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

Sun, 6 Feb 2005 09:01:52 -0500

Slow Joe to Rapid Robert


Open letter to Bob Anderson, founder of Runner's World:

Good to hear from you, and about you, even if the letter wasn't meant for me. Yours came in a public forum, a runner's mass e-mailing containing your remarks. I rarely reply to such messages, but answer yours here because you addressed me by name there as if expecting me to read and respond.

You said, "Joe, you are good writer, and I did hire you to be the editor of Runner's World for several years. But I do not think your training ideas make any sense at all.

"I don't understand why you want everyone to think that Arthur Lydiard and others liked your training ideas. They did not! If you train slow, you race slow."

This is an old disagreement between us. It came up on your first visit with me in California.

That was the fall of 1969. We ran together then and saw right away that our paces didn't match. I can't recall us ever sharing another training run.

We were both right in what we did, and why. You trained to race, and I ran to run. We still do that, more than 35 years after our first and last run together.

You still race, and quite well for age 57, and I haven't trained to race in decades. (If you thought I was slow then, you should see me now!)

You wrote recently, "I ran 59:16 for 10 miles at age 53, and all of my training is hard. If I train slow, I race slow.

"Racing is a blast; jogging at eight minutes a mile is boring. I would rather be reading a book [than training slowly]. Maybe LSD?"

LSD remains the most debated topic from all my writings. I welcome this dissent. Better to be disagreed with than forgotten, right?

In fact, the first page of my first book (see it all at ) states that LSD is not the one best way to train. It's another option for runners who have broken down or burned out while trying other ways.

I laughed over your comment about my claiming Arthur Lydiard as a supporter. He was anything but an LSD backer (as noted recently at: ).

Arthur said at our first meeting, when you and I interviewed him in 1970, "Slow running is better than no running, and it works fine for joggers. But my athletes do NOT run slow. They go as fast as they can without going into oxygen debt."

At my last meeting with him, shortly before he died, Arthur asked, "Are you still promoting that LSD?" He still disagreed, so you're in good company.

I'm happy to see that running, and life in general, have gone well for you since we last worked together in 1985. (And I said so in my latest book; Run Right Now, page 274.) You were not a happy man back then, with a pending divorce and the forced sale of your magazine.

It's wrong that your name never appears there anymore. Without you there would be no Runner's World.

But at least you don't have to answer for what the magazine does now. That might including dropping its longest-running columnist without so much as a thank-you, either in public or private, from the new editor.

I thank you, personally and publicly, for the writing career you opened up for me. Most of all, thanks for letting me write stories and books with which you profoundly disagreed.


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