The topic of discussion this week is the 80s and in that vein, I will continue my trend of circumventing the topic of running for the majority of this article, only to tie it back in in the most painstakingly contrived way.
There is no doubt that part of me still wishes that I could live in the 80s. Can I have nostalgia for a time when my parents still swore they’d never have kids? After all, it would be almost a decade before I started to be the Garbage Pail Kid that I am now. But here I am. Anyone that’s ever walked into my house is no doubt confused as to why I have posters of old Tom Cruise movies above my television (emphasis on old, man that guy’s weird now) and a head-banded Heather Locklear carefully watching over my bathroom. Hell, I picked up an old 80s Mercedes last summer just so that I was at least well-rounded in my decade delusions. As a child of parents still stuck in the 80s, I drank the Kool-Aid without knowing that other kids didn’t actively listen to Cyndi Lauper and that no one still used a clunky Sony Walkman anymore. Any older gentlemen or gentlewomen out there reading this are probably wondering where their old Walkman is right now – I know exactly where my mom’s is (in the family room coffee table, third drawer from the right).
Some people think the Golden Age was in the Roaring 20s, or nestled somewhere in the suburban comfort of the 50s, but I have to contend that the Golden Age is in fact firmly entrenched in the decade between disco and grunge. What’s this have to do with running though? I come here to read about running and you hardly ever address it, you may say. Fair enough, and I’m getting to it.
I feel like after five years of being in close proximity of Coach Braman, I could be his personal biographer. I’m certain that he’d never approve under any circumstances me touching pen to paper about his life, but I feel like I have enough vignettes of his college and early coaching days and enough knowledge about a time when mustaches weren’t ironic and long hair didn’t automatically give a guy permission to put it up in a bun, so that I could shed some light on the man who is now the face of Florida State track and field.
I think I might have heard every variation of every story he’s ever told – well the one’s that he can tell me anyway. And a lot of the stories he tells are of his own time running, a time when, if you were to lend an ear during a particularly long car ride, would sound like the Wild West of distance running, where runners had only two things in mind: run as hard as you can, as long as you can – and look like an absolute legend doing it. It was also a time where if you were a certain fifth year senior for UF you ran through the worst side stitch that you ever had so that you could have the best SEC championship race of your career. There were no Alter-G treadmills, no crazy lasers or phasers or tasers that could relieve pain, and certainly no fancy gear that is supposed to make running efficient, or whatever it is supposed to do (I know, I’ve been the beneficiary of a lot of this). But in the 80s running was, for the most part, just running. You got out there and went for it. You didn’t have to be nice to your competitors, you just had to beat them. There wasn’t training grounded in hard science, you just went by what made you feel fast. Blood wasn’t pricked from your finger following a run, BMI’s weren’t calculated, and Brian Bosworth was still talking smack on the gridiron.
Ok, I’ll admit, the 80s running scene was rampant with doping and such and the science behind running was starting to take root, but like anyone that’s got one foot in another decade, I see what I want to see. And what I see is a time when running was unencumbered by everything that makes it complicated now. I’ll accept that we can’t turn back time and live in the 80s, but maybe, just maybe, can we simplify stuff a little bit?
Leave your Garmin at home, run hard for a while and be ok with not knowing that you ran exactly 8.45 miles at 5:46 pace. Grow a mustache.
Bryce Kelley, a graduate student in Integrated Marketing Communications, is a fifth-year Seminole from Hope Valley, R.I. A two-time All-ACC Academic selection in cross country with his undergraduate degree in Creative Writing, Kelley has been providing a weekly inside look at the FSU men’s team throughout the season.