Tuesday, July 3, 2007

How far can your dog go ?

How do you know a dog has reached his limit on long runs? There isn’t a lot written on how far dogs can run. With the exception of the malamutes and Siberian Huskies doing the Iditarod the amount of published research on running with dogs is lacking. I am specifically referring to how far Golden Retrievers can run. I run about 25 to 30 miles a week currently with more than half of that mileage going into the long run. But that number is going to go up. The longest run Koda has ever been on is 16 miles. He was panting pretty hard at the end and was tired most of the day but he rebounded quite well for the next day. Much like me!

I’m quite leery about taking him further especially as the summer progresses. What limited literature I have found in running magazines say to given them frequent water breaks when the weather gets hot. The problem is he doesn’t drink. It’s not that I’m torturing him and not offering water I use to take one of those collapsible dog dishes and his own flask of water. I’d fill it up mid run and stand around and wait and wait and wait some more. Minutes would pass and he wouldn’t drink so I gave up.

If I stop now it is so he can swim. Koda loves the water. Depending on the depth he’ll either lie down frog-like or go for a swim. After a minute he’ll take about two sips (laps) or water and that is it. But I guess immersing himself in water brings down his core temperature because he is panting less when he gets out.

Even when I get home from a long run, he doesn’t head for the water dish until 5 or 10 minutes after we are back. I’m guessing he has to let his core cool down before he drinks. And when we get home he much prefers the cold tile floor to the cold outdoors every time.

He’s not complaining and he’s not faltering but I’m starting to feel guilty. It’s either he knows pace better then I do but he tops out at 7:55 minutes/mile with no exceptions on long runs. Whenever I feel like I’m dragging him m Garmin says I’m going faster than 7:55 so I slow down.

Off the leash he’s better. He’ll probably do 10% more mileage than me because he’ll run ahead and run back. And then run a tangent and run back. He is much happier that way.

So I’ll keep running with him on my long runs until one of us gives in. I think it might be me..


  1. Hi, I have a 3.5 year old weimaraner. I am currently training for an utlra marathon (She's not going of course). I usually take her on 6-7 mile hikes of varying elevations on weekends. She has run 7's, 10's, a 13, and a 16 mile with me. On the last visit, my ex (joint custody!!) brought up the running with the vet. The vet said not more than 5 miles, and my ex has that number stuck in her head. It seems rather arbitrary, 5. Why? I bring ample water for her, even have given her gel packs. On the 16 mile run she probably ran 17 miles (like your pup, off leash, she runs more)! AND after wards she still had energy to pull me and be frisky when we were sitting for lunch. I don't plan on running her much past 16, however, any support you can provide would be most helpful.
    Your pace is much faster than ours, we currently are averaging about 12-13 minute miles - trail running. My only change for her might be to add booties at some point to alleviate some of the wear and tear, but not sure if it should be early or late due to cooling mechanism of the feet.
    So for now, my runs have been solo without my pup. Thoughts? Thanks, and happy running!

  2. You know when runners get ill or have aches and pains or whatever we either self medicate or we find a doctor. Prevailing wisdom out there says that runners should find doctors who run or at least understand running. Running doctors will understand the runners mind as well as the various physiological stresses the body goes though. That being said I think running dogs should find a vet who runs with dogs. 5 miles is a rather arbitrary number probably because its the farthest that vet has run. In my own quest for an ultra, Koda ran the marathon distance or longer at least three times. His longest run has been 31 miles on a combination of both road and trails. Of late though he has developed or is in the early stages of hip dysplasia a genetic predisposition unrelated to running. His long run days are over but the vet gave me some Deramaxx a NSAID for dogs. He feels no pain and can still go 7 miles.
    My final thoughts are this: as long as the dog is well watered and not over heating he/she can probably go as far as you train him/her to go. Just like with any training slow progression is key. Happy running