Saturday, September 6, 2008

ENDURANCE by Earle E. Liederman - Author and Publisher, 1926, - INTRODUCTION

It is hard, sometimes, when one is busy, to leave mail unanswered and close up the desk and leave the city for a week or two, but that is just what I did. I packed my grip and departed one cold December day for the Southland.

I have a cozy little spot on the sands of Florida to where I have journeyed so many times to be alone with my thoughts and to write. Most of the books I have written were jotted down under the semi-tropical sun; and as I have had so many hundreds of requests from the readers of my athletic library for a book on endurances, I decided the time was ripe to take about twenty pencils and a ream of paper and get on the job to satisfy the thirst of my many friends and readers who want to learn my ideas and views on this subject.

While sitting on the sands, wondering how to begin this book, I noticed coming towards me, about one hundred feet away, a veritable giant. My eyes were held steady by his enormous breadth and massive chest. I doubt whether I have ever seen before such a chest, so barrel-like in dimensions. I watched every step he took. I did not notice his Herculean legs until he drew near me. Much to my surprise, who should it be but Henry Elionsky, who is without a doubt the most spectacular endurance swimmer the world ever produced. I had met him once before, a great many years ago, and had almost forgotten about him. That is why I did not recognize his gigantic physique until his features became distinguishable. Then, too, his mustache hindered my recognition.

I surely was glad to see him. Here I was about to begin writing on endurance; and what could be more fitting that to meet a man who, without a doubt, has the greatest endurance of any swimmer on earth? It seemed too good to be true. After the usual reminiscences, Mr. Elionsky gave me quite a lot of valuable information regarding endurance. First of all, he claimed that the motive or goal was the first requisite towards prolonging motion. To use his own words:
"If, when swimming, you have no object or goal in view you will never swim as far as your will power tells you to. Although my muscles never become tired, still in order to swim twenty-five or thirty miles I naturally would have to set my destination.

"One essential thing about endurance is that the swimmer must learn the art of relaxation. Unless every part of the body is relaxed and you know the proper method of breathing, you never will become an endurance swimmer.
I remember the time I swam from New York to Sandy Hook, N.J., a distance of about twenty-six miles, with my hands and feet tied and at the same time towing a rowboat containing a dozen men. There was a strong wind blowing against me and, although I gauged the tides, nevertheless the tide turned after I was in the water for eight hours. If on this occasion I had not absolutely relaxed every part of my body; if there had been one single muscle under tension, I would never have been able to successfully accomplish this unprecedented feat; or if I had on one single occasion gotten water in my nasal or air passage of my mouth, it would have so greatly interfered with my breathing that I would have been compelled to give up shortly after. I was compelled to adopt perfect breathing in the water.

"I am thinking seriously of making the attempt to swim the English Channel with my hands and feet shackled. I am positive I can do it, and although I have never been across the ocean to try out the channel, still I know for a positive fact that as long as I practice the art of proper breathing and as long as my muscles are in a state of complete relaxation, I can successfully swim any distance within reason. Again, of course, the motive or the goal must be continually in my mind. If I simply took a swim, just for the sport of it, the chances are I would not swim more than two or three miles before I would feel as though I had had enough. But, realizing that I have a great distance to make, I must concentrate upon my destination.

"As an example, to show you what a valuable asset perfect breathing is to the swimmer, let me tell you of an incident that happened once while swimming Hell Gate Rapids. Hell Gate, as you know, connects the East River with Long Island Sound, and is filled with whirlpools and rocks. On this particular day I was to perform a freak swim, in which two men were strapped tightly to me, one on each side. I also had my hands and feet firmly tied. I was to swim the Hell Gate waters in this manner and, of course, for safety I had a couple of boats continually alongside of me.

"After about fifteen minutes in the water we struck a whirlpool. It dragged my feet down and thereby caused the weight of my human baggage to push me below the surface. I understand one of the men called out while my head was under water 'is everything all right?', but naturally I never heard him, and all I could do, when I struggled to the surface, was to look appealingly at the men in the accompanying boat. They, seeing my look, quickly pulled us out of the water.

"If we had not struck the little whirlpool, which caused this commotion, I would have as successfully swum these rapids as I have done on numerous other occasions. But being forced under the water by the combined weight of the two men strapped to me interfered so greatly with my breathing that it would have made it exceedingly difficult to continue. Had my hands been free, of course, it would have been easy."

This indicates quite clearly what such a great man as Elionsky thinks of relaxation, breathing, and having an object or goal in view. Personally, I really think that swimming calls for more endurance than any other sport, because not only must the destination be continually in the mind, but one must battle with the waves and at the same time breathe rhythmically. No matter how strenuous a sport one undertakes on land, whether it is boxing, wrestling, tennis, running, or the like, there is always air at the command of the lungs; but in swimming, where the face is so much under water and the head must be turned to get the air, it is much more difficult to secure the necessary oxygen.

Probably an endurance swimmer would make a very poor Marathon runner and an impossible boxer or wrestler, just as the world's champion boxer or wrestler would, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, make an impossible endurance swimmer, as every athlete has a specialty in some line or other. But everyone can learn and practice the rudiments of the different sports or pastimes and become better at any of them than the average. Some of our lightweight fighters, who can box twenty or more rounds at top speed, and some of our heavyweight wrestlers, who can keep up the pace hour after hour, perhaps could swim several miles should they go in for endurance swimming; but they would fall far short of the distances covered by Elionsky or any other endurance swimmer.

And that reminds me that, after I left Mr. Elionsky, I had not gone a hundred yards before I met Budd Goodwin, the former worlds champion endurance swimmer. Mr. Goodwin has won more cups and gold medals than any other living athlete; they number into the thousands; and he still holds one record that never has been duplicated. Mr. Goodwin's favorite pastime was swimming a distance of thirteen miles from New York to Coney Island, and his remarkable speed, combined with his endurance, has made him one of the greatest swimmers of all times.

I have asked Mr. Goodwin on one or two occasions what he thinks about when swimming mile after mile. His answer always has been the same: "I must not give up; I must reach my goal." Here again is indication that a destination or goal plays an important part in a swimmer's career. Of course, no matter what the goal may be, no swimmer would make it if he did not absolutely relax and understand perfect form in breathing. By the way, never in all my life have I seen such remarkable breathing as that practiced by Budd Goodwin. To watch him swim is a treat. It seems that his face is continually in the water and that he never takes a breath; but his great speed forms a little pocket under his nose, as he turns his head slightly sideways, and it is in this pocket that he secures his air. I doubt whether anyone else is as proficient in the art of breathing while swimming as is Budd Goodwin.

In one of my other books, Secrets of Strength, I asked the question, "what is endurance but continued strength?" If one were to have the pleasure of beholding either Mr. Elionsky or Mr. Goodwin in person, he would see before him a powerful man of gigantic physique; and, although Mr. Elionsky's chest is considerably greater than Mr. Goodwin's (measuring, I believe, fifty-eight inches normal), still Mr. Goodwin has such a massive lung space that his depth and breadth of chest would look well on a two hundred and fifty pound wrestler, yet he weighs by two hundred pounds.

Thus it will be appreciated that the first requisite for the student in acquiring endurance is to learn the art of relaxation and to have a destination in mind, whether it be in swimming, skating, boxing, wrestling, or any other form of athletic sport. While the art of proper breathing is very essential in swimming, it forms perhaps a somewhat lesser part in other pastimes.
An example of complete relaxation can be illustrated as follows: Hold you arm sideways at the height of your shoulder and have someone place his hands under your wrist and forearm, letting the entire weight of your arm rest on his hands; then have him, without warning, quickly pull his hands away. If your arm quickly drops downward and hits against your side, that arm is in a state of relaxation. But if it lowers slowly or does not reach the side, your deltoid or shoulder muscle has been slightly tensed.

If you can learn to relax each and every muscle of your body and just flop, so to speak, it will help you a good deal in training for any kind of endurance. About the only place one can completely relax is in the water; for while a bed may be soft, still the mattress or springs will cause some minor part of your body to be in a slight tension. In the water, however—it being buoyant—you can find absolute relaxation after you have mastered this art.

The reader must pardon me if I seem to ramble too deeply into the subject in this introduction; but as this book is being written as I go along, naturally I am anxious to jot down the various thoughts and ideas as they loom before me. I must not be blamed for my enthusiasm nor for having written the highlights of my fortunate meeting with two such interesting men as Elionsky and Goodwin. There I sat with the warm sun glaring down upon me, biting the top of my pencil and wondering how to begin, when these living inspirations of endurance suddenly seemed to come to me from nowhere. Now that I have quoted them and the literary error has been committed and I am once again alone with my thoughts, I hope you who read this will be as interested in what I shall write as I shall be in writing the following chapters for you.


CONTENTS

Chapter Page
I. Every man should be able to save his own life........................................................... 13
II. Endurance for one, strength for another—
where is the boundary line?...................................................................................... 18

III. Wind—relaxation..................................................................................................... 29

IV. Diet—stimulant before beginning exercises—
off-days—set-backs—peace of mind....................................................................... 34

V. Coordination—muscular sense................................................................................. 41

VI. Fatigue—lameness—massage—muscle heat—diet................................................... 50

VII. Muscular ability—resisting fatigue—nervous
fatigue—forcing the muscles—concentration............................................................. 60

VIII. The lungs—breathlessness........................................................................................ 71

IX. Overwork—the heart—progression of effort............................................................ 83

X. Relaxation—strengthening organs—exercises
of speed and strength—fast and slow muscles
—changing exercising program................................................................................. 93

XI. Exercises of endurance—strength exercises
becoming endurance movements—nervous energy.................................................. 114

XII. Effects of exercise—respiratory movements—
importance of leg work—developing the rib-box
—shape of muscles—age and the folly of over-
doing—"has beens"................................................................................................ 133

XIII. Stoutness and thinness—strong men—changes in
muscular formation—organic warnings.................................................................... 150

XIV. Various exercises for obtaining endurance—
competition and goal.............................................................................................. 158

XV. Endurance records................................................................................................. 168



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