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Original Issue


At last, a movement is afoot—or perhaps a non-movement is awallow—to free the non-runner from his closet, if he can get up the energy to leave. As the blushing red cover of The Non-Runner's Book (Collier Books, $2.95) says, here is "advice and reassurance for the millions of Americans who want to know 'Is it all right if I don't run?' "

Admitting that they are actually "a pair of rich and successful sneaker manufacturers...atoning for the damage they've done," Vic Ziegel and Lewis Grossberger have dared to come to the defense of that maligned, misunderstood group—the non-runners.

Runners have had it all their way in the '70s. With missionary fervor, they have indoctrinated non-runners with tiresome accounts of the joys of jogging. They have subjected the unconvinced and unconverted to nasty sneers as they sprint through stalled traffic. And every hamlet with a population of more than 80 has its very own marathon. No wonder non-runners have gone underground.

Until now you probably thought you were all alone. But on page xiii, the authors reveal a suppressed statistic from the Bureau of Sedentary Activity, which estimates "there are more than 180 million non-runners in the United States." This well-documented book is loaded with information that will probably never be valuable, useful or even suitable for small talk at a cocktail party.

The sad tale of R. V. Winkle, the upstate New York resident "who tried for a marathon nap without working up to it gradually," is a warning to those who might be tempted to overindulge.

A full chapter is devoted to what runners are trying to say when they speak Runnese. Another chapter describes "Sex and the Single Non-Runner" in such embarrassing detail that it is suitable for a 5-year-old. Famous non-runners are held up for emulation.

Photos and drawings support the text. There is a rare, poignant picture of Dave Pringlitz trying to refasten his big right toe after it had fallen off during the 1974 Boston Marathon. Not a million words could describe his bewildered face as he ponders why he entered a marathon in the first place.

In short, here is everything that might elicit a chuckle about non-running, a sport that definitely fails to take itself seriously.

Jog right down to buy it, and you might never run again. As Calvin Coolidge, the patron to whom The Non-Runner's Book is dedicated, said, "I do not choose to run."