Running with Your Dog (the Ultimate Gadget)

I started running for exercise about 5 years ago and at the time, the only thing that got me out the door was my iPod. Without music, I found running intolerably boring. As I graduated from 5ks to 10ks to triathlons to half-marathons, my dependency on gadgetry increased. First I added a heart-rate monitor, then I added Nike + iPod, and about a year ago I started using RunKeeper on my iPhone. I went through what seemed to be 1,000 pair of headsets and getting all of my gadgetry ready added time and logistical complexity to my exercise routine.

I began running with Zola when she turned one in March. We started out with short runs a couple of times per week, but now that she is approaching a year and a half in age she can run farther and more frequently. I’m currently training for the Run the Rocks 5k and Zola has been doing most of my runs with me. We still have about a month of training left but I can already tell that three things have happened: 1) I’m getting faster because Zola often is pulling me (this is lengthening my stride and therefore increasing my pace); 2) I now have more recovery time than I had six months ago because I can substitute Zola’s morning walk with a run (I used to try to walk her and then squeeze in my run); and 3) I’ve lost my need for all the running gadgetry (except my watch).

This last change is certainly the most unexpected and is potentially the most beneficial. I chose not to run with music because I was afraid I would zone out and Zola would know it. I also was becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of hearing loss associated with listening to music through headphones. From there it was a slippery slope, for some reason I lost interest in measuring distance and pace. It turns out that running with Zola is enough. My need for running gadgetry has been replaced by a dog.

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