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Toward more efficient jogging

Whenever I see joggers, I have to wonder how they can find the time to get all dressed up and run around the neighborhood doing nothing. It seems to be a luxury activity, like lying on the beach in the summer. In my own life, there always seem to be a zillion other things that have to get done, such as laundry, car repair, and paying insurance bills. In fact, since I am pressed for time so much, I feel like I am wasting time if I am not doing several things at once. If I have to wait for a phone call, I'll clean the kitchen while I do it. It's a piece of cake to do two things at once like that - do laundry and read a book. Visit with a friend and eat a meal. Write a letter during lunch. Drive and listen to music. Three things at once is a little tougher - wait for a phone call, do laundry and cook a meal. Fix your car while getting a tan while waiting for a UPS delivery. You get the picture. (I've even done four.)

So why don't joggers ever combine their activities and deliver messages or mail letters or run to the shopping mall for a pillowcase or to the hardware store for some plate hangers? They never seem to have shopping bags in their hands, or luggage with them that could hold anything larger than a wallet. I have actually known people who would go jogging, and then come home, shower, change clothes and get in their car to mail a letter. They tell me that they can't handle the distraction, and the running requires their all. What a waste of expensive calories to just run around in circles, contributing nothing to the GNP, while burning off Havarti cheese, linguini, croissants, pesto and other high-on-the-food-chain yuppie food.

What really should be done is to channel this random energy of all these runners and put it to better use. Maybe a messenger service could pay them to deliver things, or somebody could set up a computer dispatching system like the trucking industry has, to route messages and packages and medicine for the elderly, delivered by jogger couriers. I can see them in their special uniforms, kind of like the red berets of the Guardian Angels, proudly carrying out their missions while also working up a good sweat and trashing their shins, insteps and Achilles tendons. I would like to see each city install a huge circular treadmill in the park, like the things the hamsters run around in, that would allow the joggers to get exercise and generate electricity at the same time. They could run all year round and not worry about weather, and chances are they could make important business and social contacts with each other, just like on the golf course. It might be necessary to have private, higher-class treadmills for executive joggers, maybe as part of Nautilus or a country club, that would have dress code, and would be for members only. I bet that all the joggers in a decent sized city could power the lights for the tennis courts, and possibly pick up a federal grant or two or a civic award. There might be a way to donate electricity to the poor, and movie stars could sponsor marathons for charity. Speaking of marathons, imagine if they harnessed all the electricity lying potentially in those hordes of marathon runners. Not to mention all the hours and miles of training they each went through. It's almost a national disgrace for people to be wasting that much energy frivolously and selfishly.

I once saw a guy (the only practical jogger I ever saw...) who delivered papers while running. He was great. He had long gray hair, a white T- shirt, non-trendy gym shorts (none of those shiny, metallic-blue stretch pants and designer headbands for him), and one of those canvas newspaper bags paperboys used to use before they all got cars. He would come roaring through my neighborhood every afternoon, making money, spreading information, and getting exercise all at once - three things, if you count 'em...

I'd bet anything that people in the neighborhood thought he was nuts.

Credits - WorldwideRunning.com would like to thank Woodpecker Records (www.woodpecker.com) for the authorization to reprint the article "Toward more efficient jogging" by Harvey Reid.


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