Category Archives: Born to run

How to run from a dog

Late afternoon, approaching the city of Elton, Louisiana, this good looking dog decided to follow me, like that one did in Florida last month. At first I didn’t mind it too much, just hoping that it would find something else to do and leave me alone. Well, it didn’t work that way.

This dog not just stuck around for miles, but was becoming an annoyance. I wouldn’t want to have a dog by the end of the day when I need to find a place to set up camp. That is a no-no! But worse than that, this dog was crossing the road back and forth all the time. Cars were swerving and having to slow down hard to not hit it. And most of the drivers were thinking that it was my dog! I was getting angry looks and a driver even came back to yell at me. Sensing that it was going to be bigger trouble than I want to handle I called 911.

The dispatcher on 911 told me that the city I was in does not have animal control services so there was absolutely nothing they could (or care to) do about it. I was on my own.

So I decided to run from it!

Nearing the end of my day I was on the road for more than 20 miles already and quite tired. At this point I just wanted to walk the rest of it, pass the city a mile or so, and camp. My walking speed is around 3 miles per hour, and the dog was still around me.

First I tried my “fast” pace, which for most runners sounds like a joke… a 5 mile per hour joke. But being about distance, and not time, 5 miles per hour is a pace I can keep for a good while and shift between surging and recovering for very good periods at this point. But not at the end of the day. After a while I was getting really exhausted and every time I looked back the dog was right there with me! I was going to blow a gasket that way.

Then I thought for a while about what I learned reading Born to Run, about the fact that the dog has to breathe once per step, how it cools off, and how humans can speed up towards the upper part of their jogging range, while a four legged animal would have to be at the bottom end of its aerobic range to keep the same pace. So instead of trying to outrun the dog at 5miles per hour in just a few minutes I changed strategy: Run at 4 miles per hour for an entire hour or more.

For the first half an hour or so the dog kept running happily right by my side at 4 miles per hour, but very gradually it tired and had to stop to cool off, while I could just keep going. It tried to catch up a couple of times but in about one hour he just sit down and stayed there.

That was a good reminder that you outrun a dog just the same way that you run from one ocean to another: You run with your head, not with your legs.

Books I recommend

Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall
Chris McDougall really did a phenomenal job of combining the history and unique lifeview of the Tarahumara indians, the experience of ultrarunning, the conspiracy of the multi-billion dollar running shoe industry, his personal experience fixing injuries with barefoot running, ultrarunning characters like Ann Trason, Scott Jurek, Barefoot Ted, Luis Escobar, the crazy antics of Jenn Shelton and Billy Burnett, all cumulating in “the greatest race the world has never seen”. Chris is a total pro, and each chapter is packed full of facts, quotes, and antics that will get you laughing, thinking, and inspired to run. I think it’s one of the best running books I have ever read.

Ultra Marathon Man, by Dean Karnazes
Dean Karnazes, the writer and subject of Ultramarathon Man, is a wild man. He describes in great detail several of his ultramarathon feats including his first Western States 100, a failed Badwater Ultramarathon, the first marathon at the South Pole (and one of two people to run around the world naked – try to figure that out), and the first solo effort of The Relay (199 mile relay race from Calistoga to Santa Cruz). In the middle of the running stories and descriptions of his feet, his digestive challenges, his food intake (if you burn 600 calories an hour and you run for 48 hours, how do you manage to choke down 29,000 calories just to stay even?), he takes a crack at talking about how he does it, why he does it, what he eats, and whether or not he is sane. His philosophy is good, the running stories are awesome, and the motivational lift is huge.

50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days
Are you a runner who wants to run more, run faster, run better or even to simply start running, and need a little bit of motivation, there is one book by one man that you want to read. Ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes’ 50/50-Secrets I Learned Running 50 marathons in 50 Days-and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance! book, with the help of Matt Fitzgerald delivers Karnazes’ journey of running 50 different marathons in all 50 states, in 50 consecutive days. Beyond telling of his story of this incredible feat, he writes tips on how you can recover more quickly, how to adapt to extreme conditions, how to prevent muscle cramps and overheating, how to pace yourself, and most importantly, how to stay motivated.

They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, by Benson Deng, Alephonsion Deng, and Benjamin Ajak
This book is a first person account of the effects the continuing civil war in the Sudan has had on three young Lost Boys. Benson Deng, his brother Alephonsion Deng, and their cousin Benjamin Ajak all were between four to six years old when war exploded in their small world in the African Sudan. From that moment on until they were near their twenties, they lived in fear of the soldiers who killed and tortured their countrymen – and of their own people of different tribes who bullied and beat them. They lived on subsistence rations – if there were any at all. Many times there was nothing to eat or drink. Moved from refugee camp to refugee camp, they lost each other only to reunite somewhere else. For weeks and months these children ran naked, fearing soldiers, lions, hyenas, famine, diseases, and the brutality of war.

Yoga Beyond Belief, by Ganga White
Yoga is not spiritual hooha; there is a scientific element to the healing it provides alongside the spiritual. Yoga Beyond Belief is a guide for Yoga users to enhance their experiences with their meditations and rituals. Although aimed at those with some experience, it is simple enough for novices to read and learn the art.