Tuesday, September 23, 2008

ENDURANCE by Earle E. Liederman - Author and Publisher, (1926), - Chapter 3

Endurance work cannot be performed rapidly. It must be done slowly, but without thought of count. So many devotees to physical exercise set a certain number of counts as their goal. This is all well and good for setting-up exercises; but when the mind is continually concentrating upon figures some nervous energy is wasted, which could be utilized either in accomplishing results or for a useful purpose. Monotony soon becomes evident when counting, serving to detract from the interest of the work; also, counting is inclined to cause one to throw less energy into his muscles for beneficially greater contraction. Therefore, exercising simply to reach an allotted number of counts is not as beneficial as when a destination or physiological goal is the object.

It is much better, for example, to set your goal in walking, say, at one or two miles than to count your steps. If the student should be exercising with light dumbbells it is much better to continue until the muscles feel tired than simply to set out to do one hundred or two hundred lifts regardless of the consequences. The number of counts may be easy some days, but too much on other days. the object of performing endurance exercises is to do the work in the easiest way possible, with just enough pause between movements to give the tissues and the heart action a chance to recuperate. Without relaxation in endurance work the work becomes muscle-building and strength-building rather than endurance in nature.

I really believe the phlegmatic type of person possesses more power of endurance than the nervous type. The nervous individual consumes or wastes his energy not only in muscular effort but mental effort as well. If you tell a nervous person to quickly touch a button and turn on a light he will do it much quicker than his phlegmatic friend. There are exceptions to this rule, and in fact this may be only my personal opinion; but most of the endurance athletes I have met have been of the steady, easy-going, non-excitable type.

This does not mean, at all, that one of nervous temperament cannot develop much endurance. While they are, as a rule, more fitted for rapid or speed work, and while they naturally "take to" this class of work in their physical activities and sports, yet they can develop an endurance for such work that is equal to that possessed by the phlegmatic athletes who generally take up slower activities. Since the nervous energy of the man of nervous temperament is inclined to burn out more quickly, though perhaps burning at "greater heat"—permitting more intense work while it endures—the work done by such a person to help develop endurance, should be done more slowly than is his natural inclination. Of course, there may be some fast work, and usually there should be a goodly proportion of such; but in heavier work and definite endurance there must be a "toning down," a slowing down, for best results.

Good lungs are essential for anyone who is desirous of accomplishing anything in the endurance. If there is shortness of breath, exhaustion will soon set in. Any of you who have attended amateur boxing exhibitions (I do not mean professional, for professional boxers usually are in good condition and have excellent wind) have noted the difference in the action in the various rounds. In the first round two amateur boxers will rush at each other like angry bulls. The second round is a little slower, and often one of the contestants slows up so appreciably that one can but wonder what has become of all his ferociousness. It is a matter of becoming winded through too violent exercise early in the fight.

I remember attending an amateur boxing show at the New York Athletic Club where there was a husky chap introduced as Sailor somebody. His body was superbly developed and he looked as if he could tear his opponent in two. When the bell sounded for the first round he tore in and showered blows upon his adversary so that after but a minute or so of fighting his opponent began to appear groggy from the onslaught. However, his more frail appearing opponent managed to weather the round. In the second round this husky boxer started with the same ferociousness, but before many seconds had elapsed he quite suddenly slowed down. Then came the other fellow's turn, and it wasn't long before the muscular marvel was lying outstretched upon the floor He slowed up so noticeably that he was an easy mark for his opponent, who possessed better endurance qualities—and, incidentally, the necessary punch.

Do you suppose Harry Greb, the middleweight boxer, could continue at top speed round after round for fifteen or twenty rounds or more, if he did not relax his muscles absolutely in between encounters, blocks or punches, and if he did not possess a wonderful pair of lungs? I have seen Johnny Dundee, the former featherweight champion, for twenty rounds hit so fast and so often and jump around so constantly that it seemed incredibly for a human being to keep up the pace. Anyone who has tried boxing will realize the value of good "wind." Both Greb and Dundee, of course, are exceptions in the boxing world, just as Elionsky, Goodwin, Nurmi, and others are exceptions in their own sports.

It is the exceptions that make the champions; but for the average competitor in any sport that requires endurance, whether it be boxing twenty rounds, swimming or running several miles, or what not, the start always should be moderate, and then this moderate pace should be kept up throughout the entire performance, or at least until second wind has developed. Suppose you were punching the bag; if you went at it top speed it would require a good deal of wind, as well as strength in the arms and shoulders, and you soon would find yourself tiring. In my opinion, this manner of bag-punching would be considered muscle-building work. On the other hand, suppose you wished to punch the bag for an hour or two at a time. You would not attempt rapidity of movement; you would, naturally, take it easy, and the bag would not hit the platform as rapidly as it would ordinarily in swift work.

Our professional wrestlers, whom you often may have seen wrestle for an hour or two at a time, in most cases are given a certain allotted time in which to wrestle. If these athletes are required to wrestle for an hour in order to give the public an interesting exhibition, as well as its money's worth, you do not see them tear at each other like mad bulls. If you are a student or devotee of the game you would find evidence of plenty of relaxation, in spite of the fact that they appear continually to exert all their strength.

Yet it is remarkable how much the human body can endure. I know of chaps who go on continually dissipating and who apparently are strong and husky; but are they? I often wonder what interesting things one might behold if it were possible for one to see the inside of their bodies.

Perhaps you have heard the story about the frog who was boiled to death; but it may be new to some, so I relate it. In one of our leading universities some experimenters placed a bull frog into a pan of cool water. This pan was then placed upon a heater and the temperature of the water was increased so slowly that it took over one hour for the water to come to the boiling point. During all this time the frog never moved. He was slowly boiled to death, yet gave no evidence of feeling the rising heat.

How many people are like that frog! They continue their dissipated way o living and are slowly decaying without knowing it. Perhaps you may use intoxicants; you may smoke considerably, keep late hours, eat anything y9ou like for perhaps a long time, and think you are getting away with it. But you are not! Just remember that a chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and that some day the weak link is going to snap! When it does you may never know it any more than the thousands who suddenly drop dead each day, though you may be even less fortunate that these, for the breaking of that weak link may be the beginning of years of broken health, perhaps with much physical suffering.
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BODY • MIND • SPIRIT

Bob Whelan

Bob Whelan

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