Tag Archives: dogs

On Dogs that Want to Chase Me

14 Oct

A runner's worst nightmare

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post. Today let’s explore the dark side of the relationship between running and dogs. I bring this up because on my run yesterday morning, I got chased by a grand total of FOUR DOGS. Usually I attract maybe one dog who’s exploring his yard in the morning, but never four on one run.

Fences are very unpopular where I live, unless you have a nice garden and you want to keep the deer out. This means that dogs are free to roam their owner’s yard, the neighbours’ yards, and the road in front of the house. There was one German Shepherd when I was growing up that specifically came into our backyard every morning to drop a deuce. It was annoying at first, then funny, and then back to annoying.

This doggy freedom must be nice for the canines, but for innocent joggers that get lunged at as they run down the street, it can be a heart-pounding experience.

You should know that 99% of dogs that come tearing towards you screaming bloody murder in dog language (barks and growls, etc.) just want to check you out and be on their way. They’re protecting their territory, and once they know you’re not a threat, they’ll trot away. Alternatively, flopping down on the road for a belly rub is a good option. Even a dog that’s behind a fence will bark at you until you’re far enough away that they can smile smugly to themselves and pat themselves on the back for being so good at scaring intruders away.

So how do you avoid being torn to pieces by aggressive dogs? This is from my experience only so if you find yourself with bite marks… I’m sorry, please don’t sue. When I see dogs coming towards me, I follow a couple of steps:

  1. First, slow right the eff down. Stop moving, and let the dog come to you.
  2. When they’re close enough, greet them like you’re happy to see them. A few “hi puppy, good puppy” types of things are good.
  3. Let them smell your hand when they approach.
  4. Meanwhile, don’t look them in the eye, as this can be seen as a challenge.
  5. Pet them if you get the sense that it would be okay with them.
  6. When they’re finished with you, slowly continue on your way. Better to slow the pace than to lose a couple fingers or something.

Likely, at worst, you’re going have mud prints on your new leggings from an overeager jumper. Usually the dog will demand a few ear scratches and then flounce away, content to know that you are not a threat.

I don’t have any advice for actually mean dogs that actually want to kill you. My go-to instinct is to punch faces but I don’t know how well that works with dogs. All I can say is good luck.

Trail Running vs. Road Running

12 Oct

I thought I’d try something that requires little expertise for me to talk about today. My brain is too slow to try to pretend like I know more than I do. For the record, please don’t run a race, drive five hours back home, have your second family dinner of the weekend, then go enjoy a 13 hour day at school. Your usefulness to the universe will be greatly depleted.

So, today, here are my thoughts on running on trails versus running on tarmac. I like to think I have enough experience with both to give tips to a beginner but please remember, I am no expert. If you get eaten by a bear please don’t haunt me.

I live in a rural area that is extremely hilly. Picture a couple mountains on the coastline, and you have my hometown (roughly). The longest straight stretch I’ve ever encountered is a whopping 350m long. So you can bet I don’t have trouble finding slopes for my hill training.

What does this have to do with trails and roads, you ask? Well the hill issue is the greatest con for me about running on the road. It tops the long list of cons such as poor visibility, complete lack of sidewalks, aggressive deer, and creeps honking their horn in the summer. So yeah, as you can imagine, the hills are bad.

The trails where I live are yes, hilly as well, but the effort is less sustained; you’re headed uphill for maybe 100m and then it’s roughly flat or downhill. Much better than the 3km long hills I’ve tackled on the roads. Trails are also great because I can bring my dog off-leash, it’s much easier on my feet and legs, and there’s better coverage from the rain.

BUT, even after all that, I prefer to run on the roads, for the simple reason that there’s more to look at. Sure, sometimes what I’m looking at is a pair of glowing eyes as a buck watches me pass with my headlamp, but at least it’s something. The trails where I live are extensive compared to nearby cities, but there are only so many. And all trees start to look the same eventually.  I can get much more variety in scenery by running on the pavement.

I do like the trails once in a while; connecting with nature and my little dog and all that. But most mornings, it’s me pounding the pavement.

I guess what I’m saying is that it’s a personal choice. There are health downsides to running on the road, yes, such as shin splints and foot injuries, etc. But I’ve found these can be avoided by making sure not to over-train and to vary which side of the road I’m running on. Of course, trails present the risk of tripping over a root and falling down a cliff (at least where I live). So there are downsides for both.

However, I just straight-up prefer running on the road. And if that’s what gets me out in the morning, leave me alone about it. And the hill issue? Well, as I try to tell myself… it’s only making me stronger.