Walking Your Dog for More Running Mileage
The dog in the picture is our dog Niki. She looks a bit sad in the picture but she’s not a sad dog. In fact the look on her face is her trying to hold back her enthusiasm. She knows we are about to head out the door walking.
We’ve had dogs for 20 years or more. One of the dogs, Scout became my running partner when we lived in Germany. There were trails right outside the door that connected to other trails. Scout and I could run 3 hours together. Her, off the leash running all over the place and me just getting it done. She was a great dog. When we moved back to San Diego, we brought Scout with us but her running days were over. We would go out every day twice a day to walk. I never thought of the benefits just the fun.
We got Niki shortly after we returned. She was never a running partner but she’s a pure bread Chocolate Lab. They need copious amounts of excesize or they have a tendancy to get fat. We walk twice a day every day.
I’ve come to realize that the 14-20 miles each week walking Niki adds up to a bunch of low stress miles. We walk twice a day around an open space near our house. One lap is one mile. Each time we walk we cover one or more laps. That’s 14-20 miles a week.
My first indication of the benefits was in the morning. Niki gets walked before I run, ride or swim. That walk gets the blood pumping in my legs after a long sleep. A few times I would run before we walked. I noticed on those days that it took me a great deal longer to warm up. Today even if my running buddies want to meet at 6:00am Niki and I head out before the run. It feels that good to be relatively warmed up before the actual run.
On the second walk of the day we have more freedom. We aren’t on a schedule to go anywhere. We hit all the hills and single track trails in our park. While I am walking I concentrate on firing my glutes and taking good strong steps up the hills. We always cover a good 1.5 miles of walking the hills together. Of course Nike covers a great deal more because she’s off leash running around.
None of this mattered to me until I got my Polar M430. It counts my daily steps. Obviously on days I run my step count is well above the average daily count. On days I don’t run my step count stays high. My average step count is 15,000/day. That’s 3 hours a day at 80 steps a minute. I started to realize this counted for something. It’s not running but it counts in the total fitness.
Just to set the record straight. The walking I do with the Chocolate Lab is not logged on my Training Peaks or on Strava. It’s not a workout, and it never dawned on me to make it one. What it is 15 or so miles in my legs every week, rain or shine. Add 30 miles a week of running on top of that and it becomes substantial.
Now I’m not suggisting you adopt a dog to get more miles in. I am suggesting that you take your dog out frequently especially before you work out in the morning. You’ll find the walk is the perfect low stress warm up. If you don’t have a dog, you can still log in good quality low stress miles walking. 20 minutes in the morning before you run will do wonders for your run.