The Joy of Jogging Very, Very Slowly

We were knee-deep in quarantine and the television was on. “Andrew Cuomo is talking about running!” I shrieked excitedly to my husband.

For what I have done daily since this whole calamity began cannot fairly be described as “running.” Even “jogging” is, in truth, a bit of a stretch. With palpable scorn, my 12-year-old son calls it: “like, stylish walking” — which, if he were reading the Great Books instead of machine-gunning his pals on multiple screens every waking moment he’s not in a Zoom class, he might synonymize as a “prance” or a “trot.”

Though we’re not talking about racewalking, that oft-mocked Olympic sport and favorite of suburban mallgoers in tracksuits wielding Heavy Hands dumbbells. My feet do leave the ground, and so according to any accredited referee I am jogging. Just very slowly.

How slowly? Like, maybe … 2.7 miles in 45 minutes? Sometimes less if I stop to turn down the music or check my heart rate, which tends to stay now in the soothing blue or green zone of my Polar Beat chest-strap monitor, not the more urgent yellow or red elicited by spin class, R.I.P.

As I huff and puff with a repurposed sleeping mask dutifully adjusted over mouth and nostrils, I am often passed by other women of all ages and builds. And by men. So many men. Just as on the highway, where I prefer to respect the speed limit in the lanes closest to the exits, a.k.a. “hugging the shoulder,” scores of men on the trail seem to enjoy speeding up heart-poundingly close behind and then screeching past, perhaps with the “Rocky” or “Chariots of Fire” theme blaring in their heads.

So why not just walk, with Heavy Hands? Well, like Governor Cuomo, I’m a native New Yorker, and think of walking as something you do to get from Point A to Point B, or to savor a sunset on the beach, not legitimate exertion. And while the daffodils and glinting shards of broken glass in the park are beautiful, hiking in the country is dangerous; after all, you may encounter a bear.

And so I jog. Slowly. Because, remember, it’s not a sprint. It may not be a marathon either. And that’s OK.

Alexandra Jacobs is a deputy editor in the Styles department and the author of “Still Here: The Madcap, Nervy, Singular Life of Elaine Stritch.” @AlexandraJacobs

Doodles by Alexandra Eaton and Kaisha Murzamadiyeva. Alexandra is a video producer and director for The Times who doodled most prolifically in the 4th grade. Kaisha is a staff artist at The Times.

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