Come out to Dog Days. Also, found a site better than Daily Mile.

The iconic image of Red Dog. The man with a bull horn and a mission.

Yesterday (Monday, June 6) was the first day of summer Dog Days. Dog Days is a community exercise program administered by former Marine Drill Instructor Don “Red Dog” Gardner. It meets 6 a.m. inside Memorial Stadium, and 6 p.m. on the lawn in front of Robinson Gymnasium on KU’s campus. It’s free, voluntary, and the best part: if you attend 25 workouts, you earn one of the free, legendary Red Dog t-shirts, which are customized each summer.

Update: Dog Day’s meets Monday-Thursday at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. They have bonus get-togethers Saturday mornings at 7 and 7:45 at the Lied Center for short distance runs, and also Sundays at 7 a.m. and J&S Coffee for seven-mile runs. Again, these are all free and voluntary.

Hundreds of people attend these workouts, which aren’t difficult. If you’re looking for something to help you get in shape, Dog Day’s, with its calisthenics and runs, will do the trick. If you’re looking for something to supplement what has likely become the monotony of your marathon/triathlon/whatever training, mixing in Dog Days into a workout is great.

The longest you’ll ever run at a Dog Day’s workout is two to three miles, so if you’re distance training, you might consider running to and from Dog Days. While there, you’ll do abs, pushups, stretches, speed/track workouts, and then middle-distance running. It’s legitimate, and lots of smiling faces root you on. Many of the Dog Days crew will meet for longer runs on the weekend, and race in half and full marathons together, if you’re looking for a team. They also get together for beer or coffee after plenty of workouts.

Full disclosure: I use Dog Days as speed training in the middle of my longer runs mid-week, plus I get to see lots of friends. I’ll jog the three miles to Robinson (I don’t have enough time to complete the morning workouts before I have to report for civilian life) and complete the calisthenics and stretches. When it’s time for the group run, I have a slightly different mentality than the “community building” workout.

I enter races because I’m a blood-thirsty, competition-eating American machine with an appetite for victory. I treat Dog Days as a primer for this lifestyle. Dog Days is about community, achieving health goals, fun, and is certainly not a race–but that doesn’t mean you can’t win. Winning for me is starting dead last on the group run, after all the runners have left the field for the mean streets of Lawrence, and then seeing how many people I can pass before I finish. There are a lot of fast runners at these workouts, so I don’t always finish first, but I do finish near the front despite my late start. Each day I try to pass more and more people, which keeps me giving full effort at these workouts. On days when some of the better runners are absent, I will somehow finish first. I get more excited about this than I should. Then I cool down for a minute, and trot my butt three miles home.

Dog Days is a lot of fun, and this is how I keep it relevant in my workout regimen. Come out and run with me. If I have buds to run with, it gives me a good excuse to run slower.

I’ll still operate my Daily Mile account, because I’m vested in it this year–it’s keeping a running total on my logged miles.

My brother, and my friends Tyler and Ashley, say Midnight In Paris is the best movie of the year--and that it's not even a close competition.

Once 2011 ends, I’ll drop that account in favor of my new account at Run Keeper. The idea of Run Keeper is similar to Daily Mile; it’s a social networking website with an emphasis on fitness. The difference is: Run Keeper is to Daily Mile, what a Ph.D grad is to a high school grad: It’s more sophisticated and likes Woody Allen movies.

Everything you can do on Daily Mile, you can do on Run Keeper, only much much more. It will actually track your diet, BMI, and overall fitness. I would argue it maps your runs more accurately. Plus, instead of “Friends,” you have “Your Street Team.” Yeah, pretty sweet, I know.

It’s quite impressive. I’m still new to the site, so I really can’t break it down much further, but I definitely recommend it.

This Saturday I’m planning on running 18 miles as part of my marathon training. I expect zero persons to run this with me. That being said, if you’d like to join me for part of it you could! Nick joined me for a third of my 17.5 miles this past Saturday, and that was after he swam for an hour.

The weather will be cooler, so I’ll probably run sometime mid-morning, likely running six-mile loops that end at my house so I can reload on Gatorade, eat gel packs, drink, pee, poop, whatever comes up. I might even hit up Red Dog’s Saturday Fun Run at the Lied Center. That’s a seven miler, I believe.

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