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

Thu, 17 May 2012 04:49:07 -0400

Slow Joe to Rapid Robert

RUNNING COMMENTARY 937

(I’m marking this newsletter’s 30th anniversary by revisiting one piece weekly from each year of the publication. This week’s is from February 2005. It also appears on Facebook on the “Joe Henderson’s Writings” page.)

Open letter to Bob Anderson, founder of Runner’s World: Good to hear from you, and about you, even if the letter wasn’t meant for me. Yours came in a public forum, a runner’s mass e-mailing containing your remarks. I rarely reply to such messages, but answer yours here because you addressed me by name there as if expecting me to read and respond.

You said, “Joe, you are good writer, and I did hire you to be the editor of Runner’s World for several years. But I do not think your training ideas make any sense at all.

“I don’t understand why you want everyone to think that Arthur Lydiard and others liked your training ideas. They did not! If you train slow, you race slow.”

This is an old disagreement between us. It came up on your first visit with me in California.

That was the fall of 1969. We ran together then and saw right away that our paces didn’t match. I can’t recall us ever sharing another training run.

We were both right in what we did, and why. You trained to race, and I ran to run. We still do that, all these years after our first and last run together.

You still race, and quite well, and I haven’t trained to race in decades. (If you thought I was slow then, you should see me now!)

You wrote recently, “All of my training is hard, and racing is a blast. Jogging at eight minutes a mile is boring. I would rather be reading a book [than training slowly]. Maybe LSD?”

LSD remains the most debated topic from all my writings. I welcome this dissent. Better to be disagreed with than forgotten, right?

In fact, the first page of my first book states that LSD is not the one best way to train. It’s another option for runners who have broken down or burned out while trying other ways.

I laughed over your comment about my claiming Arthur Lydiard as a supporter. He was anything but an LSD backer.

Arthur said at our first meeting, when you and I interviewed him in 1970, “Slow running is better than no running, and it works fine for joggers. But my athletes do NOT run slow. They go as fast as they can without going into oxygen debt.”

At my last meeting with him, shortly before he died in 2004, Arthur asked, “Are you still promoting that LSD?” He still disagreed, so you’re in good company.

I’m happy to see that running, and life in general, have gone well for you since we last worked together in 1985. You were not a happy man back then, with a pending divorce and the forced sale of your magazine.

It’s wrong that your name never appears there anymore or that you received no public thank-you from the new editors. Without you there would be no Runner’s World.

I thank you, personally and publicly, for the writing career you opened up for me. Most of all, thanks for letting me write stories and books with which you profoundly disagreed.


UPDATE: Bob Anderson still races hard, fast and often. He’s marking his 50th anniversary as a runner this year by racing 50 times, usually at sub-7:00 pace. He will turn 65 in December.


[Many of my books, old and recent, are now available in three different formats: (1) in print from Amazon.com; (2) as e-books from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com; (3) as printable and shareable PDFs from Lulu.com. The titles: Home Runs, Joe’s Journal, Long Run Solution, Long Slow Distance, Marathon Training, Run Right Now, Run Right Now Training Log (not an e-book), and Starting Lines, plus Rich Englehart’s book about me, Slow Joe (e-book only).]

Previous Posts
 Tweet