THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY
|MIDDLE AND DISTANCE RUNNING|
By CHAS. E. HAMMETT
JACOB TOME INSTITUTE
IS middle and distance running as practised in our schools and colleges injurious or is it not? The verdict of spectators at an intercollegiate or interscholastic track meet, as the contestants cross the finish line frequently exhibiting every evidence of exhaustion, would probably be in the affirmative. It is difficult for them to resist the belief that a contest which so drains a man of his strength must, of necessity, use up vitality that can never be completely restored, must permanently weaken the heart, and perhaps injuriously affect him in other respects. This investigation was undertaken in the hope of ascertaining whether there is adequate foundation for such a belief.
In an experience extending over fifteen years, the writer has attended many track meets, has known personally hundreds of runners, has time and again questioned them in regard to their personal experience. Curiously enough, he has never found a single man who would admit that he had been injured by racing. The incompatibility between the positive assertions of these men and the popular impression as to the effects of distance running was so pronounced, and the subject is such an important one in its relation to schoolboys and college men, that an investigation became imperative. The investigation does not deal with the marathon running of the present day, but solely with the distances usually run in school and college—one half to two miles and cross-country seven miles.
Athletes from all parts of the country have been consulted, principally men who quit running years ago, and who have had ample time to note in their own persons the after effects of the training they underwent; men whose youthful enthusiasm has been sobered by years of business or professional life and whose judgment is therefore to be respected. Some of them quit running thirty years ago; others twenty-six, twenty-four, eighteen, twelve, etc. A few are still running, only eight in all. Seven have just quit, nine stopped a year ago and the great majority from two to thirty years ago, averaging eight and a half years. Nearly one half of the whole number ran for five or more years, training five to six days a week in two groups, one group averaging twenty-six weeks a year, the other ten weeks. Many trained six days a week, thirty to forty weeks a year. These men have been allowed to speak for themselves, first as to