Can you imagine how grand this planet would be if everyone were a runner? Obesity? Not a problem. Depression? Never heard of it. Sluggishness? Get the hell out.
— From Bart Yasso’s book, My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon*
Coming out of the office Saturday morning, it certainly looked as if everyone on the planet were a runner.
Thousands of people were jogging toward Parkview Field in downtown Fort Wayne, their sweaty visages broadcast on the giant video screen as they finished up the Fort4Fitness 10K. The half-marathoners and the four-milers had already streamed in. Did you see that, Men’s Health magazine, periodic pain in this city’s well-padded butt?
But let’s return to the question at hand: What if everyone on the planet decided to take up running?
Here in Fort Wayne, aka Sedentary City, the supermarkets wouldn’t need to order any more provisions to sustain us. Probably every person in America could train for marathons without having to increase their calorie intake.
If they got into running long enough, they’d get more tuned in to the relationship between fuel and performance. Enough so that if they stopped running at some point, they’d be much more aware of the need to reduce their intake.
But the mental health boost might ultimately prove just as important. Your mind just works better when you run. Probably that’s true with any exercise you get. But if you believe, as some scientists do, that the human body seems almost specifically designed for distance running, then doesn’t it make sense that running — once you shook off the rust — would feel exceptionally good, on par with the most pleasurable sensations human beings are capable of feeling?
I wish the poorest people on this planet had access to enough calories to experience the joy of running somewhere just because you can, and not because you’re trying to escape murderous thugs.
Maybe if everyone who currently gets enough to eat started running, our collective mental health would improve to the point that we’d stop fighting pointless wars and bickering over nonsense and make some actual progress on the problems that afflict us as a whole — like making sure even the least of us are cared for.
Hey, it’s just a thought.
*I haven’t read this book, though I’d like to. This quote comes from a cool post on this Philly running store’s blog, which is about the only thing that showed up on a google search for “what if everybody ran?”