Wednesday, December 23, 2015

To My Old Friend: Running Times

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.-- John F. Kennedy

I have always been a huge fan of books and any sort of reading. As a child, my family would go to the mall and I wouldn't let anyone leave until we went to whatever bookstore was in the building. At the time it was Waldenbooks a lot and of course Barnes and Noble. As I got older I gravitated toward comic books. My grandmother would take me to the other side of town because the titles in our neighborhood were limited. Grandma is the best.

Once I started to play football I started to read magazines. I wanted to know everything about the world of football and the best way to get that info was Athlon's Pro Football. There was also a period in there where my mother worked for Times Mirror Magazine and she would get like 10 different titles for free. I was instantly hooked on reading snippets about myriad topics with very little time commitment.

When I started running casually I didn't really seek out too much information. Like most novice runners, I felt that all I needed to know about running was to get out there and do it and your performance was largely based on factors other than the things I know about running now. At some point, in one of my many trips to Barnes and Noble (Waldenbooks was scarce in the early 2000's) I stood in the magazine section. Likely it was around August or so because I probably had an arm full of football mags to prepare for the season.

I stumbled across Runners World magazine. Whatever was on the cover caught my attention. Odds are it said something like "train for your first marathon". I thought, hey, they're talking to me. What witchcraft could this be? In any event, I became a subscriber or frequent user/reader of the magazine. After about 5 years or so of only Runners World as well as its special editions, my eyes fell upon another, thinner magazine. It was never in front and there were never more than like 5 copies but the sort of stenciled "Running Times" called me like a donut calls Homer Simpson.

The articles were succinct and specific. You kind of needed to know a little something, otherwise you can get a tad misdirected while reading. The writing was heavy on competition and cross country. It spoke about High School Track and Field. Although both magazines are about running, the comparisons are akin to People Magazine vs. The Economist... maybe. People isn't as mind-numbing as Us Weekly and the economist isn't as dense "The American Economic Review" but the differences in type of reader and expectations of said reader are similar.

Alas, Running Times will go out of circulation soon. Apparently it is sort of merging with Runners World. I fear that the terrific articles from RT will be buried in the 30,000 foot view of running in RW. I now read Trail Runner as well as Ultra Running magazines in addition to Womens Running. Even if the two mags literally merged their content, it is likely that in my thumbing through process, after being inundated with stories about things and stories that have been read over the past years, I will miss the great stories that willed me to purchase 5 magazines every visit to the bookstore.

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