I see it every year. January comes with a slew of fitness resolutions, but by the time Spring rolls around lots of us have lost our enthusiasm for getting into shape. I know because I used to do the same thing. Once I admitted that I needed extra incentive to achieve my fitness goals, things became a lot easier. Did I promise myself a trip to Kauai if I ran 5 times a week for 10 weeks in row? No, I would still manage to come up with some reason not to follow through. Instead I turned to two very well known tricks for getting into shape.
Trick #1: Sign up for an organized run
It is more difficult to blow off working out when you have the threat of public humiliation weighing on your mind. None of us wants to sign up for a run and then, for whatever reason, not be able to cross that finish line. I have found that simply signing up for an organized run is enough to motivate me to stick to my training plan. Depending on my current fitness level, I pick a distance that I can easily train for in 12 weeks. I then put together a training plan that I know will get me across that finish line healthy and happy on race day.
There are plenty of organized runs to be had and increasingly, lots of runs that you can do with your dog. The first place I look is on active.com, the search mechanism is pretty good and it covers a wide variety of outdoor activities. I like to search for races in Colorado that has the word “dog” in the description. This works pretty well; however, you end up finding races that incude the text “no dogs allowed”. Another resource for finding organized runs that you can do with your dog is provided by DogTrainingSanDiego.com. Their dog events calendar lists lots of organized runs throughout the United States. Finally, you can look under Dog Friendly Events on DogFriendly.com, and find organized runs that are happening in your state. You can see here that they include events not listed on the other two sites. I have found that between these three sources, I can locate most of the organized runs that I can do with my dog in my area.
Trick #2: Run with your dog
Lots of people already know this – there is no better training partner than your dog. As much as I like to run with my friends, my dog is the one who will never be late, will never suggest we go get a margarita instead of going for our scheduled run, and will never complain about what route I choose to take. For example, last Fall I was training for a hilly run and included hill repeats in my weekly training. Did my dog question why I kept running up and down the same hill over and over again? Absolutely not, each time we reached the bottom of the hill and turned around to climb back up she approached it with the same enthusiasm that she had the first time we climbed it. That is exactly what you want in a training partner.
Putting it all together
Organized runs give me a deadline by which I must achieve a certain level of fitness. Training with my dog gives me a way to spend quality time with her, get her the exercise she needs, and fit time into my busy schedule for my own exercise. Everybody wins, and the odds are that at the end of the year I won’t be pulling out the same old list of fitness resolutions. Instead I can focus on headier things.