Looking for the perfect endurance training partner? He or she is probably waiting at your front door right now – panting, wagging, barking, and ready to run.
When you’re a 2:44 marathoner with multiple 26.2-mile wins under your belt, it’s hard to find a training partner who can keep up with you. That’s why professional runner and 2012 Olympic Trials qualifier Nichole Porath had to get creative.
Her remedy for the many lonely miles: Get a dog, a really fast one.
After adopting a 5-year-old vizsla, named Mesa, she and her new best friend were literally off and running. With her faithful companion running 50 to 60 percent of her 100-mile weeks, it was an ideal situation for a formerly unruly canine.
“We were really a match made in heaven,” said Porath. “I can’t imagine doing what I’m doing as a full-time runner without her.”
Vince Sherry, owner of Run Flagstaff in Arizona and a coach for the online-based Run SMART Project, talks of similar relationships with his dogs. The guardian of two border collie mixes, the dogs have long been training partners for Sherry and his wife, Sarah.
“Early mornings we’ll get out on the rural trails, and it’s just fun to watch them go,” said Sherry. “Some of the best memories I’ve had on runs have been with Baxter and Lucy.”
Indeed, the right dog can be the perfect training partner for any endurance athlete. From skijoring (skate skiing with your dog) to canicross (running with your dog), benefits abound for those on both ends of the leash. With just a little training and know-how, you can be running with your pooch in no time.
- Your dog should know four basic commands – sit, stay, down, and heel.
- Begin training with a 10-minute run a few times per week, then add five to 10 minutes per week for the next couple of months.
- Use a leash that is four to six feet long to keep the dog at your side.