It’s not always easy to run with a dog. Stopping to sniff, stopping to pee, running from one side of you to the other to smell the latest aroma on a passing tree. That’s unless your dog runs nicely at heel. Guinness doesn’t at first, and I’m ok with him having a bit of an explore when we first head out. After a few kilometres, he’s neatly at my side and pretty much stays there for the rest of the run.
With all that going on, the last thing I want to do is add a loose shoelace to the mix. I’m watching where the dog is, avoiding an ankle tap that will send me flying, only to trip over a loose shoelace. Fortunately, I discovered Safe Lace. This clever yet very simply designed item secures my laces so I don’t have to worry about them coming undone.
This post is for the human in your running partnership and has been written because I’m injured, I was getting better and I didn’t rest enough and now I’m sore again. It’s my own fault, and I’m frustrated.
Everything is going great; running is like breathing, training becomes the most freeing part of the day, miles fly under your feet rather than passing slowly, and then all of the sudden: ouch! Sometimes, the pain of being told not to run is greater than the actual pain of the injury. But this is the most dangerous time for runners.
When the will to run becomes strong and the injury stops hurting after a couple of days, health professionals can seem ridiculous in saying to wait weeks to get back out there. After all, you know your own body. It feels fine, and surely a short jog wouldn’t hurt? Doctors, podiatrists and physiotherapists tend to be over-conservative in their prescriptions for rest time, right? When we want something, rationalisation becomes easy and the years of training and experience that our medical team have under their belts seem irrelevant. They aren’t.
I have had dodgy feet for pretty much all of my life. I have high arches, hallux rigidus in my right big toe (due to a suspected broken toe a few years ago) and Morton’s toe (a long second toe which causes pain in the ball of my foot when running). If I was a horse, they’d probably shoot me. So, I was excited to read about a new shoe design that seemed to not only accommodate all my issues, but would make me faster. I was keen to give them a run.
The Airia One incorporates an innovative biomechanical design, which the manufacturer claims affects your stride and alters your muscle usage. This leads to an improved performance. The sole of the shoe is asymmetric; it is thinner on the inside and sharply angled, with an upward pointing toe, which optimizes the biomechanics. The shoe’s inspiration comes from the wheel, with designers stating that it provides the runner with a wheel-like motion that makes running more smooth and stable.
This shoe has been decades in the making, with every aspect of the shoe analysed and tweaked to maximise and utilise the power of the human body. Its designers are convinced that wearing a pair of these running shoes will not only enhance your comfort by correcting poor biomechanics but will also improve your performance. They claim that 8 out of 10 runners wearing the shoes noticed an increase in pace ranging from between 1% and 7%.
The shoes are most definitely geared towards the more serious athlete. It’s not easy to walk in them, so they’re not a shoe to wear when you pop down to the shops or pick up the kids from school. There is a breaking-in period for them; the manufacturers recommend that you run up to 10km in them before you decide if they’re right for you. There can be some calf discomfort when you first start running in the Airia One, but this soon settles as you get used to them.
So, did this shoe work for me?
Sometimes, running with your dog just doesn’t seem to go according to plan. Your dog might lag behind, or he might want to stop after just a few kilometres or he may even run in front and trip you up. All of these can take the pleasure out of sharing a run with your four legged buddy. So what can you do about these problems? In a nutshell, it all boils down to training.
Any behaviour has a reason behind it: a dog might react in a certain way in a particular situation because of fear, excitement, previous training, or because of an innate breed-related behavioural characteristic. Dogs are also very good at picking up on cues you give them, and they learn what’s going to happen next. That’s why lots of dogs get excited when they see their lead – they know they’ll be going out. If you’re trying to train your dog to run well with you, then it’s worth considering bringing in one or two new cues which he will learn to associate specifically with running. You might use a running harness he doesn’t wear at any other time, or you might choose a really tasty food treat that you never give him except when you’re running. Over time, your dog will learn what’s expected of him when that particular harness or treat is in use.
A border collie’s herding instinct could get in the way of your running because she might keep trying to run around you – to round you up. She might not do this with anyone else in the park; because you are her “flock” it’s you she wants to herd. Border collies can be trained to drive sheep ahead of them, so in this situation I’d encourage her to run just behind you so she can herd you from behind. Every time she gets ahead, stop her, and ask her to continue once you’re a step ahead again. You’ll need to start this at walking pace before moving up a gear. Alternatively, go back to basics and train her to walk at heel then gradually increase your pace while always rewarding her for staying calmly by your side.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a running buddy of the month. Meet Camo, an almost 2 year old Koolie mix from Queensland. Camo holds a special place in our heart because he was one of a litter of 7 orphaned puppies that came into our home when they were just one week old. It was quite a bit of work with three hourly bottle feeds around the clock in the early days, then the cleaning up when the pups figured out that solid food was as good to lie in as it was to eat! Still, it was a labour of love and we still love Camo lots!
Look at him now! He’s the most beautiful dog with a lovely happy nature. He’s been working through the Pooch to 5k program with his owner, Jackie, and really enjoying himself. Check out the smile in this photo; this is after his first 20 minute non-stop run. He’s a natural!
It’s not all been smooth sailing for Jackie and Camo. There have been some runs that were a struggle, but that happens to all of us, no matter what level we’re at. Jackie just took a step back, repeated a session or two then moved on. It won’t be long at all before they’ve hit that magical 5km mark.
Camo lives quite a way away from us these days, but we’re still hopeful that one day we’ll catch up with him again, and he can say hi to his Uncle Guinness and Uncle Cinnabar. Keep running, Camo
Short nosed breeds of dog, like this gorgeous British Bulldog, are popular companions, but the shape of their head and neck makes them totally unsuitable as running buddies. Some other breeds that fall into this category include Boxers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Pugs and French Bulldogs. They’re known as brachycephalic breeds – “brachy” meaning “shortened” and “cephalic” meaning “head”. There are degrees of brachycephalic-ness, for want of a better word – some Staffies and Boxers have a longer nose than others and may be less adversely affected by the shape of their head but owners still need to take a great deal of care with them.
The problem with the short head is that it has adverse effects on a dog’s respiratory tract. Their nostrils are usually narrower and their soft palate is longer than normal which can block the entrance to their windpipe. There are small pouches in the larynx called laryngeal saccules which, in a brachycephalic dog, are everted which means they stick out into the larynx. This means that there are many obstructions that get in the way of air reaching the windpipe and to top it all off, in these breeds the windpipe is often narrower than normal.