SCARCELY any form of athletics has so many followers who differ so absolutely in physique from the popularly accepted idea of an "athlete," as do the so-called "pedestrian" sports, which include running and hurdling. The frailest and palest youths have sometimes proved themselves the most powerful racers; and it is no uncommon sight on the track to see a thin, weak-looking boy run a big, muscular fellow "off his feet." The possession of a pair of long legs is no assurance that their owner will be able to get over the ground quickly, nor, as has often been proved, do decidedly short ones prevent his doing so. The fact is, there is absolutely no means of judging off-hand what sort of a racer one will make. For this reason, the boy who is too small to play foot-ball or to row, or was not born with the base-ball instinct in him, may turn his attention to the cinder-path, with the consoling thought that from just such as he many a champion has been developed.

Running And Hurdling 41

There is no better athletic sport than running; none which should bring with it less danger of physical injury, and none which demands so small an amount of time daily for practice, or getting into "form." Lasting and serious harm, however, may result from improper training.

The boy who desires to enter for a foot-race should, first of all, be sure that his heart is strong; he should assure himself that he has no special weakness which the strain of competition might aggravate.

He probably knows whether his abilities lie in the direction of long or short distances. Only actual trials and racing experience, however, can determine for just what distance he is best fitted. There are often cases in which boys start out with the idea of going into the short dashes, and, after attaining little success at that, turn out firstclass middle-distance or distance runners. A poor showing in a first race, then, should not discourage a boy from further effort.

The most popular distances with amateurs in America are the one hundred yards' dash, the two hundred and twenty yards' dash, quarter-mile, half-mile, and mile runs. The three-mile and five-mile runs are less often attempted, and the still longer distances are seldom covered except in "crosscountry" running.

There are many theories as to the best method of preparing for each one of these distances. One trainer may tell you to do one thing, and another will say that is just wrong. Moreover, persons of different temperaments and dispositions will not always do well under the same treatment. Experience alone will prove just how much and what sort of work will bring a man into the best possible condition. Without attempting to discuss or compare the advantages of different training methods, I shall simply attempt to throw out a few hints to boys who have no chance to secure a trainer, or to watch others train.

The first danger to be avoided is that of trying to do too much at once. I shall always remember one evening on Holmes' Field in Cambridge, watching a number of "town" boys training. Some were tearing wildly about the track as if running for a record; others had thrown themselves on the grass exhausted.

A young man with a stop-watch in his hand called out to a very weary-looking lad who had thrown himself face-downward on the grass:-

"Let's see, Jo, what you training for?"

"Quarter," was the reply.

"What ye done to-night? "

"Jogged two miles."

" Feel like being timed a quarter?"

"Well, I reckon I'll run one first, 'n' see how m' wind is."

So up jumped the sprinter; he ran around the track at a smart pace, and then ran his quarter-mile on time.

Absurd as it seemed, it was but the exaggeration of the common fault of all beginners - a tendency to do more than is good for them.

If the beginner intends to "sprint" - that is, run the short distances up to a quarter-mile - he had better, for a few days, take slow jogs of three hundred or four hundred yards.

Having accustomed his muscles to the exercise, he may vary this work every other day by running at fair speed for about two-thirds of the distance he intends to made his specialty. If it be the hundred-yard dash, he may do it twice, with a few minutes' rest between each dash. The slow work will serve to strengthen the muscles, and the quick work to keep them limber. Proceeding in this manner, the sprinter should be able, after ten days or two weeks, to run at top speed without danger of straining his muscles.

So much depends on a good start in sprint races that much of a man's time must be devoted to getting away quickly after the starter's pistol is fired.

In all races the starter gives two preliminary commands to the men before sending them off. At the first - "On your marks!" - the men are supposed to take their positions on the track; they may. if they like, scrape out small holes to prevent the feet from slipping in starting. Then the word comes, "Set!" when the contestants get in position, ready for the signal "Go." As every false start entails the penalty of being set back, it is necessary that this position should be a steady one.

The Standing Start.

The Standing Start.

Speaking generally, there are two prominent styles of starting, each of which, however, has its modifications.

First, there is the standing start, which is used by all long-distance runners when there is no need of starting off in the lead. The runner plants one foot on the "scratch," or starting-line, the other foot is placed from twenty inches to a yard back; then throwing the weight as far forward as is possible without losing the balance, with one arm thrust forward and the other back, he is "set."

Nearly all sprinters nowadays, however, have adopted some form of the low or "crouching" start. The commonest and perhaps the easiest way to learn is that in which both feet are back of "scratch." One foot is planted a few inches behind the line, and the other from six inches to a foot still farther back. When told to set, the runner stoops, places his hands or finger-tips on the mark, and throws his weight forward on the arms. When the hands are raised from the ground the tendency is to pitch forward, and he must either run or fall. A start which is used successfully by many sprinters is a sort of combination between a standing and crouching position. The runner takes his position as if for a standing start, with his feet spread a trifle farther apart. At the word "set," he places the hand corresponding to the forward foot on the line just inside that foot, and thus divides his weight between the arm and leg. This affords him the advantage of being steadier than in the standing start, and does not give him so much of a strain as does the low start. Of course, on the days that are devoted to starting, the runner can make his other work lighter. It is well, also, while starting, to keep on occasionally and run out for forty or fifty yards. Otherwise it may be difficult for a man to get into his regular stride after he starts.