The History of Running – Part 1

So in today’s post we thought we would explore some history. All the other running blogs look at present and future and race psychology and nutrition and blah-blah but have forgotten the past. You need to connect with the past to “feel” the present (just ask Oprah and Lance!). Your dutiful Gloat Goat is going to take you on a wild time-machin-esque ride to many lost millenia ago and trace the development of running to at least near the modern age. That will comprise Part 1. Parts 2 and 3 in later posts will look at very recent history. We will explore running before it had three n’s!!!


Back in (the epoch of pre-civilization?) (whenever that really was actually), before maybe even fire and certainly dishwashers, our prehistoric (that is a lot of pre-history whatever that really means too? Like what is pre-history – is that not a little paradoxical) forefathers and foremothers and general foresomethings undertook a physical activity named ruig. It was not, for lack of better words, an act of sprezzatura. This activity consisted of quickly moving from A to B dragging your knees and waving your arms for cadence (unlike today’s version, you waved your arms like crazy going down a hill as you were most likely going arse over tea kettle). The typical distances were short, maybe 200 – 300 meters before knees became badly scrapped and bloody. The main issue here was longevity. Knee burn out was common and the line-ups for knee replacement surgery (heavy on placement, light on re) were unmanageable.  Some brave ruiger was quoted one day as saying, “This activity we do is ruining our knees and we can’t be silent any longer, I am calling it ruining. And I’m tired of not using my feet “. So from that time stamp forward, the accelerated movement process known as ruining had started. And the evolution to standing straight up whilst performing ruining was born.


Ruining (with) the Dinosaurs was a popular pre-modern day sporting activity. Some say it is the precursor to the modern triathlonosaurous (thus shortened to triathlon). You got chased through a swamp, rode an extremely expensive pterosaur with popular models like Pterodactyl or  Dsungaripteroidea (say that ten times or even two for that matter) and ruined like crazy to avoid the Velociraptors over huge distances.


There was a lot of ruining going on during the Crusades and the Middle Ages. One advancement we can be thankful for was the advent of the shoe. While the incidence of ruined knees greatly decreased over time, the ruined foot soon became an issue. Solutions were sought, some that did not always work out so well. We started ruining (our bodies) with the thong sandal (wink). Not only did foot issues not disappear but the subsequent tripping over sandals created severe noggin injuries and tooth loss. Next the leather wrap was invented but they often came loose and created mobility issues. Plus the name sounded more like food and did not catch on in the ruining world. (And your feet stunk afterwards). A whole litany of shoe varieties followed: chopines, polaines, espadrilles, pattens. All proved ineffectual at effective ruining. The armored coverings were of particular annoyance. Eventually the sewn-on leather sole became the saviour ….


One magic day in the early 1700’s, there was a major event that took place the gave us our modern sport name as we know it. The movement known as “There is no I (and various other letters) in Sports” began. (European) Riotball changed to Football (although it is a more appropriate name for today’s game); Hickey became Hockey (each team still employs a hick, somewhat unfortunate – Paleta, Cooke, C. Orr, …); Hindball became Handball (thank goodness) and Ruining became Runnng. The International Congress on Lexicography in 1717 re-instated the last ‘i’ as it was obvious that no grace could be achieved if you were Runnng every day. So Running was born!!!! And just in time for the modern era of sneaking out of your parent’s house to meet a girlfriend or boyfriend; or running to catch a bus because you are late; or plain just running to stay fit and healthy.


We will explore the period 1800 to 1990 in the History of Running – Post 2. Stay tuned!


One of the Goats




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