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  • Training Shoes

    I am doing some research about our sport in the late 1930s to the early 1940s. What kind of shoes did cross country athletes use in that era? I know about the training of that era from reading and talking to people. Also if someone knows anything about cross country skiing in that era, I would be appreciative.

  • #2
    Didn't the runners of that era train in "gum-rubber" soled shoes, canvas uppers?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Bruce Kritzler
      Didn't the runners of that era train in "gum-rubber" soled shoes, canvas uppers?
      I can answer that. Not that we really "trained" at all in HS in the 1940s, but, at least in the outback, we ran track in the same high top canvas shoes in which we played basketball. Some had spikes for competition.

      We actually had one "miler" who ran, albeit not very fast, in cowboy boots. He did not do this out of eccentricity or to show off, it was just his only footwear. He did not play basketball but he did play baseball. In cowboy boots. He eventually became a Baptist preacher. In cowboy boots.

      At college we were issued thin rubber soled flats, canvas uppers,no arch or heel support. We thought they were wonderful, kinda like running barefoot without the danger of stepping on something sharp. Our guys won the 1954 NCAA XC Ch training in those shoes. If anyone had foot problems they never mentioned it.

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      • #4
        Lonewolf (and others here even older than I am !), how much "training" did you really do in your "olden-times" high school days?

        I was in high school back in the early '60's and my coach was considered sort of cutting-edge because he had teen aged athletes lifting weights and doing some things that would later be called cross-training. Some few of us lifted before school during the off-season, a practice much frowned upon by old-school rival coaches.

        I knew a man who was a world class miler in the 1920's who said he did zero training in high school... his "coach" was just a teacher who made sure everyone had uniforms and got to the few meets that they knew about. He volunteered to be a distance runner because he wasn't very fast or strong but he had chased his family cattle from one pen to another all his life.

        Obviously, in the decades between the early 1920's and the early 1960's, things changed in terms of high school coaching. What was your experience?

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        • #5
          By the time, I entered high school in the late 1960's in New Jersey, there were two basic choices for running flats: (1) low-cut Converse canvas running shoes - which wore out quickly and bled black dye on your socks in wet weather, or (2) Adidas shoes which were only available for sale by a few authorized dealers at full list price. The Converse shoes cost $6.95, and the Adidas cost $10 to $20 depending on the make. Nike only became available in our area about 1973-74 with the waffle trainer.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by jhc68
            Lonewolf (and others here even older than I am !), how much "training" did you really do in your "olden-times" high school days?
            ?
            Short answer. None.

            Our history teacher "coached" basketball (in which he had some experience) baseball and track (simultaneous seasons, same athletes). Rural schools in SW Oklahoma did not play football in the 1930s and 1940s. Classes started in August and dismissed for cotton harvest in October and November, resumed December-June.

            Some of you have heard this before so indulge me the short version.

            We were all country kids, raised working, walking and chasing jackrabbits. Not surprisingly, there were a few athletes among us but we had no concept of distance base, intervals, fartlek, jumping or throwing technique. Nor did our coach.

            Our "lifting" consisted of stacking 100# hay bales, scooping wheat from wagon to granary and throwing 100# sacks of cotton over the head high tail gate of a wagon.

            HIs track coaching consisted in having everyone run about 100 yards. The three or four fastest were the 100-220 guys, the next four were the 440-880 guys, everyone else was a miler. Biggest guys threw shot and discus. Sprinters and basketball players tried broad jump and high jump intuitively.

            We had one formidable set of wooden hurdles, made in shop class, and starting blocks made of stacked 4x6s with protruding spikes. The county road grader came by each spring and graded a "track" (which became smaller each year) around the baseball field. The jumping pits were just that, shallow excavations filled with sand. Our vaulting pole was a turned ash cylinder about 10-12 feet long with a spiked end; no box, you just jammed the spike in the ground. I do not recall that we ever had any exceptional vaulters.

            Graduating classes typically comprised 20-30/year, half boys. Few went to college but my county did produce a few D1 track athletes and a couple of MLB pitchers.
            It was primitive. Fortunately, we did not know the difference.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by lonewolf
              We were all country kids, raised working, walking and chasing jackrabbits. . . Our "lifting" consisted of stacking 100# hay bales, scooping wheat from wagon to granary and throwing 100# sacks of cotton over the head high tail gate of a wagon."
              This goes to my belief that "old-time" athletes were not nearly as underdeveloped as we want to think. Day-to-day living had a lot of substitutes for "training" and probably worked as good base work.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by dj
                Originally posted by lonewolf
                We were all country kids, raised working, walking and chasing jackrabbits. . . Our "lifting" consisted of stacking 100# hay bales, scooping wheat from wagon to granary and throwing 100# sacks of cotton over the head high tail gate of a wagon."
                This goes to my belief that "old-time" athletes were not nearly as underdeveloped as we want to think. Day-to-day living had a lot of substitutes for "training" and probably worked as good base work.
                So Lord Burghley was working his own farm?

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                • #9
                  On this general topic: Here's a link to an old-timey film of a major high school track meet in 1939. The Russell Cup in Carpinteria is, we believe, the oldest continuing high school meet in California, having been contested annually since 1914 with a couple of exceptions during the war years. I would think that the footage of a high quality high school competition from that era is very unusual.

                  The film turned up a few years ago in someone's garage and was donated to the Carpinteria HS AD. It is old and grainy, unevenly edited, takes a while to load, and the picture frame is small, but if you are patient the action is terrific and there are some impressively studly looking kids with horribly raw techinque. Also notable is the meet official starter, a very big name who was the local superintendent of schools at the time.

                  http://track.warriorcountry.com/Russ...sell%20Cup.mov

                  p.s.: gh, it seems pretty certain that any copyrights to this 70 year old film have expired !

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jhc68
                    gh, it seems pretty certain that any copyrights to this 70 year old film have expired !
                    Actually copyrights don't expire for 75 years in the US. Off with his head!

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                    • #11
                      Actually, works that were copyrighted in 1939 were protected by that copyright for 28 years, after which the copyright had to be renewed. If it wasn't renewed then, the copyright has expired by now. (Disclaimer--I'm not a copyright law dude, but that is my understanding of the law.)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Halfmiler2
                        By the time, I entered high school in the late 1960's in New Jersey, there were two basic choices for running flats: (1) low-cut Converse canvas running shoes - which wore out quickly and bled black dye on your socks in wet weather, or (2) Adidas shoes which were only available for sale by a few authorized dealers at full list price. The Converse shoes cost $6.95, and the Adidas cost $10 to $20 depending on the make. Nike only became available in our area about 1973-74 with the waffle trainer.
                        Nice post HalfMiler2. We had similar experiences. Out in late-sixties suburban jersey, our school provided a french shoe named 'Patricks' which were somewhat cheap thin-soled racing flats featuring thin cowhide uppers and a hard rubber sole. In those days Adidas were leap in technology but were available only in large established sporting goods stores - early training models were olympias and europas- in downtown Philly. Browning Ross sold adidas out of the trunk of his car at all-comer summer meets (I remember on meet at Detford HS where I drove my ice cream truck and after running the mile, drove home barefooted and got stopped by police in my home town and got a lecture about driving barefooted but the officer who knew me and wanted to see my trophy). Great old cinder track days.

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                        • #13
                          Swensen,

                          I was up in Bergen County, but I did hear about Browning Ross selling shoes at this summer meets in South Jersey. I wish I could have made it down there.

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                          • #14
                            In the '50's in Ireland we had "plimsoles", a light canvas upper with a thin hard rubber sole and heel, no built-up sole and no cushioning. A few runners had spikes, English-made (Reebok and Gola re the names that I remember), black with oak-leather (stiff as a board) soles. We also occasionally saw specialized cross-country shoes, also English-made, essentially a leather track shoe but with leather studs rather than spikes. Few of us could afford anything better than the plimsoles, and in any case there were no cinder tracks, just meets on grass on a "track", which might (or might not) be 440 yards, laid out around a cricket pitch or rugby field.

                            In the U.S. I encountered the aforementioned Converse canvas, usually black canvas although occasionally made with the impertinent touch of three white canvas stripes. The soles were split rubber, hard compond, no cushion, no heel lift. Adidas was beginning to maarket a flat, essentially a kangaroo track shoe upper with a thin crepe rubber sole/heel, no heel lift, little or no cushion and wore out quickly - Cost was about $10.95 plus shipping, from Clifford Severn, 10636 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, a shrine of running shoes. The flats wore out quickly, if they didn't end up with the uppers separating from the soles, a common end-result of protracted use. Some of us wore these, and the Converse, on the roads; we would also occasionally see purpose-built road shoes from the precursor of New Balance. Adidas spikes were of course the pinnacle of our aspirations, kangaroo uppers in white or red or blue or maroon, permanent spike-plate - Naming shoes was, I believe, pioneered by Adidas - Melbournes (I had a pair), Romas, Tokyos....You can see where that began. Flats like the Olympiad came later, about the time that Asics (Onitsuka) began to appear in the U.S. market, with their road-built Cortez, a great eater of toe-nails due to the narrow forefoot. There was also a race model, first a white canvas with thin hard sole and heel, later white kangaroo leather, I think a TG-4. TG-22 Bangkok, a road shoe of pigskin suede, came a little later, and infallibly dyed your feet blue..... But now I'm getting into modern times and the multitudinous brands and models and colors available today.

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