One of the things I enjoy most about my job is getting to meet and run with so many interesting people. Many of these folks have taught me so much about running, fitness, and even life. Yet despite getting to know and run with all these interesting people, two of my favorite running buddies are only 40 pounds, run on 4 legs and answer to “Fiver” and “Hazel”. These two buddies of mine often have a completely different outlook on running than everyone else I know, and they have taught me lessons no one else has. So, here are a few things I’ve learned about running from them:
1. They truly love to run. On days when I’m tired, moody, dragging, or just “not feeling it”, they remind me that running is meant to be enjoyable. It’s a gift to be able to run, and they remind me every single time. Just mentioning the word “run” evokes intense reactions from these two, from their grinning faces all the way to their wagging tails.
2. They keep it simple. My dogs don’t wear a GPS watch. They don’t worry about negative splits, or how many calories they’ve burned. When we come to a stoplight, they don’t jog in place. They don’t stress about losing their favorite socks, and they don’t sulk when the ipod batteries die. Although I have a few more needs than they do, they continually remind me not to make running more complicated than it needs to be.
3. They have an awareness of their surroundings. My dogs definitely notice more on the trail than I do; from faint smells, to rabbits and squirrels, to discarded snack food. But more impressively, while watching them run ahead of me, they seem to know exactly where to place their feet paws while never looking down. They instinctively know the most graceful way to navigate around an obstacle… and they never seem to stumble. My dogs definitely live in, and enjoy, the moment.
4. They know how to take care of themselves, and they know when to quit. I find it amazing how my dogs can find a hidden water source while out on a trail run on a warm summer day. They’ll stop at a stream for a drink when they need it, even submerging themselves in a river on those really warm days... and I’ve found it refreshing and fun to join them. Also, while on those cold, winter runs in the snow, they know when to take a break to lick off the ice that builds up in their paws. I’ve learned that when something’s not right, you need to take care of it before those little things become big problems. And when they’ve gone far enough, they’ll slow down or even quit. Sometimes it’s important to push ourselves, but sometimes we need to know when to call it a day.
5. They know how to rest. Anyone that runs with a dog knows that a tired dog is a happy dog, and humans aren’t much different. In addition to proper nutrition and hydration, rest is one of the most important things we can do. Most of us know that when we as humans exercise and get proper rest, we are generally better people. Not only does it improve our health, but we feel better mentally and emotionally. Exercise improves our rest, and getting rest will improve our health.
6. Running is in their nature. You don’t need to teach a dog how to run. Dogs are natural runners, and so are humans. We are designed to run, and even though I know there are many people who are physically unable to run, I also believe that a lot more people could, and should be running. I hear a lot of reasons about why people can’t run, but perhaps it is an activity that more of us should take up. Just a thought…
Thanks Hazel and Fiver.