Running is in my blood. It is something I have been doing since middle school. I may have not always liked it however, it’s something I keep going back to. It’s my time to see what my body can do and let my mind think about whatever. Sometimes this includes thinking about absolutely nothing.
Some of my best running partners have four paws. I started running with our family dog Trece when I was 14 or 15 years old. This is when I learned the hard lesson dogs don’t show when they are hurt all the time. I took her out for a long run when it was hot outside and burnt her paws. Don’t worry she healed and continued to have a long running career. Once I left for college my dad stepped up and started taking Trece for runs. She kept running all the way until she was 11 years old. Our sweet Trece passed away when she was 13 years old. She had an amazing running career.
My next running partner was Koda. This girl has ran in the most states with me. We started our running career on the Monon Trail in Carmel, Indiana. Gosh that seems like ages ago. In all honesty, this was 13 years ago. She learned fast what sound a garmin watch makes. She was ready to tackle each mile with me. Koda was three years old when my husband came into the picture. This is when it got to be a little complicated. He didn’t like holding onto her leash so I would however, he was a faster runner than me which meant Koda would pull me while she tried to catch up to him. She would waste so much energy doing this which also led me into running a record pace. At the turn around I would end up passing Koda’s leash off to my husband only to find out once I got home she couldn’t keep up with him. Pacing herself was a hard lesson for her to learn. She’s not the only one with this problem. It is also one I struggle with at times. She slowly got the hang of it once we moved to Arkansas. In Arkansas she helped my husband train for his first half marathon. I really should say his first half Ironman. Yup, he never ran a half marathon until he did the half Ironman. I guess go big or go home. She tackled some big hills that I had to walk up while my husband and her trucked up them. This is also the state where we picked up another running partner.
Conan is a true baby brother. He looks up to his big sister and tries to do everything she does but better and faster. Of course this is coming from him. I was the crazy lady that tried to run with both dogs on the bike path. Lesson learned, I never did that again unless I had my husband with me. They both have their own mind and neither of them were listening to me. Ugh! Just thinking about it makes me cringe. Once we moved out into the country I ran with both of them again. We would run on roads where we would pass one house maybe every mile. When my husband joined we started letting them run next to us without their leashes on. Believe it or not, they did a really good job. Gosh, as I am typing this I am envisioning the road we ran on that passed a pasture full of cows. Boy did they moo whenever we were insight with both dogs. It was fun to run out in the country. I would say it was one of the most peaceful states I ran in. By the time we got a good running routine down in Arkansas it was time to move onto the next adventure which was in Arizona.
Who would have thought Arizona would be the state where we would run the most races. This is also the state Conan would bark if he didn’t go on a run with us or if we were to stop to catch our breath after running up a mile and a half hill. I forgot to mention he also barks once we step foot out the door. This kid loves to run. Once his harness is on he wants to hit the pavement. This is the state Conan has logged the most miles in. He helped me train for a couple half marathons and a half Ironman. Without him, I may have not ran all these races. He kept me accountable. He didn’t judge me if I didn’t have a great run nor did he let me down. He stuck by my side every step of the way. He didn’t have a preference when it came to running he would tackle road and trail running with us.
Now here comes the crazy thing. This is when Koda decided to have a mind of her own and would not run on the street. She became very stubborn and would walk and occasionally jog but never run on the street. When we would take her to the trails she would be in her element. She would act like she was a puppy again and take off and lead the pack and look back and give us the look like “guys what’s taking you so long?” It was simply amazing. Koda has always been a curious dog and the desert had a lot of interesting things to check out. Thankfully she never messed with another animal. She was aware they were there but she didn’t act on it. Koda topped out at 5 miles while Conan topped out at 10 miles. Arizona was a good state for this running family.
Our next adventure took us back to the midwest and dumped us off in Ohio. We continued trail running with both dogs since they did really good in Arizona. This is when we really started to see a change in Koda. She had the heart however, she started to drag behind. Occasionally we would leave her at home while we would take Conan with us. He has made me a strong runner by pushing me when I don’t want to run as fast. Conan would keep me company when we would run in our neighborhood. He made me tackle every hill instead of jogging up it. This was also my come back after having back surgery. You read that right, back surgery wasn’t going to stop me from running again.
You guessed it, we were on the move yet again. This time we ended up in Texas. Back to the heat and humidity. Ugh! I forgot how much I sweat until I started running outside. Conan has been my running partner and yet again pushing me to get stronger and stronger. Every single house where we live has a fence. Within the fence is usually a dog. Conan has the yards memorized and starts to pick up his speed when we pass these yards in hopes he will out run the dog to the edge of the fence. These sprints rock my world. I am far from a sprinter but with the help from my furry friend I am a lot better now than I ever was.
Since it is so hot and humid I have used our zero runner a lot. Check out the post A runner’s best friend to find more about my zero runner. I try really hard to incorporate running outside as much as possible. Finding a balance has been key to continue to improve my technique and speed.
This is the first state Koda hasn’t been able to run in. I should back that up, if you count running the length of the drive way running then she has totally knocked that out of the park at least once or twice. Her heart for running is still there however, her body isn’t keeping up with her.
There are several reasons why I feel a dog is the best running partner. One of these reasons is they never call at the last minute to cancel out of the run. This always sucked when I would be ready to go only to find out my running partner wasn’t feeling up to it that day. I totally understand things come up however, I would then be sucked into giving myself the day off which is the opposite what I needed. My four legged friends have been there every step of the way. I wish they could receive the medals I have received since they trained for these races too.
I would say the only down fall that really disrupts me is when they have to potty. There is no warning sign. They just stop. Imagine running and then having to slam on your breaks. It sucks. I try to get Conan to go number two at least twice before we head out the front door. I tell him what we are going to do and he gets worked up. I swear this kid can’t stand anything in his system when we run. He’ll still end up going while we run. Don’t worry, I am the responsible runner who runs with doggie bags and picks up after my pet. It’s not convenient to run with a sack filled with you know what however, it’s better than having someone else step in it.
Having a dog as a running partner has kept me from running with head phones. I like to hear everything that is going on around me especially if another dog or animal is around. I’m also a safety nut. With all the people texting while driving I want to see and hear what’s about to happen. This leads me into, make sure you run against traffic. Yes, you want to be running the opposite way the cars are going. This helps the driver see you and you see the driver.
If you can’t seem to improve your average pace or if you want to incorporate some sprints here are the things you need to change your pace. A dog, a leash and harness, doggie bags, running shoes, and a garmin watch and you’ll be set to rock a great run.