Syracuse Online

Look Ma No E

Dog days of running follow fun path

Published December 30, 2002 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

Editor's note: Dr.J. wrote this entire column without using a single letter "e". Do not try that at home.

All that I want to know about running, I got from my dog. That furry ball of joy has brought us many truths that authors and books fail to discuss. My dog runs for fun, not to burn fat. It stops to sniff hydrants and follows no stopwatch. It drinks if thirsty and naps if worn out.

I took up running 4,000 days ago to trim my fat. I lost two pounds a month at first, and shrunk my waist by a full foot. Gradually, I put back a pound at Christmas and a pound in May, until I got back to my original girth. So much for running to burn fat and maintaining it off.

By running to stay fit, I got to know many physicians. Shin splints and snow spills brought on X-rays, colorful casts and walking sticks. Long runs without hydration brought on calcification, organic rocks and painful urination. Trips to hospital waiting rooms at odd hours could only slow down my training.

Initially, I ran for stamina. It took only two months to try out racing. It was an instant hit. It brought goals for my running. From sprinting on tracks to bouncing up hills, my body fought gravity's pull. I ran on roads and won awards. I also ran a marathon, and brought back an icon and bragging rights. Alas, today, I am as slow as always. I could not run fast for anything.

Throughout my training, I sought smart company. At first, I ran most mornings with a lady, and found us discussing family. With my law school guys, I fought on politics and sought to fix our world. Moving into country farmland brought about cold, dark, icy roads and took away all my company, short of wild animals.

As I look at upcoming transitions to impact my running plans, I can only sigh at my happy dog. If it ran around our family room or up and down our backyard, that dog knows what running is all about. Running is not hard work. Running is not to build stamina or to fight cardiovascular ills. Running is not to finish marathons. For my dog, running is all about having fun.

So, I will borrow a woof or two from a dog's manual. "Thou shall run for fun" is my motto for long, dark, icy months. Till spring brings back dry roads, firm footing and fast striding, I will abandon my stopwatch and running log, and focus on soaking in that rich aroma from burning hardwood.

© 2002 The Post-Standard.

Kamal Jabbour wrote this column without using a single "e". His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at