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

Sat, 06 Jan 2007 17:35:44 -0500

New Year's Revolutions


You never know when a new year begins just where it might take you before it ends. The path through those 12 months usually has little or nothing to do with your resolutions made in early January.

Never was a year of mine more different than intended than 1967. Only my first marathon, at Boston, would go roughly as planned.

And even it would hold surprises that I couldn't have imagined a few months earlier. For one, the time would be faster than I'd ever run again.

That January I was into my first full-time job in journalism but was looking for a way out of it. The year before, I'd taken a newspaper copy-editing position by default. It had been the only one available to me in any field.

I liked the work on the Des Moines Register's sports section, but the swing-shift hours were killing this morning person. And the weekend duty, with Mondays and Tuesdays off, was erasing most of my racing opportunities.

I'd been accepted into a grad-school program at Drake University that would lead to a teaching credential. This would start in the fall.

Meanwhile the newspaper work continued, but it wasn't a writing job. I collected and corrected other writers' stories before they went into print.

But I wanted to write, and my only outlet at the time was a club newsletter called Iowans on the Run. It was the humblest of publications: mimeographed (a word you younger readers might not know; ask your parents or grandparents) with its pages stapled together at the top. Only about two dozen runners ever saw this newsletter.

Fateful forces, as yet unknown to me, were at work in early 1967. One was a draft board that would nab a junior editor at Track & Field News, leaving a job opening there that needed to be filled immediately. I'd be available to take that job, my first in this sport, as editor Dick Drake's assistant in California.

In Kansas a young publisher-editor needed help filling his magazine, then entering its second year, with articles. By the end of 1967, I would be writing for Bob Anderson's Distance Running News. It would later become much bigger and better known as Runner's World.

But in January of that year I suspected none of these changes were coming. I sat down between shifts at the newspaper and wrote an article that maybe 25 people would see.

That piece too would lead places that I couldn't have dreamed at the time. It was my first time to write about what would come to be known as "long slow distance," or LSD.

The article, titled "The Humane Way to Train," recently surfaced while I was digging into the archives for something else. Next week, 40 Januaries after writing that article, I'll share it with you this first one I ever wrote about training for an running audience, tiny as that one was.
Previous Posts