Saturday, April 9, 2011

Gilmore and Squires

Peter Gilmore is retiring.

For some reason, he always struck me as the runner's runner.

Here's the link to his blog. It's got the nice line:"My running heroes have always been the soul runners, who love running for nothing more than the feeling of the wind in their face. Guys like Bill Rodgers and Dick Beardsley who still run every chance they get."

Bill Rodgers and Dick Beardsley were both coached by Bill Squires. There was a nice article on Coach Squires in the recent Running Times. I read it with interest, as I used his book Speed With Endurance to prepare for my last marathon, and I ran a PR. It's worth a look.

Some horses back in Squires' day.

I've never met Squires, but from what I've heard he was in a certain sense the anti-Salazar. He wasn't obsessive or concerned with the latest gizmo. His athletes had a hard time even understanding what his workouts were. I guess this was because he knew that true distance runners are a flighty bunch. You could tell them what to do or not tell them what to do. They were going to do it their own way anyhow. So, maybe what made Squires a great coach was his unwillingness to control his athletes. Saddle-breaking a horse takes control and domination. But a distance runner is not a pack horse; at his best he is wild and instinctual. How do you train that?

You don't really. Maybe what Squires knew was this: looking at the problem of coaching as a problem of training was looking at it the wrong way. It's not popular to say it, but true runners are born, not trained. Once you find one with spark, the main problem is keeping the spark lit, the runner happy and out on the road. In this simplest of sports, coaching is a simple (but not easy) challenge: create an atmosphere in which the native wildness of the runner can thrive. Get some horses, and get them to run.

3 comments:

  1. I love this post. Good stuff, Jeff!

    -Mishka

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice blog Jeff. Jamey Gifford sent me the link. Squires is one in a million. I can spot a few familiar faces in that photo: Salazar, the Virg, Hodgie-San. Great pic. Take care,

    Peter Gilmore

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear Peter,

    Thanks so much for commenting. Running sometimes feels like a selfish sport, but the total commitment you showed left its mark on folks like me, who you never even met. I wish you all the best!

    ReplyDelete

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