RUNNING. Before bicycles and cars made transportation fast and easy, running was one of the only ways for a human being to move rapidly. According to the legend, Philippides ran twenty-six miles from Marathon to Athens in 490 b.c. to deliver the news that the Athenian army had defeated the Persians, making him the first famous runner in history. The first ancient Greek Olympics (776 b.c.) consisted of a foot race.
With the advent of mechanized locomotion, running in the United States today is almost exclusively a sport and a hobby. Official competitions in the United States include the sprint (the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter dash; the 400-and 1,600-meter relay; and the 100-, 110-, and 400-meter hurdles), middle-distance running (the 800-, 1,500-, and 3,000-meter run; the mile; and the 3,000-meter steeple chase), and long-distance running (the 5,000-and 10,000-meter run and the marathon). There are also running events in the triathlon, the pentathlon, the heptathlon, and the decathlon, as well as a variety of cross-country and road races. The most extreme of them,
appearing in 1978, is the Hawaiian Ironman contest, consisting of a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike race, and a 26.2-mile run (1,427 contestants finished the race in 2000).
Track and field races never became as popular as baseball, basketball, golf and football, but U.S. athletes have performed extremely well in sprint competitions worldwide. Among famous U.S. Olympic heroes are Jesse Owens (four gold medals, 1936), Wilma Rudolph (three gold medals, 1960), and, more recently, Carl Lewis (nine gold medals, 1984–1996), Michael Johnson (five gold medals, 1992–2000), Florence Griffith Joyner (three gold medals, 1988), and Marion Jones (three gold medals, 2000).
Paradoxically, jogging has been a very popular sport in the United States while producing few world-class American long-distance runners (Billy Mills won the 10,000-meter Olympic race in 1964). The New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard pioneered the idea that moderate continuous exercise could improve performance, allowing his country's athletes to dominate middle-distance running in the 1960s. William J. Bowerman, a track and field coach at the University of Oregon who had met Lydiard in 1962, and W. E. Harris, a heart specialist, popularized the concept in the United States when they published Jogging (1967). This book, as well as James Fixx's The Complete Book of Running (1977), launched a jogging and fitness craze. An estimated 10 million Americans jogged regularly by the 1970s. Bowerman, along with his student Phil Knight, also cofounded Blue Ribbon Sports (now Nike) in 1962 and invented the first modern running shoe, the Waffle Trainer, in 1972. Sales of running shoes in the United States amounted to $2.2 billion in 1998.
Bowerman, William J., W. E. Harris, and James M. Shea. Jogging. New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1967.
Fixx, James F. The Complete Book of Running. New York: Random House, 1977.
Henderson, Joe. Better Runs: Twenty-five Years' Worth of Lessons for Running Faster and Farther. Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics, 1996.
run·ning / ˈrəning/ • n. 1. the action or movement of a runner: he accounted for 31 touchdowns with his running and passing. ∎ the sport of racing on foot: marathon running. ∎ an act of running a race: the 122nd running of the Mid-Summer Derby. 2. the action of managing or operating something: the day-to-day running of the office. • adj. 1. denoting something that runs, in particular: ∎ (of water) flowing naturally or supplied to a building through pipes and taps: hot and cold running water. ∎ (of a sore or a part of the body) exuding liquid or pus: a running sore. ∎ continuous or recurring over a long period: a running joke. ∎ done while running: a running jump. ∎ (of a measurement) in a straight line: today, those same lots are worth $6,000 a running foot. 2. consecutive; in succession: he failed to produce an essay for the third week running. PHRASES: in (or out of) the running in (or no longer in) contention for an award, victory, or a place on a team: he is in the running for an Oscar.