Running partners….I’ve had many over the years. Rogue has provided me with the opportunity to find some of the best running partners a person could ask for. I’ve been training with Rogue since 2007. Over the years I’ve formed many close relationships with my Rogue running teammates. No matter what walk of life we come from, running always bonds us and you never forget the memories you create during your training with them.
I’m currently training with Chris McClung’s 5:30am Austin marathon group. Chris is what I describe as “Coach H.O.P.E”. He is 100% committed to Helping Others Perform Extraordinarily. I firmly believe that behind every great coach is a great team. My Rogue training buddies this season rank up there as the very best. We are a friendly group that loves to laugh and talk. We talk about everything. We cover a wide range of subjects such as what we did over the weekend to embarrassing moments we have yet to reveal to anyone else. There is no subject we won’t approach. We support each other but are not above making fun of each other either. If you trip, fall and make out with a traffic cone on a long run, we will first make sure you are o.k., then have a good laugh on your behalf and proceed to make fun of you for weeks. It’s part of the relationship forming process….right?
However, no matter how great your running partners are…they are not with you for every training run and all marathon training seasons come to an end at some point. I discovered in a previous training season that I needed the motivation of an additional training partner. I needed someone that would be around whenever I called upon him or her. Someone who would never say no to my schedule. I’ve always had excellent Rogue running partners but I wanted one that was available 7 days a week and that would be excited about waking up at 4am for a run. I wanted someone who wouldn’t complain about the weather or my pace on any given day. I decided it was time for a dog. I wanted a dog that could put in the miles and would also be a good family pet. We have three young children, so that was high on the list of things I was looking for. Most of the information I came across pointed in the direction of hunting breeds because dogs that hunt, generally have endurance. I ended up reading about German Shorthair Pointers. A Germain shorthair pointer, also knows as a GSP for short was described as a a versatile hunter and all-purpose gun dog that possesses keen scenting power and high intelligence.
I’m no hunter but I needed a dog that could run and learn how to do so in a short time frame. I didn’t want to spend too much time leash training. It appeared I was on the right track. I found local GSP owners and some that even ran with their dogs. One particular marathon runner explained that she ran 10 miles a day with her GSP on a regular basis. I was impressed but I wondered if it was unhealthy or harmful for the dog to run that far. I learned that dogs are much like their human owners. They have to become conditioned just like us. If we over train, we become at risk for injury and dogs are no different. I learned that most GSP dogs need daily exercise and that they made for good running partners. Along with their potential as a good running partner, they were described as loyal and intelligent. I was sold! In the end, I chose the German Shorthair Pointer Rescue of North Texas. They have a chapter here in Austin. I met a couple of dogs and eventually settled on a sweet female named Dru. She was thought to be 2 or 3 years of age at the time. When I met her I thought she was one of the most beautiful dogs I had ever seen. It was love at first sight.
Dru has been a delight to our family. Our three children love her. She is so loyal and loving and she never says no to running. Dru loves to go running so much so that after we had her for a while I had to cut back on my running due to a running injury. Dru didn’t understand and when the miles ceased, she became bored. She ate a few socks and became deathly sick after not being able to pass them. It took $1,000 and surgery to fix the problem. Dru is worth it, and anyone who meets her agrees. Every time she goes out for a run someone comments on her beauty and disposition.
Dru is my favorite marathon training partner. She does a great job at keeping me on pace. She knows what running shoes are and whines when she sees me putting on a pair. She is ready for a run in about 1 minute or less and doesn’t require expensive running shoes or clothing. She never wears a watch and doesn’t need body glide. She was with me on a early morning run when I took a hard fall and bloodied up my face, arms and knees and didn’t laugh or suggest we go home. She hates the rain but has run on many rainy mornings with me and never complained. She has been by my side running in some of the coldest weather we have had in Texas. We often head out for running before 5am and she never demands a cup of joe before we get started. She loves to put in the miles. She once joined me on a 16 miler.
Over the years people have responded mostly positive to her being with me on my training runs but occasionally I get a comment about how cruel it is to run with a dog in the humid, Texas heat. The truth is that she is conditioned just like I am and I never deny her water. The vet has found her to be in excellent health and she is no more at risk to the heat than I am. It’s all about how you train and acclimate to the conditions and Dru is no different.
Dru continues to run with me on my weekly training runs and she shows no signs of giving up on the sport of running. So, if you ever see her out there on the trails or road with myself or my husband…say hi. She loves the attention and has never met a runner she doesn’t like. I love all of my running partners….both the 2 and 4 legged kind. They all just fulfill me in a different ways and they all make marathon training fun. Regardless of who you choose as a training partner, remember, running should be fun, self-fulfilling and often shared with others.
“Running is a pleasurable necessity”
~ Victoria (Tori) Howard