When you have a dog meant to RUN all day, sometimes you end up running a lot too. And then you might do something crazy like sign up for an ultra marathon.
Ultra marathon training with dogs
I’ve been running for years and completed a marathon and many half-marathons. I even started a business where I took dogs on running sessions and covered up to 20 miles per day with dogs at my side.
But I’m new to “ultras.” And I’m new to distance running on trails. Most of my distance running has been on pavement or sidewalks.
My husband Josh and I signed up for a January 2018 50-mile trail race. Dogs aren’t allowed for safety reasons unfortunately, but our pup Remy can still train with us.
I thought I’d write a bit about our training since we’re just getting started. If people seem interested, I’ll update this post as we progress.
For a more basic guide on how to run with your dog, see:
Distance running and dogs
First things first, not all dogs are cut out for distance running, and not everyone agrees dogs should even go running at all. There are also people who believe I should not be running with my weimaraner until he’s 18 months old. Heck, some people lost their goddamn minds when I took my puppy walking. See my post: How far can I walk my puppy?
So, what it comes down to is knowing yourself and knowing your dog. Consult with your dog’s vet and breeder, and then ultimately you have to make the best choice.
I personally believe running is great for most dogs and I tend to start them out running at an earlier age than most. This is because people are SLOW and when I run with my dog he is actually just trotting. You can read more about my general opinions on what age to start running with puppies HERE.
Ease into the miles
This goes without saying, but you obviously need to gradually train your dog to handle distance running.
Remy has been walking daily since he was 8 weeks old, and he’s been running regularly a few times per week since January. This includes a weekly 5-mile run.
Needless to say, his paws are tough and he’s in great shape with a lot of muscle. His joints also appear to be healthy, according to his vet.
I believe now is a safe time to start increasing Remy’s miles.
Our ultra marathon training plan
Our current training plan consists of:
- 1 weekly long run
- 1 sprint workout mid-week
- 2 cross-training workouts or light running
- 3 days for rest/walking
Our dog tags along for all of this.
We plan to add about 15 minutes to our long runs each Saturday, so these will gradually start to get longer and longer.
Our training is more about time on our feet vs. speed. We have been generally running 20 minutes, then walking 5 minutes, repeat.
This is no problem for Remy so far, especially when we head out early and it’s not too hot. It will get more challenging as the longest runs get longer and we’ll have to think about bringing enough water for him and keeping him cool.
Obviously, once we start hitting longer runs of 15, 20 and 25+ miles we will evaluate how far we think Remy should go. Our dog does not have an off switch. He will go until he drops, so it’s up to us to watch out for him.
Update: I’ve found Remy’s limit to be about 90 minutes at least for this time of year (mid July). He gives 110% and gets hot and tired even when our runs start at 6 a.m.
In general, people can outrun dogs once we hit a certain distance. Dogs are fast, but most are not capable of the distances people can do. There are always exceptions, of course.
Can we say, Iditarod?
Like huskies, weimaraners are not your average dogs either. They are bred for endurance!
I don’t know how many miles the average bird dog covers in the field hunting, but my dog is bred for work! His parents are working dogs, and this pup is 100% committed to run, run, RUN!
Quick stats: June 13
- Days till race day: 214
- Current weekly miles: 25
- Weekly long run: 75 minutes
Gear we use for our dog:
- Mighty Paw hands-free leash (pictured below)
Looking into buying:
- Ruffwear hydration dog backpack (pictured below)
The joy of running with dogs
Running with a dog is relaxing for me, even if I’m running with a maniac like Remy. Time on the trail is my weekly meditation, and I’m so glad Josh can experience this too.
This is why I love dogs so much. They’re eager for adventures and the outdoors and they’re just as eager to crash on the couch afterwards. Yes, even weims eventually do crash!
Dogs are grounding for me. Inspiring, simple and peaceful.
Our weim may not be a trained hunting dog. He’s not a very obedient dog or a well-mannered dog. But he’s an adventure dog!
He leads us where we want to be.
How about the rest of you. Do you run with your dog?
Do you have any questions about running with dogs?
Let us know in the comments!
-Lindsay, Josh, Ace & of course Remy!
Follow along on Instagram HERE.
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P.S. Just want to give a little shoutout to the world’s best dog, Ace! He may be retired, but I do not forget the thousands of miles we covered together. He’s very much enjoying his retirement. Good boy, Ace!