Opinion: Running in place


I run 5 miles a day, but those who have observed me in action question the use of the word “run” and even the word “action.” The baby steps I take — as opposed to a long athletic stride — have resulted in some significant mocking. I now wonder whether my plan to win the Mini Marathon should be removed from my bucket list.

Last winter, I joined a nearby gym. My friend Bob took a video of me on the running track and showed it to his wife, Cathy, who commented on how tiny my steps were. She also said I looked like I was tiptoeing through the tulips. Hence my new nickname: Tiny Tim.

My wife is now also on my case. Every time I announce that I am going for a little run around the block, she corrects me.

“Dick, you are not running. No one would consider what you do running.”

“OK, OK, I’m jogging.”

“Even that’s a stretch, Dick, although I hate to put the word ‘stretch’ in any conversation about how your legs move when you circle the block.”

My friends Paul and Karen next door always pull up next to me in their car and ask how many steps I’ve completed so far that day. I appreciate the question, but I don’t like it when Paul puts “steps” in air quotes.

Then there’s Eric and Yok. When I see them first thing in the morning, I tell them that I plan to run around the block three times (about 2 miles).

“I hope you are bringing a box lunch,” Eric says. Ha ha. Very funny.

Meg and Rahul, who live in our cul de sac, have an adorable baby, about 11 months old. When they see me jogging, they steer the stroller so that I am no longer in their son’s view. He will be walking soon, and they want to avoid any poor role models.

I was tired of all the kidding, so I Googled the difference between running, jogging and fast walking. One site noted that jogging is often the slowest of the three, ranging from 3.5 mph to 5 mph. Mary Ellen didn’t find the information helpful for defining my gait. She suggested that I should Google “running in place.”

A final note: A housefly (the kind you miss with your swatter nine times out of 10) flies at exactly the same speed I walk. I know this because it was part of a TED Talk I listened to while jogging from my front door to my mailbox. Ten minutes well spent.