Gordon Pirie was a British long distance runner who died in 1991. He is most famous for his silver medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics in the 5000 meters.
If you read last week’s post about the end of the Adidas and Puma Feud, then you’ll be intrigued by the connection of Gordon Pirie and Adi Dassler, Adidas’s co-founder.
The 1998 edition of the Guinness Book of Records lists Gordon Pirie under the Greatest Mileage entry, stating that he had run a total distance of 347,600 km (216,000 miles) in 40 years to 1981. That’s over 100 miles (160 km) a week every week for 40 years!
The irony of this is Pirie gives 3 reasons why runners get injured, and one of them is too much “long slow distance” (LSD) mileage! In all fairness, he does believe in a balance of various types of running including hills and speed work.
He also believed more than 70 per cent of running shoes on the market today are causing injuries by their design.
To learn more about his training methods and recommendations, he book co-wrote with John S Gilbody called Running Fast and Injury Free.
3 different versions exist, all free of charge (free is good). Here are the links (oldest to newest):
http://www.geocities.com/jsgilbody/Gordon_book_040104.pdf (60 pages)
Running Fast and Injury Free
“Running fast and injury free” is partly biographical (Gordon’s early years, experiences at Adidas – he invented spiked racing shoes with the late Adolf (Adi) Dassler – and the White City, Olympic participation, world records etc.), but it also outlines the training schedules that Gordon followed, including (in some detail) Interval Training, and sets out detailed training programmes for aspiring athletes to follow (of whatever level). In typical Gordon fashion, the book is highly controversial and radical (e.g. comments on running shoe design and running technique), whilst remaining very entertaining.
A quote from the book’s Introduction, illustrating Gordon’s accomplishments: “In the last 45 years, I have participated in three Olympic Games (winning a Silver Medal in the 5,000 metre race at the 1956 Melbourne Games), and have set five official world records (and a dozen or so more unofficial world bests). I have faced and beaten most of the greatest athletes of my time, and have run to date nearly a quarter of a million miles. Along the way, I have coached several of Great Britain and New Zealand’s best runners some of whom have set their own world records. In addition, I aided the late Adolf (Adi) Dassler (founder of Adidas) in developing spiked racing shoes, on which most of today’s good designs are based. This brief list of some of my accomplishments is presented in order to lend credibility to what follows”. Is the book radical? Oh yes.
For example: “There are three basic reasons for the injury epidemic currently sweeping the running world, which is making life unpleasant for millions of runners, and destroying many more who are lost to the sport forever.
The first is the most basic – very few runners know how to run correctly. Improper technique puts undue strain on the feet, ankles, knees, back and hips, and makes injury inevitable.
The second reason is more subtle than the first, though closely related to it. Most running shoes today are designed and constructed in such a manner as to make correct technique impossible (and therefore cause chronic injuries to the people who wear them). It is a common misconception that a runner should land on his or her heels and then roll forward to the front of the foot with each stride. In designing their shoes, most shoe companies fall prey to this incorrect assumption. The result is that running shoes get larger and clumsier every year. Far from protecting runners, these shoes actually limit the runner’s ability to run properly, and as a result may contribute to the injury epidemic.
The third factor accounting for the current plague of injuries is an over-emphasis on mileage in training, especially “long slow distance” (LSD). Without the constant maintenance of a proper balance in training including sprinting, interval training, weights, hills and long-running – a runner’s body simply will not adapt to the stresses it encounters on a day to day basis.”