Today is Global Running Day. If you haven’t gotten a run in yet, put your trainers on and get out there! If you can, find a friend. Today running with others is a great way to celebrate our global community! Tonight I will be coaching my running club’s summer speed session; first of the season! This morning I ran with my dog.
Running with my dog – a dog, any dog – was a vision I had since I started looking at colleges over 35 years ago. It was part of how I pictured my future self— never mind that I never had a dog and hated running. That my friends is a testament to how visualization works. Imagine your best self; create an imagine of the ideal life to make it happen.
For me the dog came first. I became step-mom to a Miniature Schnauzer; my husband’s from a previous relationship. The day I met him, he ate my sandals. Neither of us were runners. By the time I did start running, he was too old. We did become friends, but the thought of him as a running partner never crossed my mind.
Next came Malachy, a Wheaten Terrier. When he was a puppy, I read everything I could find about running with your dog. The consensus of the experts was to not start running with them until they are a year old and their bones and muscles fully developed. I was patient. I probably took him out for his first run on his first birthday. Something else I read said, “A tired Wheaten is a good Wheaten.”
He had a herding instinct that had him bumping into my legs every time we set out on a run. I read that if the dog likes to run, all you needed to do was stop immediately. Stand there. Then try again. If he does it again; stop. And eventually the dog will learn that if he keeps “herding” he doesn’t get to run. He stopped herding. I imagine that technique works with all bad habits.
Like we all started, I took him for run/walks of super short distances. Once he had that down I took him with me only on shorter runs around my neighborhood; two or three miles. Then he’d get so excited when he’d see me putting on my running shoes that I didn’t have the heart to go with out him. I took him on longer runs in the park with my running club. That made me faster, because he insisted on being first. We worked our way up to 10 miles. We even ran the Tenafly 5k Dog Run together in 2003. A photo of us running together appeared in the May 2008 edition of 201 Magazine.
Malachy died in October 2010 just month short of his 9th birthday. He developed an inoperable abdominal tumor. He was full of life and energy and miles almost until the end. The day I left the vet without him, I went for a long walk with his leash in my hand in Saddle River County Park where together we had logged 100s of miles. My runs weren’t the same for a long time. I knew I’d get another dog, but couldn’t imagine ever replacing this running buddy.
After years of boycotting the Tenafly Dog Run (long story that had more to do with my late husband than me or Malachy), I went back on Sunday with my boy, Enzo. Enzo is a six and a half year old Australian Shepherd/Poodle mix (officially an “Aussie-poo” according to the American Canine Hybrid Club, although I usually just say he’s a mutt because I feel silly saying “Aussie-poo”). Enzo has been with me since early 2011.
I wasn’t sure how it was gonna work out with him being generally uncooperative and loud, with a running form that consisted of darting in 50 different directions, chasing after small animals, and taking “potty breaks” at every tree, fence post and fire hydrant. If he managed to not be a complete nuisance, the race would probably take an hour, and I’d wind up carrying several bags of poop across the finish line. I knew this because I tried running with him five years ago and it was frustrating. I tried it maybe one more time and gave up.
Run Like a Dog
My dog doesn’t care where we are or what time it is, or even what the weather is like. He doesn’t know what his resting heart rate is and rarely bothers to wear a watch. He just loves to run. And every time he does his face and his body telegraph one simple message: This. Is. AWESOME. I’m runningrunningrunning!
The “Run Like A Dog” Workout (including Warmup and Cooldown):
Walk 8 seconds. – Trot 4 seconds. – Stop. Sniff. – Sprint 7 seconds – Freeze. – Walk 5 seconds in any direction but forward. – Stare 9 seconds. Lunge at rabbit. – Double back, walk 3 seconds. – Urinate. – Repeat 6 times. – Collapse on rug.
– from Runner’s World, Jan 2010 “A Few Rules to Live By”
Sunday went surprisingly spectacular! He was well behaved – and uncharacteristically quiet – around the other dogs. When the race started he was focused. Maintained a fairly consistent pace, and didn’t veer off course once to pee, poop, or chase a squirrel. His (our) chip time was 34:49. Not bad for a first 5k! And he would have been faster if I didn’t spend so much time trying to get him to drink water (he clearly didn’t want) at all 4 water stops along the course.
So maybe I underestimated him as a runner all these years. Or maybe he’s matured. Or maybe I needed time to mourn my last running partner to accept this one, to have the patience to understand that he is his own dog with his own style of running. But the bottom line is I have a new running partner! We’re ready to run! And I’m happy to run like I dog if I have to!
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Post Race. Tenafly 5k Run & Dog Walk. Tenafly, New Jersey. June 2017.