4-Week 5K Training Plan for Running with Your Dog
Welcome to Ruffwear’s training plan written to get you and your dog out and running together. This guide focuses on timed workouts rather than distance to keep the focus on building up more time moving together and making running a part of your and your dog’s routine.
The Plan: This 5K Plan was created for beginner runners (dog and human) already walking 30-60 minutes a few times a week. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor and your dog’s vet before starting something new with your dog.
Your Coaches: Krissy Moehl and canine running buddy PD. Krissy is a Ruffwear Ambassador, professional trail runner, coach, and race director extraordinaire. You can read her full "How to Run with Your Dog" guide here.
Here's a quick look at the 4-week plan (or download a .pdf here). Keep reading for a breakdown of each week's workouts, plus active recovery tips and a few notes from Coach Krissy and Coach PD at the end.
Welcome to your first week! As you and your dog get started each day, get comfortable with the leash, let your body warm up and your pace increase until you feel ready to run. You'll see it in your pup, too – their gait will change and it will be time to run.
Find a pace that you can talk to your pup without gasping. If you are breathing hard on these first few runs, then back off on pace until you can talk. Walking is a perfectly acceptable place to start
If you have more time to explore, I suggest heading to the trails with your pup, especially if you can be off leash and you feel ready for that. Allow time for exploration, pauses, and enjoying the time amongst the trees or in wide open quiet space together.
As you enter into week 2, if you haven’t yet, be thinking about your gear - are your shoes new or old? Do you have a good rain jacket? Clothing that makes you want to run? Is your leash and harness sturdy enough and comfortable? How is your leash system working with your pup? When you have your and your dog’s gear dialed, you can focus on running and not on chafing or blisters.
This week, we have some longer workouts back-to-back, which is an opportunity to build endurance and check in on your recovery.
As you expand these workout weeks over time, you’ll also want to include at least one session that you vary your pace and work to push speed (and your heart rate) a bit. These can be super fun to do with the pup.
You can also start thinking about adding hills to your walks or runs. If you are running, it is totally cool to power hike the hills. Changing gears/speeds/terrains is a key part to training. Having different paces available will help you achieve your goal distance.
What you do after your workouts to recover and repair is the key part of recovery. Being intentional about fueling and intentional down time (self-care) will help you be better ready for tomorrow.
On recovery days, listen to your body! Choose what is best for you. Recovery days are also good days to reflect on what you've noticed so far. Would you like to explore new routes? Do you want to find a gym or class for core work?
ACTIVE RECOVERY IDEAS
Swimming: Low impact for the dog, but still gets those legs moving and the wiggles out.
Sniff walk: Walk at the complete lead of your dog. You might make it 100 feet or a mile, but let your sidekick set the pace.
Fetch: If your dog is already used to playing fetch then this can be a fun alternate day activity for your pup. Note that with the added running on other days this might not be as "recovery" for your pup.
COACH'S NOTE: KRISSY
This plan is a guideline to help you build up your “time on feet” with your pup to be able to run a 5k in about a month. Each pup and human comes from a different background. Tune-in to your body and your dog, and know it's okay to adapt and personalize the plan.
Take some time to write down why you want to run with your pup. This can be extra motivation on any bad weather days or days when you just don't have it to get out the door.
Remember to warm up before and cool down after each session. These movements and easing/encouraging our bodies into motion help prevent injury and make the whole workout feel a lot better.
Rest is an important part of training. Good sleep and intentional downtime gives our body the opportunity to recover from the paces we've put it through.
This is your training plan and it is up to you to make it work for you. Writing down thoughts and reflections after each run will keep you present and motivated. Take notes on your observations of how your pup is responding to the extra activity and how you’re feeling, too.
COACH'S NOTE: PD
Us dogs can let the humans know when we’re excited to go and when we’re just not feeling it. My best move is to stay sprawled on my bed when I just don't feel like running. If I do want to go, I block the door with my body or dance around my human’s feet while she ties up her shoes.
Have your human keep an eye on you throughout the run: bathroom breaks, where the leash is at, reactions to other dogs when walking and running (may be different). These are great reference points for your human to have to create a sense of what is normal for you and be able to note if something changes.
Running in the rain is the BEST. Stick around for the toweling off after the run! It's like a massage. And it reduces the extra personal bathing you'll have to do later to get the mud or debris off of your fur.
And, of course, rest. This is the thing we can best teach the humans. If they would just observe how much sleep time we take, especially after runs, they’d probably enjoy it even more. Do what you know best, find that comfy bed and stretch out as often as possible, especially after a good recovery snack/meal.
Did you fall in love with running over this 4-week plan? Or, looking for more of a challenge? Have new goals you want to work toward? Krissy is a professional coach! You can reach out and work with her for a more personalized plan. Check her out at www.krissymoehl.com.
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PS. If you share photos on Instagram of your training, please tag me @krissymoehl. We'd love to cheer you on!