Be an Animal

Once on the first day of a college course, the instructor asked as us to go around the room, sharing our name and an animal we’d like to be.  Now this was an English lit course, not biology or environmental science so my guess is this was to be an ice breaker, but I had already lost focus.

There was a pretty girl sitting several rows in front of me.  She stated something about wanting to be a Kuala bear, I never heard the reasons.  Quickly, I decided I should be a Kuala bear too, that way I could meet the other Kuala bear.

So suave.

That’s I good line I kept telling myself, right up until it was my turn.  I then blathered out some other animal maybe a monkey or a kangaroo, who knows, and it really doesn’t matter, as today I’m happily married to someone other then that Kuala bear, but it may have at least made that class a bit more interesting.

Today’s thoughts are all about making our runs a bit more interesting.  As I read my way through Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris, I’ve noticed that many of the titans are introduced along with an associated spirit animal.  According to Tim, he added this in order to bring some levity to the book, but it actually spawned some great discussions and thoughts among his subjects.

I am not yet a titan, but I don’t think that disqualifies me from considering a spirit animal.  Thus I began to think, but since I was running while thinking my brain choose a different path.  Instead of just one animal, I’d be a different animal for each run.

Maybe I’d have just a touch more motivation for the early morning runs if I knew that I would spend those 30 minutes thundering like a stallion, or silently trotting like a coyote.  My rational brain chimed in and stated that this sounded ridiculous, I’m a 35 year old man.

Not a little kid out playing with a feather.

But here’s the thing, running is play.  Just like my son, I’m lost in my thoughts when I run.  I can be anything I want.  I dream of races past and future, dropping my rivals with a devastating kick or slowly wearing them down over unnamed hills.  I surge to the lead and run scared of being caught, or I methodically stalk those ahead.  I contemplate nature and my surroundings, or I simply get lost in the echo of my footfalls.  I dream of being faster, always I want to be faster!

I think.

I solve problems, contemplate relationships, and plan future activities.  So if I do all that while I run, why not pretend to be an animal from time to time.  Animals certainly run for pleasure, as I’ve often been joined by horses and cows, until their fences ruin the fun.

At times, birds flutter only a few yards in front, only to land, wait for me to catch up, and then fly again.  Are they to stupid to know that I’ll keep coming, or are they joining in on the fun?  I’ve always thought it was stupidity, even cursing their foolishness, but now as I write I look forward to the next time they join me.  I’ll welcome them.

Below is my list of twenty animals and their training characteristics, what animals are needed on this list?

  • Huskey – runs all day, likes cold
  • Cheetah – fast
  • Horse – strong and steady
  • Deer – change of pace, obstacles
  • Ostrach – you feel like flying but just don’t have it
  • Sloth – take it slow
  • Camel – its hot you still run
  • Bear – heavy from overeating (common post holiday animal)
  • Eagle – effortless speed
  • Coyote – a steady trot
  • Mountain Goat – scampering over trails
  • Butterfly – floating easily without a planned route
  • Chicken – treadmill runs, blindly running in circles
  • Wolverine – attack, attack, attack, ferociously conquer any terrain
  • Moose – slippery out, legs everywhere
  • Duck – when a waddle is all you’ve got
  • Lion – the 5 minutes immediately following an interaction with an anoying driver / catcaller
  • Goose – group run, take turns leading
  • Lemming – track day, fast group, just follow
  • Wolf – pack running, chasing the leaders

Here are examples of my last few runs as defined by their animal:  1/29 – Sloth, 1/30 – Horse, 1/31 – Coyote, 2/1 – Wolverine (in reality probably more like a badger but whatever)

Other peaks into my head while running:

Into the Darkness

Do you know your pace?

Oh no, your running partner is faster then you!

Garmin, Strava; How do you measure your workouts?

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