Dogs and a Marathon

 

This article was written for Pet Guardian Angels of America by Mikkie Mills

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 Want To Adopt a Dog You Can Run a Marathon With? Read This First

Training for a marathon is physically and emotionally challenging. A supportive training buddy can make all the difference in your motivation-especially if they’re four-legged and furry. High-energy dogs are great partners if you’re into marathon training, but there are a few things to keep in mind on your way to the 26.2-mile marker together.

Evaluate Your Fitness Level Before You Start

Running a marathon is a seriously aspirational fitness goal, so it’s important to assess your readiness for marathon training before you commit to a program. You’re probably ready to get started if you’ve been running consistently for at least four months, you can run three times a week with some time left for cross-training, and if you haven’t been injured, or had to manage a re injury, in the last six months. If you’ve participated in other events, a strong 10K performance is a good sign that you might be ready to think about marathon training, too.

One final consideration is your energy levels. If you want to train enough to successfully complete a marathon, you’ll be logging more time and miles than ever before. Consider boosting your routine with supplements. If running makes your stomach too sensitive for anything besides an energy gel, try a dermal patch like Le-Vel’s Thrive. Enthusiastic Thrive reviews indicate that exercisers felt more energetic and more motivated, which could be just what you need to put your marathon training over the top.

Choose the Ideal Canine Partner

Unfortunately, not all dogs are natural runners. Certain dogs shouldn’t run for too long; the short-nosed or brachycephalic breeds, like French bulldogs, can have trouble breathing if they overexert themselves. Others, like dachshunds and corgis, don’t have the right anatomy for distance running because of their long spines and short legs. Medium-sized dogs from a herding, working, or sledding background are a great fit for marathoners. Labrador retrievers are popular choices, as are border collies, but any generally healthy mixed-breed dog will be a good partner for avid runners.

If you want to start training for race day right away, don’t take home a puppy! Until they’re a little more than a year old, puppies are still developing the growth plates in their bones, and excessive, high-impact exercise can hurt them and interfere with normal skeletal development.

Combine Leash Training with Marathon Training

Basic obedience training is always important when you bring home a new dog, but it’s doubly so when your intention is to shape them into the perfect running partner. If your dog pulls on their leash, the strain can cause you to lose your balance or deform your running posture, which may lead to injuries. A no-pull harness and a clever behaviorist approach can help you teach your dog that pulling isn’t as much fun as they think.

You’ll also want your dog to have a rock-solid understanding of “leave it!” This applies to bunnies, fast food wrappers, other dogs, and any other distractions that you need your dog to ignore so they can trot peacefully by your side. A consistent “leave it” is better than keeping your dog in heel position during your entire run; especially on dirt trails or urban roads, you may need to keep your positioning flexible to avoid obstacles, and most dogs find it frustrating to stay beside you in the same position for several miles. “Leave it” is also more useful in other situations, like walks and the dog park, so you’ll spend less time training your dog and more time training for your marathon.

While dogs are great running partners, even the highest-energy pups should ramp up their distance slowly with you, and if they don’t seem as excited for the tenth mile as they did for the fourth, don’t drag them through it. Some dogs will want to go the distance with you, and others would rather stick to shorter speed runs. You won’t really know until you run with them frequently, so be sure to take your pup’s training preferences into account, and you’ll find that your marathon training is much more fun with their help!

Mikkie Mills, is a freelance writer who often writes about family, home improvements and the occasional DIY project.