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My Four-legged Running Partner

by Lauren Zimmer

If anyone had asked me if I were interested in doing a marathon a couple of years ago, I would have said absolutely not!  The time it takes to train, the miles run, the toll it takes on your body never really interested me…that is until I got a dog.  I soon found out that my measly couple of miles a week running would need to be increased in order to tire my crazy hyperactive lab/whippet mix, whose name is Vida.

Running dog
Four-legged running partners are way better than two-legged ones.  No offense to my husband but dogs never complain when running and always have a huge smile on their face.  I have been running with Vida ever since her first birthday.  It was so hard to wait for almost a year to take her out with me.  My vet made me promise I wouldn’t start running with her until she was done growing.  Pushing a dog to run with you before their growth plates stopped growing could lead to all sorts of health issues in the future. So I decided I would wait (somewhat patiently) until her birthday and ever since that very special day, we have been inseparable.

We connect like identical twins. I usually don’t even have to say anything. She just gets me. But it wasn’t always like that. We really had to work together on and off leash to gain each others trust (and establish myself as the alpha dog, not her). Luckily most dogs are quick learners and if you teach them when they are young, it will stick in their brains.  Dogs are also very loyal and their main purpose in life is to make you happy.

Vida understands that running with “mom” consists of off-leash freedom and a whole array of exciting smells and places to explore. It turns out, Vida is quite the runner but she does need to work on keeping a steady pace.  She tends to get too excited in the beginning and struggle at the end. Doesn’t that sound like most runners out there?  I keep telling her it will come with practice and lots of training.

Lately, we have been working on proper hydration during our long runs.  She is great at drinking from my water bottle or finding random puddles of water but that usually means we have to stop for a period of time so she can lick up every last ounce. She hasn’t quite mastered drinking on the move. Water just gets all over her face and we both end up getting upset.

Nutrition is usually not a problem for us. I am content with my chews and my GUs and Vida likes to experiment with sticks, rocks and other animal unmentionables (I won’t even go there).  We haven’t run out of gas yet, so I guess we are doing something right.

We’ve learned the basics but soon the real test begins. Marathon training officially starts the week of Memorial Day.  It will be interesting to see if she can handle the pressure.  I’ve already given her the heads up so she can mentally prepare.  We are in this together.  Hopefully we will still be smiling from ear to ear once we have reached our goal.

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