We know lots of folks with lofty New Year’s resolutions to get in shape, lose weight, go the distance, set a new personal best. We have these goals too, both for ourselves and for our dog Zola. Experience has taught us that understanding two simple truths greatly increases the likelihood that all of us will succeed.
#1 – Enthusiasm is not the same as fitness.
Early in the process, when your goals are freshly minted, it’s easy to over do it. You feel great, you’re following through with exercising, and then without a warning you’ve injured yourself. It’s a classic error that many of us make because we mistake our excitement for getting fit with being fit. We suspect that the same is true for dogs. They can be so excited to run and play that they end up overdoing it. We are especially mindful of this with Zola as she is just starting to run again after her femur surgery.
(Trouble seeing this video? Click here to view Zola Running During Prehab.)
Yep, she looks fantastic. From this video it would be easy to conclude that she is back to her old self. What the video doesn’t show is how she limps when she gets up after lying down for an extended period of time. It also doesn’t show the muscle spasms she has in her leg when she sleeps. While none of these things slow her down much, it’s our responsibility to keep her enthusiasm in check. This leads very nicely to our second truth.
#2 – Slow and steady wins the race.
Before beginning training for a specific event, experienced athletes start off their seasons with a few weeks of “prehab“. During this time athletes work on strength, flexibility, endurance, and diet so that they will be in shape for training. The idea is to decrease the potential for injuries.
We’re doing this during the month of January so that the three of us can start 5-k training next month. Here’s what a prehab plan for dogs/people might look like –
We’ve tailored the plan to our specific needs – a dog who has been recovering from surgery for 3 months, and two people who are experienced runners but have not been running regularly for the past couple of months. It’s based on our goals for the year, including the fitness goals we established for Zola a few weeks back. So far it feels like we’ve struck the right balance, we’re slowly building the foundation for a successful training season while maintaining our enthusiasm for what lies ahead.