I have been waiting not so patiently for the weather to warm up around here. This morning was the long awaited day to begin taking my dogs for a run in the hills behind my house. The temperature was great but we have had over an inch of rain the past few days so the puddles and mud were abundant. My husband’s bird dog Chevy (2 year old yellow lab) was delighted to see the water and jumped right in first thing out of the truck. My inside dog (7 year old Cock-a-poo) Dixie and I were more cautious and carefully avoided the small swimming pools located along the road. I felt good as I headed down our 3 mile summer time route; even though I could tell I was going much slower than I had been when I stopped running out doors last fall. About 200 yards into the run I began noticing a set of fresh foot prints in the mud from a runner who obviously enjoys getting up earlier in the morning than me. I was completely dumb founded by this man’s stride. I am not a fast runner but my 5’10” body has a pair of fairly long legs, giving me what I thought was a decent stride. No so. I had to take 2 and sometimes 3 steps to every one of the early morning mystery runners’ steps. I felt like a five year old trying to keep up with her daddy on an afternoon stroll. I always know when the time has come to improve my speed when running becomes too easy. Now I know what to work on. I found a few articles (here and here) with basic stride lengthening tips, I am not working toward the Olympics so basic is all I really need. I guess I will be looking for a nice steep hill to train on… luckily I know just where to find one.
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While on our run this morning Chevy started getting cramps in her legs. She curled up and couldn’t move. Her whole body was shaking; if her eyes hadn’t looked normal I would have thought she was having a seizure. She was in a lot of pain. I was afraid I was going to be carrying her home but after resting for a bit she loosened up and was able to walk and eventually run again. She is a very high performance animal and runs at great speeds very often so I’m not sure what happened. We will definitely be looking into possible causes for a dog’s muscles (or possibly joints) to tighten up mid run. Any ideas?