MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

Used to be a runner. Five times a week in the heyday. Not going to say I ever enjoyed doing it, but I always loved having done it.

For those of you who run or jog (which is what I actually did), or who used to run or jog, you know. When you finish, it’s a high. When you string a few days in a row together, it’s a drug. You can’t wait to get that high again tomorrow.

And though I have long been a disciple of Dr. Ron “El White-o” White in this regard – LSD: Long, Slow Distance — Father Time and a stupid afternoon on the Chesapeake Bay convinced me to give up the high; or at least the running.

So I walk now. It’s pretty good, too. You get the morning walk in first thing, it’s more likely to be a better day than it would have been if you hadn’t gotten up in the morning and moved around some.

I usually walk for an hour each morning and I stay in the neighborhood. Driving somewhere to run, to walk or to work out never clicked for me because it always gave me time to talk myself out of it. Plus, I had to drive back, which gave me even less time to get ready for work.

Just get out of bed and go. Then when you’re finished, you’re already home.

It gets the blood moving. They say it’s good for your heart, too, which is good. But the beauty of it is you get to see things. You have the opportunity to see folks and talk to them, or just say hi. You have the opportunity to see and appreciate the neighborhood and your neighbors. Then when you’re coming home, you can see what the outside of your own house has come to look like – good or bad.

You think about things; you take in fresh air. You can plan your day and many of the things you’re still not likely to do on any given day (I can climb ladders and clean out the gutters … No. I won’t.)

Then when you get home, your body isn’t aching, your back isn’t broken down and your mind and your outlook are crisp. The coffee tastes better. Your legs are fresh and energized after a good walk; unless you were stupid enough to walk up Williams Road and then into the Constitution Park. They key there is inclines, not mountain climbing. Took me a couple of winters to figure that one out.

But then you go out and kick the day’s arse; or merely just seem to enjoy it more. I can’t explain it. You just do.

Sometimes when you’re on a walk, dressed in shorts and a shirt that you otherwise wouldn’t wear at a public gathering, well-meaning friends will stop to ask if you want a ride. Thanks, but no, you say; taking care of the old heart rate, you know.

Often times, when you’re walking to work because you don’t want to drive your little 2-wheel drive in a foot of snow, dressed in so many layers of clothing to avoid hypothermia that your arms don’t move, the same friends will drive by in their truck or 4-wheel drive, blow the horn, wave and drive on. It’s what happens. It’s like clockwork.

Thankfully, I don’t have to walk to work anymore. Not that I ever minded, because I usually managed to get a ride home later that night at the public house across the street from the office.

(It was uphill going home.)

Then there are times when a friend will pull up beside you and follow you up the hill in his car to talk about the Orioles game last night. Then tonight’s starting pitcher. Then he asks you to stop to talk because he hasn’t seen you in a while.

When you try to kindly explain that you really don’t want to stop because it would defeat the purpose, he tells you he’s glad he hasn’t seen you in a while and then moves on.

You always see something or somebody different on a walk; you seem to always see somebody you enjoy seeing, even though with the darkly tinted windows in the newer vehicles, you rarely have an idea who it is that is waving to you.

You see deer in our neighborhood, even in broad daylight. They just look at you, kind of nod to you and then continue whatever it is they are doing.

You see a lot of dogs, too. Rather, you hear a lot of dogs, for no matter how many times a week you walk by their yard, they’ve got something on their mind to share with you, usually in an angry tone — particularly the little dogs.

Then in the end, it’s all about the stretch. Stretching makes everything better. Stretch whenever you can, particularly during stressful moments.

And look, I’m no Jack LaLanne (Google it). But if you’ve got the time, we’ve got the … Wait, that’s an old Miller High Life jingle.

If you’ve got the time and are able, I highly recommend it.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT