Get running with your dog around the Isle of Wight #5Khoundbound
January is traditionally the time of year when our owners resolve to get fit, and following a running plan is a brilliant way to do this with the Isle of Wight offering some inspirational routes to try. The Couch to 5K programme is a perfect introduction to running if you are a first timer, can keep you motivated if you are a dip in and out runner (that was my fur mom) or a great way to build up strength if you need to get back on their feet after injury or time out.
For some humans self motivation is the hardest thing to overcome with any new fitness regime so having some spectacular places to train really helps, and the Island is full of them! If your dog can cope with running up to 3 miles (please check with the vet if you are unsure, they are not all scary) then this adds another reason to start. After all, we need our daily walk so why not get our hearts racing and ears flapping with a run.
My fur mom has exercised regularly for most of her adult life but tends to move between different types of activity. Running was a very erratic pastime which involved quite a lot of cheating – walking the up hills and running the downs! When I joined her pack 8 years ago she started running with me but it was fairly hit and miss. So fur mom joined a local Couch to 5K programme run by the inspirational personal trainer Julie Dixon and has never looked back.
During the programme quite early on I joined her on her training runs around the West Wight and eventually we both got the hang of it. Now I don't stop for sniffs or territorial marking until I'm off the lead and she keeps my attention with treats so I don't get distracted. At the end of 2017 a 1 year old rescue dog with no training at all joined our pack and he's already got the hang of it too! Uphills are now very, very speedy for fur mom when we are on the leash. We never fail to be inspired by the amazing coastal landscape we enjoy here on the Isle of Wight as our running backdrop. Hop over to my Instagram account @spikethevizsla to see some of our favourite Island running selfies!
As the programme moves on my fur mom will be sharing her dog running tips with you and different routes to to try around the Isle of Wight. Julie will also be adding her running advice and motivational tips to keep you going.
To ensure you don't miss each blog and details of more of our favourite 5K runs and special trails you can enjoy with your dog on the Island join my global fur pack newsletter at trottingdog.com.
Before we get going in the next blog I'll hand over to my fur mom for her top 5 tips on getting ready to start.
Top 5 tips on getting ready to start running
Pre run planning
Download any of the Couch to 5K apps to your phone before you start, the free NHS Live Well plan is easy to follow. Each week during the programme there are 3 runs so try running with your dog for just 1 of these for the first few weeks. This gives you time to focus on getting fit without too much of a doggy distraction. For each of your dog run sessions map out your route in advance so you know where you are going and how dog friendly this will be. If you live in a town near a school then avoid pick up and drop off times for example. Keep to the same route until your dog is familiar with running this with you, it then becomes part of their routine and your run will be much easier to complete.
Dogs are distracting
Following a running plan with a dog is different to running solo so expect things to veer off course, literally and figuratively. Dogs sniff. They pull, they poo and they like to say hello to other dogs (unless your pooch is extremely well trained). The good news is that after a few sessions your dog will become familiar with how they must behave when running with you as opposed to a walk or social visit.
The Couch to 5K programme is timing not distance based, so if your dog gets in a tangle or you can't round him up after letting him off the lead then pause the programme and restart when you are ready to go again. Each session is as much about training them as you so don't be disheartened if things are start and stop at the beginning. Eventually you will be able to run a seamless 5K and clip your dog on and off the lead without even pausing for breath.
Essential pooch prep
Take these 3 essential items on dog runs - poo bags, treats and phone. Specialist running kit for you and your dog are covered later in this blog series, but for now don't worry too much about investing in anything apart from a good fitting pair of trainers until you know whether running with your dog works for you.
Be flexible with your warm up
Most Couch to 5K programmes allow 5 minutes of brisk walking to warm up. With your dog the first thing they will probably do when they get outside is go to the toilet. With this in mind allow more time to warm up by waiting to start the programme until you think your dog has settled or done their business. Once your dog becomes familiar with 'trainers on = a non stop run' then you can get going much sooner. Trust me, they will know when you are about to go out, it must be something to do with that sweaty shoe smell!
With yourself! There will be days in your running journey both with and without your dog when things feel rubbish. One day you may feel like you have no energy, another day your dog might be a real pickle, sometimes you may feel like things aren't progressing at all. This will happen. Likewise, some days you'll be riding high on the adrenaline from a great run, your dog will behave impeccably or you'll be surprised that your daily session is over so quickly. You are in this for the long game and lifestyle change for you and your hound. Within 2 months you will be able to reflect back on week 1 and see how far you have come. So persevere. If the dog running element really isn't working then simply come back later to it by introducing your pooch at a different stage in the plan. It is worth it.
Next time we will be taking you through week 1 of the programme looking at the practical logistics of running with a dog and getting some tips from Julie for first time runners.
We would love to see your dog run stories so please share them with us through social media and remember to tag us @myisleofwight and @spikethevizsla or use our hashtag #5khoundbound.
14 January 2018