On the Social Contract; or, Principles of Runner’s Rights

By Stephen Kersh

August 30, 2018

In 1762, Jean-Jacques Rousseau concocted a theory about social communities in his pretty lamely titled work On the Social Contract; or, Principles of Political Rights. I have not read this book and I promise you I never will, but I can and will put all of my energy behind a social contract, even if I’m completely uneducated on the origins of the theory, because I like the idea of everyone being free by generally accepting to forgo some rights, while we live under the rule of certain others. This checks out in my brain which is to say it checks out to someone with little to no knowledge of ethical and moral governing systems beyond what just sounds “nice” so I could be somehow agreeing with some sort of fascism but I sure hope that isn’t the case.

I’ve also been advised by someone who has more than screwdrivers and wrenches rattling around in their skull that one cannot, even to this day, have an informed conversation about social justice, which relies on a social contract, without at least referencing John Rawls’ 1971 book titled A Theory of Justice. And so there it is: my reference.

I will now put forth my seminal work On the Social Contract; or, Principles of Runner’s Rights. These are the soon-to-be-agreed-upon tenets that I believe will ultimately lead to a more perfect union within our niche community. The easiest way to lay these ideas out is in the form of a run.

If any of these sound disagreeable, then I would suggest a swift re-evaluation of your life, your generally disagreeable tendencies, and demeanor.

1. When suggesting where to meet up for a run with your friends, at least 1/5th of the running party must disagree with the proposed location. If no one disagrees, this means no one cares. No one wants to run with people who do not care.

2. Upon arriving to the quasi-agreed upon meeting spot, everyone must be in tune with their GPS signal and allot the proper amount of time for a successful sync. We do not wait for un-synced watches.

3. There will be no beeping sounds on GPS watches. Ever. That shit sucks.

4. Headphones should be left on your SoulCycle.

5. If and when nature calls during a run, you are completely free to water yourself, or evacuate your bowels, anywhere you see fit. This is your protected right under the Constitution, and you can repeat that to anyone who gives you flak.

  • If and when nature calls during a group run, everyone must wait for the affected party to get ‘er done. This is called the No Runner Left Behind rule. And it’s now a law.

6. There is a certain time and place for half tights, fellas. No one knows when and where this is, but probably best to keep that confused pair of undergarments out of your wardrobe.

  • I’m unqualified to speak on women’s apparel, and look forward to continued commentary on the issue.

7. If you’d like to take the first mile of the run as an opportunity to run faster than 7-minute pace, please enjoy running alone.This is slow-ass first mile country, kid.

8. When you have two runs in one day, you are obligated to shower between sessions. Failure to do so will lead to gout, bed sores, and croup.

  • This decision is currently under appeal by people who can’t be bothered to shower twice in a day.

9. Even after your teammate ruins your workout by running intervals at a far faster clip than prescribed, you will high-five him or her upon completion.

  • If you are the guilty party, you will say “my bad” after each ruined split but foster no intention to remedy the pace.

10. When running in a group, each member is allotted 12% of the total run time to speak on their recent PR, how they should have PR’d last race but didn’t because of something totally out of their control, how they still don’t understand why coach left them off of top seven.

11. Any and all of these applicable rules become kaput in the midst of a workout. You enter into a brand new social contract when you’ve agreed to workout with someone(s) else. No one is waiting around for you if you get dropped. Because you cease to matter at that point.

12. You must weep while reading Once a Runner.

To remedy a violation of this proposed social contract, please consult section 7, titled Punishment, in this piece.

Stephen Kersh

Former collegiate runner for University of Portland and Georgetown, currently a professional runner weighing sponsorship offers from no one. Enjoys using the internet to message Scott Olberding and Paul Snyder about bad story ideas. Does not assume he will work at Citius much longer due to the bad story ideas. He once gave a TED Talk titled "Twitter: How We Are All Just Shouting into a Vacuum" to his best friend and his girlfriend on the beaches of Connecticut.