In this episode of On Coaching, we discuss the amazing book Athletics: How to Become a Champion  by Percy Cerutty. Cerutty was the coach of Herb Elliott who was the 1960 Olympic 1,500m Champion and held the world record in the mile at 3:54.

In How to Become a Champion, Cerutty wrote a classic text that coaches of any sport should pick up.  It’s not about the workout details, but instead about what coaching means and how to develop individuals as people. Jon and I rarely read a ton of books, so it’s rare when we geek out on one particular text. This book is deserving of a deep dive

Some of the highlights include:

“Anything that conspires to make us stronger, freer, more resilient, conquering, all that trains us to endure, to sustain suffering, that calls on our best qualities, continually– is conditioning.”

“Athleticism, in my view, is not a sport: nor a cult: it is way of life”

“I am an apostle of the now– the everlasting present. Do today all you reasonably can– in your training, your affairs. Do not attempt to see the end of the road. Keep your ends or goals in mind, but direct your brains to the solving and satisfactorily doing of all that your hands, or feet, find to do today.

“In conclusion, and to repeat, the belief, adamant in my teachins, is that the athlete must be developed in the end, so that he be entirely self-reliant, self-dependent, able to know instinctively and understand his nature, personality trends, and his requirements in exercise and training, from day to day, month to month…That he instinctively, by inner divination, senses his strength and ability and the ebb and flow of both.”

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Books and Resources Mentioned:

Athletics: How to Become a Champion

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    1 Comment

    1. mark bateman on August 23, 2017 at 7:39 am

      You’ve only just read this book? I cannot believe this! I read this book for the first time when i was fourteen (now 59) as an aspiring teenage runner and reread it periodically since then. It is THE BEST book on the sport EVER written. Percy knew more and understood better than any other coach before or since. Basic principle was not to run “steadily” most days but to run extremely hard (to the edge of collapse if Elliott is to be believed) for a few days and then take an easier period to recover. Repeat! The nature of the work is of lesser importance than the approach, the attitude, the intensity.

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