All Posts By

John Bingham

All posts by John Bingham

Never Say Never, Again

By | The Penguin Archives | No Comments

It’s not too late to be what you might have been One of the insidious diseases that strikes at middle age, and trust me at 54 I am solidly into middle age, is one’s memory fading. I’m not talking about a serious medical condition, I’m talking about the blurring of what was with what might have been with what really is.  It’s not so much that the older I get, the better I used to be, but that the older I get, the MORE I think I COULD have been. What I used to think of as merely broken dreams…

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Both Sides Now

By | The Penguin Chronicles 2.0 | No Comments

Almost exactly 20 years ago, on the occasion of my 50th birthday, I wrote a column titled “An Out and Back Life.” I was reflecting on the similarities between getting older and looking back on one’s life and reaching the turn-around point of an out and back course. At 50 years-old my life was chaotic, complicated, with an uncertain future. The “Penguin Chronicles” had been in Runner’s World for a little over two years, I was beginning to get invitations to speak at running events, and I was just getting a glimpse at what the next chapter of my life…

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A Year in the Life

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The Chronicles: December 1999 The late George Sheehan wrote that we are all an experiment of one. Considering how much experimenting I did in my 20’s and 30’s I must have agreed. I doubt, though, that what I was experimenting with would have please Dr. Sheehan. My running has been experimental, that’s for sure. Most of the time I’ve acted like a mad scientist mixing a potion in his basement laboratory. I tried new shoes, or a new training program, or a new diet and then stood back and hoped the results didn’t blow up in my face.   But…

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When to Say When

By | The Penguin Archives | One Comment

It isn’t always easy being a runner. It isn’t always easy being the Penguin. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to be both and to be true to either. One of the canons of the Penguin philosophy is that running – all running – is joyful in its own right. It’s the act of running, being in the moment of the motion, that brings satisfaction. And it’s the process that matters most, not the outcome. But some runners wrongly think that this focus on participation rather than competition means that performance doesn’t matter. Folks who routinely finish races before I reach halfway…

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Running With Friends

By | The Penguin Archives | One Comment

The “Penguin Chronicles” actually began in 1995 as a series of e-mails to a group called The Dead Runners Society. At that time the Internet was much smaller than it is now and most of the users were either academics or government workers. Marlene Cimons, a member of the DRS, sent several of the e-mail columns to the editors of “Runner’s World” and the rest is history. This column was one of the original e-mails, written in September 1995. Over the years, I’ve seen some really fast runners. I’ve actually known some pretty fast runners. And, I guess I’d say…

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The Art of Aging

By | The Penguin Chronicles 2.0 | 5 Comments

It’s funny how your perspective changes. When the best I could do was run a 12-minute mile I thought that a 10 minute mile was fast. As I improved and could run a 10-minute mile I thought an 8-minute mile was fast. When I realized that I would never be able to consistently run an 8-minute mile I gave up trying to decide what fast was. It’s the same with getting older. When you’re young you want to be older. You want to be 16 so you can drive, or 21 so you can drink [legally!] The age when you…

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Part 3: What’s It’s Like Now

By | The Penguin Chronicles 2.0 | No Comments

What’s it like now? This simple answer is: I don’t know. But, then again, neither does anyone else. The running participants, the running events, the running industry, and the running ethos continue to change like the colors and shapes in a kaleidoscope. Just look at the options in shoes. For years Nike was the dominant brand. There were other, less well known brands, like Brooks and Asics and – if you had wide feet – New Balance. And then, if you knew as little as I did when started running, you wore Saucony “Jazz” because you liked jazz. Now you…

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Part 2: What Happened

By | The Penguin Chronicles 2.0 | One Comment

What happened? Simply put: WE happened. There was a giant community of runners and walkers who felt ignored by, or worse yet disdained by, the running industry. Many of us felt ashamed by how we looked, how slowly we ran or walked, and by the huge gap between what we were capable of and what we wanted to do.  To be honest, I never really, truly enjoyed running. Or, at least, not in the way that I enjoyed making music, or riding a motorcycle, or even riding a bicycle. Running was a constant battle between the strength of my will…

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Part 1: What It Was Like

By | The Penguin Chronicles 2.0 | No Comments

A Brief History of the Second Running Boom. The late, great, running writer and philosopher Dr. George Sheehan wrote that true effort galvanized the body, mind, and spirit. I agree. There is that moment at the very edge of one’s ability and preparation in which there seems to be a unity of all that we are. Where I disagree is in defining who is eligible to find that unity. Before Frank Shorter won the Olympic gold medal in the marathon in 1972 running was almost a secret activity. There were runners, of course, and there were running events, but it…

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Penguin Chronicle #1

By | The Penguin Archives | One Comment

The Penguin Chronicles :: March 1995 :: You may be a Penguin I can see the finish line, and I feel an emotional rush that transforms me from a mere mortal into a mythical creature with winged feet. Well, OK, maybe not winged feet. How about a mythical creature with webbed feet? Forget eagles and sparrows, it’s time to celebrate the power of penguins.  The runner as Penguin? No way!! Gazelles, Cheetahs, thoroughbreds. The metaphors for runners always seem to conjure up images of fleet footed creatures moving swiftly across the landscape barely casting a shadow. What those metaphors miss…

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