The Runner King

Alone together on a Sunday morning, the track and the runner form a unique relationship, one where they are simultaneously king and subject. At that moment the track exists for him. As the sun rises and the dew glistens in the grass he determines what the workout will be. Will it be a long slow run that he’s done countless times before? Will he run sprints? Or, will he glide along at a brisk pace that leaves him pleasantly winded — the kind of breathing that really lets him know he’s alive without overly taxing his body.

Any king worth his salt will always find ways to humble himself. He needs to know that there are forces out there that can bring him to his knees. He needs to know that life is temporary, and that one day he will die. The humbled man allows respect to flow through his veins, which often carries with it things like kindness and discipline, foresight and a sense of purpose.

And so, knowing this, the Runner King will often submit himself to a workout that leaves every ounce of his body screaming for mercy. The lessons he learns by testing his limits are taught to him by the track, thereby establishing it as his master. It would be easier to “jog” around the course, smile with and pride think about how much “better” he is than those still sleeping in, tucked in all snug in their beds — dreaming of doing. But the Runner King knows the he is not better than anyone else, and he reminds himself of this by running faster and faster and faster, until the burn in his bones and his heart and his lungs melts his smug sense of superiority away. Then, when it’s gone, in its place is a little diamond of thought: You came from dust, and to dust you will return.

Upon leaving, the Runner King is thankful. He is thankful for the track. He is thankful for his health. He is thankful he is alive. He is tired, but he is invigorated. And most of all, he is inspired to share the lessons he’s learned with his friends, his enemies, and the ones he loves.

Related: Why we run

Obesity Epidemic? Try Stupidity Epidemic, America.

Newsfat (I mean "newsflash"): If you swap spit with a fat person, you won't grow love handles. If you eat fried foods with them before going to bed every night, you will. Shocker.

America doesn’t have an “obesity epidemic.” You don’t “catch a fat” when you’re in enclosed spaces with your overweight coworker. Fat rolls aren’t picked up by people who don’t cover their stomach when they sneeze. If we’re going to play that game, let’s be honest: America has a “stupidity epidemic.” And on that topic Slate has a story that’s worth unpacking:

Racial and ethnic minority adults continue to make up the largest share of the epidemic. Among the national population, obesity rates were the highest for African-Americans and Latinos.

In addition, Americans who made less money and had less education were more likely to be obese. Adults making less than $15,000 per year, for instance, had a 33 percent obesity rate, compared with a 21.5 percent rate for those making at least $50,000 per year.

Anyone who’s occasionally listened to rap knows that guys like Kanye West believe the government concocted the AIDS virus to kill poor minorities, and the CIA unleashed cocaine  on inner cities to do the same.

Before you ask me to get a job today, can I at least get a raise on a minimum wage?/
And I know the government administered AIDS/
So I guess we just pray like the minister say/
Allah o Akbar and throw em some hot cars…

Question: When will rappers start throwing out lyrical daggers at the fast food industry? It will be interesting to hear theories about how George Bush and the GOP created the Quarter Pounder with Cheese to ensure a never-ended cycle of poverty and diabetes. But I digress…

The point is—fast food is cheap. We should thank our lucky stars we live in a country where rich white liberals lament the tasty, tasty burgers and crispy golden fries the less-affluent have to deal (or was that deal meal?) with.  But that’s besides the point. There are plenty of healthy alternatives. Black beans and other legumes are extremely good for you. There are many frozen and canned vegetables that are not that expensive. Meat can be pricey, but there are cost-effective options for anyone who’s willing to put in a little effort looking. This underscores the more important point: a little education and initiative go a long way. The Nanny State, however, saps initiative and drive from the citizenry. Over time, the communities  that abdicate character-building responsibilities to the federal government become human gerbil farms performing tasks for fat pellets.

We’ve become a nation that sits in front of the television for hours on end. We eat sugary snacks and carb-loaded crap while doing so. We spend hours watching vapid California girls make Japanese-inspired fools out of themselves. We actually find it entertaining to tune in to talking heads screaming at each other every night instead of going outside to play catch or ride a bike with our kids. We’ve convinced ourselves that we have to spend countless hours looking at our Blackberries or iPhones for the latest email, instead of going on a long walk with our significant other.

Cold hard truth: There is no obesity epidemic; there is a national State of Denial. We’re in denial about federal deficits. We’re in denial about entitlement programs. We’re in denial about our horrid education system. We’re in denial about how important it is for America—the freest country the world has ever known—to remain strong and vibrant on the global stage. Are you the sensitive type who thinks an American superpower creates enemies? Wait until we’re a has-been afterthought of a nation and let me know how that works for global peace and stability.

On issue after issue, we’re a country that has become the fat, lazy, bloated guy who looks in the mirror and still sees himself as a leaner, meaner version of his younger self.

One of the precursors to diabetes is acanthosis nigricans, a discoloring of the skin (usually around the sides and the back of the neck). As a nation, we have acanthosis. We’ve enjoyed the empty calories of government-goodies for a long time, and the clock is ticking before our vital signs fail. It’s obvious to our friends and neighbors, but too many of them sit silently because it’s the polite thing to do. Unfortunately, it’s also the deadly thing to do. Worse yet, the people who are supposed to serve as public-policy doctors with a prescription for healthy living aren’t doing such a bang-up job.

Keep telling yourself you have an “epidemic”, America. When you go into diabetic shock there will be no Greece or Europe or China to give you your insulin. Instead of your common dirge, might I suggest something by Radiohead at the national funeral? How to Disappear Completely seems eerily apropos.