The adaptability and resilience of the human spirit is an ongoing source of amazement to all of us. For example, with spring here I resolved to start jogging again and discovered that my body had invented a whole new sport. And like all great inventions, necessity was truly its mother.
I have a romantic attachment to jogging. In the seventh grade I was very fat but was still forced to run cross-country and came last in my class. I grew six inches that year and in doing so became tall and thin, so by the end of the year I came in first. What a fine, guiding metaphor for the rest of one's life.
Since then I've had a history of jogging. Off and on. And off. It ended six years ago when I blew out the mainspring of my left knee - the cartoid some-or-other - and was forced to retire.
Still, jogging is free, and six years is enough time for any body part to heal. So off I went. Down to the track. Did my stretching, got up speed and you couldn't see me for dust. I'm in my mid fifties, about two-hundred and thirty pounds, but it feels good to be back in the Adidas again at any age.
It wasn't until a white-haired old man whipped by me at 70 - that was his age, not his miles-per-hour - that I began to suspect I was engaged in a new form of sport. The next night some willowy show-off shot past me twice during my first lap. That confirmed I wasn't jogging anymore. I estimated my speed to be approximately .03 miles-per-hour. Yet I wasn't walking either. It had to be something new.
Schlogging has the forward-looking, streamlined stance of the long distance runner without the bother of speed. Instead of taking a sports car for a spin, it's rather more in the nature of taking a paving machine for a few turns around the track. Schlogging is as slow as a human being can jog without actually achieving immobility - a rhythmic, friendly shamble. When speed trials are done, as I'm sure they will be when schlogging catches on, it will turn out that some people can walk faster than other people can schlog.
It doesn't matter. Everyone wrecked their knees jogging during the look-at-me 1980's and 90's. Now in the my-knees-hurt new millennium, we're told it's fashionable to walk. Yet, I secretly believe no sane person walks unless they have a destination. Everybody knows that only crazy people walk aimlessly. And then there's that other kind of walking that looks like someone with a frozen fish up their yahooty being chased by a swarm of bees. Walking seems like you wish you could run but can't because you've succumbed to old age. Schlogging carries none of that stigma. It feels like you're running but can actually be slower than walking so it combines the best elements of both.
First, it can only be done around a flat track, because any incline could send a schlogger into reverse. So, no hills. Second, I'm now regularly left in cinder dust by self-absorbed joggers who never look up, whip around the track and are gone in a trice. By contrast, as a schlogger, slowly orbiting the track like Jupiter, I get to see entire sporting events. Slo-pitch, soccer, track and field. It's quite absorbing.
Schlog and the world schlogs with you. Run and you run alone. No one can criticize your schlogging style because no one knows what you're doing. Schlogging is the non-judgmental sport.
Joggers are always glancing in agony at stopwatches, but the dimension of time does not exist in schlogging. Time bears the same relationship to schlogging as it does to a glacier. If there are schlogging clubs set up in the future, as I'm sure there will be, the criteria for membership might well be one's inability to break the twenty-minute mile.
This leads to the third advantage. A sweet-smelling, grassy field, surrounded by trees, is a glorious sensory break from my troubles. No pressure to beat the clock. Just drift around and around, smell the daisies and amazingly, afterward you bask in the same beatific glow, just as if you'd been running. The schlogger's high. Truly moment's in paradise.
Now I go often. Like all natural athletes, I instinctively move counter-clockwise around the track. But every time I go there's a butty round woman walking a poodle around the track at a brisk pace, her eyes flicking down to a stopwatch. For some reason she goes clockwise around the track, so we're continually meeting head on, from opposite directions.
I certainly hope it stays that way. If she ever changes direction and passes me in the straightaway, walking that poodle, the sport of schlogging could be in trouble.
Run The Planet thanks David Jenneson for the permission to reprint his article "The Miracle of Schlogging". David Jenneson is a Canadian columnist and novelist who was born and lives in Vancouver, Canada. His humorous column, "But Seriously" has been published around the world as well as translated. His novel "Night of the Realtors" (about a realtor who fulfills his dream by selling the White House) is currently being marketed by Mr. Stephen Ruwe of Literary and Creative Artists in Washington, D.C. (lca9643(at)lcadc.com). You can contact David at dmail(at)telus.net. Text copyright © by David Jenneson.