Top Class Training

Spedding, center #390. 

Spedding, center #390. 

I recently reread Charlie Spedding's autobiography From Last to First. It might be one of the best autobiographical accounts in the distance running genre and is a quick, yet potent read. 

Spedding won a bronze medal at the 1984 Olympic Games in the Marathon, essentially out of nowhere. 

His path to world-class competitiveness was filled with many valleys and few peaks, which he details with stunning transparency. 

Here are three passages from the book which really stuck out:

After a recent string of poor performances:

I was reminded very clearly that no matter what you had achieved previously, top class performance requires top class training. I did manage a couple of weeks at 90 miles before running the National Cross Country. I finished an embarrassing and dismal 67th. I was reminded that top class performance requires a lot of top class training.

On Olympic training:

Top runners have to be determined, focused, and committed, but to be really top class you have to able to make the right decision under pressure. In fact, I think the ability to make the right decision under pressure is one of the most important and least appreciated factors in sporting success. Obsessive compulsives often fall short of their potential because, when they are under pressure the revert to their compulsive behavior, and make the wrong decisions.

On preparation:

...but the training I did only tells part of the story of my preparation. I have met a lot of runners who think that if they get the training right, the race will take care of itself. I have never believed that. The training has to be done, but I think you have to make a good race happen, and to do that you have to prepare your mind.


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

Jonathan Marcus