Flashback: Running in the 70’s

We made it safely to PA, and I’m already enjoying the chance to run, snack, nap, and blog whenever I want, thanks to all the grandparent time! We’re looking forward to catching up with lots of friends and family all week, and enjoying a laid back schedule. For today, here’s a little running flashback.

I’ve been reading a book I had picked up at a used book sale years ago, called “The Complete Woman Runner.”  The book is packed with really helpful tips, but is also a bit dated.  After checking the publishing date (1978), it made a little more sense.

Here are some fun tidbits…

From pg 69, under section on caring for children while running:

“There are other ways of having children cared for…but these are a little unusual.  I have a friend who used to run …while pushing her son in a stroller.  (She) claims that she only had one stroller mishap when the baby fell out but most of the time her son really enjoyed moving rapidly.”

Pg 77-78, 80 on shoes:

“Invest in a good pair of running shoes ($20-$40).”

“Bend the shoe to make sure it’s not too stiff.  You can fix a shoe that’s too stiff by cutting across the forefoot with a razor or hacksaw…”

“Despite diligent maintenance, your soles may wear out before the rest of the shoe.  Numerous shops specialize in running-shoe repair.  They will replace soles, mend uppers, replace insoles, and put in new laces, generally for under $15.”

“Do-it-yourselfers can put their own new soles on.  Nike sells waffle soling material by the sheet… Remove the old sole by holding the shoe above an electric stove.  Pull off the old sole…or dissolve the glue with lighter fluid… Glue the new sole in place with Goo.”

Pg 82, on what to wear:

“I like the woven nylon running shorts with slits on the sides.  They are inexpensive (about four dollars)… some shorts are made specifically for women, but these tend to be more expensive.”


Pg 88-90, on racing:

“Most races charge an entry fee, generally $2 to $3.  Races with higher entry fees may give T-shirts or patches to all participants.”

“Water and fruit juice are fine, or try one of the athletic replacement drinks such as ERG or Body Punch.”

“As you finish, listen for your time. It may take several weeks to get the results.”

“If you are given a numbered stick, turn it in with your name.  When the results are compiled, your finishing order will be correlated with your time.”


Pg 120, on runner safety:

“Several runners have suggested window decals, so that other runners who are in some sort of distress can identify a friendly house to run to for assistance. This idea has merit if it can be standardized…”

I was born a couple of years after this was published, so I can’t say I remember any of this from personal experience.  Running has changed quite a bit in the last few decades, especially the cost of races!

Does anyone know what ERG or Body Punch is? Have you ever paid $3 for a race entry?


57 thoughts on “Flashback: Running in the 70’s

  1. They really used to cut their brand new shoes with a hacksaw if they were too stiff?!

  2. Loved this! I sure wish shorts still cost $4 as well as the cheap race fees.

    On Sunday, I run with my TNT group and our coach has been with them for 20 years and has been coaching and running his whole life. On our water stops, he has ERG. It tastes like a watered down cherry gatorade with salt in it. I really don’t know what the ingredients are. The taste is not as bad as I think I describe it and I take it at every stop. He has it at every 3 miles.

    Funny stuff. Hope you enjoy your trip to PA. We are heading that way in another 10 days.
    Nicole@RunningWhileMommy recently posted..Run, Walk, Crawl…FinishMy Profile

  3. Ah! This was so fun to read!
    I have heard about the how-to’s from the early boom in distance running/marathoning , but never expected to read the instructions on how to hack-saw the shoes or replace your own soles! Imagine some of the records people earned in shoes like that!

  4. I actually ran my half marathon in a pair of $5 nylon running shorts with the slit up the sides! They are actually the issued marine corps “silkies” that are manatory for them to PT in. They are SO thin and lightweight and cheap. They are pretty short but no chafing. And it makes sense because I don’t think the marine corps has updated any of their uniforms since the 70’s for sure! Although like the article said, they are made for guys so I bought smalls and had to safety pin up the underwear in the front since I didn’t need the extra room there 🙂

  5. Those are absolutely hilarious!! The part about the stroller and the baby only falling out once made me laugh out loud. Thanks for sharing! Now, I’m going to buy some new tread by the sheet to re-sole my shoes. LOL
    Jan recently posted..Longer RunsMy Profile

  6. That is an awesome post! I was born in 72 and started running in 88. Yes, I am old, and I totally remember a few of the things you mentioned. In high school we used a product called Shoe Goo to put a new sole on a worn out shoe (it never worked BTW). I ran races with the numbered stick system. Also, those hideous patterned tights were the thing to wear in the cold. I had one pair…other times it was long johns under a pair of shorts. One of these days I’ll put high school pictures on the blog. That will be a good laugh for everyone.

    • Yes- that must be the Goo she kept referring to. I didn’t hear anything about patterned tights yet, she actually just recommended picking up a cheap sweat suit for the cold. I would love to see those high school running pics!!
      Laura recently posted..Flashback: Running in the 70′sMy Profile

  7. Her baby FELL OUT of the stroller!? I think that would change my mind about that “unusual” to running.

    We sometimes ran with sticks when I was in cross country in high school (and I graduated in 2000, so it wasn’t THAT long ago…)
    Mostly they would rip a tag off of our race number. (So we couldn’t pin our race number on the corner of the tag — to this day I still only use 3 pins).

    Enjoy your trip!
    Amanda K. recently posted..In the mixMy Profile

  8. First, happy vacation! I hope you are having a wonderful time.

    Second, that book is hilarious! The decal on the window? Very interesting!

    And I can’t imagine waiting weeks to see my race results online- I get irritated if they aren’t up a few hours following the race! 😉
    Kelly @ Runmarun recently posted..Monday!My Profile

  9. That was very entertaining :). The sport of running has definitely evolved. I have ran in a free 5k and won a few race entries, but I think the least I have paid for a race is $20!

  10. My first pair of running shoes were purchased in 1970 -don’t know the price but DO remember they were MEN’s leather Nike Cortez (red/wht/blue) . I do remember ERG- they should have talked about GOOKINADE though. That was the first drink I believe they tried to market.

    Sigh-the 70s and early 80s was THE time to run. And we ran fast. If you couldn’t run a 3:30 marathon (women) you were looked down upon by peers and by self mostly. So we ran (a LOT) – 80 mile weeks and did track workouts. Wore men’s shorts, a cotton t-shirt and a real bra under it. Things have changed, but the basics are still there.
    And yes, i am still running!

    • I definitely got the sense that women were fast and ran LOTS of miles!! Thanks so much for sharing- I love that you can relate to this, and that’s awesome that you’re still running!
      Laura recently posted..Olympic highlightsMy Profile

  11. That’s funny! My family has shots of them all in tiny shorts circa 1970. My grandfather used to make my dad, aunts and uncles run with him when they were teenagers!

    Actually, there is a local running club in Oakland that charges 2 dollars to members for their once a month race. It’s great! You can run a 5k, 10k or 15k (around a 3 mile round lake). IT’s a steal of a deal!
    Travel Spot recently posted..Tuesday Training (5)My Profile

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