Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Vicki Huber Looks Back at Three Decades of Running

The years, along with the fads and fashions, race by
Written by Vicki Huber Rudawsky On Running
December 25, 2012

Every year, as the end of December approaches, we reflect on how quickly the year has gone by – almost in the blink of an eye.

As we meet to run every other day, sticking to the same routine we have been following for almost seven years, it is scary to imagine how much the world, our lives, our children and even ourselves have changed.

It is undeniable that the world is progressing at warp speed, and even the sport
of running has changed dramatically in the past 30 years.

Thirty years ago, a gallon of milk cost $1.71 and gas was $1.27 a gallon. Jog bras had just been invented. Thirty years ago, the cost of a home was around $25,000, and when you saw a person go running by your house, you might have though he was crazy; crazier if it was a woman.

When I started running in 1981, I didn’t know there were special shoes for it. No one knew the correct pronunciation for the new shoes named Nike. We just knew that they were revolutionary and cost more than the sneakers at Fayva. We didn’t have bras made especially for running, nor did we have special clothes. Winter workouts were run in heavy Champion sweats, and you prayed it didn’t rain or you would be carrying 10 extra pounds of wet cotton.

When running tights appeared, many were scared to wear them. They certainly revealed more than sweatpants, so we wore them with shorts over top to start. I’ll never forget the many strange looks we got as we ran along the main roads, and some people even felt compelled to let us know exactly how inappropriately we were dressed. Now the running clothes that girls wear could not be skimpier.

I remember running a loop and then going back over it in the car to see approximately how far it was. Today, you can go on the computer and map out your run, knowing exactly how far it is before you even step out the door. If someone had told us back then that most runners would be wearing a watch that not only told us how long we had been running but how far and how fast, we would have laughed them off the road.

Every once in a while, I would grab my CD player and go for a short run. My stride would end up skipping the CD or I would run out of battery power halfway through my run. Today, kids don’t even know what a CD player is, let alone could they imagine running with one. Now iPod shuffles are so small you easily can lose it, yet they can carry more than 100 songs. Amazing.

In the past 30 years, we have progressed from cheap running shoes to shoes that stop us from pronating to ones that hold a computer chip in them that keeps track of our mileage to shoes that are hardly shoes at all. Who would have ever thought that the past few years would have been the years of barefoot running?

Running clothes today are amazing, made from fabrics that are warm, wicking and so comfortable you can sleep in them. And every top fashion store now carries a workout line. Wearing tights, which was almost taboo 30 years ago, now is the style.

When I was in high school, we were fortunate to have a physical therapist in our running group. Once in a while, one of us would have a small injury, and he would help us out. Today, every high school has a trainer on staff, and kids receive immediate medical care, whether at practice or during a competition. This is one of the best things to happen to high school sports
in recent years.

My good friend, and hairdresser, is only four years older than me but she had to run with the boys when she was in high school.  Recently, my high school coach from Concord, Don Wood, was inducted into the Delaware Track and Field Hall of Fame. At the dinner, I was enlightened to the fact that Don was instrumental in not only starting girls track at Concord but also in creating the opportunity for the girls in Delaware to have a state track and field meet. It is mind-boggling to me that just a few years before I started running, most girls did not have the same opportunities.

There is evolution in every aspect of life, and running certainly has had tremendous changes in a relatively short amount of time. However, the best thing about running is that regardless of how technical and complicated you can make it, you don’t have to. You can always just throw on an old pair of shorts and a T-shirt, grab your running shoes and head out the door. Simplicity at its best.

Vicki Huber represented the USA in the 1988 (6th place, 3000 meters) and 1996 Olympic Games (1500 meters). While at Villanova, she won 8 individual NCAA titles (3 indoor and 3 outdoor titles at 3000 meters in 1987, 1988, and 1989, the 1988 indoor mile, and the 1989 cross country individual title). Huber was USATF national champion in the 1500 meters in 1988, set a USA 5K record, and was 4th at the 1992 World Cross Country championships.

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