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Front of Book – Runner’s World

Runner’s World is a magazine that I have read for quite some time. It is, as the name suggests, a monthly publication dedicated to all things running. I thought that looking at the Front of Book section of this magazine would be useful because the magazine covers a wide range of content and has a decent variety of story and article types.

After the cover and advertisements, the “Warmup” is the first substantive page of the magazine. It offers a quick guide to how the magazine is structured and highlights a few long form stories to take a look at that are positioned further on into the magazine. This particular edition of RW featured cross-section photos of different shoes to draw the reader’s attention to the 2017 Spring Shoe Guide, which is an important offering of the magazine and likely a big draw for potential readers.

On the back half of the Warmup there is less images and more text. This is presumably done so that the rest of the stories and pieces can be previewed, along with a short summary of each. Next is the masthead. A few of the staff were asked the question: “What is the wildest animal encounter you’ve ever had on a run?” Their answers are highlighted in the middle of the page as a means to lighten up an otherwise serious, dense page of information.

Next there is a two page spread dedicated to a little bit of information and a large photo about Luang Prabang, Laos, as an excellent running location. The magazine regularly features different off the path locations around the world in each issue, and it definitely makes sense to do it earlier on than later, when readers might be expecting or hoping for information that is lighter on words and perhaps more aesthetic (the picture of Luang Prabang is indeed very aesthetic).

There is an editor’s letter about how new technologies and data are enabling athletes to break previously unthought-of physical barriers (such as running a sub 2-hour marathon). I think that David Wiley, editor-in-chief of RW, did an excellent job with the story because he covered a fascinating and relatively obscure topic, added a bit of his own commentary, and wrote about this topic could be related to running in his own life. It was an interesting and lighter personal piece that gave Wiley a bit of leeway to discuss a topic of his choice while also revealing some useful information to readers.

From this point on, the stories and articles get a bit longer. However, there are some infographics and pithy blurbs interspersed towards the beginning of some of these stories. Some examples: how 12 loaded Chipotle beef burritos or 17 pints of Haagen-Dazs ice cream are the caloric equivalent of a specific runner’s daily intake or a graph about the intersection of running and culture that ranks recent events from Stop! to Go! on the x axis and Frivolous to Momentous on the y axis. Visually enticing sections like these are a good edition because they help to break up the monotony and repetitiveness of reading long stories. It makes sense that editors would try to get as many in as these as possible and position them toward the front of the magazine.

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