Recently, I made a purchase that has inspired Peter to roll his eyes so far into his head that I’m not sure they’ll ever come back out. I bought a (not cheap!) dog jogging stroller (ahem, The Dogger) for DW the Dachshund. This thing is amazing. It has actual tires, not plastic wheels. It has rear suspension. And it lets me bring DW along on my runs. Needless to say, I am well aware of how utterly ridiculous this is. Clearly, if either of us has separation anxiety, it’s me more than DW. But… this damn thing has sparked an inordinate amount of joy for me. It has also been weirdly practical, which was the reason for us purchasing it in the first place. By us, I mean me.
But seriously. What happened was our foray into vanlife. As we planned our winter training route and all that it would entail, I realized that there was a problem. Yes, technically we have a fan and vent in the van, but if the weather took a turn for the steamy, it would still be unfair to DW to leave him cooped in the van while we were out training. Staggering our training was an option, but one that neither of us loves, since we have pretty strict routines we prefer and the point of being on the road was to actually train the way we wanted to. And originally, there was a good chance that Peter would be coaching a camp for two weeks and I’d be in the van alone (thankfully that didn’t materialize) which meant any run would leave DW by himself. (This prompted the reminder that sometimes, training camps are actually not as optimal as just creating your optimal environment at home.)
So, the Dogger was actually a tool to make our training easier. And bonus, I see how strong my friends with baby joggers get with the addition of resistance, so I figured it would be a good training stimulus. (And, PSA: no, the Dogger is not me training for ‘the real thing.’) I wouldn’t need to use it for every run, just for chunks of my run when Peter and I are both gone.
To be honest, it works like a dream. I couldn’t be happier with it.
Yet I still felt damn silly about it, and I know Peter did too. The first night we got to our campsite in Florida, he was asked by a well-meaning couple (who, I should note, strolled up to us whilst walking their two cats on leashes) how old our kiddo was, since they saw the stroller but not its occupant. Sheepishly, Peter told them we were silly yuppies with a tiny dog, not a baby, and they went on their way.
I admit, I got a little annoyed about the incident, because I thought his embarrassed reaction was a little silly. But I got where he was coming from—it does feel a little silly. (I am well aware some of my friends would agree that it’s quite goofy!)
Still, it made me realize that we were being ridiculous.
Was I enjoying myself? Yes.
Was anyone getting hurt in the process? No.
Was I arguably getting better training in as a result? Possibly.
But the most important part was the enjoyment.
I think in training, and in racing, we get into this ’no pain no gain’ mentality that suggests that training can’t possibly be fun, and if we are having fun, we’re not doing it right. But why shouldn’t it be fun?
Consider this your permission slip to start having more fun on the bike, on the run, in the gym… wear the really bright jersey that you love. Eat the cookie or the Snickers instead of another bar on the bike. Bring your dog or your kid or your spouse along for your easy/recovery ride or run. In short, I vote that we get back to training being a form of play. Unapologetically.