New Tricks from Old Dogs 4


The path twists through a length of trees, bypassing major roads where cars rush by far too quickly. I can see them zipping along, but I can’t hear them, thanks to my headphones, (do we call those earbuds these days?).  The wind shuffled the leaves, cooled my sweaty brow. Ahh. What a lovely day for a run.

I always stick to the path. In the same way I get nervous when my running buddy runs on the bike side of the path on Riverside, I get anxious just thinking about verging off the trail. No, I do not want to explore what is around that bend over there or over that bridge by the church. The path is there for a reason: to delineate where to run from where not to run.

So, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the dude loping around in the grass. With silver hair—which is to say he had not received the careful ministrations of Tammie, the expert stylist who washes away my grey—his long, lean legs and unbowed by convention, he ran.

Dude was fast, too. His legs seemed to cover more ground in one stride that I could cover in four. He looked like he was barely exerting himself. But he was in the grass! Not on the path! Instead of running across the street and onto the next paved segment, he looped over and dashed through a field, up a grassy embankment and over a bridge. I could see him ahead of me, on the other side of the creek.

I wanted to yell at him, “There’s no path over there, buddy!” You crazy fool. “Follow me; I’ll show you how to get more miles in, on the path!”

But, he was having a blast.

In fact, he reminded me of my son, who has two speeds: asleep and fast. When his feet hit the floor in the morning, he is zero to sixty in an blink. He does not stop until he finally falls asleep many many many hours later. When he lands at the playground or the tennis court, the soccer field or the backyard, he goes like a hypercharged Energizer bunny. He doesn’t care about paths and rules and marked out places. He throws all caution to the wind, kicking a football on the soccer pitch or kicking soccer balls inside the confines of the trampoline net.

The silver fox on the grass clearly had no time for convention. He would run in the grass if he darn well pleased. I was kind of jealous. He was having fun, and I was being all serious and intent on my stupid path.

One of the reasons I started running was that it made me laugh, mostly at myself, but at lots of things. And it was fun. I enjoyed myself. I used to feel sorry for the sourpusses I saw while running, and now I realized I had become one.

What would happen if I ran, even just once? How do you reinject fun into your day?