Yesterday somebody sent me a funny email about the “75 thoughts runners think about during a run.” The long and short of it was that during the course of a 5 mile run, a runner will think about how easy the run is, how difficult the run is, and just about everything in between. It got me thinking about what I think about when I run.
Background: I have run 1 marathon, 2 half-marathon, and about two handfuls of 5k’s, 10k’s, color runs and fun runs. I ran cross country in 8th grade and I “invented” a style of running where I run on roads against traffic called “adventure running” that my wife and dog are not very fond of me doing.
Since we got Rogue, I have been doing most of my runs with him (though he tells me I should be doing ALL my runs with him).
Running with a dog is very different than when I run alone. I like running with Rogue because he needs the exercise, but also because I am in a totally different frame of mind than when I run alone.
Normally when I run alone, I have my music going. I pretend that I am in a movie and the music is what you’d hear when the main character is running in slow motion to get the girl or when he missed the bus or when he’s being chased by those mean kids on bikes. When it’s a slow song, I’m usually in slow motion and the everyone is observing my awesome form and how fast I probably look to them. When the songs pick up their pace and the guitars kick in, every car on the road is out to get me but they’re no match for my elusiveness and quick feet.
Running with a dog, however, takes me out of the movies and I go into coach-mode. Rogue and I have a 3 mile loop around our house that we like to do. Rogue likes it because he’s comfortable with it, and I don’t have to tell him where to go. He knows where his poop spots are and where the trees with those ass-hole squirrels are that if only he wasn’t leashed up he’d make sure they never mocked him again!
Tangent: We used to live at an apartment that had a pond next to our building. We’d take him out to pee and he would pull us toward the geese if they were on land and he swore up and down that he would kill them and they wouldn’t stand a chance and if we just give him 60 seconds with that goose he would make us so proud of how good of a goose-murderer he is. Anyway, the geese would always run back to base in the pond and he couldn’t ever get to them. Well, one time a goose decided enough was enough and was going to stand up for himself. Well Rogue pulls close to it, then chickens out and wants nothing to do with the goose. He’s afraid of the thing! This dog who swore that he was tough turns our to be a big old scared-y dog.
Anyway, so I am in coach-mode when he and I run together. The first mile is all about keeping him calm. He gets out of the gate like Smarty Jones and thinks he is out to win the Kentucky Derby. “Slow down, Rogue. You’re going to wish you hadn’t gone out so fast so early, buddy. Save some of that energy. You know you’ll need that later.”
This is usually where he calls time out and gets his poop on. At about the end of mile 1, there is a trash can that we regroup at and get ready for mile 2. Sometimes, I carry his poop for the better part of the mile and I can only imagine what people think when they drive by and see him dragging me down the sidewalk while I am trying to reel him with one hand and delicately holding his poop bag in the other.
Mile 2 begins and I am thankful to not be holding his poop anymore. We are out of the neighborhoods and entering squirrel-country. This is when his head goes down, and he forgets that we’re there to run. We both tend to get into “the zone” and are right at each other’s pace. He is no longer dragging me and I can now pump both arms. There are a few ponds with fountains, and we can start to see the park which is my favorite part of the run. As far as coach-mode is concerned, I am more or less just letting the players play. He knows what to do. I am feeling good. No concerns.
As we get to the park, we enter mile 3. This is where Rogue’s brash start to the run comes back to bite him. Now I am ahead of him and his tongue is in full floppy force and hanging out of the side of his mouth. Now is where I have to be at my best as a coach. “Come on, buddy. You can do it. Come on Rogue! Stay with me, buddy. You’re doing a good job runner dog. Come on, buddy stay with me!” At this point, a squirrel-parade could cross between he and I and he might not even notice.
We get through the park and are coming back up on the other entrance of our neighborhood. The home stretch! “Come on, Rogue. You’re doing such a good job buddy (not really. you WERE doing such a good job, now you’re hindering my run and you REALLY need to get back into running shape). Come on Rogue (get your ass moving). Almost there, buddy!”
Usually, we have to stop a little early. The loop is actually about 3.2 miles, so I let him off the hook at the 3 mile point. Once we get back into the neighborhood, we practice dropping the leash and stopping, waiting, sitting, and continuing. One day, I can see us running without a leash, but don’t tell his mother that. She wants him to be a leash-dog his whole life… We’ll get to that some other time.
Rogue promises me every time that he will remember to try to keep it under control next time for that first mile. He tells me good job and thanks me for the run-date and we go inside for some water.
“Did you see that one squirrel on mile 2?” he’ll say. “I bet he’s there again tomorrow. He won’t be if he knows what’s good for him.”
“Okay, buddy. Drink some water. We’ll get him tomorrow.”