July 19 2018
Professor Jennifer Golbeck uses running to balance a full roster of work, travel and her pack of famous pups.
I’ve professed my love for technology on these pages over the past year, so I’m sure it will come as no surprise that in addition to run gadgets I adore any tech-tool that pledges to make my life easier. And for majority of the time, those devices deliver as promised making me feel like the most efficient version of myself on even the worst of days; however there are always exceptions.
I found myself extremely busy last week and as I returned home each night from work with my smart phone in hand, I had a hard time separating from the demands of work. By the end of the week, I was exhausted and a little grumpy from the missing endorphins usually brought on by a run. When work upped the anty, exercise flew out the door and deadlines took precedence. While I know how skipping a run affects me and my mental outlook, I didn’t know how it would influence one of my favorite running partners – my four year-old dog.
Late last week, as I sat on the couch furiously typing away to answer a multitude of emails, I glanced over to see my dog rummaging through his toy box (yes, I’m that pet owner with a toy box for my dog and I’m mighty proud of it!). After choosing the perfect stuffed creature, he carried the furry toy over to me and dropped it in my lap as if to say, “Hey mom, time to play.” Annoyed that I didn’t have time to play with him, I threw the toy on the ground and shooed him away. Five minutes later, we repeated the process. After his fourth attempt to entice me into play he finally gave up, laid down and let out a huge sigh before plopping his chin on the ground while he stared in my direction with sad eyes. As a sucker for puppy-dog eyes, it was that moment that struck me. I was making a conscious decision to work and ignore both my dog’s and my own need for exercise. Contrary to the way I want to live, technology and the demands of responsibility were cutting into my time to enjoy life – and I didn’t like it.
I finished the email I was writing, headed up stairs to change, and then grabbed the leash as I invited my dog outside. We did an easy 3 mile run together that night and as I glanced down at him to see his tongue hanging out in pure joy with a huge grin, I realized what’s most important to me. I want to be healthy and I love running. I adopted my dog to have a running buddy. Smart phones, tablets and laptops make it very easy to stay in constant connection with the world, but it’s important to remember to unplug. When all is said and done, my best memories won’t be made from an email I sent – but rather an awesome run with my best partner.