Everyone, meet Sydney, my favorite non-human running buddy and best friend.
Sydney is a two and a half year old German/Australian shepherd mix. Being a shepherd, she has a lot of energy for my two bedroom apartment, so she goes on just about every run with me. As soon as I start lacing up my running shoes she perks up her ears and heads straight to the door. I love having a pup to run with because she keeps me engaged and motivated; I feel bad if she doesn’t get outside and get some exercise after being cooped up all day! She did every training run and workout with me while I was training for my half back in November, but I’m afraid the volume that marathon training is going to entail will be too much for her. For the half I only ran 4 days a week and topped off at 35 miles with a 10 mile long run, but for the marathon I’m running 5 days a week and topping off at 65 miles with a 23 mile long run. I draw the line for her at 10 miles (she could probably do more, but I worry for her paws), so long runs are definitely out. She’ll be sad to be left those days for sure. In honor of my long distance running buddy, I’m making this post about running with your pet. If you’re wanting to start running with your favorite four-legged friend, heres a few things to consider first:
- Start slow: Your first run ever probably wasn’t a 6 mile tempo. Neither should your pup’s! Start with walking and work in some jogging, and work up using the 10% rule.
- Leash up: Leash train your pet before you take her to the trails. The trails we run also serve as hiking, mountain bike and horse trails, with the occasional cluster of grazing cows. Take your dog to a place and let her get used to a new running locale, so she doesn’t go nuts over all the new things and smells (and in my case, spook a horse). Also remember, not all people are comfortable around dogs. So while your pup might just be lunging towards someone just to get a head pat, they might not want anything to do with her. Keep her close.
- Learn your breed: Just like people can have higher propensities towards slower or faster twitching muscle development, so can different dog breeds. Check up on your breed. A more muscular dog may have a greater proportion of faster twitching muscle fibers, meaning she might not be a distance dog, but more of a sprinter. Learn about your breed so you know what to expect, and are less likely to injure your pet…or have to carry them home…5 miles. Some breeds, particularly squishy nosed ones (oh hi pugs) just aren’t cut for running because of how easily they can overheat.
- Know your route: Its pretty well known that canines don’t thermoregulate as well as humans because they can’t sweat. That on top of a thick coat of fur means your pet can get overheated very easily. Only ever run your dog where you know there will be plenty of water and shade to cool her off. I only run Sydney on our greenway so that she can take a dip in the creek whenever she gets hot.
- Check the paws: Sydney loves our runs, but sometimes she has to take a week off if the bottoms of her paws are looking too rough or cracked. Try to run on soft surfaces, and check your pet’s paws regularly. Dogs need down weeks too.
- Bring a baggie: The number one cause of ground water pollution is pet waste. Don’t be that person. Pick it up.
- Last but not least, Hydrate!: Seems obvious. But is very important. Make sure you AND your pup get plenty of cool water post run.
Happy running humans and non-humans!
If anyone is interested, today on the plan I had a 40 minute easy run with 6 1-minute pickups. I’m still in base training, but adding in some pickups reminds my legs how to go fast, so that my speed workouts coming up in a few weeks won’t be such a shock. Except I apparently don’t know how to count and I don’t know my parents’ neighborhood as well as I used to, so I did 45 minutes and maybe 7 pickups instead of 6. Whoops!