I’m Not Jogging

I hate jogging. Don’t even talk about running.

I do love to walk. I walk a lot. I walk about four miles on an average day. (Read on and you’ll learn how I know this.)

Puppy Rhodry soon after he moved in with me, at about six weeks

Some people walk because they have a dog. Me, many years ago I got my first dog, the late great Rhodry Malamutt (1994–2008), because I liked to walk. Friends who worked conventional hours would ask me to take their dog with them when I went for a walk. Walks occasionally turned into overnights (“Hey, could you possibly look after . . . ?”), and eventually I realized that I was responsible enough to have a dog of my own. Rhodry, by the way, was the younger full sibling of two of my foster dogs.

So last fall a bunch of us activist Vineyard women took part in a Run/Walk for RBG challenge. (RBG, need I say, is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had died a few months before and been replaced on the Supreme Court by — don’t get me started.) The idea was to run or walk 87 miles, 87 being RBG’s age when she died. You didn’t have to do it all at once: you could do it in increments. The organizers’ website provided a handy way to keep track of your miles.

Me and my RBG swag, January 19, 2021 (the day before President Biden was inaugurated, btw)

This was a benefit for several worthy women’s organizations, and it came with some fun swag, like an RBG T-shirt and a medallion that says WE DISSENT on the ribbon.

It also meant that I had to log my miles, which meant taking my phone with me when I went for a walk. Danger danger danger . . .

For many years I was a cell-phone resister. Since I work from home, have a working landline, and spend at least half my day on my laptop, I didn’t need one. I’m also not, and never have been, a phone person. My medium (big surprise) is the written word. Email suits me just fine.

Also I was afraid a phone would take over my life. I would become one of those people who can’t shop for groceries without talking on the phone.

In January 2019, however, I got my first cell phone. A Samsung Galaxy J7, in case you’re wondering. It still works fine.

By the fall of 2020 I was pretty sure I’d be OK. If I was going to turn into a phone junkie, it would have happened by now, right? It had come in handy several times, like in May 2019, when I used GPS to successfully navigate my way through Boston for my 50th high school reunion. (It was less helpful on my way home from picking up puppy Tam Lin in Canandaigua, N.Y. If I hadn’t jettisoned GPS and started following the signs to I-95, I probably would have missed the last boat home.)

I did take to texting, and when I was editing on paper I used my phone for dictionary look-up and consulting the Chicago Manual of Style. (When I’m editing on screen, I invariably have Chicago and two or three dictionaries open in Firefox.)

Nevertheless, to take my phone when I went out walking meant venturing across another line. The signs didn’t say KEEP OUT but they did urge CAUTION.

A longer (almost 3 miles) version of our morning walk. The squiggles in the middle are on a school field. We stopped to play on the tennis court (with the mile counter paused) and when we detoured so Tam could jump the bench that’s always out there.

I got the Map My Walk app, which did indeed map my route(s) and tell me how far I’d walked and how long it had taken me. It also gave me my average pace and my fastest pace. (I refused to let it tell me how many calories I had consumed. Enough is enough.) I learned that the shortest version of my usual morning walk was closer to 2 miles than the 3+ I’d been guesstimating. I learned that my fastest pace was about 4 miles an hour, which I expected from previous informal attempts to time myself, but my average pace when walking with Tam was less than 3 1/2. The discrepancy wasn’t hard to figure out: walking with a dog involves plenty of pauses to sniff or pee.

What prompted me to try jogging? (Keep in mind that I don’t jog and actively dislike jogging.) Those statistics, plus curiosity! Would jogging a few steps change my fastest pace?

It would, and it did: it raised my fastest pace to 5 mph. At first glance this doesn’t seem like much, but hey, it’s a 25% increase. Walking without Tam I could cover a mile in 15 minutes. If I jogged a mile, I could do it in 12.

No way could I jog a whole mile. This is what intrigued me: with good shoes I can walk for miles and miles, but jogging for a mere fraction of a mile was out of the question. Jogging was work. My legs, knees, feet, and lungs made that quite clear. What’s the difference?

A friend who both walks and runs thought it was the increased speed. When jogging I noticed that at one point in each stride both feet seemed to be off the ground, something that doesn’t seem to happen when walking. Could that be requiring more effort? It definitely added to the concussion of foot on ground, even when the ground was mostly dirt. This is one reason I don’t jog (much): when walking, I work out snags in whatever I’m writing or editing, or just mull things over. Jogging pushes all thoughts out of my head.

Aside: I just Googled “why is jogging different from walking” and OMG what a rabbit hole I almost fell down! This article is actually quite useful.

The short version is that from time to time when Tam and I are out walking, I jog a little bit, just for the hell of it. I count to 10 when I’m doing it, over and over again. Mostly I don’t pay attention to distance, but a few days ago on the bike path I wondered if I could jog from Neptune to Uranus. (See photo below if you’re wondering about this.)

Well, yes, I could, and I’ve done it several times since. I feel moderately accomplished about this. I’ve even wondered if I can make it as far as Saturn. But don’t worry: I’m not jogging.

Uranus is actually in the other direction, but WTH. After the old planets were paved over in the resurfacing of the bike path, they were painted again — but the project stopped in June 2019. All the planets are there, but Neptune is the only one with a name. I keep hoping teacher and schoolkids will come back and finish it. The teacher who masterminded the original project has retired, then Covid-19 intervened, but maybe . . . ?

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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