For the love of a dog

See the stream?
It’s flowing and fresh.
If you drink the water,
it’s the best!
See the puddle?
It sits there still.
That stale water
will make you ill.

I learned a fighting principle from my Taekwondo Korean great-grand-master a decade and a half ago, which he expressed in this adage: “Flowing water is alive; it never gets rotten or dies.” Short explanation: keep moving, don’t just stand, or lay, there.

As I aged I began to apply that adage to fitness and life activity. Keep moving! Stop moving and I will get rotten or die. So how do I keep moving? As it happens, a lot of my moving is walking. I walk a lot in the scheme of things. Which keeps me moving and also gets in the way of moving in other ways.

Why would I do something that gets in the way of other moving? Harkening back to my last blog post, I suppose I walk so much because of . . . love. I love my dog, a lively three-year-old Golden Retriever named Chester.

Our family has sent two previous dogs over the rainbow bridge, both Labrador mixes. They each got to a point of being less mobile, with bad hips. Neither had been particularly active; I was not diligent at all in in taking our first dog, Buddy, for walks, and was better with our last boy, Eko. Eko had the benefit of joining me on my on-again off-again at the time small-scale running during his younger to middle years. As he aged, I got more diligent about getting him out for some walks to keep him moving. Still, Eko did not move as much as he might ideally have.

Chester has been a different matter altogether. We got him at six months old and it was clear he needed to move. My solution was to get to the nearby golf course by 5:00 AM and let him run for the better part of an hour. I walked a couple of miles or so; Chester probably ran four miles, back and forth across fairways to the woods on either side, retrieving lost golf balls, and fetching the Frisbee or tennis ball I might bring along.

We did that as long as possible into the snowy winter and then picked it up again the following Spring (ugh! MUUUUUDDDDD!!!!). Starting in his second year, after winter 2019-2020, we began more strictly walking the neighborhood. The good news is that as we went into COVID-19 remote work, he consistently has gotten two walks a day, morning and evening. I’ve even started an additional novel activity of taking a daily picture in our neighborhood and sharing it on Instagram. Take a peek if that intrigues you, @chrisjcorreia .

The twice-a-day neighborhood walking coincided with stopping my Taekwondo activity, first due to COVID and then my planned Taekwondo retirement that summer. So, since March 2020, at three months shy of turning sixty years old, I had an activity reorientation, with walking as the core piece, the foundation, and adding other activities as able. Walking both takes the most time of anything I do and also consumes the most energy. I keep it a priority partly because it keeps me moving and because I love my dog; he gets to move, which I do for his health and longevity. It’s also great quiet time and audio listening time (more quiet in the morning and more listening later in the day, if you care know).

What my walking looks like is this: pretty consistently by 6:15 AM I’m out the door with Chester and we walk about 40 or 45 minutes, logging a couple of miles or so. Then around 5:30 or 5:45 PM, after finishing work, we repeat more or less the same.

Morning dog walk route around and through Enger Park, Duluth, MN

Walking that much as my base activity, and exactly what happens when we walk, is both a result of other training I might have done and it influences other training I might do or not do. At my physical capacity, it’s not “just walking”; it’s a fitness component that I have to account for in my balance of activity, challenge and recovery.

Sometime the walks are just walks, a fairly quick pace interspersed with smelling and poop stops and some photo taking (of the neighborhood, not the pooping). Other times I might throw in one to three 30-second to one-minute quick feet short runs (100 or 200 steps) and occasionally a two or three minute run. I never do a whole bunch of that, but I make sure I at least get in one teeny run each walk so it’s never purely a walk the entire time.

Our walks typically take in a few blocks of our neighborhood hills, sometimes a noticeable amount. We live on a hillside going down to the bay of Lake Superior so there many avenues going downhill for multiple blocks toward the lake, the bay and the St. Louis River. Here is a recent IG share of what I believe is the steepest avenue in the city, and many others in my neighborhood approach it.

The mother of all hills in my neighborhood

On some days I do some curb walking for a block or two (I have my favorite uphill stretch) or if I’m on the trails nearby I do some rock-hopping, springing from rock to rock uphill or downhill, forward and side to side. I do those things because while I am “just walking” I can do something extra that might benefit my balance or help me maintain a quality of springiness in my legs. One of the things I’ve only recently realized is the degree to which, in Taekwondo, I was doing quick, springy or bouncy things, whether jumping jacks, footwork drills and activities, or kicking related motions. That stopped when I stopped teaching. So, in addition to my sometimes rock hopping, I’ve recently added in a minute once or twice each day of random jumping jacks or a bouncing footwork motion drill. Staying springy is important!

Some curb walking while walking the dog
Rock hopping with the dog on the Craft Connector Trail section in Enger Park

After the four to five miles of dog walking, I figure out what other activity I might do on whichever days to address other needs or qualities. Some days, all I do is the walk, particularly if I need a bit of recovery or am tight on time.

Because of the walking I definitely put in less time on other things such as yoga or bodyweight exercise work than I otherwise might do. Ironically, I am concerned about muscle and strength as I age; that work and recovery takes a back seat to the walking. I’m always trying keep a balance, which can be tough between time and physical limitations. If I end up pressed for time, I’ll knock off a couple of sets of hands-on-a-big-rock pushups while out with Chester.

There ya go. I move, and a lot of it is walking. It all goes back to love of a dog. I start with love and then I figure it out from there. Maybe not bad general life advice, too, eh?

Your turn: Where do you start? What’s your core or foundation for moving? What is your main goal and how do you stay on it? How to you achieve balance: of activity, of time, of moving within life? Comment and let us know!

What I’ve done in the past few days:
Walking! Including meandering with my wife on some trails at Tettegouche and Gooseberry Falls state parks on a couple of days off this week.
Josh Chen‘s Flow to Slow yoga session on DoYogaWithMe.com and Bryan Kest’s vintage Power 1 yoga session. Bryan’s vintage class is a weekly go-to for me. I had the VHS tapes when they were released in the 1990’s and later got the DVD of the three-session collection. They are some of my favorite yoga classes, as full 1990’s produced fitness video as they are. I strongly connect with Bryan’s commentary about mind-state during practice. I’ve also subscribed to Bryan’s current web site a couple of times. Great vibe.

Published by

Chris Correia

I live in Northern Minnesota, am a Massachusetts native, a 35-year husband, a grandpa, a former taekwondo instructor, a yoga guy, a student of Ignatian spirituality, a good-natured joker, and I now work with blind teens. My new endeavor is www.grandpamode.com, to explore some of the physical aspect of what it means to be alive.

5 thoughts on “For the love of a dog”

  1. My morning routine is somehow tired in with the time of the sunrise. I am wooden in the morning by call of nature and usually leave the home just before sunrise after having a coffee. I grab my yoga mat and backpack to a local park. My gym is packed in a backpack that contains my rings, a band, parallettes, gloves and towel. Recently I may take a set of interlocking rubber mats. I cycle through a number of different sessions. The workouts last over an hour.
    In the park I’m also an owner of a community garden plot and may spend an hour or so there.
    Back home I walk the dog and work on my garden.
    The sun is not to sit before noon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kanti, what a great routine: the park, the garden, packing your “gym” — you toys? — to take along. My golden retreiver would get too hot middday even here in the summer, or if I ran with him anytime in warmer weather. Of course, in the winter we get the snow, ice, and the -30, and we still walk then. 🙂 What are you working on right now? I’m thinking of developing a skill or physical quality that you are focusing on so that it comes along.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Master Chris, this is Max from the kumdo lessons you taught a few years back. I just wanted to say that learning kumdo from you and Master Eric was one of the most beneficially influential things in my life, and that the only regret from it is not putting in as much effort as I could have. Thank you for everything, and good luck in the next chapter of your life. Your willpower these days is admirable, and it’s helping give me ideas for helping my mother and her dog to stay in shape as the two of them get older (though it’s difficult to do so in the Kansas summer).

    Liked by 2 people

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