Guys, I can’t believe it’s already Week 2 of my half marathon training! Week 1 was fabulous. It feels sooo good to be running on a regular basis again. I love how running makes me feel inside and out. I can’t help but smile as I run. I feel happy, light and free!
Last week was a week of firsts too! It may be a bit shocking to some of you, but I started running with Bella just now. She is 2 years and 5 months old.
I was dying to take her for my jogs back in 2014 when I was training for Spartan Trifecta. However, she was too little. Yes, there’s such a thing for dogs. Puppies shouldn’t run with you until their bones stop developing, which can take up to 16 months in large breeds.
It’s only appropriate to involve her now in the early stage of my training for a half marathon. Dogs may be born to run fast, yet it’s important to start gradually.
Runner’s World provides some great tips on ‘How to turn your pooch into an endurance animal’. You may be surprised, but there is even such a thing as ‘The perfect running program for your dog’. It was created by veterinary neurosurgeon Laruen Talarico.
Here is a quick summary of it.
Week 1: Plan a 2- to 3-mile route at a mild to moderate pace 3 to 4 days this week. Make sure to pay attention that your dog is not winded and stays by your side at a comfortable pace.
Week 2: Add 0.5 mile or 10 minutes to your original distance during each of this week’s three runs. If your dog tolerates it well, try increasing your pace a bit. By the end of the week, you should be able to finish a 3- to 4-mile run.
Week 3: ‘Repeat week 2 and try to increase your average mile pace by 5 percent. The goal of this week is to consistently run 3 to 4 miles at a pace that is moderate for you and your pooch. This is a good week to solidify your dog’s running foundation and prep for adding more mileage.’
Week 4: ‘We are going to build distance again this week. Regardless of where you and your dog are with pace, I recommend increasing your distance by 0.5 to 1 mile 4 to 6 days this week. This will put most runners at a 4 to 5 mile/day regime. I strongly recommend at least one–if not two–days of rest for both you and your pooch.’
Week 5: ‘If you both are tolerating a 4- to 5-mile run well at this point, try increasing your speed to a moderate tempo style run. Both you and your dog should feel tired afterward. I recommend repeating this 4 to 6 days a week with 1 to 2 days of rest. If your dog is still acclimating to the 4- to 5-mile distance, please do not add speed. In this scenario, repeat week 4 above.’
Week 6: ‘Add an additional 0.5 to 1 mile to your distance again this week. Most running teams should be at the 5 to 6 miles a day/5 to 6 days a week point. If you are not quite there yet, no problem! Repeat weeks 4 and 5 until you can achieve this goal.’
It is critical that you do a full warm up and cool down in order to prevent injury. It is no different for your four-legged buddy. Begin all her exercise sessions with a gentle warm-up, between 5 and 10 minutes long. It’s the best way to protect your dog from muscle strains and other pains by stretching the tendons and ligaments, and getting the blood to the muscles and nerves.
The same goes for a cool down. A leisurely saunter, followed by a couple of stretches, is the great way to finish your training session, according to Dr. Julie.
It’s not uncommon for dogs to push themselves too hard, just because they think you want them to. Therefore, it is important to use common sense, practice moderation, and watch for signs of fatigue or for difficulty in breathing. Avoid exercising your dog too vigorously in the heat of the day and keep her/him hydrated to prevent heatstroke.
It is easy for us to forget about our dogs’ paws. Unlike our feet, her paws are not protected. Take precautions against frostbite by not staying outside for too long when there is a big wind-chill. Also check for cracked pads.
Finally, be careful not to feed your dog right before or immediately after a strenuous workout. And don’t let her gulp lots of water either. Once she cooled down, you can give her a moderate amount of water.
Do you run with your dog? Do you have any other tips?