5 Things I learned about running from my dog

One year ago today, my fiancé and I drove to a town north of Portland, Maine to “meet” a puppy we were considering adopting. When we arrived at the foster home, our scrawny, 4.5 month old Rusty, walked shyly into the living room to meet us. He had a nubby little tail and what looked like an extra toe on each of his hind legs (which I learned are called are called dew claws). I was not sure this was even the same dog we had seen pictures of, and was even less certain we were leaving Maine as new dog owners.

But within a minute, the shyness was replaced with playful goofiness that melted my heart. As Rusty ran around the living room playing with the family’s kids and other rescue dogs (a burly 2 year old pit bull had apparently taken Rusty under his wing), my fiancé looked at me and raised his eyebrows, as if to say “So, what do you think?” I smiled and nodded, “Yes, “ I said.

Since then, Rusty has put on a few pounds – 43 to be exact, for a grand total of 61 pounds. But his quirky spunkiness has remained the same. He has truly become a member of our family. And since this past fall, he has also become my most regular running buddy.

In honor of Rusty’s 1st Adoptaversary, here are 5 things my four-legged pal has taught me about running.

  1. You can always find a reason to run. On days when I’m not particularly looking forward to my run, I think about how much happier I’ll be with a tired doggie later in the day. Compared to a 30 minute walk, a 30-minute run greatly decreases the chances Rusty gets into trouble later in the day.
  2. Have fun on your run. Every once in a while when we run together, Rusty will start to run ahead of me, turn back and look at me as if he’s saying, “Let’s go!” and we’ll just pick up and sprint. Today, that was right before some large puddles. But rather then try to dance around them and keep my shoes dry, we splashed right through the puddles. We both needed some serious toweling when we got home, but laughing on my run was worth the wet socks.
  3. Don’t get a puppy 4 weeks before you run a marathon. I love Rusty and would not change the decision to adopt him. However, bringing home a 4.5-month-old puppy had its challenges. Crying for hours before bed and emergency walks at 3am were not part of the training plan. Then again, if we had waited, we may have never met Rusty.
  4. Enjoy the chase. When Rusty play with other dogs, his favorite thing is to be chased. He rarely gets caught, and will just run and run, usually until the other dog stops. If I hear footsteps behind me while I’m running a race, I often concede too soon that the person behind me is going to pass me. Rather than panic when I hear the approaching runner, I try now more to be energized by the competition and run strong to maintain my position.
  5. Take time to cool down. Although Rusty and I have run up to 8 miles together, while training for the marathon, I do need to have some structured workouts where I can focus on pace and not stopping to pee (Rusty, not me). So on weekday mornings, I usually do the main part of my run and then come home to get him for 1.5-2 miles. Our runs are usually at a slightly slower pace and include bathroom breaks. This allows me a) to cool down and b) combine his morning walk with the end of my run, thereby letting me sleep 15 minutes later.

I can’t speak for Rusty, but I hope the relationship has been equally beneficial.


3 Comments on “5 Things I learned about running from my dog

  1. Here’s one more: run for the pure joy of it! Kia loves the freedom and energy she gets from running. There isn’t always a destination or a goal. It just makes her happy!

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