Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Adopt a Running Buddy

A couple of years ago I was desperately seeking canine companionship.  Having moved out of my parents' place and in with the boo, I was no longer surrounded by fur beasts or "the noses" as my niece lovingly calls my parents' three wooly mammoths Australian Shepherds.  My boo is a relatively sedentary person, and being the complete opposite I'm always wanting to go for a run or walk about the city.  Back then, this amazing volunteer effort caught my eye called "The Monster Milers" where you can basically rent a shelter dog for an hour to accompany you on walks and runs throughout the city.  The dog wears an "Adopt Me" vest, gets his exercise, you get the reward of companionship and volunteering, and you both receive lots of friendly attention from potential parents who spot you running.

My experiences surrounded the PAWs shelter on 2nd and Arch street.  On a weekly basis I'd run to the shelter, take a pup out for a stroll or a run (depending on the pup), and run home.  It was ideal except that I wanted the pup to come home with me, every single time.  After adopting Harry, I haven't been back to PAWs mainly because I've got to run and walk my own fur-baby.  However the organization has grown and spread to a number of shelters in the city, which makes me really happy. 

If those paragraphs didn't convince you to go out and adopt a running buddy or at least volunteer with a shelter, maybe the following will.

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Adopt a Running Buddy:

1.  Availability 24/7
Harry runs at 5:30am, in the afternoon, and as late as 9pm.  Maybe he's a little slower the earlier he rises, but he's never turned me down for a run.  That kind of flexibility just isn't common among human running buddies.  Harry also will run in the snow, in the rain, and in hail even with 30 mph winds.  He makes the same squinty face I do in the elements.

2.  Potential bodyguard
Running with a dog I've noticed I get less cat calls (hey & cat pun).  "Girl, you ain't doin nothin wrong", kissy sounds, "Can I run witchoo?", "HEY WHERE ARE YOU RUNNING TO?  WHYYYY ARE YOU RUNNING!!??" from vagrants and creepers on the streets of Philadelphia.  As far as this city goes, it seems like 40% of the population is intimidated by least that's what it looks like when Harry goes in for a rushed tail wagging greeting.  Most passersby flinch as if he might attack them while I'm repeatedly apologizing for his behavior.  Even though I need to work on Harry's "friendly greetings", I'm pleased with the intimidation factor.  Back off creepers.

3.  Guilt-free Breaks
Say you're pushing out 8:30 minute miles, acting like it's no big deal, you're not tired.  Yet you are dying for a light to turn red so you have an excuse to stop.  Dogs need to do their business (in Harry's case multiple times) and greet every one of their dog friends on your route, giving you ample time to pause your watch and catch your breath without feeling like a cheater.  Oh I did 8:30s for 3 miles and it took me 45 minutes?  That's not what my watch says...

4.  Distraction Factor
Nothing beats good conversation during a run.  The miles fly by with little effort, and you're left socially and physically satisfied.  It's a similar story with dogs, except it's less awkward when you're wheezing your words or run out of things to say.  You'll also find that your conversations are completely different than they would be with your human running buddies.  For example, I can say out loud "oh Harry look that's a nice stick!" when the same statement would result in an odd stare or possibly desertion with a different species.  Plus, one ends up distracting themselves by keeping an eye out for what I call Harry Hazards like chicken bones, pieces of hair weave, birds (both alive and dead), goose poop (Harry's latest craving), and other dogs.  Ah the streets are alive, Philadelphia!

5.  Kill Two Birds with One Stone
Speaking of dead birds, running with your dog accomplishes two things.  Your workout is complete, and your dog is likely pooped.  A tired dog equals a happy dog, and a tired dog means he won't be getting into mischief when you're away.  If I can get a 5+ mile run out of Harry, chances are he'll sleep the rest of the day. 
Quick photo shoot at a stop light - Harry poses dramatically
Bonus:  Unanticipated Speedwork
Track day or tempo day is a day I dread.  Speedwork definitely improves your pace, but it is painful.  What better way to incorporate sprints into your run than by sporadically sprinting after a squirrel?  It's common for me to do a few blocks of faster paced running based on a dog walking ahead, birds, cats, or if the grass smells really good that day.  I've also realized that running with Harry adds some strength training to my workouts.  Running uphill is hard, but running uphill while pulling your 45 pound mutt is harder. 

Harry has definitely improved my running habits.  I've found myself being motivated by him to pick up the pace, and even myself motivating him to keep up.  Both have made my runs more fun and rewarding.  At the end of our runs, when we're two blocks from home I can yell "Go Harry!  Go!  Go!  Go!" and he'll take the leash into his mouth and sprint ahead pulling me to the finish.  What other kind of running buddy will drag you towards a strong finish any time of day?  Are you sold yet?  Get on already!

No comments:

Post a Comment