There’s a lot about life in general that we can learn from our four-legged friends, but for runners, there are even a few more lessons we can take away from their exuberant, playful and sometimes downright silly antics. Next time you head out for a run, take a page out of your dog’s book by keeping the following eight lessons in mind.
Treat every run like an adventure
Most dogs, regardless of the weather, bound outside for their walks as if they’ve been cooped up inside for years. Once they get out there, they race around, sniffing every rock, every bush and every tree and say hello to every other dog they come across. Even if they’ve done the same walk a million times, they treat it like it’s a big adventure with something to discover around every corner.
While you may not be running around sniffing everything in sight, approaching your runs like they’re a fun adventure waiting to be had will go a long way in helping you enjoy them more, especially when the weather is less than ideal.
You will never see your dog skipping a meal or snack, and they will always clear their entire plate… and then come back asking for seconds. After all, dogs who play hard have to fuel their activity, right? You are no different. If you want to have plenty of energy to run day after day, you’re going to need to eat, so follow your dog’s lead and don’t be afraid to ask for seconds.
Take recovery seriously
Have you ever watched your dog run around at a thousand miles an hour, only to curl up and fall asleep seconds after returning home? That dog of yours is already resting up so he’ll be ready for the next walk or playdate. You may not be able to take naps after all of your runs, but by making post-workout rest a priority, you’ll be able to recover faster and be ready to go for your next run.
Dogs live their lives completely in the moment. They’re not out there thinking about everything they have to do that day, over-thinking a conversation they had with their partner the day before or worrying about a problem they can’t solve. They’re simply enjoying a walk with their favourite person.
Runners can benefit from a similar mindset. Instead of mulling over everything that’s going on in your life while you’re out for your run, use that time to take a step back from reality and simply enjoy being able to get out for a run. Whatever other problems you need to solve will still be there when you get back, and you’ll be refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to tackle them.
Your size doesn’t matter
If you’ve ever been to a dog park, you’ve probably taken note of the variety of dogs who are there. Big, small, thick, slender — regardless of their size and shape, every dog is out there running around, enjoying getting some fresh air and exercise. Dogs don’t care if they “look athletic,” they run with every ounce of energy they have anyway.
Humans, on the other hand, tell themselves stories like “I don’t have a runner’s body,” or “I’m not fit enough to run,” or a thousand other iterations of the same idea. You may not look exactly like the runners you see in the Olympics, you may not be the fastest, but you can still lace up your shoes and head outside. Dogs don’t let their shape or size stop them from enjoying physical activity, and neither should we.
Leave the past in the past
Whatever happened yesterday, your dog has already forgotten it. Good or bad, it’s been wiped from their memories, and they’re ready to start fresh. As a runner, you can adopt this mindset when things don’t go according to plan. When you have a bad workout or a less-than-stellar race, learn what you can from it and then move on from it.