Not for Nothing in NH: Listening to My Body and a Dog Who Winks

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Yeah, that's Big Dog winking.

Not for Nothing in NH is’s new column by Jen Hollidge of Concord.

Jen Hollidge

Jen Hollidge

“You have to listen to your body,” my Partner in Crime advises me this morning as I groan and stretch a pulled calf muscle, folded on the living room floor. Big Dog saunters over, face level with mine, and inspects my sweaty head inquiringly. He seems genuinely concerned about my condition so I ruffle his furry neck-mane.

I really don’t want to hear what my body has to say, because when I do, what it’s telling me is that I’m getting older and it refuses to comply with my demands. Like a willful puppy, my body just cocks its head and yips at me.

Big Dog yawns at such talk. He is far too wise to waste his time with disobedient puppies. He turns to leave, heading toward his favorite spot to relax on the ottoman and as he moseys away, I’m pretty sure I catch him wink at my Partner in Crime.

I started with the best of intentions for my run today. I use the term “run” loosely. More like a trudging walk-jog with a hop between steps. Picture a bear chasing someone who is sedated and wearing 18 layers of clothes. It looks a bit like that.

Nevertheless, I try to get out there and do it. My job occasionally requires me to keep up with large groups of young people in high-octane activities. When it does, when I hit the go switch, I would really like to find the fuel to fire up and run.

I figure I’m too young to give up on training this puppy, but 40 is lurking in the corner, glaring at me like Big Dog waiting for an overdue belly-rub.

So I push out this morning and at the 2.25 mile mark I feel the strain tug sharply in my calf. First denial, and then anger at myself. Genuine anger. This is a battle over who’s in charge and my mind is losing to my body. I drop into a defeated walk and shuffle on home to stretch.

If I’m listening to this willful puppy, like my Partner in Crime insists, and Big Dog only hints at with a tinge of disgust, I realize I’m going to have to change it up. I guess with my ripe age comes some wisdom in the form of acceptance.

I’ll get back to the gently whirring elliptical at the gym tomorrow at 5 a.m. with my crew — my people. Because who else is at the gym that early but us wise and seasoned older folks, listening intently to our ‘90s music and our whining puppies.

I’m Jen Hollidge, a full-time program coordinator, full-time mother of two amazing daughters and full-time wife to my partner in crime for 18 years. We live in Concord, N.H. I have an English degree from the University of New Hampshire and I love to write. 

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