Everything I Know About Running I Learned From My Dog

When it comes to running guidance, some people think cats are the go-to training advisors.

But what about that running buddy sitting patiently at your front door, thumping his tail and looking longingly at his leash? I think he has wisdom to offer, and my fellow dog-owning Saltines agree. So here’s a few tidbits we’ve picked up from our own pups that we think will guide your running journey!

1. Get outside every chance you can. (Except if it’s rainy or windy. Then your time is better spent taking a nap.)

As soon as the weather gets nice, dogs have an innate way of knowing it’s time to come out of hibernation. They play the patience game through winter, but as soon as the temps hit 50 and the sun comes out, all bets are off.

Lesson: Runners go into hibernation too, with our never-ending treadmill runs from November to March. So when Spring finally hits, channel your inner dog and embrace every chance for an outdoor jaunt! And for the love of dog, please take Fido!

2. Never underestimate your pace when you’ve got a goal in mind.

How many times has your pup been “doggin’ it” at the end of a run and then a squirrel darts across the road and next thing you know, you’re wondering if you should see an Ortho for your dislocated shoulder?

Lesson: Dogs or humans, we are all motivated to work harder by things we want. Maybe a muddy ripped up

tennis ball isn’t your thing. That’s okay. But maybe a PR or a chance to beat that runner who’s won your age group for years is just the thing you need to exceed even your own expectations. Just remember how badly you want it, don’t be afraid to sprint, and never lose hope that you can catch that tail in front of you.

3. Running buddies are everything and can make any run fly by.

This is a big one. Anyone who’s ever run a particularly painful solo 20-miler can attest to the value of a running buddy. Dogs have that down (imagine the chaos of dogs running solo, instead of in a pack?). Sure, they’re natural pack animals, but we can still learn from them!

Lesson: Take a buddy every chance you get! Your friends all run different paces? No problem: A faster friend will help to motivate and push your pace and you can always enjoy an easy run and a chat with a slower friend. Four legged or two legged friends, you can’t go wrong either way.

4. Train hard, fuel harder. With anything you can get your paws on.

We’ve all heard it a million times before, but even the most dedicated runners sometimes need to be reminded that fueling their body is important. Dogs, on the other hand, need no reminder whatsoever. They strategically scope out every opportunity to get their post run (and post nap. And post anything) fuel in.

Lesson: Perhaps our canine friends take this one to extremes – nobody really needs to eat the newspaper, or your favorite socks – but many of us runners could use a little reminder that a body in training is a body that needs fueling. Just preferably not from the trash can.

5. Don’t take yourself too seriously and always keep it fun!

I’ve never seen a dog disappointed after a run — or start a run they didn’t want to go on, for that matter. Dogs truly embody the fun-loving and lighthearted side of life and of running. If you’re not running with your tongue hanging out or a goofy smile on your face, what’s the point?

Lesson: Don’t let running become a hobby that tears at your soul. Keep it fun and remember all the reasons why you love it. Dogs may be a lot more simple than we humans, but we can sure learn from them how to enjoy the little things in life.

Do you run with your pup? What’s he or she taught you about running?

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