To the dark o’clock athletes

We’ve crossed paths many times. You decked out in your running gear, almost invisible in the dark o’clock sky. I’m in my semi-pajamas, semi-running outfit holding the leashes of two small, but very barky, dogs.

The dogs and I like routine. We set out at about the same time up our road to the grassy area down the way so the dachshund and rescue beagle-mix can do their business. We go at dark to avoid people and cars, because well, my dogs are barkers.

But you don’t have a set path. Sometimes we see you down the road, sometimes we don’t. When the dogs do see you, they go nuts and freak out both of the only humans awake at dark o’clock.

“I’m sorry,” you often say as you hurry past us, as I try to coax my dogs into being quiet.

I try to apologize over the barking, but I don’t know if you can hear me, so let me tell you something:

The first thing I want to say to you is, don’t apologize. My dogs are jerks. They were breed to think they’re bigger than they really are.

The two barky dogs during daylight hours. You can see with the one on the right that he’s pulling on the leash. He’s the escape artist/rescue dog.

Don’t apologize for doing your thing. I’ll be doing my thing later today. I admire your courage and commitment that drives you to get up at dark o’clock. I get up because I have kids and my dogs have little bladders.

Don’t apologize for your pace. You have your own speed. You are moving, and that is a wonderful thing. There are so many people out there who wish they were able to do what you’re doing.

Don’t apologize for your attire. When starting out, people often develop their own sense of what clothing works for them and what doesn’t. You found something that fits and doesn’t slide down when you run. That’s a win in my book.

Don’t apologize for your route. You chose it for a reason. I just happen to be on that route too. I think you’re doing a fabulous job, which motivated me to get my workout in today too.

Don’t apologize for anything. You are working on improving yourself. You may be far on your journey or just starting out. This workout is part of your life’s journey — no one should dictate how well it goes except you. You are awesome for being out there and taking time to care for yourself.