Sunday, September 20, 2009


At the moment if I am not dead tired and asleep in the evening ,I am reading THE RUNNERS GUIDE TO THE MEANING OF LIFE by Amby Burfoot ,winner of the 1968 Boston marathon and author of the Runners world Complete book of running.

it is a short simple book with some very clear messages about the parallels between running and life itself.

Two lessons I have taken from the book are :

The chapter on the essential traits of a Runner which are
1 Patience
2 Balance
3 Stotanism
4 Respect
5 Humility.

A number of home truths hit me when I read the chapter . Amby started the simple section of Balance with the line " I admit to a fondness for obsessive people"

It is hard to find balance and simply put he says if you are having fun you've probably achieved balance.

I am still striving for that balance.

Stotanism is a phrase he has borrowed from Percy Cerutty , Herb Elliots coach when he won the 1500m in the 1960 Rome Olympics. It is about toughness but not an insensitive , superman approach . he accepts the challenges , the injuries , the disappointments without complaining.

I am still striving for that Stotanic ( if there is such a word) level of understanding.

The second and most compelling philosophy is Simplicity and Materialism

In running , runners as in life search for the quick fix solution.

" We search too much for false prophets.Some runners believe that they must move to a running mecca....Other runners believe that they need expensive heart rate monitors or perhaps , regular visits to an exercise laboratory.....these runners believe that they are most likely to find success by discovering new baubles in the physical world outside themselves. I disagree.... The answers lie within not outside.the best solutions are achieved from personal resolve , not from multiple credit cards."

On simplicity , Amby said that in a race in which he came in third he did nonspecific training and yet he ran faster in a 2 mile race by 20secs.

The race taught him a profound lesson : THE SIMPLE APPROACH IS OFTEN THE BEST.

In this busy world we live in it isn't so easy to put this into practise but like sports and running , there are many life lessons I have tried to live my life by possibly not to the level advocated here but it is worth striving to attain these simple truths.

I enjoy the sport of triathlons for the virtues I see in it .It is a relatively young and not so glamorous sport where there is a frontier mentality of athletes who share a common suffering , a great respect and humility for each other in the triathlon community .(I admit a certain bias and I have been fortunate to be surrounded by people I call friends in this sport who I see in them all these qualities .)

I have enjoyed the book and since falling into triathlons , I am reminded by Amby that is is the simple pleasures in life that are the greatest. Whilst it is hard getting up in the morning and I still strive for that balance. Some of the best moments for me is as he himself states is watching the sunrise on a new day . I did not know such an emotion until I had to drag myself out of bed either to run or swim or cycle.

"Our greatest glory is not never falling , but in rising every time we fall" Confucius

1 comment:

  1. I find triathlons drive you into a way of life and sort of mindset that is very refreshing. I have met some really nice people in triathlons and every inspirational story you ever did hear.

    Kudos. More power to you.