As I was jogging along at 5.30am recently with my dogs in the pouring rain, I found myself questioning what I actually achieve on a training run. What do I gain from them? What could I do to improve them, to get ‘more’ out of my early morning jaunts through the countryside? I couldn’t answer my own questions at first. I felt my main reason for the canicross training runs I have done in the past few months, was that I somehow think I should be training, not because I left the house with a particular aim for my run.
Many people I race with set themselves goals for their runs, targets to beat in terms of times and distances so that they can improve their canicrossing and therefore get better results in races. 18 months ago I was doing the same thing, running with my garmin on for every run and checking every minute or so to ensure I kept my average speed above a certain point. Increasing my distance or decreasing the time it took me to run a certain distance, in order to progress with our racing.
When I think about it, I realise I have been training just for ‘fun’. I haven’t had my garmin on because I don’t care how fast I run, I also don’t feel the need to know how many miles I have covered. I have been running the routes I feel like running because the dogs and I enjoy them, not because they have steep hills for a challenge or long straight stretches for sprint work.
Currently my training runs are about enjoying the limited time I have alone with the dogs out in the countryside and usually the peace and quiet that accompanies this. I watch my dogs and how they run, I make mental notes about who likes to run on which side and who responds quickest to a directional voice command. I realise I’m learning more about how I interact with the dogs when canicrossing and how they interact with each other when I run like this.
When I first asked the question of myself and what I got from my training runs, I couldn’t answer with anything that felt satisfactory but after considering the little lessons I am learning, I realise that this stuff is just as important as the times and the distances we achieve. I am observing what works best for my dogs in a stress free environment and discovering things that will help us when I do finally decide to get back to the ‘real’ training aspect of canicrossing. Until then I’m happy to continue with my aimless training runs, safe in the knowledge I am still learning and building the foundations for a better ‘team’ effort in the future.