My Dog, the Running Buddy

Since my move, I have really missed my awesome and inspiring running buddies, Becky and Elida.  They are rock solid, fun, distracting, motivating and we have the most hilarious conversations while running.  I’m serious.  No topic is off limits with your running buddies during a 10 mile training run.  I’ve accomplished things with those two gals that I never thought I could have, always capped with a laugh and a round of high-fives.

Sadly, now that I’ve relocated to the mountains, I really haven’t found another group of running buddies.  Ski buddies, yes.  Run buddies, no.  I’m trying to get my rear back into running gear, so I’ve relied on my other lifelong running buddy, Scotty the border collie/husky mix, to motivate me to get out there and pound some pavement.  We’ve been running together since I first brought Scotty home 13 lucky years ago.  We got nice and muddy this morning, tackling the Harrigan Creek Trail together.  As we trotted along, I reflected on why dogs are awesome running buddies too.

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1.  Dogs are always excited to go running.  I mean HOLYSHITTHISISTHEBESTDAYEVER excited.  No matter the time of day, even at 4am, the second I put on my running capris, Scotty just KNOWS that I am going out. Furthermore, he is CONVINCED that he is coming along.  He will spend the next 5-30 minutes whining, jumping around my feet and in general trying to show me how he is insanely happy to go for a run and hustle me out the door. 

2.  Weather doesn’t bother dogs.  Dogs are always stoked to go running, no matter what the weather is outside.  There’s no dragging ass and whining.  10 below for Scotty?  No problem.  Huge snow drifts?  Sweet!  Pouring rain?  He’ll make a pouty face AFTER he goes outside, but still acts like a nut to get out there.  I’m pretty sure he would still want to go out if there was an actual hurricane happening. 

3.  Every run is an adventure, even if they’ve run the exact same route 100 times.  There’s only 2 ways I can run from my house:  Up or Down.  In the winter, that narrows down to one choice.  But I’m pretty sure that for Scotty, every time is the first time.  He always whines when we run by the neighbor dog’s house.  He is always pumped to sniff and pee on his favorite spots.  And it is all done with maximum tail wagging and enthusiasm.

4.  Dogs help you work on your flexibility and agility.  Running with Scotty like tackling an obstacle course with one hand.  He’s an awesome trail companion, but he loves to stop right in the middle of the trail to sniff something, directly in front of me.  This involves lots of tripping, stutter stepping and sideways leaping to avoid smashing into him.  I keep telling myself this will help with reaction time while mogul skiing this winter.  Running on a leash sometimes requires some yoga contortions as he runs the wrong way around a pole.  God forbid if he is on a leash and sees a gopher.

5.  Dogs encourage better oxygen utilization.  Running with Scotty is basically unintentional interval training, as he stops to sniff and pee on things about every minute.  As a result, there’s no getting in the anaerobic groove.  When we trail run and he’s off leash, I also use a lot of extra aerobic lung power by yelling at him about every 30 seconds:  “Come on!”  “Don’t go over there!”  “Drop that dead thing!”  “NOOOO!”

6.  Dogs never get tired.  Ever.  Let’s be real here.  My dog is 14 years old, so he doesn’t drag me along like he used to.  But he can still kick my ass up a long hill and look back at me with that “What is taking you so long, hurry up” look.  I remember when he was much younger, I made the mistake of taking him on my long runs.  Worst idea ever.  He got so fit that I couldn’t wear him out without putting in 7+ miles.  Scotty has two speeds:  running happily or passed-out-almost-dead. He is usually running happily until we get home, when he slows down to passed-out-almost-dead for about 2 hours.

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7. Dogs never want to turn around.  It still happens with Scotty.  We will be out for a run and Scotty is out front, running his little heart out.  We hit halfway and turn around to start home.  If we are 1 mile away or 5, it’s the same:  He starts moping and dragging slower until I either turn around or go different way, at which point he will promptly speed right back up again.  Scotty doesn’t get gps tracking, training plans or care about mileage.  I’m pretty sure he would just happily keep going down the road forever, for the sheer adventure of it.

8.  Dogs guilt trip you if you don’t go for a run.  This also applies if I don’t take him with me on a run.  It’s that sullen look Scotty gives me as he flops onto his bed that says, “I haven’t been running in 2 days.  But don’t mind me, I’ll just lay here and DIE.  Why don’t you just go have another brownie?” 

9.  Dogs are unconditionally happy.  Even on my most-tired, ass-dragging runs, Scotty is just happy to be outside with me.  He never complains about my slow pace, the ridiculous hour of the morning, the car who almost ran us over…  Scotty just cruises along with his tongue hanging out and a big wolf-grin on his face.   He just relishes being alive and being able to run with his people. 

 

What an amazing life lesson my dog teaches me every time we go out.  Unconditional happiness to be ABLE to run. No matter my pace, no matter the weather, no matter how I feel, Scotty just loves to go running with ME.  THAT is one amazing running buddy.

 

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Ginny

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