Running Without Dogs – The Pros and Cons

“The best running partner is a four-legged one”

Something rare happened tonight. Something that hasn’t happened in the past few months. I went for a post-work run by myself. No dogs. Just me. Weird!

Run-With-your-Dog

The tired & happy post-run face – gets me every time.

As I was going through the miles, I couldn’t help but think about both of my running partners – and the lack of both of them throughout the miles. At first, I thought about the upsides of running alone, but with each upside, quickly came a downside.

I love running with my dogs. 100% I will always choose to run with them vs. without. But I still came up with some upsides and downsides to both. Here are my Pros and Cons of running without dogs.

Pro: I Don’t Worry for Their Safety
It’s dark before 5:30. Drivers don’t pay attention at intersections. Just a couple reasons I worry when I run with Burton and Blitz. It’s one thing if a driver almost hits me when I’m running. Believe me, they know about it. I go into full-on drama queen-mode and make DAMN sure they know. Imagine if someone almost hit one of them?!

It sometimes makes me nervous to run with my dogs. Not only do other drivers not pay attention to humans, both my dogs have dark fur so they’re extra hard to see. That reminds me, I should probably get them some bright and/or reflective running gear. If any of you work for companies that make this sort of thing for dogs, I have a 20-pounder and a 60-pounder – hint, hint.

But on the other hand…

Con: I Worry More for My Safety Without Them
Even though it’s early evening in the basically-safe town of Fargo, ND, there’s always a part of me that gets a little scared running alone after work. From unlit bike paths to tons of construction sites to, you just never know who’s living in a neighborhood. I mean, I’m pretty sure Jeffrey Dahmer lived in a modest house in a nice, quite suburban neighborhood, right? #justsayin

I don’t wear headphones and I’m very aware of my surroundings, I definitely avoid getting too close to vans with curtains, dark tint or that have, “Free Candy” painted on the side. But you just never know what’s out there and I never want to let my guard down and allow myself to become susceptible.

Whether or not it actually makes me safer, there’s just something about having a dog with me while running that makes me feel safer. Especially the big black lab – though she’s the bigger sweetheart of the two. Just can’t let the random murderers and kidnappers become wise to that.
Pro: I’m SO Much Faster By Myself
I finished tonight’s 10k in fewer than 47 minutes. Nowhere near my ideal race pace but pretty great for a random Monday night run. When I’m running solo, I’m really fast. I don’t have to stop for anything but traffic lights.

When I run with my dogs, there’s a minimum of three stops per mile. There’s peeing, pooping, sniffing trees, poles and fire hydrants, trying to play with other dogs and, my favorite, fake peeing (they do this when they don’t actually have to pee but just want to stop and take a quick breather – I think they know I’m onto them but keep doing it anyway). All of the stopping, plus their difference in speed (Burton can run sub-7 min/miles when he’s in the zone, Blitz often slows to 10 min/miles towards the end of her runs) makes it tough to get into a good, fast pace.

But on the other hand…

Con: Running Isn’t Always As Enjoyable Without Them
I push myself and put a lot of pressure on myself to run fast. It’s kind of nice to have no pressure and just enjoy being outside, running with my buds.

Running-Fargo

Burton & me on one of our favorite, regular paths.

Pro: I Get To Explore New Routes
When I run with my dogs, I like to stick to our typical paths, fairly close to the house (especially Blitz who maxes out at 2 miles). Even with Burton, who can go much further, I still like to keep it to our regular routes. One, he knows where we’re going and it makes for smoother turns. Two, if something did happen and he got away from me, I think he’d be okay and stick near me vs. being scared and running off.

Tonight, with no dogs to worry about, I found a new, perfect 6.2 mile route. It was great and fresh, and fun to try something new.

But on the other hand…

Con: I Miss Our “Usual” Routes
We’ve found some good ones throughout the years and I love them!
Pro: It’s All About Me
Running is “me” time. I don’t listen to music. I think about random things. I unwind, burn off frustration and relax. Especially when I’m not worried about my dogs, stopping every two minutes and making sure one of them doesn’t accidentally trip me up in the leash, I don’t get quite that same selfish time when they’re in tow.

But on the other hand…

Con: I Miss the Quality Time With Them
Some people would say my dogs are “just dogs” but I don’t agree. My dogs are my babies. They’re part of our family. They’re my friends – I actually like them more than I like most people. Dog owners probably will understand this, while it may sound dumb to non-dog lovers, but there’s a real quality time factor I find in running with them. We’re sharing special time, something we both love – like a father who takes his son fishing, something they both enjoy and love doing together.

I know my dogs aren’t really children and I’m sure it sounds sappy but there’s something very special to me about the time we spend together, running.

Neither a Pro Nor a Con: Motivation
I’m an extremely self-motivated runner. Most of the time, it’s not too hard for me to get excited about a run. Even when I have a sluggish day and I may not feel like running, my brain is programmed to run. Shy of being violently ill or having to work until 8:00, I’m going running. No question, no excuses.

But on the other hand…

There’s definitely added motivation from my dogs. They love to run. Burton may love it more than I do. From them following me around as I change into running clothes to seeing their excited faces get even more excited as I lace up my shoes, they motivate me to want to take them running.

There’s no pro or con about how running with my dogs affects my motivation. Either way, I’m running! And when it all boils down to it, if I have a choice to run with them or without them, I’m always going to choose them.

Dog lovers, do you agree with my pros and cons of running with dogs? Or do you sway far more to one side than the other? Comment or tweet me @runlikeagirl311 on Twitter.

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