I wracked my brain to come up with a way I could get in an hour a day of exercise and still fit in my dog walk. The dog walk isn't really exercise, because with distractions, etc. I don't get my heart rate up high enough to make this cardio that means anything. I thought about running with her at the beginning of winter, but icy sidewalks and a puppy that is still learning leash manners are a recipe for disaster. I kind of put it in the back of mind and forgot about it. I found ways for her to get exercise indoors, and didn't get very much at all myself. I missed a lot of my dance classes from being sick, and at some point I got so far behind that I had no choice but to table the classes until next fall.
Scrolling through Facebook one morning, inspirational powerlifting champ, and fellow dog lover Brooke Fineis had posted this article about a man who came back to life and health with the help of his dog. He lost 140 lbs. He went from sedentary to the picture of health, and regularly runs marathons now. Fortunately, I don't have so far to go, but I cried reading the article and realized I have everything that I need right in my house.
I like setting goals, so I decided to start with training for a 5K. A quick internet search lead me to this plan: Coach Jenny's Doggy 5K Run Plan.I loved the way that the plan was set up in intervals to get you and your dog up to speed in a gradual and logically building pattern. All of this on Sunday night. Monday we started.
Day One: I got home from work, and was eager to get begin. I couldn't find my sports watch that has an interval timer on it. I haven't seen it since I moved, so it might never reappear. I tried to figure out setting my phone for the intervals but it wasn't cooperating. I knew I had very limited time open in my evening, so I did something that will probably make you laugh. I counted out the intervals the old fashioned way: one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, etc. I am sure this sounds ridiculous, but you know what, nothing was stopping me from starting on Monday. When life throws me curves I improvise.
My plan to run by the water was quickly foiled by the chilly air, but we took a pretty route through neighborhoods and past parks. I found out that my dog, KD, does wonderfully on the leash with the jog. She seems to love the pace, and is almost unaffected by the usual distractions that challenge our walks: other dogs, kids playing, people. This was so much fun. We seemed to be in sync. She was even better than she is in our usual walks in the walking intervals that followed the jogs. I'm sure that was a combination of tiring her out a bit and her understanding pacing. I used the command, "walk, " for the walking parts and, "jog," for the jogging or running parts. We walked for another half hour or so after the formal program because we are both used to about an hour or so for our walks.
Day Two: I woke up feeling great and not even a bit sore. I felt my mood at work was lifted from the experience of the night before. I couldn't wait to get home and see how our Day Two was going to go. When I got home I found a simple interval timing app for my phone that had sounds you could assign to designate intervals. Much better than, "one-one thousand...etc." I didn't let the light rain deter me even a tiny bit. As I walked KD to "go to the bathroom," she started the typical pulling and distracted behavior that I have been working to train out of her. Once we started the intervals, though, she was all business. She followed commands like a champ, and it was another great experience. We finished up just as the serious rain started. We stopped in front of the statue of St Francis, and I said a little prayer of thanks. I am not sure whether she did, but she sure seemed calm and happy out in the pouring rain. We headed home feeling good, and her behavior for the entire evening was extra good. I think we are on to something pretty darned cool here.