I ran my first marathon in 2006, and even though running still involves simply putting one foot in front of the other, quite a few things have changed. If you've been running for 10+ years, enjoy this bit of nostalgia. If you haven't, then maybe you'll learn a bit of history!
|Stopwatch, white shoes, sports beans!|
1. Stopwatches with lap buttons
If I remember correctly, the Garmin GPS watches were just starting to come out in 2005, and it took them a few years to go mainstream. Back in 2006, I was using my trusty Timex stop watch in races and for long runs. I did all of my long runs on the W&OD trail, which has mile markers, so I would press the lap button at each milepost. The same was true for races. I had no idea what pace I was running until I approached the mile marker and hit the lap button on my watch.
2. Mainly white running shoes
If you walked into a running store 10 years ago, all the shoes would be white with small pops of color accents. The more popular models offered a choice of up to 4 color accents, but the shoes looked pretty much the same: all white. Nowadays, the walls of running shoe stores are covered in bright colors and you'll be hard-pressed to find anything that's mainly white. It used to be that runners were cautioned not to buy shoes based on color, but now runners actually have a good range of colors for any given shoe.
3. iPods--not iPhones
10 years ago, many people were running with iPods, myself included. I used the iPod Mini for awhile, but then the shuffle came out and I loved how compact it was. Nowadays, I see some people still using Shuffles (which is what I use on the treadmill) but the majority of runners who run with music seem to be using their phones to do so. Oh, and also using the phones to track their route, take pictures, and a number of other things that could not be done with a simple iPod.
4. The Boston Marathon didn't fill up
You could BQ in February and then run Boston just two months later! What's more, you could BQ in the fall of 2005, and that time would be good for Boston 2006 AND Boston 2007. There were no "cut-off" times because there didn't need to be. 10 years ago, running marathons was not nearly as popular as it is today. It was a lot easier to get into Boston back then because there simply wasn't as much competition as there is today. Part of me wishes it would go back to being the way it used to, but another part of me enjoys the fact that it's more challenging now.
5. The ChampionChip
Back in the day, most all races were timed using a chip that you would affix to your shoe. That chip was replaced by the D-Tag somewhere around 2009, which I absolutely hated because it was so bulky and it had accuracy issues. But then the B-Tag that attaches to the race bib came along in the past 3-4
|My ChampionChip collection|
6. Social Media wasn't mainstream
Some people were on MySpace, but not nearly as many people were on MySpace talking about running as there are today on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Strava, and numerous forums. So chances are, if you went for a training run, the only person who knew about it was you and maybe the people you lived with. There wan't as much "inspiration" going around so runners had to be more intrinsically motivated to get out there and run.
7. Sports Beans or gels?
Fueling options were limited 10 years ago. There were only a few brands of gels and the alternative to that was Jelly Belly Sports Beans. Today we have plenty of options available: UCAN, Shot Blocks, Tailwind, Honey Stinger Waffles, and probably a bunch of others I don't even know about.
8. Lottery? What Lottery?
Races used to be easy to get into. Chicago, Marine Corps, Houston, Cherry Blossom -- just to name a few. None of these races used to have lotteries and you could register for them as late as a few weeks prior! It was nice because you didn't have to commit to a race so far in advance. You could basically just wait until you felt ready to race and then go for it. Also, if you were injury-prone (like I used to be) it made sense to wait until a month or so before to register.
9. The Philadelphia Distance Run and the National Marathon
|The Philadelphia Distance Run 2006|
In 2006, the Rock 'n' Roll series had like 4 or 5 races to choose from. I remember San Diego, Arizona, and Virginia Beach. What we know as Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia used to be called the Philadelphia Distance Run. Today's Rock 'n' Roll DC used to be the National Marathon. As part of the Rock 'n' Roll series, these races are now more expensive and commercialized, but you know that the race will be well-organized.
10. Brightroom Event Photography
It used to be that a company called "Brightroom" dominated the race photo industry. You could preview your photos online at a decent size (see photo to the right) without the huge word PROOF over your face. You could buy printed copies of your photos for a reasonable price. At some point, Marathonfoto emerged onto the scene and gained a monopoly over the industry. They are now able to get away with charging and arm and a leg for race photos, while sending horribly-formatted marketing emails. While their prices have gone down ever so slightly over the past two years, I predict that they will soon either need to reduce their prices more or face new competition. Smaller race photography companies exist, they just aren't mainstream yet.
Who knows what running will look like 10 years from now? Overall, I like the technological advances that we've made and the fact that more people are running marathons. But it is nice to reflect on "back in the day" when things were much simpler.
|Well, not everything was much simpler!|