From a Walk to a Run

How A Rescue Dog Became My Running Coach

Midlife finds me doing quite a bit of self-reflection. This happens to most according to all the articles I’ve read about midlife survival.

Looking back life has been busy and even chaotic at times. I spent many years as a single parent, working two, three, even four jobs at a time while taking care of a home, pets, day-to-day stuff, you get it. It all takes time, energy, and willpower.


Starting Out

Back in 1985 I felt lost and hopeless. Suffering from depression after my first divorce, I was desperate for a change–a big change. So I joined the Air Force.

San Antonio here I come! Not having a clue what I had signed up for, I started running to prepare myself physically. I was in great shape once I arrived in Texas.

Soon I was assigned the role of pacer–running along the other woman at 5 a.m. every morning, encouraging them not to give up. You can do this was my morning inspirational message to those who struggled to keep going.


Fast Forward to 2017

The years have added a few pounds–at least fifty, admittedly. Food has become an emotional crutch for me, as it is for many. Sugar is my love, my addiction.

Not that I am a sloth by any means. Walking is something I have done daily for years. Nature is my sanctuary; I love to explore the many trails we’re blessed with here in central Wisconsin.

White Dog Wrapped in Purple Blanket
Falkor My Love Muffin



My first rescue dog Falkor came into my life in 2015. You may have read about so-called needy dogs? I agree, there is no such thing. However, he could be described as such. We bonded instantly and I love him completely.

Falkor is chill, maybe even a tad lazy–he’s happy staying home and sleeping at my feet as I type.


 Then Came Zola

Zola a pitbull yellow lab mixed breed dog.One day while waiting tables at the small town cafe where I worked my sister sent me a FaceBook post. The ad offered a female pitbull-lab mix for free. As an animal lover I’ve read plenty of horror stories about what happens to dogs–especially pitbulls–who are available for free.

Eventually I connected with the owner and went to meet Zola. I brought her home for a trial run to meet Falkor. Surprisingly they bonded immediately–I had been warned Zola didn’t care for other dogs. Past experience had shown Falkor responded okay around smaller breeds, but became protective when a larger dog approached us.

Zola came home to stay the next day. It quickly became evident she didn’t have experience walking on a leash. Walking two dogs at once was a challenge. Admitting defeat, I began walking each separately.

A walk for Zola is more of a jog–she is a 55 pound power horse. Her extraordinary level of enthusiasm and energy never seems to wane.

One day while out for a walk I noticed we were moving faster than the woman jogging across the road from us. Realizing we could pick it up just a tad and we would be running instantly inspired me!

This epiphany was the beginning of my midlife return to running. Zola and I now run along the trails–not at a break-neck speed–but a comfortable jog. Slowly the weight is coming off. I’m feeling healthier and the sugar cravings have decreased.

At 54 I proclaim it’s never too late to return to something that once added pleasure to your life no matter how much time has passed. Midlife is for reinventing yourself–the possibilities are endless.

a pitbull yellow lab mixed breed dog laying in the sun

Am I ready to sign up for a marathon? Definitely not. I have, however, added this to my growing bucket list!

Do you have an inspirational story involving your fur baby? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Peace & Love, Sandra


Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend never owned a dog.


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3 thoughts on “From a Walk to a Run

  • August 25, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    Oh how I wish I could fit my Jordache jeans from the 1980s. Run, Sandra, run!

    • August 25, 2017 at 10:13 pm

      I remember this little terry cloth tank and shorts I wore running-white with blue, yellow, and red stripes. I am positive I couldn’t fit into it now, but pretty sure I wouldn’t wear it if I could!

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