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Dog running – How I run 15 miles per day

I try to write about what no one else knows. No one can copy that. No one can fake that.

What do I know?

I know what it’s like to run 15 miles every day in all weather.

Fifteen miles is an average day. Sometimes I run (and walk) 20 miles. Sometimes five or six.

I am in the best shape of my life.

In May I ran in my first full marathon, and I was nervous about hitting the dreaded wall (the point where the marathoner literally runs out of energy). The wall generally happens around mile 20, and then it’s survival mode.

I never hit a wall. Not even close.

At the end of the race, I felt like I could run another 26 miles.

I’ll probably end up running one of those damn 50- or 100-mile races just because I feel like I should.

You know what I’ve realized? I’m a professional runner.

Chocolate colored labradoodle and pudel pointer in the snow

I started a small business in August of 2008 where I take people’s dogs on 30- or 60-minute running sessions. This changed my running.

Before I started my dog running business, I always wanted to complete a marathon, but I never could.

I followed a typical marathon training plan two or three times. The plan always started with daily 2- or 3-mile runs and a longer weekend run starting with 6 miles and increasing over time to about 20 miles.

This plan always kicked my ass, and I was never able to complete it without injury. I would end up with damaged hamstrings, a sore ankle or bum knees. Or all of the above. No matter how slowly I tried to build up the mileage, I always got injured.

Eventually, though, I was at least in “good enough” shape to start my business. I’m not sure I believed “Run That Mutt” would actually take off. I just had a new obsession based around running with my own dog and a few rescue dogs. If someone would pay me to run her crazy mutt, I would be in.

If you want to become a distance runner, just start slowly.

And I mean slowly.

Like, run a mile once a week for a couple months. Forget about speed.

Then build up to the point where you can run three miles at one time. Increase that over time to about six miles. Then run six miles a few times a week for an entire year before you even think about training for a marathon.

Get your body adapted to running so running itself is not such a big deal. Then shoot for 10 miles after six miles seems like nothing. Do that for a couple of months.

When I started my dog running business, I had to build up my miles slowly and that worked to my benefit. I didn’t have many customers at first so I would run three miles a day. Then four. Then a few months later I had a few more customers and I was running six miles in a day. Then eight. After a year or so I was doing 10 miles consistently and so on.

As far as marathon training is concerned, you’re better off doing less and remaining injury free than training too hard. At least you know you’ll make it to the starting line.

The finish line is not what you should be worried about at this point. Most people don’t even get to the starting line.

Me, a runner?

I still don’t think of myself as a runner. I’m pretty darn slow, actually. I run at about an 11-minute mile pace most of the time. “Serious” runners would laugh at this. They might even say that it’s not running. It’s jogging.

As far as I’m concerned, if you are not standing or crawling or walking, then you must be running. Jogging does not exist. I have never gone “jogging.” I never will.

Many of the people in my life do not view me as an athlete. They think I play with dogs all day.

“Oh … you have a ‘dog walking’ business? Do you get paid?”

I know I bring this upon myself. I don’t brag about myself at all, normally. I don’t even talk about myself unless someone asks.

I forget that what I do is impressive to most people.

I can run a marathon on a Saturday and then go back to work Monday and run another 16 miles without a problem. And then on Tuesday get up and do it again and then again on Wednesday.

Most people struggle to even run 3 miles. I forget that. I take my ability for granted.

The body’s ability to adapt to high mileage

My body has adapted so well that running 15 miles per day is basically as easy for me as it is for a couch potato not to work out at all.

People say things like, “Wow! You must be able to eat whatever you want!”

Actually, not really. Because our bodies adapt. It’s not a big deal for my body to run 15 miles per day. It’s like, if you walk a mile every day, it’s not really much of a challenge after awhile, is it? You don’t lose any weight. You maintain your weight or even gain weight.

Since I run somewhere around 15 miles every day, it is no longer a challenge.

To lose weight, I would have to mix up my exercise routine, and that seems impossible for me right now. Lift some weights. Swim. Sprint. I haven’t made this a habit, so I accept the consequences of my actions.

Adapting to the cold

Another weird thing I’ve noticed after four winters of dog running in North Dakota (this winter is my fourth) is that my body heats up really fast in the cold. Like, really fast.

No matter how cold it gets outside, I still run. My body seems to have adapted to this, and as long as I’m moving I don’t need many layers to keep warm. I’m usually hot.

If it’s 0 degress (F) outside, I might wear a single long-sleeve shirt designed for warmth and my running jacket and I’ll be warm within 15 minutes. My cut off for wearing any gloves at all is 18 degrees. If it’s above 18 degrees, it’s too hot for gloves.

I just find it fascinating how our bodies really do adapt to whatever we give them.

If you eat mostly fast food and soda, your body adapts. If you only sleep four hours a night, your body adapts. If you swim 80 hours per week, your body adapts. It’s really amazing.

I know I will never have to deal with injured knees or hamstrings or ankles anymore.

Sure, I might slip and fall or trip over my own feet like any idiot, but my body has adapted well to the abuse of running.

And what about the dogs? How do they do it?

The dogs adapt, too.

Running with a dog for 30 minutes or 60 minutes really isn’t a lot of work for most dogs. When they run with me every day, they become fit, too. I wish I could find a way to take them all running together for about 15 miles at one time. It’s just not realistic because of their various speeds and temperaments and excitement levels.

If I come up with a realistic idea to allow for group runs of four or five dogs, I’ll let you know. That could really be something.

I’ve also thrown around the idea of offering longer runs for dogs, something like 13- or 15-mile runs. A 15-mile run is exactly what some dogs need. And they are very capable of running at least that distance.

The possibilities of a dog runner are endless.

Who would’ve thought?

Follow this link to learn how to start your own dog running business.

I’d love to hear your running stories, whether you are a seasoned runner or just getting started. Also, what are some crazy ways your body has adapted?

Here’s a picture of Ranger and Annie. They go running with me several times per week. They take their running very seriously. Both have ran more than 750 miles with me since September 2010. Annie is close to breaking 1,000 miles!

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Keith Amdur

Sunday 29th of January 2017

When I started dog walking dogs it was because I dig dogs.It started with people watching Emma Lou(yellow lab) and I always out for a walk.We go to the hills,lakes,creeks,beach and different cities,towns to get her use to different situations.I`m 57 years old.At that time I was in ok to good shape.My neighbors asked me if I would walk and train there dogs.I started with 3 dogs to walk.I went online and found Liondsay`s blog.She said she runs/hikes with dogs.I thought wow thats what I`m going to do.I did not know anything about the dog walking business.I started Dog run and hike for my business.People love it.There dogs are in great shape now and so am I.Where I live theres a lot of open land with lakes and hill to hike and run.I`m loving the hell of this and I owe it all to Lindsay.Theres this groove you get into while your jogging with dogs.The whole dog walking/jogging business is the coolest thing.People pay me good too.I have to get a lot better at the business side of things but I`m learning.

Lindsay Stordahl

Sunday 29th of January 2017

So glad it's all going so well and that you're loving this!

Alicia

Monday 2nd of November 2015

Wow, 15 miles a day! For me that's a lot even though I do run, cycle and/or walk with my dogs daily. It would probably be quite fun to run that much though, do you go to a lot of different places when running? Or do you have basic routes you usually run?

I train canicross with Jet. We train twice a week, and do a few long sprints each session + warm-up and cool down walks and runs. We have signed up for our first canicross race, which will be 2.5k, but hopefully we'll be able to run it quite fast. I attempt to run 4k at least once or twice a week, but lately I've been a bit lazy, and just walked or cycled. Jet's crazy though. He could actually run all day, even after canicross training, he would be ready for another one half an hour later.

Really good post, nice and informative, and motivated me to possibly try running more often with Jet. I think I'll try to run just a bit more next time! :D

Wendy

Monday 22nd of September 2014

I have been an athlete and active in my younger years (now 44 years old). I've tried to stay active, going to the gym, running.. But never have maintained a routine. I've gained 30 pounds from my younger years and have struggled to get it off. This year (now that my kids are grown and I actually have time for me) I decided to make a commitment to run and get in shape. I also decided to get a running partner (dog) since I was running alone. I researched the local shelters and found my perfect mate. Remi and I have been running together for about 4 months now every other day. She loves it and has really kept me motivated. We are doing intervals of walking/running/sprinting with the use of an app built for interval training. We are up to 41 minutes on our workouts and approx 3.5 miles. Remi would not even walk a mile without lying down when I got her because she was in the shelter for almost a year. She now loves our time outdoors. She has been my best motivator and I'm down almost 20lbs. I can't resist her stares to get out the door even on the days I'm not really feeling it, but i just can't resist her eagerness. Running with her has been a wonderful experience and life changer. She's an awesome dog!

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 23rd of September 2014

That's so good to hear that you have been running with your dog and that you both enjoy it so much. I agree, dogs are the best motivators, and I think running with them can be so relaxing. Well, maybe not relaxing all the time, but it's a stress reliever for me.

Lori Burns

Wednesday 27th of August 2014

Hi Lindsay, I have a 3-5 year-old Doberman mixed with maybe some Rottie and/or some Lab--she's a rescue so we don't know her history at all. For several years I have been doing intervals: 1 min. jogging, 2 min walking, for about 35 minutes total. My old Dobe loved to go and could have gone for hours, but I end up dragging this one along after about the first 12 or 15 minutes. I don't think she's getting tired, since she trots along happily once I stop jogging, and when we get home she's sprinting away in the backyard after the squirrels and birds. I go in the early morning before any heat mounts, and we got her last Spring so I don't know how she'll be when the whether gets cooler. Do you have any advice for getting her to keep up? Besides it being a real pain, having to drag her 70 pounds is throwing off my gait and starting to hurt my back. Thanks!

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 27th of August 2014

Hi Lori! I'm glad you're running with your dog! I have taken a few hundred dogs running over the years, and there are some that are just not big on speed. They run behind me the whole time and then come home and still have energy, so it might be the speed that is the issue with your dog.

Some things I do to get a dog to speed up are to actually slow down to the dog's pace and then get the dog excited with my voice, to get them to chase me and run at my speed. I then say things like "Woo! Yeah, Buddy!" and I'm sure I look ridiculous.

Other than that, I'm not sure what you can do. If she is in great shape, she may just not be a runner. Maybe bring highly valued treats? A squeaky toy? I know that's not the best but just brainstorming.

Also, for what it's worth - I am a fairly "slow" runner. I do about 10-minute miles on average and I am still faster than most dogs. Do you think you are just too fast for your dog and your last dog was just faster than most? The one purebred Dobie I have gone running with was by far the fastest dog I've taken. He could also go for hours like your previous dog.

Katelyn

Sunday 16th of March 2014

I LOVE YOUR BLOG! I also love running with my dog! I have a border collie mix (with healthy joints) named Delilah. I believe much of what you write (about running) is common sense but it is very nice to hear it from someone other than myself. Running is our therapy together. Delilah's behavior and mine are much better after a long run.

Lindsay Stordahl

Sunday 16th of March 2014

I'm so glad you understand! I agree, my behavior is also much better after a long run! :)