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RUNNING FAST AND INJURY FREE
by GORDON PIRIE (Edited by JOHN S GILBODY)
© 1996-2004 Dr John S Gilbody
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
FOREWORDS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
PREFACES
GORDON PIRIE'S LAWS OF RUNNING
CHAPTER ONE - Introduction
CHAPTER TWO - Why Athletes Fail
CHAPTER THREE - Injuries, Technique and Shoes
CHAPTER FOUR - Training
CHAPTER FIVE - Weight Training
CHAPTER SIX - Diet and Vitamins
REFERENCES
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© 1996-2004 Dr John S Gilbody
FOREWORD
LETTER PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES (THURSDAY MARCH 5, 1992):
PIRIE: FORGOTTEN MAN OF ATHLETICS
Sir, Under the heading “Athletics honours Pirie” (February 26) you report the tributes paid to
the late Gordon Pirie at the memorial service in St Bride's Church, Fleet Street. As well as his
contemporaries, the athletics establishment, both past and present, and the press were well
represented.
It is regrettable that this acclaim and recognition comes now, after he has gone, and was not
expressed when he was alive. The country he served so well on the world's running tracks
thought him unworthy of an honour, while the establishment found no place for his profound
knowledge of the sport and his boundless enthusiasm. It must baffle his many admirers world-
wide that Britain offered him no official coaching post.
The argument was put forward in your sports letters (December 26) that the regular award of
honours for sporting achievements did not begin until the Sixties, after Pirie's time. This is not
correct.
In the Queen's Birthday Honours list of June 1955, Sir Roger Bannister, a contemporary of
Pirie, was appointed CBE for his services to amateur athletics, clearly for achieving the first
sub-four-minute mile the preceding year. In the same list, George Headley, the West Indian
cricketer, was created MBE.
Picking at random, one finds in the New Year's Honours of 1958 a CBE for Dennis Compton
(services to sport), a similar honour for Dai Rees (golf) and the MBE for the boxer Hogan
“Kid” Bassey (for his services to sport in Eastern Nigeria).
Rather ironically, in the same year, Jack Crump, the secretary of the British Amateur Athletics
Board, with whom Pirie was often at loggerheads, was appointed OBE for his services to
athletics.
Pirie's services to sport far exceeded those of his British contemporaries; athletes or officials.
He was a giant of his time and it was his name that drew crowds to the White City and inspired
the later Bedfords and Fosters. One suspects that he ultimately paid the price for speaking out
and for being of independent mind without the necessary Oxbridge pedigree. The answers lay
among that assembly gathered in St Bride's, and ought to be revealed.
Mrs Jennifer Gilbody
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© 1996-2004 Dr John S Gilbody
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to thank Miss Patricia Charnet, and my mother, Mrs Jennifer Gilbody, for their
encouragement during this project. At last I have fulfilled my promise to Gordon to fine-tune,
medically validate and publish his work, though I am sure were he here he would have some
words to say; probably “about bloody time”!
Purley 2nd XI, 1946 (Gordon on right handside)
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© 1996-2004 Dr John S Gilbody
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PREFACE
Gordon Pirie lived with us for several years up to his death in 1991, and had a profound effect
on us all. Of many things about Gordon, what particularly impressed was his physical fitness,
and desire for perfection with all things athletic. A good example of this was the time he did
some lumber jacking in the New Forest in Hampshire, and proudly boasted how many more
trees he cut down than men thirty years his junior. On another occasion, I inadvertently agreed
to join Gordon “for a run” on a disused section of railway track, thinking myself moderately fit.
Being half Gordon's age, I was somewhat taken aback when, in the time it took me to run one
length of track, Gordon had run three! Associated with this, which was humiliation enough,
were various comments about my running shoes and running technique (or lack of), as one
might imagine.
The original manuscript of this book was written by Gordon, in typical fashion, in 24 hours flat.
The 5¼-inch diskette on which the computer file was saved had been tucked away in a sports
bag until Gordon rediscovered it, and somehow got folded in half. As a result, it took a full
weekend to retrieve the data, and I had to cut out the magnetic media from within the diskette,
replace it into a customised new diskette, merge snippets of uncorrupted data into a single
ASCII file, and then laboriously convert the file line by line into a recognised wordprocessor
format. During this process, Gordon looked on with an enigmatic smile; he always did like to set
challenges, however impossible! Revision and editing was started shortly before Gordon's
death, and the manuscript transferred to our possession, with Gordon's express desire that the
book be published by us in order to assist the training of a new generation of runners. Overall,
to get from that early stage to the present book has taken five years of work, and has been a
sizeable project for me, albeit one which I was of course determined and happy to achieve.
As you will see, the book is highly controversial, with some radical ideas (one of the reasons it
has had to be self-published!), but I believe it is a fitting tribute to Gordon Pirie, which should
give an insight into why he was such a successful runner, and perhaps even an opportunity for
others to emulate him. The reader may be interested to know of Gordon's two other books –
“Running Wild” (published by W H Allen, London, 1961), and “The Challenge of Orienteering”
(Pelham Books Limited, 1968). In addition, the writer Dick Booth recently published a detailed
biographical account of Gordon's life, entitled: “The Impossible Hero” (Corsica Press, London,
1999), which is available from http://www.bookshop.co.uk and http://www.amazon.co.uk . I
should also mention extensive discussions about Gordon based on interviews (complete
chapters) in Alastair Aitken’s books “Athletics Enigmas” (The Book Guild Ltd., 2002) and
“More Than Winning” (The Book Guild Ltd., 1992).
Finally, I am keen to get your feedback about this book, or any reminiscences about Gordon,
and would be delighted to receive comments via fax (+44 (0)1256-765888), letter (P.O. Box
7210, Hook RG27 9GE, United Kingdom) or e-mail ( john@johngilbody.com ). Also, check
out my “Gordon Pirie Resource Center” at http://www.gordonpirie.com , where you can
download this book for free in Acrobat (pdf) format. Recommended newsgroup: rec.running.
You can find free downloadable newsreel footage of Gordon at http://www.britishpathe.com ;
other (purchasable) footage is at http://www.movietone.com and http://www.footage.net .
Happy reading!
Dr John S Gilbody (last updated 4 January 2004)
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© 1996-2004 Dr John S Gilbody
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