Morning in Gambier comes with the crunch of shoes on gravel. Swarms of students from north and south campus converge upon the hundred-or-so square feet of class area. In a better time, we would have all walked side by side as friends, except for that one friend who has to walk behind.
Now we are all that friend, as social distancing mandates personal space. With the mass of people moving between classes, how can one possibly hope to properly follow CDC guidelines?
As my hero once told me, “Gotta go fast.”
Section 1: How to Run
The practice of running is not solely for speed. It is an upkeep of the body for some; for others, it is a form of meditation, to be propelled solely by the body and test the limits of one’s own physique. Today, we will use it to out-speed COVID-19.
No one can outrun death, but maybe you can outrun disease. By moving between classes at supersonic speed, you minimize contact with others.
Short-distance runners like Olympic champion Usain Bolt use a special form in order to achieve maximum forward propulsion. When sprinting, your back should form a straight line, perpendicular to the ground. The elbows should be bent at a ninety-degree angle, your left arm moving forward with your right leg, right arm forward with left leg, and so on. This motion counterbalances the legs’ propulsion, keeping the body’s momentum moving in a straight line.
Though this form is ideal for sprinting, there is also no single correct way to be fast. Many people choose to run in a manner that is comfortable to them, which is completely valid. Of particular note is the ancient Japanese form of running, called naruto (lit. maelstrom), in which the arms trail behind the body’s center mass. The runner then leans forward to achieve a highly aerodynamic form. This form was primarily used by the nimble assassins of Japan, the ninja, as they pursued their unlucky prey. Believe it.
Section 2: How to Avoid Everyone Else
To the surprise of those freshmen forming a six-person line, there are other people on Middle Path. To avoid them all, we must look toward the tactics of American football, a game of athletic competition where the enemies are obstacles trying to steal your brown leather egg.
As much as forward acceleration aids COVID evasion, lateral evasion is just as important. Football players in particular are able to leap from left to right in the blink of an eye, a skill trained by years of side-to-side jumping. As you read the rest of this article, stand up and attempt to jump from side to side. Once you have completed this exercise, you will have the agility to avoid any and all people walking alone on the path.
However, sometimes the main path will be blocked no matter what. In times like this we must turn to the forbidden technique of football, known as running “out of bounds.” This technique was banned in competitive play years ago, as it allowed players with high speed to infinitely outmaneuver their opponents. But in this time of crisis, we must cast aside our honor.
Run on the grass. Juke out your foes. Touchdown.
Section 3: Hot Wheels
Did you see that guy pass just now? On the electric skateboard? Absolutely wild.
There’s no one way to social distance. But I’d encourage anyone and everyone to enjoy Middle Path as much as possible, as that’s the one place you’re most likely to see people. During a pandemic that forces us apart, that’s infinitely valuable. Day by day, a simple “hello” can close the emotional distance. Stay safe, and godspeed.
“Don’t just sit there and waste your precious time. When you want to do something, do it right away. Do it when you can. It’s the only way to live a life without regrets.”
-Japanese tagline for Sonic the Hedgehog, 1991