Dogs can be the perfect running coaches! From the couch, to 5Ks, to marathons, dogs can get you moving!
In fact, my dogs helped me qualify to run in the Boston Marathon!
I got Hogan in 2009, at that time I was under the impression that I did not like running. Given that Hogan is a German Shorthaired Pointer and I understood that he would need daily exercise, I started running him. Well, jogging is probably a better description.
Hogan and I continued to run and jog. We also kept Hogan active with swimming, boating, and camping. When we go camping, Hogan jumps off the boat, swims to shore and runs non-stop chasing birds until we recall him. German Shorthaired Pointers; especially young ones, really thrive with a lot of exercises.
Running, initially, was to keep Hogan active. Nothing too serious. We would do our 3-miles and call it a day. He still had a lot of energy, so I decided to take it up a notch. I signed up for my first 5K run for the Wounded Warriors Project and brought Hogan with me. I put an American Flag bandanna on his neck which made him look very “official” and snuck him into the race (just keeping it real.) I took third place in my age group and Hogan took second! We got the bug.
Hogan and I started running more and more. 3 miles turned into 5 which turned into 6. I signed up for a 10K, took first place in my age group and decided it was time to sign up for a half marathon (13.1 miles). I ran my first half marathon in 2013, shortly after, I decided to run a full marathon for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in San Francisco. Hogan helped me train the entire time!
Shortly after I ran my first marathon, I signed up for the California International Marathon in Sacramento and qualified for Boston! I knew I never would have trained if it was not for my running buddy, Hogan. He taught me how to love and enjoy running. In 2014, we got Calvin and really took running to the next level.
HALF MARATHON & MARATHON TRAINING PLAN
(You can use these tips for any distance)
- Download an app like Map My Run or something similar so you can track your miles!
- A sports/fitness watch is a great running tool (I’ve used a Garmin and my Apple Watch.) You can monitor your pace, your miles, your split times (the time it takes you to run each mile) and your heart rate.
- Pace yourself (there are a lot of great apps that can help you train for a 5K, 10K, half or full marathon), it is essential for you and your dog to pace yourself on long runs.
- Hydrate! I carry water with me on longer runs so I can keep Hogan and Calvin hydrated. Or I select a route that includes a water fountain and bring a small portable bowl with me.
- Pay attention to the temperatures. If it is too warm, schedule your runs for the early morning or the evening. This is especially important for your dogs. They can overheat or burn their paws. If the ground is hot to the touch, it is too hot for their paws.
- Use a harness and leash. I’m not a fan of street running with dogs off-leash. If you train in an urban area, keep your dog on a leash. It is the law in most cities. I prefer a running harness, it is much easier on Hogan and Calvin and does not pull on their necks. We currently use this ComfortFlex Harness that we order from Amazon.
- Try a hands-free leash! I use this hands-free Ruffwear Leash (from REI) and this Ruffwear splitter (from REI) so that my hands are free to carry a phone and my pepper spray. The “bungee” material on the splitter also reduces pulling on my waist and back. And gives the dogs a little more room.
- Work up to distance gradually and pay attention to your pet’s body signals. When Hogan is tired, I stop or take him home. When he was 5 he could run 20+ miles, now he runs a lot less, especially if it is warm out. Rule of thumb: add miles gradually. Calvin is a lot younger than Hogan and can run further. A typical distance run, includes the three of us starting off together. When Hogan tires, I drop him off at home and finish the run with Calvin. Know your pets and really watch them.
- Be safe! I carry a small container of this pepper spray with me at all times when I’m out running with the dogs. On multiple occasions, we’ve encountered off-leash dogs (I’m talking the 100-pound ones running at you with all teeth showing.) Iif calling them off does not work, the pepper spray does, and it can prevent a scuffle.
- Poop bags! I should have started with this. Poop bags are a must. It is our job as dog parents to clean up after our dogs religiously.
In 2016, I was fortunate enough to run the Boston Marathon. I would love to say it was my best race ever, but the truth is, it was my worst time. Between spending the night on an airplane (engine issues), jet lag, a late start time (race started at 11:30am) and temperatures nearing 80 degrees (I trained in winter months), I did not have the best time. BUT, it was the experience of a lifetime and I would not have been able to accomplish that goal without my running buddies!
So, leash up, gear up, and get out there and run…with your doggos!
Thank you, Hogan and Calvin!
Have you done any long-distance running with your pup? Tell us in the comments!
Hi! I’m Nik (short for Nikole) from @pointandwag. I’m a mom of three humans and three furry family members. I have two GSPs, Hogan Sandwich and Calvin T-Bone. I love to run with my German Shorthaired Pointers! Hogan is now considered a ‘senior’ dog, so I’ve had to make some running adjustments. Calvin is 4 and could probably run 100 miles. I also have a Scottish Terrier, Lenny Spaghetti, who’s a just a pup. I’ve never had a little dog but must admit, everything they say about TERRIERS is true. He’s awesome! We’re the @pointandwag crew.