ONLY TWO MILES TO SATURN: HOW TO RUN THE SOLAR SYSTEM

running-the-solar-system

Running is so boring.

That’s why you bring a phone full of music, Zombies Run episodes, and audio books. (At least you do if you’re me.) Because while running makes you feel great, reaching your mileage goal for the day, especially on a route you’ve done hundreds of times before, can leave you with a lot of contemplative airtime.

Midpoint goals can help alleviate this a lot. The other day I stumbled across this video in which a group builds a 7-mile scale model of the solar system. Seven miles is a pretty common distance for a lot of runners, whether they’re striving past the 10K barrier or training for a marathon.

It can take an hour or more to achieve 7 miles, though, so what if we alleviate that boredom a bit by running the solar system? Here’s how!

The actual distance between the planets in our solar system is vast, but is easy to scale down to whatever your mile or kilometer goal is. In the 18th century two scientists formulated the Titius-Bode Law, which hypothesizes that every planet in the solar system should be twice as far from the sun as the one before it. Oddly enough, this is roughly true if you omit Earth and Neptune from the list of planets! Which means a runner really only has to memorize where Mercury is in their route, then keep doubling the distance from that point to remember where all the other planets are. So if you hit Mars at half a mile, then that means Jupiter is roughly after the first mile mark, and Saturn roughly after the second mile mark, and Uranus roughly after 4 miles, and so on.

Here’s how the mileage breaks down by goal distance:

For a 5K, you hit:

  • Mercury @ .04 miles (224 feet)
  • Venus @ .08 miles (447 feet)
  • Earth @ .10 miles (579 feet)
  • Mars @ .16 miles (882 feet)
  • Jupiter @ .57 miles
  • Saturn @ 1.1 miles
  • Uranus @ 2.1 miles
  • Neptune @ 3.5 miles

For a 7-mile run, you hit:

  • Mercury @ .08 miles (448 feet)
  • Venus @ .16 miles (894 feet)
  • Earth @ .20 miles (1158 feet)
  • Mars @ .33 miles (1764 feet)
  • Jupiter @ 1.14 miles
  • Saturn @ 2.2 miles
  • Uranus @ 4.2 miles
  • Neptune @ 7 miles

For a 10-mile run, you hit:

  • Mercury @ .12 miles (666 feet)
  • Venus @ .24 miles (1341 feet)
  • Earth @ .30 miles (1737 feet)
  • Mars @ .5 miles (2646 feet)
  • Jupiter @ 1.71 miles
  • Saturn @ 3.3 miles/5K
  • Uranus @ 6.3 miles
  • Neptune @ 10.5 miles

For a marathon, you hit:

  • Mercury @ .32 miles
  • Venus @ .64 miles
  • Earth @ .82 miles
  • Mars @ 1.25 miles (for the NYC marathon, this means you clear the rocky planets before you’re even off the Verrazano Bridge! Trippy.)
  • Jupiter @ 4.26 miles
  • Saturn @ 8.24 miles
  • Uranus @ 15.72 miles
  • Neptune @ 26.2 miles

Pluto’s not included in these charts since its orbit is variable; sometimes it’s far out, sometimes it comes before Neptune!

So if someone asks you why you’re lacing up your running shoes, just let them know you’re running to Neptune.

If you don’t already, that is.

Chris Lough writes for the sci-fi/fantasy site Tor.com, is somewhere on Twitter, and gets tripped up by the Huygens Gap every time. Every time.