Troubled by the post-Boston blues? This ailment, caused by realizing that it is six months until New York and seven until the Marine Corps Reserve, is curable. Take up reading about running. It is a delight second only to running. Whether produced by writers who run or runners who write, magazines on the sport offer a richness that isn't generally found in other sports. Golf has three monthlies - Golf Digest, Golf Journal and Golf - but after that you are left on the 19th hole with only your scorecard to read.
Most running magazines have come on the market only recently, but already some have established a distinctive tone.
In the course of a month, I read by professional necessity about 70 magazines, from Prevention to Dissent to the Harvard Business Review.If words were food I would be an overweight blob with a diet of 90 percent empty calories. But the running magazines are the protein at my reading table. The following are five that I not only enjoy but also pass to others.
RUNNING TIMES. Monthly. 12808 Occoquan Rd., Woodbridge, Va. 22192. Subscription: $10 per year. Edward Ayres, the publisher and editor who has run 100 miles in one day and won last year's 50-mile JFK, is a reflective man who would put out a quality magazine if the subject were bottle caps. But it's running, and the articles by Ayres are stylized pieces that take the reader beyond mere appreciation of running and nudges him to look at our culture through the same values that we appreciate in running. He has been arguing persuasively that it is foolish to be excited about our sport but not be sensitized by it to care about the environment, to resist the exploitive nature of much of the corporate world and Big Jock athletics, and to affirm the simple and honest.
Running Times offers an exhaustive listing of East Coast races and the midwest, plus results. Pictorially, the magazine has an artistic photographer in Phil Yunger. I have been to few races he hasn't been on hand, and often in the oddest of places along the course, which is where - as the results show - the best shots are made.
RUNNING REVIEW. Monthly. 645 S. Prince St., Lancaster, Pa. 17603. Subscription: $9 per year.
I had a warm moment the other evening, reading the April issue and coming on the name of Laurent Colombant in the race results of a two-mile run in January at the track at American University. Laurent, a 10-year-old pal of mine, and the son of two fine runners in my neighborhood, hadn't seen his name until I pointed it out. But it was a thrill for him, not only to see his good time of 14:23 announced to the world but also to know that no age is too young start running.
Lloyd Peters, editor of Running Review, emphasizes what he calls his "finish-line policy." If a race director sends in the results of a run, Running Review will print it. I can imagine a 10,000-page issue soon, but for now if you finished the Black Cat 8-Miler in Boyd Tavern, Va., on Feb. 26, or the Lake George Winter Carnival two milers on Feb. 4 or the Beltsville Marathon on Feb. 19, your name and time are here. The editorial content also is strong. A recent issue had a piece of goals by Jeff Bradley, the track coach who gave Bill Rogers a run for the better part of the Cherry Bossom.
RUNNING. Quarterly. Box 350, Salem, Ore. 97308. Subscription: $5 per year. In his publisher's column, titled "Jack," Jack Welch comes on as a sprightly fellow with the spunky mind that appears to be native to Oregon. He says that "as a runner, I am so very tired of reading (running) magazines that look like grocery store handouts." He's talking about those ad-heavy publications "more concerned with dollars than runners." Running, which avoids schedules and results, flows with literate copy. One recent piece asserts that running shoes cannot be evaluated by any rating system, particularly the one used in Runner's World. Another piece whimsically analyzes the nonsense in the current ad copy for shoes. Welch, obviously no gee-whizzer about running, brings a critical eye and a fresh voice.
FOOTNOTES. Published by the Road Runners Club of America for its members. RRCA, 1584 Spruce Drive, Kalamazoo, Mich. 49008. This is a readable mix of commentary, reporting and advice. The politics of running also are included, as in the current issue, explaining the "athletes bill of rights." Jeff Darman, the club's president, is among the most perceptive observers of the current trends in running.He has been on the scene since the early '60s and knows that the sport is now under pressures that no one foresaw in the lonely days. Steve Clapp, another veteran, and a careful writer, is about to become the new editor.
RUNNER'S GAZETTE. Quarterly. 102 W. Walter St., Lansford, Pa., 18232. Subscription: $6 for 12 issues. The editors of this tabloid are as apt to use a report on the Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco as apiece by Carl Hatfield about his latest run in San Juan. The editors obviously know that a large readership is looking for offbeat pieces. They take the sport seriously but not somberly. With wit, one recent piece was a tale of "the meat wagon" - the bus trip back to town for runners who dropped out of Boston. The editors also offer profiles of runners far back in the pack but up front in enthusiasm.