Good Sweat: Welcome Walking Weather

I’ve been looking for treadmills for a while (my fantasy treadmill would definitely be a Woodway Curve XL), but just can’t seem to pull the trigger on buying one. Mind you, I’ve owned several treadmills over the years – they’re a pain when you decide to move, not to mention that they’re not exactly fun. While on the machine, I’m acutely aware that I’m going nowhere, really, and it’s pretty boring. To get in some exercise and help the dogs burn off some energy, we took a long walk this morning, instead.

There’s a new development not too far from where we live (walking around here is out of the question – no shoulders, narrow road – I watch the walkers and bicyclists and wonder why they take the risk), with a nice, wide sidewalk. There’s not much in the development yet, so there’s not a lot of activity besides cars taking the “shortcut” on the new through-street. It’s a good place to walk the dogs because, at the time of day we go, we don’t encounter many other people (or dogs).

Raccoon hooligans left their mark on the trail

The new street hasn’t been open for long, and we went and walked there for the first time a couple of days ago. There was a surprisingly brisk wind, encouraging us to keep our pace fast. We had already discovered that we didn’t have any poop bags in the car (!), so we emptied out a sandwich bag that had no-perishables in it and took it with us, knowing it was highly likely one of the dogs would need to go (exercise-induced pooping)…and shortly after embarking on the walk, the puppy decided it was time to drop a load.

I think it’s uncivilized, at the very least, to leave your dog poop in a public place. Cities and towns can help incentivize people to pick up their dog’s poop by putting out dog waste bag stations and trash receptacles – but there will, irritatingly, always be people who won’t take responsibility for their pet’s waste. We encountered several piles of poop in the grass immediately to the side of the trail, as well as turds littered around on the sidewalk itself (and the ones actually on the trail were clearly from small dogs). Nice. We picked ours up and, later, disposed of it in a trash can some distance away.

But I digress…the walk was invigorating, and really got the blood flowing. We kept walking until we decided to head back, and later drove the distance; it turned out that we completed a 3.6 mile walk. The grade varied, so we got a pretty good workout, especially with a little jogging to try to tire the puppy out (only worked temporarily).

At the start: let’s get going!!

We walked again the following day, and were better prepared, with a poop bag dispenser we carried with us and a bottle of water for both the dogs and us. It was especially quiet, with few other people out, and, oddly, the walk seemed easier. We even walked a little further than the previous day. The dogs did great and are getting better walking on a leash, too. I think we all appreciate getting our exercise outdoors.

The downside: soreness (DOMS) in the shins and glutes. And I work my glutes (via squats, deadlifts, and lunges) regularly! This feedback tells me that those lower body muscles are working differently during the walk, and while it’s not exactly fun being sore, I’m pleased to be getting fitter. I also enjoy the scenery – birds, frogs, trees, clouds or blue sky.

Day 3 (today) saw us choosing to walk the route in the opposite direction because another walker with a dog was heading out in the direction we’d normally take – plus, it would shake up the routine, right? Naturally, we hit the steeper grades on the return trip this time. Building character.

Since a treadmill forces you to keep pace or risk being thrown off, I find that when walking, I have to monitor my pace (and pick it up) sometimes; after all, I’m not out for a leisurely stroll, I want to burn calories, grow stronger, and, most of all, wear out those dogs…because, after all, “a tired dog is a good dog”.

Afterward: calm and relaxed!

Tip for managing dog waste during walks: have a “poop jar” in your car. Ours is a repurposed glass jam jar. When you have full poop bags from your walk but no trash receptacle nearby to dispose of them in (egads!), you can put the bags in the jar and seal it with the tight-fitting lid. Later, when you find a trash receptacle, pull the smelly bags out and throw them in. I wouldn’t keep full bags in a sealed jar for too long…and don’t forget to let that jar air out after you’ve emptied it!

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