If you’ve met me in person you know that I don’t look like the typical hardcore runner that seems to proliferate in Austin. I’m solidly built with a sturdy frame, and my body generally looks like it would be work to move quickly. I don’t even particularly like running because I dislike how much I sweat in Austin’s perpetually humid climate. So how did running become part of my regular life?
Like so many things I began running because of my dogs. My two youngest dogs (12 1/2 and 4 1/2) and the oldest dog (nearly 14) are all high energy breeds who need more exercise than even a 2 mile walk. I tried a variety of options to get around that whole running thing, but none of them were viable choices long term. The oldest dog blew one of her ACLs out about 2 years ago, so running isn’t a good choice for her anymore, but I still push myself with the younger, much larger two.
I’m not a good runner; I trip and fall a lot (usually when attacked by uneven sidewalks), and my pace is in the realm of 25 minutes for a little over 2 1/4 miles. I even managed to seriously injure my back one summer when I decided to try pushing myself to run 2 2 mile sessions in 90+ degree heat in the evening. I also learned that night that your body will try to make you vomit if you push it that far, even if you have nothing in your system.
My latest running related injury, another trip and fall, jammed my neck badly as well as doing a number on my abused left knee (I usually hit the ground with the left side of my body first for some reason) and palms. As a result I chose to stop running with Patience, my youngest dog, on the sidewalks in my area and use the quarter mile track at the middle school. It’s better maintained than the sidewalks, and I could more accurately measure distance since my pedometer registers one thing and connects to my Humana Fit account as a different number.
Switching to the track has changed how I feel about running! Sure, it’s pretty boring to run around in a circle (Patience thinks so anyway, even with the house with the chicken coop by the school), but there’s also a freedom to it. I’ve ditched the iPod to better concentrate on counting laps, and my brain uses running time to recharge and let thoughts flow. I also consciously control how hard I make a work out since on a flat track I’m not dependent on terrain to determine whether a section will be hard or easy. By the time I run from the house to the track, run my 2 1/4 miles with Patience (we will add 1/4 mile every month since we both have to build up endurance), and run home my body is awake and ready to function. Okay, so I usually have a post run crash about an hour later, but I feel fully alive when I get back to the house knowing I’ve successfully finished another run.
Maybe I don’t hate running so much after all.