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High Performance
Training for Track & Field

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High Performance
Training for Track & Field

(3rd Edition)
by Bill Bowerman and Will Freeman

Hard Copy: $44.95
plus $9.50 shipping & handling

All events covered!  568 pages of information!

In 1962, when I was an Oregon freshman and dedicating myself to distance running, I didn’t have this book. I had the man who wrote it, Oregon coach William J. Bowerman. A lot of times, I’d rather have had the book.  Bill Bowerman was—and is, and ever shall be—a generous, ornery, profane, beatific, unyielding, antic, impenetrably complex Oregon original. As a freshman, I found him deeply disturbing. One of my best friends was his middle son, Jay, who became an Olympic biathlete. That didn’t matter. We both
found him disturbing.

The principles of high performance training set down in this book (with a clarity traceable to a collaborator named Freeman) had long been assembled and put into practice when I joined Bowerman’s team, but he was—and is, and ever shall be—working on refinements. We paid our freshman dues by being guinea pigs in experiments that compared different sorts and intensities of training. On the fundamentals, Bowerman delivered a 40-second speech. “You stress an organism, for example a freshmen,” he told us, “and you let it rest. What happens? It responds by overcompensating. It becomes some increment stronger, faster, or more enduring. That’s all training is. You’d think any damn fool could figure out how to do it. The only trick is finding what works best for a specific athlete.”

I still share some of Bowerman’s amazement that so few damn fools do learn to train to optimum effect. This general ignorance is something I’ve always been grateful for, given that I’ve had to race athletes more talented than I am. The equalizer has always been there, the fact that talent can almost be counted on to blunder in training. But if we were to gain an edge from that, Bowerman had to teach us to prepare intelligently.  Stress. Rest. Response. Individuality. They seem dry, clinical terms. But Bowerman hurled them upon us—not with the reasoned good humor of this book, but with all the force of his Old Testament personality. Stress: The actual workouts were the least of our worries. The man was the thing, the man in all his mystifying incarnations. He spoke in parables, in Hammurabi’s Code, in ringing declamations from Delphi. (I think the only one that survives in this book is the big one: “Know thyself”). He made us study. Instead of giving any of us full scholarships, he made us work weekends on the graveyard shift in Eugene’s plywood mills. When we were new, he would assign an interval workout and, standing on the infield, call out our time civilly enough but completely ignore us otherwise. If you asked him a question (“Was my form correct?”), he would stonily, silently lift his gaze to the swallows in their flight above Hayward Field. He made our shoes. He was disdainful of the excessive weight and nonexistent cushioning of the shoes then on the market, so he improved them.



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