Long slow distance (LSD) is a nice alternative to the short fast daily run one typically does to simply "get 'er done." In fact, LSD is a requirement if one is training for a marathon or equally demanding endurance event. This is how the body develops aerobic capacity: the ability of the body to store and utilize energy sources, namely, glycogen and fat, capable of lasting for several hours of activity. It's a fabulous adaptive process, and worthy of its own entry. But for now, L-S-D meets D-O-G.
Yesterday I set out to do something in-between a long slow distance and a typical daily run. I wanted to run slower and longer, but not super long. I'm not training for a marathon but know how enjoyable a leisurely run can be, and definitely wanted to go further than five or six miles.
No sooner was I into my reverie about LSD when I heard heavy panting and clawing on the pavement coming up from behind me. I quickly turned around to see a medium-size mutt charging full steam ahead toward my body, hair up on his back and everything! I screamed suddenly and loudly, as one does when one's life feels threatened, and I must have scared the bejeezus out of this canine since it veered sharply to the left, over a snowbank and into the front lawn of the house we were passing. I was pissed, so I immediately summoned my best alpha voice to say "Bad Bad Dog! You Go Home Bad Dog! Go Home!"
Then, I was half running, half stumbling backwards, pointing at this pooch as he has proudly pulled himself out of the snow, though with way less machismo as he had going in. He stood there on all fours looking at me as I backed away and turned around to continue running. I kept looking back at him...he stayed looking at me. It could have been a stand-off except I started running. So much for the relaxed run.
This is not the first time I've been charged at by a loose dog and thankfully, I've never been bitten. (I am knocking on wood as I write this.) But I have to say, I find it most annoying - down right maddening, and I know that other runners have been seriously injured by dogs.
Two recent situations were irksome, not because of the loose dogs' potential danger to me, but more so on account of the owners' indifference or naivete. One was on Pine Point Beach in Scarborough, Maine and oddly enough the dog and its owner were running together, well off in the distance coming toward me, with a significant amount of beach between us. As we get closer to each other, the dog starts heading my way: straight toward me, full gallop, all fun loving and fancy-free, not slowing down, not responding to its owner's command to "Come!" Well, guess what? That creates fear in me. I don't like this. By now the other runner and I are side by side and she says gaily, "Oh, he just wants to run with you." Oh really. Guess what?
Another time I'm on the Eastern Trail and it's a similar situation except this dog and its owner are not running; they are walking towards me as I'm running. And this one is on a leash, no less, but is somehow able to charge and jump up at me as I approach!! All friendly and fun-loving, of course, and I hear the owner say, "He's okay." But, guess what? It's not okay for me. It scares me and it disturbs my running.
I don't know. I realize many dogs are lovely animals and harmless, etc., but not everyone is comfortable around your dog. Some dogs can be vicious. I also realize running could seem like a threatening activity to a protective or vigilant dog. I suppose it comes down to owners' being responsible for their pet and recognizing others' rights to move about freely; and, for runners to stay alert while doing LSD, and perhaps carry pepper spray.