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Friday, January 7, 2011

Running Buddy

I try to wake up every morning at 6:00 to do my run. Insane, I know, but I've got my reasons. First, there's no one else on the roads (or in the gym), which means a better chance of an uninterrupted workout. Second, the adrenaline that gets flowing when I run first thing in the morning makes my day a lot better in general. And third, when I sleep too long, I get groggy. If I spend more time in bed, then I have less time in my day and, consequently, a higher percentage of my life is spent working.

This last one may seem odd, but if I sleep for, say, 10 hours, then 8 of my remaining 14 hours that day are spent working. That's 57%. However, if I only sleep for 7 hours, then I've got 17 hours in my day, and working only makes up 47%. I like my job, but I'd rather it be less than half of what I do every day.

Unfortunately, this last week, I've had trouble waking up on time. I've been running in the afternoon, which is fine, but doesn't really deal with the above-mentioned issues. Today, for my 4-mile run, I resolved to get up on time and take the dog. I didn't get up on time. But I was close enough, so a morning run it was.

The other benefit of a morning run is that it's cooler outside and will be closer to the actual race conditions for any marathon I run. It's great to get the body acclimated to breathing the cold air. It adds a slight degree of difficulty to the run. But if you truly want to make runs more interesting, take a puppy.

We recently went to a dog trainer to work with our one-year-old bundle of energy, and the first thing that was suggested was that we work her out more. So, about once a week, I try to take the pup with me on one of my shorter runs. Thus far it's been a bit of a challenge, as she's not particularly interested in going past two miles or so. At that point she looks for anything that might be more interesting. It's not that she's tired. Oh no. I don't think we could tire her out on a treadmill going full speed. She just gets bored and is ready for the next game.

Now, whether it was the cold weather or she's just learning, today was a great run. She trots along beside me, staying on the side opposite the passing cars. There's a fine line for her between "not fast enough" and "too fast," so I've learned that when she goes from gallop to trot, I should speed up for a bit. Usually, she'll speed right back up, happy to be at a pace that gives her some exercise. If she doesn't quicken her step, it means she's getting tired and needs to walk.

She didn't need to walk today. In fact, around mile marker 3, she was pulling me along for once, which really helped. She was a great pacing tool. Plus, it's nice to have someone to talk to, even if they don't talk back.

One of my favorite things that I've seen here in Austin is done by Austin Pets Alive (http://www.austinpetsalive.org/) on the weekends down at the Lady Bird Lake running trail. I've seen this on my Sunday runs, and I think it happens on Saturday, too, but they basically rent out dog running buddies. It's a great way for them to ensure that their sheltered animals get exercise, and for anyone who can't have a dog for whatever reason to spend some time with one. We rescued our pup from animal control in Chicago, and if you ask me, rescue is really the only way to get a dog. In the meantime, if you're just looking to add some fun and cuteness to your run, they're by the Mopac bridge.

I certainly won't be able to take her on my long runs. That's just too much stress on her little body, but for my 4 and 5 mile runs, she's great to have along.

What's absolutely hilarious, though, is when we get home. For about 15 minutes following each run, she goes completely nuts, sprinting around the apartment at full speed, fueled by pure adrenaline. And then, when she's done with that, she's out for a while. Maybe an hour.

Then she's ready to run again.

Today's run:
46 Degrees / Partly Sunny
4.13 Miles
32 minutes, 36 seconds

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