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Member of the Month - Canute

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GimmeMedals asks: Congratulations on MOTM. How and why did you choose your Fetch name?

Canute says: Thank you GM. I recommenced regular running a decade ago to help me ride the incoming tide of age. I read Gordon Pirie’s short book on running and was intrigued by the possibility that there might be ways to adjust my gait to deal with my ‘horrible’ feet. I joined Fetch at a time when there was a very active discussion of related things on the Efficient Running thread. Canute was the obvious name, though it is probable that King Canute’s purpose was to demonstrate the power of nature rather than to obstruct it.
Lalli asks: Congratulations! What is the marathon you'd most like to target to run before hitting the big seven-oh?

Canute says: Lalli, thank you. I am afraid that there is time for only one. In light of uncertainties that might confound elaborate plans, it will have to be my local marathon, the Robin Hood. Nonetheless I will be happy for this opportunity to make a small contribution to supporting running in my adopted home town
The Mighty Fleecy asks: Well done Canute, thanks for all your sage advice and thoughtful debate of evidence about running :) Where is the prettiest place you've ever run?

Canute says: Fleecy, Thank you. A difficult choice. I have a special affection for a training route that started on the beach at Brighton (Adelaide), ascended to the summit of Mt Lofty via Sturt Creek, and then descended via a wild and rocky gorge to Waterfall gully. The run up Dovedale and Wolfscote Dale is less wild but equally lovely, and brings back memories of delightful company.
Ninky Nonk asks: If you could go for a run with anybody past or present who would it be?

Canute says: John Landy. He is now 84 and I might be able to keep up. He is a hero because of his game attempts at the sub 4 minute mile; because of the way he stopped mid race to help the fallen Ron Clark to his feet in the 1500 metres Australian National Championships final in 1956, and because he is an agricultural scientist who has written two books on natural history: ‘Close to Nature’ and ‘A Coastal Diary’.
Ninky Nonk asks: If you could go for a run with anybody past or present who would it be?

Canute says: Can I have a second answer: runnyeyes, because she is a lovely person and shares my interest in the English countryside
-x-x- asks: You should never declare your voting intentions but for once my candidate won, well done, Canute, you so deserve this award for all your considered and measured advice. Sorry, I should ask a question! My question is: What is the best bit of running advice you've ever received?

Canute says: Thank you 100for RNIB. Lydiard’s advice: ‘train not strain’. It was not personal, but it clearly worked for Peter Snell, Murray Halberg and many others, and has shaped my own thinking for many years.
Autumnleaves asks: Congratulations - I would like to know what your top tip for beginner runners is.

Canute says: Thank you, AL. Can I have two: Build up gradually, and interpret the need for effort as exhilaration, not pain.
runnerbean asks: congrats long overdue :-) what's your fave fiction and non-fiction book and why?

Canute says: Thank you, RB. Fiction: ‘My brother Jack’ by George Johnston; a fictional account of two brothers' experiences of the Depression and WW2 that contrasts social adroitness with loyalty;

‘Non-fiction: ‘The better angels of our nature’ by Steven Pinker; a thought provoking argument that human nature has improved over the centuries.
Curly45 asks: Congrats Canute! Which article you've read has most influenced your running thoughts and ideas? And have you ever thought about writing a book?

Canute says: Thank you, Curly45. ‘15 Laws of Training’ from Chapter 5 of Noakes’ Lore of Running. It is now 13 years out of date. The past decade has seen a vigorous debate over several aspects of endurance running: training programmes, the physiology of the training effect, nutrition; running style, shoes, injury etc. Debate will doubtless continue, but we have nonetheless learned much in that decade and it would be an exciting challenge to write a book, but I am not sure when I will have the time.
Rosehip asks: Congratulations :) very pleased that you have been recognised.

If you could run any marathon anywhere in the world, al expenses paid etc which would you chose?


Canute says: Thank you, Rosehip. The 4th stage (45 Km, so actually an ultra) ) of the Larapinta Trail Race in the MacDonnell Ranges, Central Australia. in August (Southern winter). I have walked part of this trail; it is wild and beautiful.
HappyG(rrr) asks: Many congratulations Canute. A very worthy winner. Thanks for all your valued input and support of informed and measured debate - very welcome in Fetch, imho! ;-) What has been your favourite running experience? Congrats again. :-) G

Canute says: Thank you HappyG. Running through bluebells in the woods near my home.
santababy asks: worthy winner indeed. what is your best and proudest running memory/moment? what if anything would you do differently if you had your time starting over again? is there anything you want to do that you haven't yet? what would be the one piece of advice youd give to a newbie?

Canute says: Thanks Santa. Best was a ‘perfect’ 10,000m on a mid-summer evening at the Adelaide Harriers Track 47 years ago; Proudest was winning the South Australian schoolboy mile championship, but I was also honoured to represent South Australia in the Australian marathon championships in the golden years of Australian marathoning; Different? I would have done more long trail races while I had the strength of youth; To do: as much of the Edale Skyline Route as I have the strength for; For a newbie, learn to interpret the need for effort as exhilaration.
Captain S asks: What is your favourite brand of running shoe. And why?

Canute says: Thanks, CaptainS. I have congenitally deformed feet so above all else I need a wide toe box and a modest amount of padding under the forefoot. I prefer near zero drop as I am a mid-foot striker. Frustratingly, shoe manufacturers change the shape of their shoes with each ‘upgrade’ of a particular model so staying with the same model does not work. In recent years, the shoes that have suited me best were lightweight Adidas Supernovas.
EarlyRiser asks: Well deserved Canute. Good running in 2015. More Efficient Running thread throwback. Do you consider we can really TRAIN for more efficient running? e.g. strides, fast-feet type exercises, 'focus' or proprioception and so on. Or is it really just a consequence of gains in strength, power, speed and endurance?

Canute says: Thank you, ER. There are two components of efficiency: metabolic efficiency (the amount of work done by muscle for each litre of oxygen); and mechanical efficiency (the pace achieved for each unit of work done by muscle). Metabolic efficiency increases over years of consistent training; mechanical efficiency is improved by strengthening and coordination and by correcting specific errors o technique.
Velociraptor asks: Well done, Canute. I'm delighted that you've won MOTM. If you could spend your MOTM prize on any running-related purchase instead of being restricted to one retailer, what would you buy?

Canute says: Thank you Vrap. I try to keep running as simple as possible. Apart from keeping an eye out for shoes that might be kind to my awkward feet, I rarely think of new kit. I am nonetheless a little intrigued by the question of whether or not compression tights assist recovery, so I am happy that the MOTM prize will precipitate me into testing this for myself.
Fenland Flier asks: Congratulations on MotM, well deserved. Thank you for all the advice you have given, not just to me but all Fetchies.
Having read so much about running and giving your opinions on various research studies too have you thought about taking up training runners? New, old or those wanting / needing to adapt their style. (Book question already asked.)


Canute says: Thank you FF. Life is too full to allow new activities at the moment, so discussion on Fetch suits me well. But one day I would like to be involved in a program to help middle-aged people maintain fitness into old age. Unfortunately I know more about the problems than the solutions ;)
Corrah asks: Many congratulations :) Now, to think of a question! Erm, what bit of running gear do you have that you could totally not do without?

Canute says: Thank you. The idea of having nothing other than shoes, shorts, briefs and T-shirt is appealing, though the simplicity of the ancient Greek Olympians has an even greater appeal. But I would really miss the interesting feedback that I get from my HRM.
Sharkie asks: Worthy winner indeed! A recent blog of yours asked the (only half joking) question 'Is it time to take up sprinting?' Given the evidence that intense power based training IS good for the older body would you ever consider switching your allegiance from distance running? Or are the benefits (physical, intellectual and emotional ) you presumably derive from the long stuff just too great to give up?

Canute says: Thank you Sharkie. Yes, I was playing with the possibility. I have never been fast, but even nowadays I usually out-sprint the youngsters at the end of a 5K. However more to the point, long runs in the winter aggravate my asthma. So maybe a 4 month season of sprinting (with elliptical cross training) and an 8 month season of distance running would suit me. But does a winter indoor track league for veterans exist? Maybe, like Charlie Eugster, I should put off sprinting until I am really old ;)
Helegant asks: Congratulations, and many thanks for all your sage advice. What would you say to a young adult just starting to run to ensure they still enjoy running at 70?

Canute says: Thank you Helegant. Something along these lines: Find the environment that allows you to satisfy your current passions but also keeps you informed about the wide range of ways in which running is great. Start by joining Fetch.
Ferdi asks: Congratulations Canute, very well-deserved. Having followed the discussions on heart damage through long-distance running and undertraining, I wondered what you feel will be the next medical innovation to allow a ‘personalised medicine’ approach to individuals concerned about over-training and heart damage, now we are in the post-genome era?

Canute says: Thank you Ferdi. A challenging question. If the goal is a lab based measurement, a reliable way of measuring markers of inflammation circulating in the blood might be most informative, since inflammation plays a key role in both the beneficial and harmful effects of training. Away from the lab, the most relevant thing we can measure precisely with readily available technology is heart rhythm. I suspect that heart rate (and/or HRV) measured during recovery from a standardised sub-maximal test might be informative about how the heart is coping, but hitherto has received too little attention.
Doctor K asks: Apart from the guy who kept the waves back which runner most inspires you to run?

Canute says: Thanks, Dr K. In childhood I was inspired by John Landy; in teenage by Ron Clark and in late middle age by Ed Whitlock. His phenomenal 2:54:48 marathon at age 71 and subsequent world age graded bests at all ages up to 84 demonstrates what consistent training can achieve.
Boab asks: Hey Canute, a very well deserved win in my opinion. Your analytical brain and objective views have helped me along in the last few years. So, I'll take this opportunity to say thanks for your input:). My question is: How has your training changed over the years? Can you give us some details of your training as a young man and how that progressed, what kind of volume/intensity you were doing when you ran 2:2x for the marathon. And what, of that training, have you brought into your current training?

Canute says: Thankyou. In the 1960’s we relied on word of mouth accounts if ideas of Cerutty, Lydiard and others. I was most influenced by Lydiard’s recommendation for 100 miles per week at a good aerobic pace. We did not know exactly what he meant and I probably ran a bit fast. For a long period I did 10 miles twice daily at around 6 m/m for 5 days /week + variable things on the weekend. I did a lot of hill walking. I did few long runs, though one of my favourites but infrequent runs was a 20 miler including over 2000’ of ascent and descent, mainly on rocky trails. I still regard a substantial weekly mileage at ‘a good aerobic pace’ is the cardinal element of endurance training, but the total amount and the pace are much less a nowadays. The hills sessions of my youth are now largely replaced by high intensity sessions – some on the elliptical. I also lift weights now.
Columba asks: Many congratulations, Canute - delighted you are MOTM. My question is rather similar to GM's - at least, if you answer my question "yes" you'll have answered hers too. Did you choose your avatar becuase you consider yourself to be vainly trying to stave off age-related deterioration? (Bit of a depressing question. Sorry. But I have often wondered).

Canute says: Thankyou Columba. The answer is ‘yes but’. The ‘but’ reflects my preference for the interpretation that Canute was making a point about the power of natural forces, rather than vainly attempting to obstruct the tide. I see myself accepting that change is inevitable but trying to move with the tide as gracefully as possible. Mostly it feels like being bumped around in a barrel bobbing in a choppy sea.
runnyeyes asks: Many congratulations. Id like you to think about some of the elite running/sprinting races that you've watched. Is there one that particularly stands out ? For excitment, bravery, tactics... Whatever. You choose

Canute says: RE, thank you. The most impressive race I have seen (on video) was Paula Radcliiffe’s win in Chicago in 2:17:18 in 2002. She was on her own for the final few miles and simply drove herself to the finish by sheer ability and bravery. I have also seen the video of her 2:15:25 record in London the following year, but in that race she was paced all the way by male runners. Pacing is probably worth about 2 minutes, and completely changes the psychological demand. In Chicago she was supreme.
simbil asks: Well done Canute. Ever been tempted to write a book?

Canute says: Thanks Simbil. As outlined in my response to Curly45, enough new and interesting information about endurance training has emerged over the past decade to justify a new book on training practice and theory. I would love to write such a book; the problem is finding the time. Over the years I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to do research in many areas of biomedical science. Even higher on my ‘to do’ list is updating my book on Mind and Brain to take account of the exciting developments in neuroscience of the past decade.
runningmumof3boys asks: Congratulations Canute. Did you have a favourite race distance and is there a particular race at that distance you would like to go back and rerun?

Canute says: Thank you RMo3B. I remain under the spell of the marathon. The one I would most like to repeat is the Polytechnic Marathon, but sadly it no longer exists. Its history dated back the 1908 Olympics and the dramatic finish by Dorando Pieri. The distance from Windsor Caste to the Royal Box at White City stadium became the definitive marathon distance. But deep in its soul it was an amateur event, run by a small dedicated band of wiry young men. In truth it has been superseded something much more wonderful, but I have a lingering affection for those gritty days.

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