Anyone who knew me in high school or college probably knew me, among other things, as a runner. I loved to run. Rain or shine, sleet or snow–and there was a lot of snow in Upstate New York–I would lace up my Nike trainers and hit the road to pound out some miles.
I kept up my running even out of college, logging miles in as wonderful places as Paris, London, and Washington, D.C., where I eventually made my home. Then something happened. One day I ran 11 miles–I was in training for a medium-distance event–and when I finished something had changed in me. It was the furthest I had ever run, and I should have been really proud of myself and confident that I was ready for my race. But I couldn’t shake this one thought: Where was I going so fast? Nowhere.
And that was it. I never really enjoyed running much after that. I still stayed active, but I never really ran again. I got into other things–kick boxing, yoga, weight training, etc.–but my daily run had turned into a trudge. I started to dread it and eventually hated it so much that I pretty much stopped running altogether.
I think I hit that point about six years ago. Hard to believe it’s been that long. But something happened a couple of weeks ago that may have flipped the switch back again.
I wasn’t able to get to the gym one morning, so I had missed the window of in-gym daycare. (I hate when that happens.) The dog was going nuts, as he’d been cooped up all day. And I was short on time. So, I had an idea. I’d throw the kid in the stroller, the dog on the leash and take off for the smart, newly rubberized track just down the block. I had 30 minutes, so I figured I could pound out 3 miles before I had to be back home.
Okay, so that was a bit optimistic. Between getting the stroller up and down the stairs to the track, keeping the dog from getting tangled up in the stroller, and stopping for doggy potty breaks–and if I’m perfectly honest, I’m a heck of a lot slower than I used to be–I only squeezed in two miles. But it was the most enjoyable two miles I’ve gone in a long, long time.
I think it was more fun than I was expecting it to be for a few reasons. First, I was under no self-inflicted pressure to go fast. I know I’m so out of running shape–and shape, in general–that I just wanted to get out and run around rather than reach a certain goal.
Second, I love my dog more when he’s tired. Remember I have a soon-to-be-six-months-old Dobie puppy that needs a lot (a lot!) of exercise or he’s a terror. And boy was he tired after our little jog. When we got home, he grabbed a few laps of water and went right to the living room to take a multi-hour snooze, leaving the house in order for a small moment in time.
But I think the reason I most enjoyed my run was this:
On your mark, get set, sleep!
See, my kid is not much of a napper, particularly in the afternoons, so anything I can do to get him to get some shuteye during the day, I will do. The alternative is a slow meltdown that begins in the late afternoon and crescendos around 6pm when he’s sobbing between bites of food and rubbing what food has missed his mouth into his eyes. But a few laps around the old track and goodnight; baby’s eyelids start sliding shut as soon as the stroller’s tires hit track.
So, while I don’t think I’ll ever be the runner I once was, the fact that I’m even remotely liking it again is a stride in the right direction in my book. I’m looking at running now as the ultimate multitasking tool–it gets me exercised while tiring both the baby and puppy out, making for a much more pleasant day all around. The fact that I’m able to accomplish these major tasks with in fell swoop or 12 around the track makes me appreciate running and dare I say enjoy it more than I have in a good long time.
Even the fact that I’m running on a track, which I used to absolutely hate, makes no difference to me anymore. In fact, it makes getting out and doing it that much easier. I don’t have to plan a route, I don’t have to negotiate uneven sidewalks and curbs, and I don’t have to stop for stoplights. The track is now efficient rather than boring.
About the only thing that’s been able to deflate my newly rekindled joy of running of late was that a man started yelling at me during my last run, telling me I couldn’t have the dog on the track. (For the record, my dog was running on the grass next to the track.) Given that there are no signs posted to that effect–in fact, there’s a sign at the entrance to the track area that says dogs must be leashed–I took a chance that whatever authority the man screaming at me had came with absolutely no power and just kept on running. Try and catch me, fat boy!