Never underestimate the power of a good running buddy. In high school I ran with my friend Jessica for four years. We definitely pushed one another along, although her work ethic was probably much better than mine. I joined x-country for the slurpie runs and ultimate frisbee. I think I was a week in when we did our first hill workout, and I remember thinking “oh, this is why not many people do this sport.”
Kjergaard family dogs are notoriously bad running buddies. I remember running with Paddy and literally carrying him home when he laid down on the sidewalk and refused to get up. Murphy is not much better. There is nothing more discouraging than running with a leash flung over your shoulder dragging a dog up a hill. You also look like the cruelest person imaginable when you’re yelling at this dog (see picture below) to get his skinny butt moving. Both dogs were tried and found wanting.
In college Hannah became the running buddy extraordinaire. I give her all the credit for dragging me back to running. Never say never, but gyms are not my thing. Somehow, running in sub-freezing temps in the dark morning hours really works for me. I’ve described our runs before, but they were magical, and will happen again. See you in June, Hannah! Mostly, they were magical in that Hannah is unfalteringly positive and doesn’t put up with whining. She would never tell me to shut up, but just wouldn’t really respond to my complaints but would change the subject. It worked and we trained for a half marathon in a Michigan winter (I did not run in the half marathon because I had to take/ace my Churchill final).
Post-college was a dark point in my running career. I ran alone with my ipod out to the lake when I lived in downtown Hillsdale, but it never became a habit. Boston was bleak.
Then Colorado and the Iphone. First of all, everyone runs in Colorado. They just do. This may be why we’re a really fit state. Just yesterday I was running, and someone was running towards me. She stopped and started walking and I felt super smug, but when I saw her up close she had to be in her seventies. Insane! If you’re seventy and running you have earned any walking breaks you care to take. Anyways, I do think it’s easier to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle when you see it happening all around you. So eventually it was time to start pounding the pavement again. It helps that I live in a gorgeous and old neighborhood just north of downtown Colorado Springs. Seriously, if you come to visit, I will make you take a walk and admire the mansions. The view is excellent. And if Victorian mansions aren’t your cup of tea, I suppose you could look Pike’s Peak. So, I had a great place to run and with the vision of runners ever before me all I needed was a running buddy. As lame as this will sound, audible.com became that running buddy. So far I’ve listened to Tina Fey’s book Bossypants twice, Life of Pi (which brought me to tears multiple times), and Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir My Beloved World. Listening to a story is a lot like having a conversation, and it takes my mind off the monotony of one foot in front of the other for an hour (yeah, that’s right, I’m running an hour now…just don’t ask me my mileage because that would be embarrassing).
This post is obviously without a point except to say that having a running buddy can be transformational, and a gripping audiobook can be a pretty good substitute for a human being. And I will probably never like running with a dog thanks to Paddy and Murphy.