Run A Mile
When I was in junior high school, which is what the kids know as middle school these days, every year in gym class we had to take something called the President’s Physical Fitness Test. We had to do chin-ups, sit-ups, the 50-yard dash, a shuttle run, and a mile run, all of it measured and meticulously recorded so your results could be posted on the gym wall alongside those of your classmates, where they remained for weeks for everyone else in the school to see.
Thankfully, the President’s Physical Fitness Test – developed in the ‘50s during the Eisenhower administration – is no longer a thing; it was replaced in 2013 with a the President’s Youth Fitness Program, which aims to boost overall fitness instead of dealing out a healthy dose of crippling public shame.
But this was not the case when I was a kid – and the fat kid, at that. Because I was the fat kid, I was always dead last, or pretty close to it, in every event. I couldn’t do a single chin-up. My 50-yard dash time was pathetic. I don’t remember what it was, but it was not good. Likewise, the shuttle run. I could squeeze out a few sit-ups, but I finished at the bottom of the pile there, too.
The worst by far, though, was the mile run: four laps around the old cinder track out behind the school. I couldn’t do it. Continue reading