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The Wisdom of Bill Dellinger

 Coach and Olympian, Bill Dellinger (right; front) seated next to one of his runners, Olympian Steve Prefontaine (left; front).

Coach and Olympian, Bill Dellinger (right; front) seated next to one of his runners, Olympian Steve Prefontaine (left; front).

Olympic Medalist and University of Oregon coach Bill Dellinger wrote a book called Winning Running. Published in 1978, it is hard to get now. Thankfully, I own a copy. If you can find one, I suggest you buy it as the book is filled with many gems. Most notably, Dellinger outlines the 57 week training build up into the 1972 Olympic 5,000m finals for his star pupil, the late Steve Prefontaine. It is priceless. 

There is a chapter called "The Mental Approach to Training & Competition." It is only 5 pages long, but potent with wisdom. I was tempted to reprint the entire chapter, but decided against it.

Instead, I will leave you with Coach Dellinger's concluding remarks from page 21 found under the section "Winning Attitude" —

The path to achieving total capacity can be mapped out. Its guideposts included: 

  1. Demanding and expecting discipline.
  2. Allowing for accomplishment through progression.
  3. Allowing for individual differences in training.
  4. Using common sense.
  5. Developing a callousing effect for physical progression and mental preparation. 
  6. Allowing for, and utilizing, feedback from runners. 
  7. Challenging oneself to the limit on the occasion. 
  8. Placing emphasis on participation to one's fullest rather than on "coming in first."

The runner can speed up his development of these qualities by: 

  • Being patient. 
  • Being realistic. 
  • Being goal-oriented. 
  • Being persistent. 
  • Being consistent. 
  • Using common sense.
  • Completing workouts, even if adjusments have to be made. 
  • Asking questions.
  • Listening.
  • Disciplining oneself in all phases of life.

 

Thanks for reading. I'm glad you're here. // jm

Jonathan Marcus