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I Was Born To Be A Runner

I was born to be a runner, but something went wrong. My feet flattened. My knees swelled. My immune system weakened. My body was not put together right; like furniture from IKEA put together by someone who is not good at following directions. When I try to run, I feel like a bag of rocks being smacked against the pavement.

My dream used to be that I would build up from walking on the treadmill for an hour a day, to running on the treadmill, to running miles a day outdoors; in a park, maybe, or at the beach, with Chariots of Fire playing in the background. But I seem to be locked inside of this particular box, and no matter how hard I try to move it, it refuses to stay moved.

Whenever I see someone running in a movie, in dress shoes and overcoats, in tank tops and shorts, in leg braces or chased by police, I feel like I am running too. I watch sports, and dance, and movies, not just because it is entertaining to watch, or beautiful or dramatic, but because it is cathartic. Something deep within me is living in those bodies for a moment, kissing the love of my life, dancing with Fred Astaire, and running faster than I could ever imagine.

I feel this when I watch my dogs too. When I take them out to the backyard, I let go of Butterfly’s leash and let her gallop (she needs to gallop in order to poop, so this is a completely practical choice on my part). She lifts up off the ground and soars forward, and I feel her joy.

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I can’t let Cricket off leash, because if she sees a person, she will run, and bark, and lose her mind, and I won’t be able to interrupt the crazy. But Cricket loves to chase leaves, even on her leash. She is a huge fan of the wind, because it lifts up the leaves and makes them swirl, and she pulls me along behind her, to catch those leaves.

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When the dogs run, their ears fly out, and their legs stretch into the air, and they don’t run because I’m forcing them to get their exercise; they run for joy, automatically and without thinking about calories burned.

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In elementary school, we used to run a mile’s worth of laps around the gym to Eye of the Tiger from the movie Rocky. A dogged determination would come over me whenever I heard that song, to keep pushing myself forward until that mile was done.

But I want more than that. I want to run with my dogs until my ears fly like theirs do, and I am in no pain, and all I care about is catching that damned leaf up ahead.

(All pictures in this post taken by Naomi Mankowitz – AKA Grandma – and her magical DSLR camera)

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

77 responses »

  1. Wonderful post…I love your fur baby!

  2. I hope you don’t mind, but this post (which was, indeed, wonderful) reminded me of the following, which just kind of leapt into my brain just now:

    “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
    they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.” –Isaiah 40.31


    “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” –Revelation 21.4.

    I hope these things for you.

  3. Rachel, here I am feeling down about the massive destruction of typhoon Haiyan in my country the Philippines then…. I saw your post….It just lighten my day. Your description about your dogs running with their flapping ears gave me hope! With the storm over, we will rebuild our country and once again… run free!
    ” I want to run with my dogs until my ears fly like theirs do, and I am in no pain, and all I care about is catching that damned leaf up ahead” – Rachel Mankowitz

    • Wow, thank you! I can’t comprehend the damage and the rebuilding that needs to be done in the Philippines, but people keep surprising me with the amazing things they can accomplish, and the love they are willing to share with friends and strangers alike. My best to you and yours.

  4. Love it!

  5. makes me happy to read!!

  6. I started running a year ago. I had never run before because my kneecaps were misaligned, so for my 40th bday, I had both my knees reconstructed. Then months of physical therapy, personal training, MUCH hard work. This year I’ve done a lot (including 3 triathlons and a 10K), but now I’m dealing with shin splints and tendonitis right before my first half marathon. I am icing my ankle as I type. Running DOES feel as great as you dream – but the big part of that journey is overcoming the obstacles. Take it slow, stay determined, and you can do it!

  7. Thank you for this post. I wish we had trees – real trees rather than eucalyptus trees that just drop bark and branches – but trees that shed leaves and I could allow my dogs the fun of chasing after leaves or simply diving into a leaf pile. My son ( bless his weight-lifting heart) tried to get me interested in the Gym and I tried – honestly I did! I chase the dogs around the garden and we play. I chase, walk away and they come after me and jump at my legs, I turn round and the game begins again. Despite his age, The Man can still run rings around me. This was a great post Rachel, I really enjoyed reading it and watching that beach scene from Chariots of Fire, it’s not hard to imagine yourself running with them. Thank you to “Grandma” for the photographs.

    • We’ve been so lucky with trees at the new place. We had rainfall of red and orange and yellow, but, of course, I kept forgetting to bring the camera with me as the leaves were falling. I ended up having to throw leaves at Cricket for a few photo sessions. She loved it!

  8. I stopped really running after my 10th birthday. I’m 11 now and my former stimuli to get me running aren’t working anymore. Garbage trucks, bunnies or just for the hell of it don’t work for me anymore. The upside is that I walk outside and I experience runners’ high.

  9. 0h Cricket and Butterfly look like they are having so much fun.I don’t have any trees in my yard but my neighbor shares hers every fall with. me she sends them over via the wind lol BabyGirl sometimes jumps likes she scared of them and other times goes after them when fluttering across the yard like she’s chasing a cat.Both my dogs are off leashed trained and I have a field for a yard with no close neighbors except the 1 and she’s not real close. As for running I can’t anymore I have a messed up body myself. I try to run around with the dogs but it is more like a trot and doesn’t last long, The most beautiful running I have ever seen was Horses running. It is one thing to see on tv but is even more awsome in real life. When I moved way out here and Volunteered at a horse sanctuary I got to see it up close and it is so beautiful . I could watch them for hours.

    • Oh horses! The synagogue I went to as a kid had a horse farm next door. After services, a group of us would walk over to the fence and try to watch them in action, but the horses were too interested in us to keep running. They came over to the fence to inspect us, and one even came close enough for a nose rub.

  10. Rachel,
    Continually I enjoy each and every..

  11. We Dickens Dogs, who love to run, salute you and your dogs in your love of the fresh air and fun outdoors. It is great that you can get pleasure from watching them but we hope that perhaps one day you will yourself be able to join in.

  12. Very inspirational. You have a lovely writing voice.
    I think you echo the thoughts of several of us out here who would like to be a runner too, but wasn’t graced with assets or the stamina to make it happen. Beautifully said.
    Dogs are such characters. I don’t know what we would do without their furry friendship to keep us entertained. Your dogs are adorable.

  13. I’ve tried many times to get a picture of Pearl when she is running her circles but she is too fast. She puts her little head down to the ground and with ears flopping runs as fast as she possibly can. I want to be that happy!

  14. Lovely post. It’s just fun to watch the dogs run.

  15. What a wonderful post! Love the pictures of the puppies running around. You’re right, there’s something about a dog running that evokes happiness. I run on an elliptical. No impact and it works for me. 🙂

    • I fell in love with the exercise machines at physical therapy, like the sitting stepper and the recumbent bike. I even came to terms with the arm bike. Now I just have to figure out how to bring the puppies into my workouts.

  16. Thanks for letting us live vicariously through your joy. Beautiful post.

  17. Thanks for this post and the wonderful pictures. I remember about our school running song : personal jesus from depeche mode, maybe the sportscoach felt like god as he chased us around the sporting field .

  18. Wow, amazing post I love it! Made me want to get out and run, I sure have enough leaves to chase just wish I could still run. Hugs for you and nose kisses for sweet Cricket and sweet Butterfly.

  19. I love watching my Luz Maria and Diego as they run in the field across the road from our house. I hop on my mobility scooter and with Luz on my lap and Diego trotting along beside us on leash, we make our way to the field where they can be free and enjoy their pursuit of happiness. It is the high point of my day and I hope of theirs as well.

    Another great post Rachel. 🙂

  20. I love the running pictures. Such happy images. 🙂

  21. Lovely photos. I hope you will run again and feel free with your dogs! Charley dog gives her love to you all…ad so do I;0) Take Care!

  22. There is something about a Dog running, I know it brings a smile to my face.To join in their plight, would be so much fun.
    Hugs Sheila x

  23. Awe! Ur fur baby is so cute!

  24. Great post, Rachel! I loved it.

  25. I enjoy living the dog’s life through Cricket and Butterfly. They are especially welcome in my day given that my two fur babies died in the last 18 months. Thanks for sharing their adventures, along with yours.

  26. paigeandspaniels

    I remember my first trip to the dog park with Apollo… man he just took off like a shot, and was absolutely on cloud 9. It’s amazing isn’t it? The simple joy of running leash free outside.

  27. I have to comment on this post , since I also was born to be a runner.
    Unlike you , I was blessed with a body that was built for running , and did so with great dedication for fifty years or a little more.
    Blood pressure medicine and I suppose age , robbed me of that ability and those wonderful runs.
    I walk Little Bear now. That has taught me that I don’t have to hurry through the world to enjoy it. Moving slower is a blessing because I enjoy miracles I missed while being in such a hurry.
    I’m pretty sure you already know this.
    Keep up the good writing.
    I must stop now since this is supposed to be a comment . It’s morphing into a Blog.

  28. I love your photos of the dogs running. Seeing dogs outside in their elements running with pure joy brings a smile to my face and peace to my being. It is a gift to have the chance to spend so much time with them outdoors.

  29. Hi you have been nominated for the Liebster Award go to to find out how to accept the award.

  30. Great photos. I, too, was born to be a runner. Arthritis in my hips put an end to that part of me. So enjoy your blog.

  31. Someone once asked what inspires me, and what immediately came to mind was an image of my dog Huck running through a field of tall grass. He’s a tall dog with long legs (Lab with Great Dane), and he likes to run with his head up, tongue out, and ears flapping. He’s fast with good stamina, so if the field is big enough he will run and run, smiling the whole way.

    He reminds me that we find joy in strange places, that everyone’s got their something.

  32. Delightful post! Congratulations!

  33. I have to say I like running too, well I used to but sadly we get older. My favourite type of running was I suppose what you would call “middle distance” and cross country both of which were great exercise for my main sporting passion – Rugby.

    When I was young I played Rugby for the school, a club and the county it’s a great sport but it seems to have changed for the worse these days.

    I love you blog and hope that you continue to delight us all with it. Thank you for writing it.


    The Cat

  34. I’m so glad you started following me as now I get to see this little cutie, what an adorable dog! 🙂

  35. That is a lovely post – I feel the same way about dancing. When I watch other people, in my mind I can totally bust a move, but I know if I tried I would likely only bust some furniture when I fell over.

    In the unsolicited advice department, though, I would like to suggest you check out Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run. All I will say is that it was a life changer for me – I have gone from being unable to run for more than 2 minutes without experiencing horrible pain in my knees and ankles, to regularly running more than 30 kilometers per week and completing some beautiful distance races I never thought I could attempt. Converting to minimalist-style running has reminded me that fitness should not be a grim chore, but a natural state of joyful existence.

    Good luck, and send Cricket my best regards!


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