Written on May 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm , by Lauren Cardarelli
Long before the time of Gatorade, GU or GPS watches, Bill Rodgers set a 2:09:55 American record at the Boston Marathon. There were no clocks or traffic control for his 1975 victory and medals were awarded only to the top three runners.
“You didn’t see lots of couples or families showing up to races,” the legendary long-distance runner reminisced in his new book-meets-memoir, Marathon Man, which he co-authored with Matthew Shepatin. “I didn’t know any running couples, and to see a woman runner was shocking. Some would think: Oh, good grief, there’s a woman runner. My attitude was: Good going!”
Running as both a sport and culture has made drastic strides over the past few decades—something I rarely considered before reading the 26.2-mile journey of the infamous “Boston Billy.” The book’s chapters alternate between play-by-plays from his first big victory and life prior to the momentous moment in history, as he falls in, out and back in love with running.
The pavement-pounding passion that burns within so many of us used to be quite the enigma “for freaks and fairies,” although seemingly simpler. Perhaps that ease was just the spirit Bill conveyed despite his quick pace. With each turning page, I craved the same sweat and pain that comes with training territory, but it was Bill’s natural, liberating take and mindset—something no gadget could ever provide—that I found truly moving.
“Running wasn’t an escape from life; rather it was an embrace of it,” Bill explained. “As I bounded along the park trail, I wasn’t sailing around in chaos. I was charging forward with purpose.” For Bill, rising to the top of the running world wasn’t about the fame or a collection of tech tees (well, those didn’t even exist yet!). It was a sense of freedom he couldn’t experience anywhere else.
Road races before the late 70s running boom were nuts and bolts affairs, a morale-boosting medicine that wasn’t so much about the time, but a hunt for the win. Bill sported ensembles from dumpster dives (stiff jeans in the colder months—yikes!) and hydrated with an old shampoo bottle. He ran the same way he did as a kid catching butterflies in the fields of Connecticut, even stopping to tie his shoes with six miles to go before winning the Holy Grail of marathons.
Yes, we now know a lot more in respect to the athletic do’s and don’ts, something we here at FITNESS love to keep you all up on. But if this invaluable book taught me anything, it’s to lace up my sneaks without much of a thought and simply enjoy the ride. Who knows, maybe I’ll leave my pop playlist behind, turning to the birds and sound of my own breath to pace my stride. This book is more than a good read. It’s my new Bible. Pages are folded, quotes are highlighted and it will be a go-to gift for my fellow running pals. You learn through Bill’s mistakes, defeats and triumphs, cheering him along as if the historical race is live. I won’t be fueling up on ketchup-smeared brownies anytime soon—sorry, Bill, that’s a little much—but I will pour myself full force into what Bill often referred to as his “channel.” His perseverance sparked a fire under my tread that lead to a race-filled summer. Who knows, maybe I’ll even go for the full 26.2 soon, too.
Now you tell us: Where do you find your run-spiration?
Written on April 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm , by Betty Wong
The day before the Boston Marathon, I crossed the finish line of the More/Fitness Women’s Half-Marathon in New York City’s Central Park. About a month before Boston, I had crossed the finish line of the Los Angeles Marathon. Both times my tired legs somehow found the energy to surge through the last few hundred yards. With arms held high, a smile on my face and the cheering crowds drowning out whatever playlist has been pumping for hours through my earbuds, something magical always propels me forward as I run toward joy, exhilaration and complete satisfaction.
Crossing the finish line brings relief, pride and bliss, and there’s never a moment you want it more than that last .1 of a 13.1-mile half or the final .2 of a 26.2-mile marathon. On Monday, thousands of runners in Boston had that same drive and focus shattered by two cruel, horrific bombs.
The blasts shook them out of their thoughts of elation, of accomplishment, of post-race celebrations over beer and burgers. In seconds, their hearts went from swelling with gratitude and love for family and friends who had supported them on race day and through months of training, to pounding with fear and panic over when and how they would reunite with their loved ones, if ever.
I was not in Boston on Monday, but from my desk at Fitness magazine, I was there in spirit. That morning, still high on endorphins from the wonderful race we hosted the day before with New York Road Runners, I wished the runners in Boston the same exuberance, strength and determination that were so palpable from the women runners at our half-marathon. I excitedly logged onto the Boston Athletic Association’s website so I could track the progress of my friend and Fitness colleague Amy Macauley as she ran a strong pace through every split of her 26.2-mile trek into downtown Boston. When her final finish time popped up on my screen, I was thrilled and elated, just as I’d been the morning before.
News broke of the explosions less than an hour later. My heart sank for Amy, for the thousands of runners, spectators, organizers and volunteers. How could a day meant to be a celebration of all that is good about the human spirit—from the runners whose athleticism, dedication and grit are so deserving of admiration to the spectators who stand on the sidelines for hours hoping to catch a glimpse of their loved one and scream encouraging hoots and hollers at the sea of strangers running by—go from so right to so wrong?
Those two bombs placed in such close proximity to the finish line were intended to maim and kill, to stop us in our tracks. They robbed us of precious lives and limbs, and my heart breaks for those innocent spectators who were hurt and for their grieving families. The crimes took away our moments of celebration, but they did not end our journey. As any runner will tell you, every race is measured in much more than miles and the time it takes to cross the finish line. Whether in your training you went from fat to fit, weak to strong, doubter to believer, the course keeps going long after the race is over. The bombs in Boston will never take away our collective will to move forward, to sprint toward what is good in life. Already thousands on Facebook have committed to running 26.2 miles in the coming days, weeks and months to honor Boston. We run because we have to. We run for those who can’t. We run because that is how we keep reaching, growing, healing. There will continue to be many more start lines to join, and this weekend our thoughts will be with marathoners lining up in London, as they will be thinking of their running comrades in Boston. In tragic times like this, we simply keep moving forward. We run for joy. We run for good health. We run for peace. That is how we finish strong.
Written on February 22, 2013 at 11:00 am , by Marianne Magno
Kathrine Switzer didn’t sign up for the Boston Marathon in 1967 to stir any trouble; she just wanted to run. But when the then 19-year-old defied race officials and tradition by becoming the first female to officially enter the race and created headlines in the news, she became a trailblazer for women in running and fitness. Switzer, along with other strong, empowering women will star in Makers: Women Who Make America, a PBS documentary airing February 26 about the social revolution for women’s political, economic and personal power. We chatted with Switzer–who is still running marathons, finishing the Berlin Marathon in 2011–about her history-making race, the future of women’s sports and how running and fitness can change your life.
FITNESS: Before 1967, no woman had ever officially entered the Boston Marathon. Did you have an idea that it would make such an impact in sports?
Kathrine Switzer: I didn’t want to run it to prove anything. I had heard that other women had run marathon distances and that one woman in 1966 ran the Boston Marathon but without a bib number, so I wasn’t trying to break any barriers. It wasn’t until a race official attacked me during the run because I had officially signed up and was wearing a number did I become determined to finish and speak out on behalf of all women.
But I also knew that if other women could feel the sense of empowerment that I’ve felt since I started running when I was 12, that it would create a tidal wave.
What have you learned from running throughout the years?
KS: It’s not about running; it’s about changing your life. It’s about power and self esteem. The motivation to get other women running has kept me running. It’s also about equality. Women have led the charge in women’s sport. More women are running in the US now, compared to men. I’ve also learned that consistency and tenaciousness is better than talent. The more you do the better you can do. One of the best ways to get older is to keep active. I’m proud of myself for what I’ve done. Every day that I get to run is a bonus at this point.
I’m grateful for the things I’ve done and things I have to do yet. The very simple act of putting one foot in front of the other has changed my life so greatly. Read more
Written on July 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm , by Samantha Shelton
A former smoker, Ali from Food. Fitness. Fashion knows what it’s like to have difficulty breathing. But did she let that stop her from tackling a 5K? Nope. Nor did it hold her back from running 8Ks, half-marathons and even a marathon! Talk about a health comeback. We wanted to find out more about what this girl loves to run to and the gear she truly can’t get her sweat on without. Read on for her answers, then pop over to her blog for more fit-spiration.
On my fit life list: As a runner and Bostonian, running the Boston marathon is a huge dream that may become a reality this Spring! I’d also like to conquer a high ropes course this summer. I work at a program for teens with autism spectrum disorders, and I would love to model fearlessness for them on the ropes course, even though I’m terrified of heights!
Most embarrassing song I’ll admit I work out to: I’m not easily embarrassed, but there is one song I listen to when running that I will admit is super cheesy – “One Moment in Time,” by Whitney Houston. It reminds me of all of the times I exceeded my own expectations with regards to education, fitness and my career.
5 things I can’t live without: Besides my husband, Adam, and my miniature daschund, Oscar – coffee, my Canon Rebel camera, Garmin Forerunner 405, Brooks Adrenaline running shoes and red lipstick.
I’m happiest when I’m: Running and doing CrossFit! I love the feeling that running gives me and that I’m able to set small, measurable, attainable goals and reach them. CrossFit makes me feel strong, fearless, powerful and exhausted. To me, those are perfect workouts.
Do you have a favorite fit blogger you want us to highlight? Leave a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org