Thursday, September 11, 2008

ENDURANCE by Earle E. Liederman - Author and Publisher, (1926), - Chapter 1

Every man should be able to save his own life. He should be able to swim far enough, run fast and long enough to save his life in case of emergency and necessity. He also should be able to chin himself a reasonable number of times, as well as to dip a number of times, and he should be able to jump a reasonable height and distance.

If he is of the fat, porpoise type, naturally he cannot do all, if any, of these things; he has nobody to blame but himself, and his way of living that has brought his body into its condition of obesity.
Suppose—and it has happened many times—there should be a fire at sea or on lake or river; should one be half a mile or more from the shore, he would be mighty thankful to realize, were he compelled to jump for his life from the fire, that he could swim that distance and reach the shore in safety.

Suppose one were in a burning building and he had to lower himself hand under hand down a rope or down an improvised rope of bedclothing tied together to reach the ground in safety; he again would be thankful a thousand times that he possessed the strength and endurance in his arms and coordinate muscles that would enable him to save himself. Such things never may happen, and let us hope they do not; but what has happened always is possible to occur again—and, in fact, always is happening to some one.

While I was in the lobby of a Southern hotel one winter evening, two men came in a large rattlesnake hanging on a pole. These two men had been out that day hunting rabbits and other small game, and one of the men in stepping over a small stone fence surrounding a farm suddenly beheld this rattlesnake coiled up not three feet from him, with tail swishing and ready to spring. The reader may know that a rattlesnake can always spring its own length. The man, who had stepped with one leg over the wall, had sufficient presence of mind to realize that if he moved a muscle, the snake would spring. Therefore, he stood motionless, straddling this wall, one leg about three feet from the snake and the other leg in the grass on the other side of the stones. After remaining motionless for what he said seemed a long time, he finally nerved himself and with every ounce of strength he possessed in his legs he jumped with both feet sideways so that he cleared the wall and rolled on the ground on the other side of the stones, miraculously escaping the lunge of the rattler. As he sprang to his feet his partner quickly came to his assistance and killed the snake, which had plunged over the two-foot wall, missing the other man's leg by but a few inches.

Such incidents in the life of men seem incredible—in the realm of fiction; but it nevertheless is a true story. And, again, what has happened once may be repeated. If this man had not possessed the strong quality of muscle in his legs, developed by his constant cross-country walking (for he hunted regularly), he would not have had the ability nor the confidence to spring suddenly, as he did, to escape the poisonous bite of the reptile.

In my younger days I had to run quite a distance over the fields, at top speed, to escape the charge of a mad bull. At the end of the fields was the common farm fence; you know the kind—cross bars and jagged ends sticking up here and there. I think no one ever hurdled or vaulted with greater speed than I did on that occasion. Another rare incident—yet it happened to me; and if I had not been able to run with speed and jump or vault over the old farm fence with such quickness, there might be a different story tot ell. This is another example proving the value of endurance and well trained muscles.

Last year, while on the beach at Atlantic City, N.J., I was introduced to a robust fellow whose arm was in a sling. Naturally I asked him what had happened. He told me that the day before there was a railroad wreck, of which I had heard, not far from Atlantic City. The train was speeding at the rate of about sixty miles an hour when the rails spread, and as the train jumped the track all the coaches overturned. This fellow by chance happened to be roaming the meadows within a hundred yards of the tracks and, therefore, saw the whole catastrophe. It is hard to relate twice-told tales accurately, but he told me how he ran quickly toward the wreck as the heard the uncanny screams of the injured passengers. Time after time he climbed over a capsized car, entered the broken windows and helped the injured out to safety. Still the moans kept up. He told me his legs and arms were shaking from the fatigue of lifting and carrying the people away from the wreck; he was ready to drop. Yet he carried on, and it was in the attempt to rescue a screaming woman, who was pinned underneath one of the cars which had toppled over, that he received his injury. This car rested upon one of the trucks or set of wheels. While under this truck, which evidently was on meager balance, his arm was smashed by the collapse of the wreckage. This is an instance well illustrating the value of endurance. Think how many more lives might have been lost had this fellow not possessed the physical power to continue. If endurance may not prove useful in saving your own life, it may prove exceedingly valuable in saving the lives of others.

A man does not necessarily need to be a strong man or even a muscular athlete in order to possess endurance qualities necessary to save his own life. Neither does one need youth, as counted in years; for even in middle life a reasonable amount of endurance can be gotten by anyone who really wants it. But if the individual contents himself with living a life of ease and inactivity, drinking, smoking, over-indulging in food, and giving way to feelings or emotions, he must not expect anything but shortness of breath, unnecessary flesh, unresponsive nerves and muscles, and a sluggish mind.

I do not believe in everyone striving to be a long distance swimmer, a long distance runner, or any other kind of endurance athlete. The performance of such work necessary to acquire great endurance in all these things would, especially in later years, endanger the heart. But he should be able to swim at least half a mile or more; he should be able to run at top speed two hundred yards or more; he should be able to jump over obstacles higher than his waist; and he should be in condition to pull his body upward by the strength of his arms, until his chin touches his hands, at least fifteen to twenty times; and as for pushing ability, he should be able to dip between parallel bars or between two chairs at least twenty-five times or more. If he can accomplish these things he need have no fear concerning the safety of his life should he be forced into an emergency from which he alone may be able to save himself.

I shall not devote any space to methods of acquiring a well-proportioned and strong body, for in my book Muscle Building I have gone into this matter in detail. From this brief chapter concerning the saving of your own life and the possession of sufficient strength, endurance, coordination and responsiveness of muscles to make it possible for one to save his life, I think the reader will be more interested in learning how to acquire this reasonable amount of endurance and other qualities, which may prove essential at some time during his lifetime.
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