Once on the bus home from elementary school the school bus broke down next to a shopping center. We had a substitute bus driver that day and while we waited for another bus he decided to buy us cheeseburgers and drinks from McDonald’s. He needed volunteers to go with him, and my friend suggested I go because, according to her, I was a fast runner.

This made me extremely proud. At that point I had no idea I was considered fast or athletic. To be associated with good fitness was a great feeling that I never really latched onto until now. I was also super impressed that the driver would buy burgers and drinks for forty kids.

Fast forward to now time. I no longer think about McDonald’s cheeseburgers (I’m sure they’re still fine in that “technically not food” way, though I did love them for a long time) and I am working on being that fast runner.

forest gump

I picked up jogging after the birth of my junior associate (like, immediately after. Take that, other moms)(jk) as a free and easy way to get back into shape.  Until the day before my daughter was born my husband and I took long dog walks in the morning (also, I had no idea how slow I was walking towards the end of the pregnancy, and it was very sweet of him not to ever mention it).

I had never observed runners before and thought “I want in on that,” but it’s an activity that I got immediately once I started to be able to keep a good pace. I’ve always loved walking, and what is running if not advanced walking? When done properly, it’s healthy and calming, and at the end of the Monument Ave 10k you get a two-pack of Ukrop’s White House Rolls.
Here are just a few things that keep me moving toward my goal of being better runner:

 
Running with the dog.
Bunk’s walking pace is my running pace, so taking her out is good exercise for us both.  But it’s not perfect.

Bunk and I can get into a great stride with jogging. Then we come to an obstacle, like a woman walking three dogs at a pace so slow it’s the Earth’s rotation that makes it appear like she is moving at all. Bunk flips out because of the other dogs, and I get flustered and have to decide whether to change directions to avoid them or try to run past and suffer a meltdown with Bunk and look like a terrible person in the process (I can’t always control crazy). Typically my attempts to go a few blocks out of my way to avoid a slowly grazing dog pack means that I will run into them again because they are going that slow.

I have so much confidence that I will sustain an injury while out with Bunk that I’ve started to carry my phone with me so I can call for help when it happens. Bunk is very strong and if I’m not paying attention to what she’s about to panic attack over, I can trip or fall. I bring treats to help her sit and calm down when faced with other dogs if I can’t avoid them. Running in the morning before the sun comes up is great, and that’s when we get our best exercise. But sometimes, despite my best efforts, other-animal heavy walks are so stressful that I’m pretty sure I gain weight and it’s the opposite of exercise.

Oh, Bunk. I love you, but I know that you will be the death of me. On the plus side, you give me more reason to get out there and run, and I’m pretty sure you deter anyone from trying to mug me.

I’m not sure why I directed that last paragraph to my dog, since she has told me on several occasions that she never reads this blog.

UPDATE: I totally ate it running in the morning with Bunk after I originally wrote this.  It wasn’t her fault — I was in the road and jumped onto a lawn when a car was coming because it was dark, and I slipped on the grass and fell on my face.  I dropped the leash but she stood next to me until I got up.  Teamwork!

 

Pedometer!
Bunk ate my pedometer.

Ok, she didn’t. She totally would though if it wasn’t always attached to me. My job participates in a program that rewards healthy habits. I signed up a few months ago and am obsessed with it. I even recently started to sleep with my pedometer on so that I don’t forget it during the morning scramble and lose those valuable steps. Steps = points = money deposited to a health savings account up to $500 a year. It’s a great motivation to meet the recommended number of daily steps (7k, not difficult at all) that has a larger point value.

Every day is game to get all those steps in. I even made up a routine during my lunch break to walk across all six floors of my building. I call it “work steps,” and I have a theme song for it called “Work Steps” that I sing to myself sometimes. If I do work steps and no other additional exercise (like a dog walk/run) I always meet the step goal.

I love it. It’s changed my lifestyle. It’s my Rushmore.

Also, someone asked me if I was a doctor because she thought that I was wearing a pager.  I told her it was a pedometer.  The point is that my pedometer makes me look like a doctor.

 

Have a reason to run.

I have said before that I don’t know what motivates people to line the streets of Richmond to cheer on strangers while they run a race, but having now participated in several of those races I love that people are there. Richmond is a big running city, and there are two major races – the Monument Ave 10k in the spring, and the 8k/half/marathon in the fall – that I have been running with my husband and my father-in-law for the last two years. They’re spaced well throughout the year so that I always have a goal ahead (the goal being that I want to beat my time from the year before, and also beat my husband’s and FIL’s times, sorry).

It’s easier to run during the race than it is to run in training for it. I guess it’s the time of morning, the motivation from the bystanders, and the Power-ade. I really enjoy the runs and hitting that moment when it feels better to run faster than it does to slow down. I plan to add a few minor runs during the year, and am going to train to run the half marathon in November. I never, never want to run a marathon, though, don’t ask me to.

Fun fact: Last year my pal Christophile and I ran a 5k together and unless she was slowing down for me we ran at exactly the same pace, which is why we’re so compatible as friends.

While we’re on the subject, it’s fun to listen to podcasts while exercising. JUST SAYING. EARWOLF.COM.

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