Training with my 4 Legged Friend

I have a new triathlon training buddy. He’s almost a year old & is sometimes a faster swimmer than me and definitely a faster runner. You think I would be jealous, but I just shake it off. He can’t ride a bike to save his life, so I have that going for me.

I didn’t really plan on training with my dog. Sure, I always dreamed of having a dog to run with, but I imagined it as a full-grown adult dog that could maintain whatever pace I wanted. I thought my dog would quietly sit in its crate when I went for a bike ride or a long swim. Doesn’t he know what Oprah taught us–that you have to take care of YOURSELF before you can take care of OTHERS? (He does not know this. I told him again while painting my nails last night, but he did not seem to care.)

He’s in full adolescence mode, though, so it’s not quite as dreamy. He’s not old enough to run that far on leash, and we make LOTS of stops. I’m going to be quite shocked when race day comes around & I have no real reason to stop a dozen times for sniffing purposes.

I tried to crate him while working out, but he does not love the crate. If he is anxious, he’ll bark the whole time. Neighbors don’t appreciate this. It seems for each minute he is in there, his energy doubles & when he is finally released–after oh, you know, an hour or so–he runs and jumps up higher than my head for a good 5 minutes. I had to rethink my training.

So when I’m swimming now, he’s right out there with me. I have a new game where I throw a dog toy to the end of the pool & we both go after it. He usually wins, so I jump out of the pool, grab it from him & start again–convincing myself this is kind of mad chaos isn’t so different from a triathlon start. I’m breathing hard, so at least it’s cardio. My swim stroke isn’t getting any prettier, but I’m getting really good at jumping into the water.

I’ve gone on some outdoor bike rides minus the dog, and while I cherish the alone time–I spend way too much time imagining how I could bring him along…next to me? behind me? on a tandem? I got the latest Bicycling magazine this month with a man on the cover riding a bike with a dog ON HIS SHOULDERS and I thought, “Well…maybe.”

My training buddy is very insistent. When I’m like, “Ugh, can’t we just have a lazy off day today?” he will either start to cry annoyingly or bite at me until I get off the couch. And we go outside, and I’m always happy we did. I figure all the times he’s motivated me to get moving outdoors makes up for the lack of speed or endurance that we have as we train together.

I didn’t really know what having a dog would be like. He is funny. He has approximately 4 sleeping areas, and he spends every night from 7-9pm rotating among them. Every time he gets to a new one, he sighs a dramatic sigh & plops down even more dramatically. Really?? We get it. You are sleeping! These weird routines crack me up, and they make me feel like I’m at home. His over-the-top “welcome back I’ve missed you” jumps when I get back from work make me think maybe I’m doing something right, even though I spend several nights a week reading training websites about everything I’m doing wrong.

Whenever I start to worry that I’ll never be amazing at workouts again, I remind myself that I’m lucky to have this guy trotting alongside of me. Hopefully someone will read this and begin offering triathlon relays for dogs and humans, so Huxley can do the swim for me. Then we’ll have a real chance at some medals.