Monday, April 30, 2012

Arthur Newton: My New Idol

I read about the "old school runners and walkers" from the late 1800s and early 1900s, but I never read any of their books. I recently borrowed two books from the library that were authored by Arthur Newton--one of the greatest runners of all time. Several people have referenced his achievements and training philosophies, including a nice summary in Tim Noakes' book Lore of Running, but I had never come across his actual writings. He was way ahead of his time!  Kind of like a combo of Lydiard and Maffetone.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from his 1935 book titled "Running" (page 201):

"What most of us fail to realise is that it is always the distance, never the speed, that has to be acquired; just as it is always the speed, never the distance that kills. You may run yourself to a standstill in a mile or less, but you could walk or trot fifty times that distance if you were allowed sufficient time to do so. Except in the case of sheer sprinting, actual speed doesn't enter into the matter at all; every man already has all the speed he needs, the only difficulty being his inability to keep it up long enough."

I agree wholeheartedly. I forget this realization all too often. I try to incorporate a variety of tempo and interval training along with my easy runs. Too often this leads to injury. I have the needed speed...but I cannot sustain that speed over distance. My real shortcoming is stamina.  I need more miles and longer training runs...all at easy paces. No need to sprint. No need for intervals. No need for tempo runs. Lots and lots of aerobic miles with many long runs for endurance and stamina. Eventually, speed will come via the heightened aerobic fitness.  Sure, at some point, I may need to toss in a bit of speed (or racing) to get in peak form, but that time is way down the road.

For now, I plan on accumulating tons of miles all at easy paces. No hard breathing, no extreme sweating, no pain. I'm on the no-pain, slow-and-steady gain routine! My first test of this program will be this summer, specifically, the Howl at the Moon 8-Hour run on August 11. 

Here is a remarkable summary of Arthur Newton's 15 "Laws of Training."

The two books I found by Arthur Newton are:
Running (1935)
Races and Training (1949)

Happy reading. Happy running.

NOTE: Several years ago we adopted two gerbils and I named them Alf (Shrubb) and Arthur (Netwon). Those gerbils were pretty darn good runners!


Pete Larson said...

Have to agree with you, after reading "Running," while researching my book, Newton is now my running hero as well!

Chris said...

Love following your blog Pete...and look forward to getting your new book too!

The Running Duck said...

Hi Cris,

I'm happy to come across your blog while googling for some running quotes. I hunt for quotes and i share it to my running group on FB.

It's really interesting reading your notes about Mr. Greatheart. I only got to know him a few days ago while i was reading the book Ultramarathon by James Shapiro, Mr. Greatheart is one of those he admires and now, one of mine too. Thanks for the info.

I write blogs too but not too often. It's about my skyrunning the mountains.You may want to check it out when you have time. Just check (The Runningduck)


Jaro said...

Hi, I am from Slovakia and I was looking for some of Newton books in our libraries and over an internet but I found nothing. Where did you get this book from? Is there any electronic copy (pdf) of this book on internet? Thanks
P.S.: Realy nice blog.

Chris said...

I saw it in the University of Illinois library.