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The Penguin Archives

Category Archives: The Penguin Archives

Tools and Rules

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Simple, essential lessons on running maintenance from a place you might not expect: the garage. When I was in my 20s, I spent a number of years working as a professional motorcycle mechanic. I knew just enough to get the job but not nearly enough to do it. One of the first lessons I learned from Stuart, a crusty older mechanic, was that there are a few immutable principles: (1) if it can be lubricated, it needs to be lubricated; (2) if it can be adjusted, it needs to be adjusted; (3) if it’s worn out, replace it; and (4)…

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A League of Their Own

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One man’s experience at an all-women’s marathon. Even though I’m an xy-chromosome-carrying member of our species, I ran the inaugural Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco in 2004 because: (a) I like running in San Francisco; (b) it sounded like a cool event; and (c) I am a man and, therefore, fairly dense. Actually, when it comes to some important male/female dynamics, I’m an idiot. And it goes beyond the “seat up/seat down” controversy. Who decided that the floor isn’t a perfectly acceptable place to keep clothes between wearings? And why can’t I dry my wet winter running gloves in…

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Waddle on, friends: The first Penguin Chronicle

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John Lennon may have been the Walrus, but I am the Penguin. Looking up, I see the finish banner and clock. I pick up the pace, releasing the energy I’ve been saving for the final kick. I am gasping for air; my heart is pounding. I am going to have a PR. I am going to break 30 minutes for 5-K. What? John Lennon may have been the Walrus, but I am the Penguin. I am the runner you’ve seen whose legs look as if they are tied together at the knees. I am the runner whose stride is the same…

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The Inner Penguin

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The Inner Penguin I’m a 90’s guy. Or at least I was. That all seems so… “20th Century” now. I’m not ready to call myself a “zero” guy, but I’ll bet there are others that might. I’m in touch with my feminine side, I know all about male bounding, and I am way too in touch with my inner child.  But, I am just beginning to learn how to be in touch with my inner Penguin. I didn’t even know that there WAS an inner penguin at first. I thought that being a penguin was about being satisfied with what…

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Miles to Go

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Here is an early Penguin Chronicle that may help to put the whole “Penguin phenomenon” into perspective. As you can tell from the tone of the column, no one was more surprised by how this started than me. From time to time I get insights into how my life is changing – and how running has become the change agent. Those of you who, by nature or by training, are better tuned to your own psyches may scoff at the density of my awareness. Be reminded that I have been no more inclined to be open with myself than I…

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Running on the Wrong Side of the Tracks

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I’ve run over 40 marathons, so I’m not a rookie. I’ve read most of the training programs out there. I know the names of all the workouts. I know about building mileage and tapering and having a race strategy. But no one ever mentioned what to do if you’re stopped by a train during a marathon. Here’s the scene: Portland, Oregon on as pretty a day for running a marathon as you can imagine. Crisp air, blue skies and plenty of sunshine. I’m leading a group of runners who want to finish somewhere between five hours and anytime on Sunday….

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Happy Trails

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Venturing off-road leads to simple yet profound discoveries. I’ve never been much of a trail runner. Okay, I’ve never been much of a road runner either, but that’s not the point. As one whose feet never get more than an inch off the ground, I worry about bumps in the sidewalk. So it’s hard to imagine encountering branches, roots and rocks. But I finally gave in. With all the hoopla about the pleasures of trail running, I thought I should at least see what the fuss was about. And to my surprise, I discovered a fun, new running environment. It…

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When one door closes…

By | Personal, The Penguin Archives | One Comment

The surest route to running satisfaction may be the path of least resistance. My grandfather had many favorite expressions – nearly all of which are unfit for publication. But the one he used often as a means of defusing disappointment over some failure was: “When one door closes, another door opens.” In the years since his death, I’ve often changed this expression to reflect my own uniquely pessimistic outlook: “When one door closes, another door closes.” There were times, I assure you, when that seemed to be the case. More often than not, though, my grandfather was right. In most…

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What I know now… that I wished I’d known then…

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In no particular order: Size matters, at least when in comes to shoes. I’d worn size 8 1/2 shoes since I was 17 years old. So at age 42, when I went to buy my first pair of running shoes,  I bought–you guessed it–size 8 1/2. I didn’t even bother to try them on, I was so sure they would fit. And they did fit. Sorta. I thought that running shoes should hug my feet, make my toes feel “snug,” and be laced up so tight that they nearly cut off my circulation. I didn’t lose all of my toenails…

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Never Say Never, again

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It’s not too late to be what you might have been By John “The Penguin” Bingham One of the insidious maladies that plagues middle age-and, at 54, I’m solidly into middle age-is a fading memory. I’m not talking about a serious medical condition here. I’m talking about the blurring of what was, with what might have been, with what really is.  For some people, the older they get, the better they think they used to be. For me, the older I get, the more I think I could have been.  And I doubt I’m the only person who ever dreamed…

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