Clueless jogger manifesto in the age of social distancing. An essay by S.L. Wisenberg

I am a jogger. I own the sidewalk and street but I prefer the sidewalk. I prefer the middle of the sidewalk because I own it, after all. Because I am a jogger. I am faster than everyone else on the sidewalk. I am stronger and younger and invincible. If I were to contract COVID-19, which I won’t, I would get a ventilator before those pedestrians in my way–because I am stronger and faster. I have more potential. I am reaching my potential, I am racing after it. I am a jogger. I cannot slow down. I cannot jog in place at corners so that I can maintain a six-foot distance. I cannot stay inside and jump with a real or invisible rope for half an hour. I cannot stay inside and do burpees or jumping jacks or run in place on the floor or on a treadmill or on other machines. I cannot go on a stoop or rooftop or parking lot or park and perform other aerobic exercise. I cannot ride my bike or rent one of the city’s shared bicycles.
I am a jogger, an outside-only jogger. Outside I am moving so quickly that I cannot calculate six feet between myself and slowpokes who walk. I keep moving. I am a moving missile, rocket flying horizontal.
I listen to music on my earphones. I do not hear people walking behind me. I do not see them walking toward me because I am looking down or forward in an inward stare. I am imagining myself winning a marathon. I am imagining myself climbing a hilltop, ruggedly hiking a rugged trail or scaling a mountain. On top of the world.
I am not concerned about getting the virus because I am healthy and strong. I am not concerned about spreading the coronavirus because I feel fine. My lungs and legs carry me forward. I will never go backward. If I were to get sick (and I won’t) I wouldn’t feel it. COVID-19 would not stop me in my tracks. It would wash over me like a short and weak spring shower.
My heart is pumping perfectly. I am a well-oiled and carefully-maintained machine. I run forward. No one and nothing can get in my way—not pedestrians or race-walkers or dog owners; not emergency orders, not fear. My strength is internal and external. No one can slow me down. Nothing can stop me, no one alive or dead.


S.L. Wisenberg is the author of three books, the most recent of which is “The Adventures of Cancer Bitch” (U of Iowa Press). Her work has been published in many publications, including The New Yorker, New England Review, Ploughshares, Michigan Quarterly Review, and in many anthologies. She edits

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *