Friday, November 13, 2020

The Long Run: The Early Days

 It often startles me to realize I've been running since 1978.  That's the longest relationship I've had with anything except for people I'm related to.  After all these years, we've never broken up.

When I started running, it was to copy my dad. He was the only runner in our neighborhood. People used to say, "there goes the jogger," as he went by.  Back then, being a runner was somewhat of a serious business. If you were a runner, you ran. You didn't wait for nice days, or go every once in awhile. If there were treadmills in town, I didn't know about them. 

We ran outside, in blizzards and rain storms and on ice. We ran races that cost ten dollars to enter; we got a T-shirt, and a medal if you won your age group. The same people were there: you knew who your competition was as you stood on the starting line.

There were no fashion shows out on the roads back then. We wore sweatpants, or shorts over long johns. The sports bra had only recently been invented. For cold or rainy days, we had goretex running suits: jackets and pants that kept you dry but burdened you with an annoying swishy noise as you ran, alerting you to the presence of another runner closing in behind you. There were no microspikes then, so we tiptoed across ice and tried not to fall. 

I got the first pair of lycra running tights in town. I had to get them handmade by a seamstress. Debuting them at a race, I attracted some curious looks. "Your legs are blue!" somebody said. 

 We  didn't wear or carry gadgets with us. A few people attempted to juggle the bulky Sony Walkman, but most of us didn't want the hassle and thought they would make us seem less serious.  We didn't worry about step counts, GPS tracks, calories burned, or heart rate training.  Instead, we thought about shoes, Runner's World magazine, and whether we were doing enough speed work.

There was no social media, so we really didn't care what we looked like out there; our statistics, written in our running logs, were just for us. All we really needed was a good pair of shoes and an open road. We would open the door and just go. 

The world is more complicated now than when I started running, but running really doesn't have to be.  I still don't run with gadgets, except sometimes bear spray. I try not to drive anyplace to run, preferring the trails by my house. I rarely take pictures on the run, and prefer utilitarian clothes instead of fancy workout wear.  Some things should stay simple. I think it's why running and I are still friends after all these years.

I've worn Nike Pegasus since 1983!


  1. Good for you for keeping running for so many years! I've run on and off (mostly off) since the 80's.

  2. I started running in 1990, wearing Nike Air Pegasus! They changed them somewhere down the line or maybe my needs changed and we broke up. But running and I have been BFFs ever since.

    1. They do seem to tinker with them. I used to hoard my pairs so I would always have the same kind. If I ran as much as you I might notice the changes more. I've never had a running injury though so they must be ok for me!

  3. Great post about the evolution! ‘Your legs are blue’. That just made me giggle!!!

    1. Haha yes! It's hard to imagine now with leggings and tights everywhere, but it was totally new.

  4. Ah, memories....the dreaded Kawbawgam....the speech clinic corridors....the snirt. But those were good times together.


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