5 Lessons Runners Can Learn from Dogs

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Have a dog? There’s a lot you can learn from your dog — especially if you’re a runner!

So hard to get photos of Bandit stretching, even though he literally does it all day long!

Stretch first!
Dogs may not sleep quite as much as cats, but it’s close. What’s the very first thing they do before they get up? They stretch. Not just once, but multiple times.

As I go downstairs to let Bandit out first thing in the morning, that stretching can get downright annoying. Stretch when he gets up from his bed. Stretch when he gets to the landing. Stretch a few times before he ever goes out.

As annoying as all that stretching is, we need to take a page from our dogs’ playbook. Stretching before activity is important.

Ok, a little cheat, I didn’t have photos of Lola running & grinning but you get the idea.

Speaking of play . . .
Just look at the smile on that face. Dogs aren’t worried about form, or pace, or how far they go. They just run for the sheer joy of movement. This is one I need to remember!

And speaking of smiling . . .
Smiling makes everything feel easier. It’s takes as much work to frown as it does to smile, so why not smile and make yourself feel happier? You’ll get better race photos, too.

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So many photos of her “recovering” though

The importance of recovery
Dogs are really, really good at recovery. They run, they stretch, they lay in the sun and then they usually go back to sleep. They’re not ticking away at their to do list, they just listen to their bodies.

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So many of her with her “running” friends.

It’s more fun with friends
Poor Lola. It was her lot in life to live with dogs who weren’t much into playing with other dogs. She tried, though, oh how she tried, all the time, to get them to play.

Obviously right now, for me, I am running solo. Some day I’ll feel ready to run with friends again. Oh happy day!

Final Thoughts
One thing I didn’t mention is that dogs live in the moment. Most of us have a great deal of difficulty doing that. We feel the need to fill every moment of our day with “important” stuff. We worry about past mistakes, and we worry about the future.

Dogs may worry in the moment (where’s my food? is mommy angry at me? will she ever come home to me?), but most of their life is just spent living in the moment. That’s a great lesson for runners — and for people. Sometimes it’s okay to just be.

What lessons have you learned from your dog?

Which of these do you need to work on? 

Are you able to just be in the moment like a dog? 

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Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.

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31 thoughts on “5 Lessons Runners Can Learn from Dogs

  1. Yes! I was just thinking about how much time animals put into recovery this morning as I passed the seals. They were all lying asleep on the deck without a care in the world. And when I returned from my run they were in the same position, still asleep!
    I like the point you make about stretching, too. I should focus more on that. Lovely photos of Bandit and poor Lola!

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  2. I don’t have and never had a dog.

    Besides the stretching and sleeping part, I act like a dog.

    I definitely live in the moment. Sometimes I am too spontaneous.

    I run for fun. Photos are more important than a watch.

    And I try to do most things with friends. If I can. If not I just do it alone. I don’t overthink things.

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    1. I will be the first to admit I can take things too seriously. I guess it’s just my nature.

      But loyalty — absolutely! There is nothing like coming home to dog — or cat! My cats were always anxious to greet us after a trip, and usually waiting when they heard the car, too.

      Bandit is often at the back gate waiting for me to come home from a run or walk, too. We should all be more like cats & dogs!

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  3. Oh, Judy, this is golden advice!!! All of it, especially the one about smiling. Gosh, smiling feels so much better than frowning. I caught myself gritting my teeth at the frustration of the wind (while on my daily ride), and immediately told myself to smile (I even said it out loud LOL). Bingo. The wind didn’t let up, but my attitude suddenly changed.

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  4. I think about this every time I stretch out on the couch. Cocoa hops up and lays next to me. In fact, she gets mad if I don’t make enough room for her. It’s our recovery time!

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    1. They’re all so different. Chester was my Velcro dog. Always wanted to be with me, on mr, or held by me. Lola had a slightly more independent streak. She did love curling up with us, but often wanted to be by herself, too.

      Bandit is an odd, mysterious dog. Almost always wants to me near me, but mostly to guard me — he wants to be able to keep me in sight. He’s not super snuggly — unless he wants something (food or go outside).

      He is highly sensitive to human emotions, though. Always wanted to snuggle with my dad. Sometimes wants to snuggle when I don’t feel well.

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  5. Everyone can learn a lot about living life from dogs – loyalty, happiness, forgiveness, playfulness…I could go on. I read somewhere that just the act of smiling releases feel-good endorphins, even if you are faking the smile. I now sometimes force myself to smile during a tough run! 🙂

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    1. It’s amazing how Bandit has gone from a dog who wouldn’t eat to one SO laser focused on food. The right anti-anxiety supplement.

      But I can understand Scooby; I’m not always interested in food immediately after a run. Just most of the time. 😆

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    1. Lola wanted to play, play, play too. Even when she’d injured her foot, she’d still go running over to the fence when we took Bandit for a walk, she still tried to get him to play, she was still so vibrant and alive. Right up until that last week. Which I guess is what most of us could hope for — but I’d love to have one furkid live to a ripe old age and just go to sleep and never wake up someday. Never happened yet. 😦

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  6. I once wrote a post about things I learned about aging gracefully from my older dog (who has since passed). One of those things was that it’s still running, even when you’re slow. She loved to run with me even when she was old and her “run” was more of a walk. It didn’t matter to her and now I feel the same way about my own running.

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    1. Lola was a sprinter. So we never really ran together, except for some run/walk intervals long ago when she was younger.

      But right up until that last week, she was still having zoomies — in between sleeping most of the day, LOL! The change was overnight & it was just so dramatic.

      OTOH, she was never much into being held, and she let me hold her a lot that last week.

      Bandit, OTOH, enjoyed running with me for about a year, and then he didn’t seem to enjoy it any more so we stopped, especially since I didn’t really enjoy running with him!

      Oddly enough lately he’s taken to running up the driveway when we get back home. It’s new behavior, but maybe it’s because he’s no longer yoked to Lola.

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