Posts Tagged Recovery

Beginning Running with your Dog

There’s no running partner quite like a dog. The uncontrollable joy when you grab your dog’s leash is infectious and is almost guaranteed to get you out of the house to hit the roads or the trails. And who else can we convince to run in rain, snow, sleet, and even a stiff Kansas wind with us? Whether a seasoned runner or a newbie, your dog can help keep you motivated in your toughest moments and be there to share your greatest runs. My dog, Tara, has helped me train for five half marathons. She keeps me going on those tough long runs when I just want to take a break and she races me, pushing me faster, when I’m working on speed. In honor of our upcoming Dog-N-Jog race this weekend, I’ve put together 10 tips for beginning a running program with your pup.

Home stretch of our 10 miler and the snow is just starting to stick to Tara's fur.

1. Warning: Always Consult a Physician Before Beginning an Exercise Routine

We see these signs and warnings every time we go to the gym or read about starting a new exercise routine, and the same goes for our dogs. It’s a good idea to take a trip to the veterinarian before beginning an exercise program with your dog, particularly if she hasn’t had a complete physical in awhile. Just like in people, we want to make sure there are no heart, lung, or musculoskeletal abnormalities before beginning a running program. Also, ask your veterinarian to teach you how to evaluate your dog’s Body Condition Score to determine if she’s at a good weight, which will be helpful for you to evaluate her condition as you increase your mileage. And if your dog is under two years old, make sure to ask what age it is okay to start running so that the repetitive physical stress does not affect joint and bone development in young dogs.

2. Know Your Dog

It’s obvious from the vastly different physical characteristics that different breeds of dog were bred for different purposes and have different strengths and weaknesses. While our herding dogs and sledding dogs may be able to accompany you on even your longest distance runs, smaller breeds and dogs with flattened faces (e.g. pugs, bulldogs, etc.) may only be able to run shorter distances due to their conformation. It’s important to recognize your dog’s abilities and keep your expectations in line so that you are not pushing your dog beyond his physical capabilities.

3. Start Slowly

If your dog has been a couch potato her entire life, or even if she’s active but has never done any endurance running, it’s important to build up slowly to avoid injuries. I follow the same general rules for building doggy training plans as for people – build weeks increasing no more than 10% total mileage and no more than 10% long run distance interspersed every 2-3 weeks with a step back or recovery week. If you are already running consistently, you may want to plan some runs in which you can run a short loop with your dog, drop him off at the house and then continue on the rest of your run until you’ve built up your dog’s endurance.

4. Be Aware of the Weather

Unlike people who can sweat, dogs use panting as their primary mechanism for cooling themselves. Because dogs are also extremely willing to please, they may push themselves past the point of safety on hot days. If you notice your dog is excessively panting, trying to seek shade, or lay down during a run, it’s time to stop and let them cool down. Tara is fairly heat tolerant for a German Shepherd Dog, so my general rule of thumb is no more than 3-5 easy miles when it’s over 80 degrees F. You will need to find the comfortable point for your own dog, and avoid pushing him beyond his tolerance.

5. Hydration

And on that note, if you need water on a run, there’s a good chance your dog does too! For short runs (under 6 miles or so), I don’t carry water and have found that Tara will not drink even if I offer it. On longer runs, especially on warm days, I offer water every time I take a sip. You can teach your dog to drink from a bottle or there are small collapsible bowls you can use that will fit in a hydration belt. Since Tara has never learned to drink from a bottle, in a pinch I will pour water into a cupped hand and let her take a few sips. There’s no need to gorge themselves on water, just enough to quench their thirst.

6. Nutrition

This is a tough aspect to cover, and could fill an entire blog since such a large percentage of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Running is a great way to help your pup get more exercise and lose some of that weight, if needed. You may also be helping your dog live longer, as some studies have demonstrated that thinner dogs may have greater longevity. If your dog is already a good weight – something your veterinarian can help you assess (see #1) – you may have to increase your dog’s rations to fuel the extra exercise. Dogs may also benefit from extra nutrition on long runs (10+ miles), but their smaller size means they probably do not need nearly the number of calories that we do, so it’s important to be careful to find an appropriate balance.

7. Strength and Stretch

I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but just like you, your dog will benefit from strength training and stretching. Cross-training such as swimming, hiking, and tugging can help build muscle strength. You can also use simple tricks such as doggy push-ups, perch training, and backing up to improve body awareness and agility. Learning to do simple stretches and massage on your dog can be a great benefit for them to work out sore muscles.

8. Leash and Potty Training

There are two major training items that can make runs with your dog much more enjoyable. First, is teaching your dog to run properly on a loose leash. I’m not too picky, Tara can run at my side, behind me or in front of me as long as she’s not dragging me around the entire run or constantly crossing my path. I prefer her to run out in front so we’re not stepping on each other on narrow trails, but if she wants to be at my side, who can argue with that? In my opinion it’s easiest to train loose-leash walking then translating that to running. The second major item is teaching your dog to eliminate on command. It’s not a hard thing to teach (simply give the cue you choose every time your dog eliminates) and it saves a lot of frustration on the run. Obviously, when they gotta go, they gotta go, but the less stops the better! Some dogs will catch on to these faster than others, but if you put in the time having both of these “skills” will make runs much more enjoyable. 🙂

9. Observing Your Dog

I’ll never forget the day I was out with Tara and she went completely lame on one leg. She was non weight-bearing, but otherwise happy as a clam. I had no idea what she’d done to herself – there were no yelps of pain, no sudden twists, turns or stops that could have caused it. When I stopped to check her, I found a 3 inch long thorn sticking out of her pad. After removing it, she was back to normal, so we ran home where I was able to clean and more thoroughly evaluate it. It’s incredibly important that you learn to observe your dog for injuries especially through any subtle gait changes. Dogs are so incredibly stoic that they often don’t show us overt signs of pain unless it’s really really bad, so we need to be able to pick up on the little things. Sore muscles or injuries may lead to lameness that requires rest (and possibly vet intervention) for healing. Paw pads are a frequent place of minor and major running injuries, so I try to inspect them daily for any cuts or abrasions. In the summer be aware of the hot asphalt and in the winter, the chemicals and salt used on roads and sidewalks can burn the pads.

10. Have a Blast!

(The obligatory “have fun” tip). Running with your dog is not just a great way to stay motivated and to get fit, it’s fun! Explore new routes, try trail running with your dog, or find a dog-friendly race to do together. Just take the time to appreciate the pure and simple joy that dogs have when they get to go on a run with you. 🙂

What additional tips do you have for running with your dog(s)?

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Disclaimer: The contents of this post and blog are my own opinions and should be used for informational purposes only. The information presented here is not a replacement for your veterinarian’s medical advice or care.

 

 

Yesterday’s Training:

30 minutes yoga

New Rules of Lifting for Women Stage 1, Workout A (1/8)

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A Marathon and Goals for April

Yesterday, I had one of the best double-digit runs, ever.  The weather started a little humid and mid-50s, but cleared up and the sun came out. I ran with the dog, Tara, as well as three other friends and two more dogs. We started on our usually long run route, but instead of doing an out-and-back as we usually do, we mixed it up and turned off at 5 miles to create a loop through town. It’s amazing how a few miles of new scenery can invigorate a long run. On my shorter runs I routinely switch directions and mix things up with new side streets, but on the longer runs I’ve been doing the same route for quite awhile so it made a huge difference to change the route so much.

I think I’ll try to come up with another couple of courses for double-digit runs over the next few months to keep things interesting. It is going to be even more important as I ramp up the mileage for…wait for it…marathon training!  I finally committed and registered for the Richmond Marathon on November 16 in Richmond, Virginia. I am so excited at the prospect of finally tackling 26.2 miles!  My friend, Caitlin, and my hubby are going to run it too, so I’ll have plenty of support in my training here in Kansas and my family in Virginia is already on board with being our support crew while we’re on the East coast.

With such a big race on the horizon, I would like to get back into the habit of setting regular goals throughout the year.  I only set one goal for running for the year and that was to run 1000 miles, which I am a little behind on reaching with my current monthly totals (197.95/1000).  Tomorrow is April 1st, so today seems apropos to start setting some  monthly goals.

Goals for April

1. Run 100 miles in the month. I’ve run just under 200 miles for the year so far, so 100 this month will put me back on track for an even effort in the rest of the year for reaching my 1000 miles goal.

2. Do at least 1 day of weight lifting per week. I would like to start one of the New Rules of Lifting programs again. I’m leaning toward New Rules of Lifting for Women because I’m already familiar with all the moves, don’t need any new equipment, and they’re fairly short routines for the first few months while I’m still in school. My plan is to start by going to the gym this Tuesday during my long lunch break.

3. Prepare 1 new recipe per week. I really enjoyed finding new foods to try and meal-planning during my paleo experiment, and would like to continue adding some fresh new ideas to the repertoire.

4. Do at least 30 minutes of yoga per week. My flexibility is abysmal and running keeps me too tight, so I need to invest more time into stretching and flexibility. I think incorporating yoga into my routine will be a great way to accomplish this.

5. Research the possibility of an early summer triathlon. I’d like to find something to fill the gap between my half marathon training and the beginning of my marathon training. If I find a race that is within an easy morning drive, register and organize my training plan.

Do you have any tips for a first time marathoner? Do you set goals for yourself throughout the year?

Yesterday’s Training:

10.01 mile run

Today’s Training:

Rest day

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Have I Ever Mentioned that I’m a Planner?

In my updated training plan, Mondays are for strength training and stretching, so I did a super-short strength routine and a 30 minute yoga routine at home before school this morning. To continue my experimentation with breathing patterns, I chose a DVD yoga routine that focused on breath work. It wasn’t my favorite routine. While the stretches were decent, they weren’t as extensive as I would have liked and the pace was much slower than I prefer. Also, it was primarily sitting and reclining poses, with no standing poses that I can recall, so there wasn’t much variety. I did think it was good to revisit my breathing and work on deep belly breathing without the added complexity of timing it with running, but I don’t think I’ll use this routine again.

For my newly added strength training component, I would really like to get back into weight-lifting. I used to lift fairly regularly, but got out of the habit and let running take over, including only the tiniest body weight strength training. Now that I’ve decided to only run 5 days a week, I think I can fit in at least one day of weights if I can go before school in the morning or during a lunch break in the afternoons. I hope to figure out a good way to work weights into my schedule to start next week. I think this will be a really important part of injury prevention moving forward.

In other news, I am about 99% sure I am going to register for a marathon in the fall, just not sure which one yet. I think it will likely be in October, which means I’ll have to start seriously training in June! That will be about 6 weeks after my half marathon this spring, so I’m also thinking that will be just enough time to squeeze in training for a sprint triathlon. The Topeka Tinman Triathlon is June 15 and has both Sprint and Olympic distance options that might work perfectly into that 6 weeks.

If you’re new to reading, you’re probably learning (especially after this post!) that I am extremely Type A about planning my training. Spontaneous workouts have never worked for me. I used to go to the gym without a plan and I would just wander around doing various exercises with no rhyme or reason. I was constantly discouraged because I never felt like I had any tangible results. I wasn’t improving in my lifting, in my running ability, or in my general fitness; but when I switched to creating a detailed plan for each day and tracking my progress, I was able to achieve my goals in training and see what I needed to work on when the goals were a little more elusive.

Now, I have a spreadsheet to track all of my workouts, which are already planned for the next 7 months (!) and entered in my Google Calendar. After each run or workout, I enter the details into the spreadsheet, which tracks my mileage for the week, month, and year. It even automatically calculates how many miles I’ve put on each pair of running shoes! I get immense satisfaction from inputting all my data, and it makes me really motivated to follow the schedule. I know I’m obsessive, please don’t judge! 🙂

Sometimes, I wish I were a person who could be more spontaneous – who could go out and just run as far and as fast as they can each time and improve, but I know I am not. I’m neither motivated enough to keep myself working without the accountability of my schedule, nor am I mentally tough enough to push myself enough to make progress. So for now, I’ll cling to my detailed training plans and love every second of preparing them and recording my progress.

Are you a planner or are you more spontaneous in your workout regimen?

Today’s Training:

  • Strength (once through)
    • 15 push-ups
    • 30 crunches
    • 60 second wall sit
    • 15 triceps dips
    • 60 second plank
    • 30 lunges (each leg)
    • 20 squats
  • 30 minutes of yoga (breath work)

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Hiking

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least – and it is commonly more than that – sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. – Henry David Thoreau

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Fridays are rest days, but I wanted to take advantage of the relatively reasonable weather (mid-40s and cloudy but no precipitation) and take the dog for a hike. I met up with a friend and her boyfriend for the first two miles, then did another almost-3 miles with the dog. The quiet calm of a solo hike with Tara was just what I needed today. She got to just be a dog and I got to enjoy just being in the moment.

Usually when I run, my mind goes a mile a minute. I don’t run with music, so my mind always stays busy to keep me from getting bored. I make up stories, think about things going on in my life, and contemplate various random topics.

Hikes, though, are different. For some reason, on a hike, I can completely quiet my mind and be in the moment.

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I don’t stress about school or meeting a certain mileage. I don’t make up stories about my untimely demise (for some reason, being attacked by a herd of deer is a recurrent theme in my running thoughts). I don’t even worry about what time it is. I couldn’t even tell you what I thought about in those two hours today.

I do know that despite the clouds, the lighting was brilliant. There were tiny pockets of snow tucked into the rocks and moss from last night’s flurries. And the birds were singing in the trees.

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When do you find it easiest to be “in the moment”? Do you like to hike?

Today’s Training:

Active recovery day –  4.88 miles hiking

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Emotional

The packing has begun. I got a lot done yesterday and even more done today. I’ve got one room mostly packed with just a few odds and ends left to take care of. I also started on a second room and have a huge pile of things to donate and three huge black trash bags full of garbage. Curtis also started packing the basement. We only have about 17 packing days left and I’ll be working 12 of those days. Crazy.

What with packing all day and a phone call that upset me a bit, I didn’t feel up to going to the gym. I am trying to have some genetic testing for a hereditary type of cancer that I am at risk for inheriting and the doctor’s office is not on top of things. I had to call the insurance company and speak someone who knew nothing about this specific test and I think he just told me what he thought I wanted to hear. Finally, I was able to find a number for someone at the insurance agency who deals with this test specifically, so I’m hoping that things will be ok. I’m waiting for some paperwork in the mail, but fingers-crossed things are taken care of now. I just want it to be over with and get the results!

Needless to say, I was a bit emotional yesterday and a workout probably would have made me feel better, but I opted to stay home and go to the gym this morning instead. Curtis and I both went to the gym and it was surprisingly busy for a Saturday morning, but fortunately, after our warm-ups both squat racks were available for use. I did NROLW Stage 5 Workout B:

A. Barbell Romanian deadlift/bent-over row – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 100 lbs

B1. Partial single-leg squat – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 1st @ 20 lbs, 2nd/3rd/4th @ 22.5 lbs

B2. Wide-grip lat pulldown – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 95 lbs

C1. Back extension – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 35 lbs

C2. YTWL – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 12.5 lbs

D1. Swiss-ball crunch – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 12.5 lbs overhead

D2. Hip flexion – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ BW (Prone Jackknife)

D3. Lateral flexion – 4 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ BW

Then I did intervals:

1 min @ walk 3.5 mph

2 min @ run 12:00 min/mile

1 min @ run 6:40 min/mile

2 min @ run 12:00 min/mile

1 min @ run 6:40 min/mile

2 min @ run 12:00 min/mile

1 min @ run 6:40 min/mile

2 min @ walk 3.5 mph

1 min @ run 6:40 min/mile

2 min @ walk 3.5 mph

1 min @ run 6:40 min/mile

1 min @ run 12:00 min/mile

5 min cool down

I wanted to add another interval to the normal HIIT prescribed by NROLW. I needed more recovery than usual today and had to walk after the 3rd and 4th intervals. I think I may have been a bit dehydrated and that probably played a role. My heart rate got up to at least 200 bpm during the 3rd interval, so I made sure to recover to the 150s range before beginning the 4th and 5th.

I might break the rules and do another workout tomorrow evening. It will be more than 24 hours rest so I think it’ll be okay just this once. I’ll play it by ear tomorrow if I’m overly sore, but I expect I’ll be able to do the last workout A of the phase.

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A Weekend Workout

It felt really nice to wake up in my own bed on Saturday morning! Friday night ended up being a pretty late night with my flight delays, and then Curtis had trouble getting to the airport to pick me up because of construction on the road. We didn’t end up getting home till around 11:30 PM and we stayed up for awhile watching Inception with his dad who was in town for the night. I love the feeling of getting into my own bed after being away for a while. There’s something about it that just makes me really feel like I’m home.

Needless to say, I didn’t want to get out of bed on Saturday morning! Curtis and I decided to go out for a late breakfast, which was really more of an early lunch. He was planning to go into work for a few hours afterward and since we didn’t want to drive two cars, we decided to just take one and I would run home from his office after I had digested. His office is only about 3 miles away from our house, so usually it’s a nice short run. Yesterday, it was incredibly hot and the trail has zero shade along it, so it wasn’t the best conditions for running only a half hour after a meal, but I made it. 🙂 It took me a long time to cool off once I got home – I spent about 30 minutes lying in the hallway under the ceiling fan to cool down.

Later that day, I met Curtis at the gym to lift. I did Workout A of NROLW Stage 5, which took me about an hour and fifteen minutes including my warm-up. My warm-ups consist of 5 repetitions of squat to stand, 5 repetitions of lateral lunges on each leg, 5 repetitions of reverse lunges with twist and overhead reach on each leg and 5 repetitions of the inchworm exercise. After my usual warm-up, I did a specific warm-up for my one-armed dumbbell snatches. I did 5 reps each arm at 12.5 pounds, then 3 reps each arm at 20 pounds, and 1 rep each arm at 22.5 pounds. Then I jumped right into my workout:

A. One-armed dumbbell snatch – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 25 lbs DBs

B1. Dumbbell single-leg Romanian deadlift – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 37.5 lbs DBs

B2. Barbell bent-over row – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 90 lbs BB

C1. Dumbbell single-arm overhead squat – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 15 lbs and 30 lbs DBs

C2. Dumbbell incline bench press – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 27.5 lbs DBs

D1. Plank – 3 sets of 90s with 120s rest @ BW

D2. Reverse wood chop – 3 sets of 4 reps with 120s rest @ 27.5 lbs/27.5 lbs/17.5 lbs

Body Weight Matrix – 2 sets of 24 squats, 12 lunges each leg, 12 jump lunges each leg and 24 jump squats with twice as much rest as work time

First Start: 1:03:50     First End: 1:07:20     Total: 3:30

Second Start: 1:14:20     Second End: 1:17:49     Total: 3:29

The last time I did this workout, I was sore for about four days afterward! That’s pretty unusual for me, but I think it was from doing the Body Weight Matrix after not doing it for awhile. This time, I increased weights on everything and I don’t feel overly sore, so I guess I adapted pretty well. The only change I’ve made is decreasing the weights on the Reverse wood chop on the third set. I have been unable to keep good form and straight arms at the weights I’ve been using. As a result, I haven’t been using my core as much as my arms, so by decreasing the weights I am able to use proper form. I’ll slowly work my way back up, but for now 17.5 lbs was about as heavy as I could handle with good form.

My plan for the week is to lift on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to catch up to where I expected to be by next week. I might also try to add some endurance work as well.

Have a great week!

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Not Quite Recovered

I can’t believe how much time it’s taking to fully recover from Timberman.  I knew it took a lot out of me, but I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get back into my work outs.  I decided I would go for a short run on Friday after class with the dog.  I only wanted to do 30 minutes or so, it’s about all I had time to do since we had dinner plans that evening.  I started out walking as a warm-up for the first 4-5 minutes.  I stuck to the paths near my house, but I purposely picked a route with some pretty good hills so that I could do hill work.  Bad idea.  Even the shallow hills were causing my heart rate to spike.  It reached 194 and I could not get it to come back down.  Considering most of my runs in this area maxed in the 180s and averaged about 165 during HIM training, this was absurd.  My heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest.  I can’t let this be an excuse to continue being a lazy bum, though, so I’m going to just have to deal with it.  At least it was just my heart rate this time, my legs were a little weak, but feel like they’re getting back to normal.

This week will hopefully include some good weight workouts on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  I’d like to run some too.  It’d be nice if I can get my schedule figured out so I can go running or to the gym in the morning before class.  If I could only get to bed just a bit earlier I think I could do it.

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