Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Wed, 14 Feb 2001 08:39:24 -0500

Keeping On


Lead times being long at Runner's World, I write almost half a year away from the magazine's issue date. My June column came due on January 1st.

No mention of the new year could appear there. But I was thinking about it while writing the opening lines.

"Have you run today, or will you run before day's end? I can say with certainty that Bob Ray will put another day in his logbook, and so will Mark Covert."

They're America's longest-time everyday runners. Ray's streak will reach 34 years in April, Covert's 33 years in July.

They don't resolve each January 1st to run each day of the coming year. They just keep doing what they've always done.

That doesn't come easily for Ray, who lives in Maryland where an occasional snowstorm hits. Covert is a Californian, so snow isn't a problem but injuries can be. He told me last week of struggling through the past few months with a knee problem.

I'm a reformed streaker. My longest stretch of runing days, at about 1400, was a pittance by Ray-Covert standards but still too long. My running suffered without days off.

I still have a streaker's mentality, though. It's mainly channeled into writing, which is injury-free and where my daily diary streak will reach 30 years in March. As a runner, I'm a semi-streaker who almost never misses a scheduled day's run.

The subject of resolutions inevitably came up during holiday parties. When asked, I said my only hope was to keep doing what I like to do.

AN EARLY DRAFT of my Runner's World column on streaking spoke badly of my hometown. So badly that I sent the editor a correction the next day, which still doesn't speak well of the runners in Eugene.

At first I wrote of seeing one runner a day on my midwinter seven o'clock runs. In midsummer "I might see 100 at the same hour."

The figures for seasonal differences were exaggerated. My revision told of seeing 10 times as many runners in summer than winter.

This makes it sound like Eugene is well stocked with fair-weather runners. They seem to train only when the days are sunny and warm.

That isn't necessarily so. But I do wonder what happens to the nine I don't see these days.

Have they switched to a brighter time of day? Or have they gone indoors for alternative activity?

Have they turned Snowbird and flown south? Or are they part-time runners who've stopped for the season?

All but the last group might be wiser, and less rigid, than I am. My running allows for no seasonal adjustments.

I go out at the same time and to the same places year-round. Seven o'clock is my standard running hour. It might not be the best time to run in January but does have its subtle beauties.

At this time of year I get to witness the return of the sun. The run starts in near-darkness and ends in near-daylight.

Some days I'm treated to multi-colored sunrises. Too bad that the other nine runners, who avoid this hour, miss this light show.

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