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Reading cartoons and finding the humor in being a runner

Running & Fitness
Saturday, September 25, 2021

I ran track in high school and college but never in any race that went more than once around the track. So when I started running road races of 5K and 10K distances, I had no idea of how to train. Much of what you learn comes from actually running a race. More information can be learned from experienced runners who gave you training advice or tips on running and buying shoes, etc.

The other source to get some information on long-distance running came from buying books on the subject and reading it cover to cover. Books like “Target 26,” Jim Fixx’s book, “The Complete Runner,” “Consumer’s Report on Marathon Running” and one of George Sheehan’s books were great sources of information. Of course, I had to subscribe to the magazines, “Runner’s World” and “Runner” for a monthly upgrade of information. Now the books are more on a serious level like, “Spark,” “Sport’s Gene,” “RunSmart,” and “You (only faster).” 

For some reason, my wife was clearing out an old storage box and came across some of these older running books. While most of them dealt with training programs, one was a look at the humorous side of running. It was a small hardback-covered book titled, “Running,” and was published in 1992. That is almost 30 years ago and some of the cartoons and short stories can be used in today’s running circles. It is always fun to look at the humorous side of sports in general and running specifically. Most of the cartoons will give you a laugh, or at least make you smile, and probably originated from an actual occurrence by runners. I could relate to several of them throughout my career as a runner. Here are a few of the ones I could comment on. How many can you relate to?

Two hefty joggers were looking at a couple of fast runners go by: “I don’t run with anyone who carries a stopwatch.” (These are the runners who only run for fun — but with frowns and grimaces on their face).

Two race organizers are planning a big race: “Let’s see, 2,000 competitors — I guess three Port-a-Potties is about right.” What makes this appropriate is on the opposite page a paragraph about toilets and races was putting out some “facts.” Such as, there is always a 20-minute wait to use the port-a-potty. Most runners do not need to use the toilet until about 3 minutes before the gun goes off. The paragraph estimated that when the starting gun sounds 20% of the runners are still waiting in line for the port-a-potty.

This is a regular sighting even today: “No matter how hot it is, some idiot is running in a sweatsuit. No matter how cold it is, another is in shorts.”

The next one seemed to be more truthful than most as it showed a runner under a dark cloud: “It only starts to rain when you’re at the furthest point from your home.”

And how many runners know the “macho”-type runner? The cartoon shows two runners being passed by a woman runner: “I just can’t stand women who show off.”

Two women were reading a husband’s running log: “Burt’s training log says he ran 27 miles last week, but he really ran 24.” (How many runners are really honest about what distance or time they ran when they post it in their running log?)

While this book was published in 1992 one cartoon had a runner on an operating table with a Doctor ready to “zap” him with heart stimulators: “John realizes it was only his heart monitor batteries wearing out.” (Today it helps that the monitors are in a wristwatch).

A woman is running in a race reading a book, “Marilyn tried hard to understand her new sport’s language: 10K, 43:20, 5K, pronate, Fartlik, repeat sprints, tapering, peaking, lateral stability, shin splints, cross training.”

 A runner in a race being passed by a faster runner: “He’s faster but my outfit is much more expensive”. (I got passed by a man in street shoes, cut-off dress pants, dress shirt).

One last one for runners who run to lose weight: “A guy is checking his weight on a scale: “Sure enough, this morning’s run took off 2 ounces.”

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