWE inspires me to persevere with my efforts to gain chartership to be a fully fledged Sport Psychologist.

In training I can always rely on Simon Freeman to offer support. Where I get the inspiration most from Simon is the fact that he is someone like you and me, who has found through running a way in which he can improve himself. Through his health, training and vocation, he is now a 2:40 marathon runner, something even he wouldn't have though possible 5 years ago! Within my club I'm lucky that Paul Martelletti continues to impress with his times trying for a place in the 2012 olympics. Having club mates setting top times spurs me on to get that bit better, work harder in training and enjoy my running in order to get fitter, and go the extra distance.

Similarly, my best friend who I will be visiting in Japan in 2 months, Ed Price, inspired me by running his first marathon last year in Kobe. Though he's not sure whether he'll do another one, it was emotional knowing he was running the distance on the other side of the world after dedicating himself to months of hard work. Similarly, my mate Birdy in Manchester ran the New York marathon 2 years ago, getting round on a really painful foot caused by an accident from her youth.

Without all of these characters, I would still run, but I wouldn't be as inspired, or as full of belief that I can get much better.

Let me know who inspires you, regardless of who that person is or how well they're known. And in what ways do they inspire you to push yourself and reach your best? 


Simon Whyatt said...

I found the book "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougal pretty damn inspiring. Full of dodgy science journalism and technical inaccuracies, but it still makes you want to throw off your running shoes and get out on the trails!

dommy said...

I've been re-reading W. Timothy Gallwey's 'Inner Game' books recently, mainly for work reasons.

I've found them really useful in improving running. Shutting out the nagging 'must do better' part of your brain, focusing on style, form, technique, breathing. The body's natural ability takes over, resulting in the 'flow' / being 'in the zone' that top athletes are able to achieve.

Stu Holliday said...

I like the angle Gallwey takes (to beat the nagging doubter in your mind!). Yup - agreed Dom, that silence that critic and you give yourself a much better chance of experiencing a flow state; raising your skill level up to the challenge of the race. I'll write a post on that soon. Cheers for passing that on - Gallwey's page on Amazon FYI http://www.amazon.co.uk/W.Timothy-Gallwey/e/B000APB9KK/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1.