Yesterday I decided to skip my run in favor of a longer-than-usual walk with my puppy, and it was the best decision I’ve made in days.
My last couple of runs have been…not great. Oh, pace-wise and distance-wise they’re fine, but mentally? UGH. I started them in bad moods and finished them still in a bad mood. Or a worse mood.
When my runs dip into this territory – the territory of hurting more than helping – I’ve learned to take a breath, take a step back, and take a stinkin’ day off, marathon training or no marathon training.
Actually, my impending marathon is one of the reasons I did skip yesterday’s run. I’m in taper mode, with less than two weeks until race day. And I present you with two facts:
Fact 1: Skipping one day will not kill my physical fitness, nor will it mentally turn me into a weakling.
Fact 2: Tapering means mental AND physical tapering. Is a frazzled runner who can barely remember her own name likely to run a PR, or anything close to it? Nope.
Knowing these things, and not having time to squeeze in a spontaneous yoga class, I opted to hang out with my dog.
Is it me, or are dogs (pets in general, really) unbeatable in their ability to remind us to chill out? They tell us: Life is simple. Food, playing outside, a few good toys, a cozy spot to relax, and the occasional belly rub or ear scratch. What more do you need?
It occurred to me that I hadn’t been following my dog’s example in this area nearly enough lately, so on our walk, I paid attention. For once I didn’t worry myself with whether or not Cesar Millan would approve of my dog-walking style, and I wasn’t worried about trying to get back to the house by a certain time (usually, our walks fit into a neat, tight morning or afternoon routine).
Instead, Ann and I made our way around the neighborhood, strolling along streets that are usually reserved for weekends. I let her sniff things that normally I would hurry her away from; she met her first sprinkler with no resulting trauma; and we even hung out in a public grassy patch for a little while (hey, that’s a big deal in Albuquerque!).
And when we finished our walk? I wasn’t in a bad mood. The endless loop of things to do that usually runs through my head was, for the moment, muted.
I was content.
Sometimes, you’ve just got to give yourself a break.