Many nights as I’m driving home from work I imagine myself going for a run in the morning. I am thoroughly convinced that I will don my running garb and head out the next day. I’m even excited about it. But morning comes and the bed is comfortable and the dog needs walking and I wonder about my foot, and think (again) about purchasing new shoes “just to be safe,” so as not risk reinjury and it doesn’t happen. Last night I didn’t fall asleep until 5 in the morning, thinking about why I wasn’t running anymore, and how this morning would be different.
So when the cute Sheltie woke me at the usual 7 a.m. to go out and investigate the yard I put on the running duds first. No excuses. We wandered the yard, came back inside and I went back to bed. When we awoke at 9 I put the running stuff back on, ate breakfast and kept talking myself into the run. OK. The walk. I decided to walk my favorite 4 mile route.
I hadn’t walked this route since last spring, when the leaves were just peaking and the herons were building nests, the horses were restless and the swamp frogs were peeping. To do it now at the beginning of fall felt different. The insects were buzzing, the jays were calling, the horses wore blankets, but the sun was shining and the sky was blue. It was a good day.
The first mile I spent thinking about why I felt that walking somehow wasn’t as good as running. How I seemed to think that if I couldn’t run then I wouldn’t do anything. Seemed to me to be a silly attitude, but there it was. I did notice that I saw a lot more beautiful things along the way when I walked than I did when I ran, but I have to say I liked being able to say that I was a runner. I liked the way I could pretty much eat whatever I wanted when I was a runner. I liked to watch people’s faces when they found out I had completed marathons. But I didn’t really like to run. I was always talking myself into getting out there, and I was always glad when I was finished. So maybe walking would be a good compromise. Maybe.
Mile one I noticed some beautiful gray blue berries near the edge of a swamp and some stunning red Virginia creeper. I’ve been reading a book about painting intimate water colors and these two would make a nice little painting. Along my dirt road leaves, fallen from the trees overhead, had become embedded in the dirt. I thought how these leaves, giving the last of their life were still making imprints in my life. A lot like some people I’ve known.
Mile two I crunched along on the fallen acorns which were plopping down around me under the big old oak trees, and squished on the choke cherries strewn along the road. I ran a bit here and there; anywhere the road was sloping downhill, was even and had shade.
Mile three is my favorite mile of the route, mostly downhill, a tunnel through the woods. As I was running under the trees, a squirrel leaped out of the woods and ran toward me. Suddenly realizing I wasn’t another squirrel come to play, he turned and ran ahead of me for awhile, then leaped back into the woods. Two chickadees cheered me on and I smiled at the last little bit of the squirrel’s red tail gleaming in the morning sun as it scrambled up a tree.
Mile four, my least favorite mile, travels through our one block town on the main road, back toward home. It’s mostly uphill, traffic is nonstop, it’s noisy and dusty and hot. I pass a Bulldog sleeping in a bay window. Guarding the homestead so to speak. He doesn’t hear or smell me (though by now I am pretty stinky) and slumbers on as I pass. Three houses down I hear him barking. Too little too late. I climb the last hill, a half mile from home and see two little Bichons standing on the back of a sofa, watching their road. One is in charge and is the barker; he yaps frantically at me as I walk by. The other one glances at me and yawns. I smile back.
Home again, walking up the driveway I see my own little yapper waiting. She is sitting in the sun, watching for me out the storm door. She is pouting because she didn’t get to go, but can’t maintain the attitude as I walk through the door. She’s all happy dances and licky-licks. A fitting welcome to a former runner turned walker extordinare.
September 10, 2009 at 2:03 pm
I have always been a walker (having arthritis since I was 21 didn’t give me little option do anything else)…but luckily for me – I love walking. You have time to think and time to notice things you don’t notice if you are running by. People stop and chat with you if you are walking and it is rejuvinating. Some years back I suddenly decided one morning that I was going to walk up and down every street in my town. My town wasn’t big, only 13,000 in population but it still took me eighteen months to complete. I discovered so much about my town that I didn’t know in that time even though I had lived there most my life. And I also did it with my little black sheltie Beezy by my side the whole way. So yes, get those new ‘walking’ shoes, make a plan to walk all the streets in your neighborhood, take the pretty little sheltie with you (it’s good training) and see what you discover. Oh ! don’t forget the camera!!!
September 10, 2009 at 4:02 pm
Oh I miss getting the “runner’s high”, but not the hip pain!
September 10, 2009 at 4:18 pm
Walking does seem to be a good compromise – glad you got up and out there to do it today! Even before mom got me, she walked a lot (or biked). She has never been a runner – not as a kid and not now!
September 10, 2009 at 5:22 pm
I love your descriptions of each mile – walking definitely brings a different perspective. I remember walking home from work one day (after riding the bus to and from for several months). I saw so much more than I knew was there from the bus ride. Also, I realized it takes a long time to walk home from work. 🙂
September 12, 2009 at 12:01 pm
I love walking but I need the dogs to help motivate me. I dont think I would walk as much or as far if I didnt have the dogs with me. I love going to the park. Most of the time its so peaceful and the sun just starting to come through the leaves. I hope you keep walking. Diana
September 13, 2009 at 12:05 am
I was delighted to discover that, in terms of calories burned, it’s the miles you cover and not so much how you cover it. Sure, there are variations, but apparently really covering a mile in 20 minutes burns pretty close to the same calories as covering it in 10 minutes. I never liked running and never did very much of it. With my crappy knee & the doctor’s stern admonishment, now I never need to feel badly about walking or hiking instead of running.
September 13, 2009 at 8:48 pm
I understand it’s about 100 calories a mile, as long as you’re exerting a bit of effort. So I guess that’s a good thing. It just takes sooooo LONG to get a mile done when I’m walking v.s. what I used to do. But then lately I ran so slow is was sort of evening up!