The dog days of summer. We tend to think of this phrase and relate it to the temperatures outside being hot and oppressive. So hot, dogs that would normally be out prowling around just lie around trying to stay cool. I certainly thought that’s what it meant and was leaning towards using the new found heat and our lack of acclimatization to it as the main point of this coaches corner. So as I write this on June 21st, the first day of summer, I looked up the meaning.
And it has nothing to do with heat, or even dogs for that matter. It dates back to Egyptian and Greek times and the stars of the night sky. It refers to the ancient Greek calendar and the dog star, Sirius. The dog days are the days the dog star, Sirius, rises in the night sky, this year between July 3rd and August 11th. For the Egyptians, the arrival of the dog star often meant flooding both a destructive and restorative process. For the Greeks however, the time period often meant drought, famine and hardship, so Sirius kind of got a bad rap while providing a timeframe for worry warts to start planning on.
While not quite time for Sirius to show up in the night sky, my “dog days” have started already. The kind that the first interpretation of dog days, those hot, difficult summer days we usually envision. Once school gets out I begin my second career as a farmer. Rewarding work for sure however the “change of pace” comes with difficulties regarding my running. Much more physical than my job as a teacher, the adjustment from being out in the field, walking upwards of ten miles before noon (often carrying bulky things), the first few weeks of “summer vacation” is spent trying to get used these new physical demands and having my running suffer for a short period.
Eventually I get used to the new demands and my running levels out. Getting in workouts is easier and not being exhausted all the time makes training a bit more pleasant. But I have to go through that period before I feel like myself again.
The other interpretation, the one grounded in Greek and Egyptian mythology about destructive forces, is it’s usually sometime in July that I end up with some sort of accident that puts a major damper on my running. A number of years back I had a nasty turn of events with a 2 ton tractor, a large tire and me being in its path that set me back about a month. That was followed the next year by a mysterious locking knee leading to a broken elbow and six and a half weeks on a stationary bike (another name for a torture device) and “aqua running.” Two years ago saw me blow out my right ankle but stepping on an easily avoidable ostrich egged sized and shaped rock that I somehow didn’t avoid. And last summer making a field goal attempt style kick to a non moveable boulder I somehow didn’t see hidden by three wispy pieces of grass with the result being a broken big toe.
Don’t get me wrong. As a teacher I CAN’T wait for school to be out and being on summer vacation. However there is a bit of trepidation when I lace up for my run wondering if it will be this run where the summer bad luck will befall me.
Maybe this year will be the year I make it through unscathed. I certain seem to have no control over bad luck so I might as well throw caution to the wind. No matter how much I try not to focus on it, I still seem to let the concept creep into my subconscious until it’s also showing up in my conscious state. I vow to try to ignore it but time will tell whether I can forget about it or the injury bug just stays at bay.
I’ll see you out there.