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I'VE INVENTED A NEW sport. And like all great inventions, necessity was truly its mother.
From time to time a man needs big resolutions in his life. I've been overdue for a good one. So I resolved to start jogging again.
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 early 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 seventy—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 aspin, 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, secretly no one wants to walk 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 moments in paradise.
Copyright © 2005 David Jenneson