• He's been called the Pied Piper of the Second Running Boom. Once an overweight couch potato with a glut of bad habits, including smoking and drinking, at the age of 43 Bingham looked mid-life in the face—and started running.

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Why I Won’t Wear a Fedora

fedoraI’m a hat guy. Anyone who’s a hat guy knows what I mean. I like hats. I really, REALLY like hats. If I go to an event, buy a hat. If I like a product, I buy a hat. If I like ANYTHING, I buy a hat. I have running hats, motorcycle hats, NASCAR hats, Army hats… let’s just say I have a lot of hats.

The one hat that I don’t have, and don’t think I’ll ever have, is the Fedora, especially as it is worn these days. My grandfather wore a Fedora. A beautiful, dark gray Fedora. It capped his outfit when he was dressed up. It covered his head when it was raining. It wasn’t a statement. It was a hat. It functioned.

The Black-Eyed Peas singer willi.am wears a cool Fedora and he looks great. For him it’s a natural part of his image. He’s not trying to create the image with the hat. The hat is an extension of the image.

When I first started running I bought a Timex 8-lap Ironman watch. It had a chrono, a timer, alarms, and other things that didn’t know how to use. But it was a running watch. I was a runner. I wore a running watch. I didn’t wear it only when I was running. I wore it ALL the time. Sitting in a boring faculty meeting I could review my previous runs. And, besides, I wanted everyone to know that even though I was still this overweight administrator, I was a runner. Or at least trying to be.

As much as I needed the people in my life to know I was a runner, I needed to wear the running watch to remind myself that I was a runner. Somehow I figured if I wore a runner’s watch I would automatically be considered a runner. The funny thing is, it worked.

Of course, I also wore my running shoes all the time, wore every cotton event t-shirt that I got no matter how ugly [by the way, I think technical event shirts are a mistake, but I’ll save that for another time] and did everything I could do to give the impression that I was a runner. I gave the impression of being a great runner right until the gun went off.

These days I wear comfortable shoes when I’m not running. Shoes that are better for my feet than running shoes are. When I’m not running I wear a watch that tells the time. I wear plain t-shirts. Anyone seeing me out on the street would have no idea that I’m a runner. But I am. And I don’t need to prove it to anyone anymore.

That’s why I won’t wear a Fedora. I’m not that cool. I’m not going to try to pretend I’m that cool.  I don’t need to try to make anyone else believe that I’m that cool.

And my guess is that unless you’re will.i.am, you’re not that cool either.

Waddle on,


An Accidental Athlete is available in print and ebooks versions now. BUY THE BOOK

Review An Accidental Athlete on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

What others are saying: Looking for some motiviation to start running and improve your fitness? You’re sure to find some inspiration from John Bingham’s new memoir, “An Accidental Athlete.” As an overweight, uninspired pack-and-a-half-a-day smoker, Bingham realized that he had to make some changes in his life and began running at the age of 43. With wit and humor, Bingham recounts his journey from couch potato to self-proclaimed “adult on-set athlete.”ESPN Gear Guide


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