Running like a dog

Running with my dogs

My running buddies- Henry and Honey

As many of you already know from my work with Shaklee last summer, I am a runner.  Well, most of the time I am a runner.  Lately, though, I really haven”t felt like much of one.  What used to be fun and freeing has become a real drag.

This past spring, I ran the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach with the goal of making this the first in my “Four for Forty” attempt to run four marathons to celebrate turning 40 last fall.  It was a grand goal that was stopped dead in its tracks by a major ITB injury suffered while running Shamrock.  Sure, I PR’d.  But I paid a price for pushing so hard in that run and when I say that I could not walk for weeks afterward, I don’t mean that I was sore and had a hard time going up and down steps like you might expect after a marathon.  I mean that I truly COULD NOT WALK.  I had to defer my entry into the Potomac River Run Marathon some 7 weeks later because I could still barely shuffle my feet.

With my goal shattered, I slowly tried to regain my running mojo.  Weeks of massages, physical therapy, foam rolling, clamshells, yoga, leg lifts, squats, and cross-training later, and I was back up to running 3 to 4 miles at a stretch.  But my progress was slow and reluctant.  Each run had become a slog.  By the time I found my Garmin (and hoped that it was charged,) headphones, iPhone, Body glide, sunglasses, hat, and ITB bands, I barely felt like running any more (if I even felt like it in the first place.)  That, combined with the rainforest-like weather we have been experiencing lately in Virginia (read wet, wet, and more wet,) and my runs have become few and far between.

But this week, I ran with a coach and I had the best run of my life.  Actually, two coaches.  Well, actually they were my dogs.  And my runs with them this week reignited my love of a good run.

Running with my dogs isn’t a new thing for me.  I have logged many miles with my 3 year old lab, Honey, in and around my town.  And last week, when 2 year old, Henry, fell into our lives, I started running with him too.  But running in town with two dogs just added to the challenge of running in general.  Two leashes to find and continually untangle on the route.

What made it different this week was that I was camping in the woods with my family and felt comfortable enough with both dogs that I was able to let them run off-leash once we were safely out of the way of other campers.  I hadn’t really planned on running on this trip, so other than my sneakers, I hadn’t brought any of my other running gear – no ITB bands, foam roller, headphones, or Garmin.  Just me and my dogs.  And boy can they run.

We took off down the trail for what I thought would be a quick slog around the lake and then back to the campsite.  But watching my dogs run – really run – for the pure joy of running, made me remember why I love running in the first place.  It felt so good to just tear it up and feel my body move.  And without the distractions of my Garmin and music and ITB bands, I felt free to just run at whatever pace I wanted, listening to the birds, the creek, and my dogs panting hard beside me.

It was a fantastic run.  And I followed it up the next day with another that was just as fun and freeing as the first.

My legs felt great.  My mind felt clear and refreshed.  And most importantly, I felt like I WANTED to run again.  I feeling that I had not had in a long, long time.

I wish that I could bottle that feeling and bring it with me for all of my runs.  One things for sure.  Although I know I will once again put on my Garmin and headphones, and grab the leashes for my next run  in town, I definitely plan to make room in my training plan for more deep in the woods trail running with my dogs.  To run just cause I wanna, and not to cross off any number on a chart.  To run like – and with – my dogs.

How do you keep up your fitness mojo?

What Are Your Thoughts?