Me & My Shadow - How your dog can enhance your training...

We all know the story of Finding Gobi, how ultra runner Dion Leonard became inseparable from a stray dog that joined him on a gruelling 250km run across China's Gobi Desert. He describes how his pain both mentally and physically was diluted by having a companion to run with, and how no matter what, he knew he was destined to be reunited with the little man for a future of running with his best friend and shadow. Follow @findinggobi for updates on their happily ever after! 

As someone who has run marathons and consistently for 20 years, has used running as a quick excuse to exercise the family pet, believe me when I truly understand how valuable they are as a training companion! On those days when the winters are long, the rain is driving and Sunday lunch is far more appealing, you can guarantee the one partner that will drive you forward, with a smile on their face, is your faithfully friend on 4 legs. 

My running life has always been a lonely one, I love switching off, clearing my head, focusing on the next step and I find it probably one of the only exercises that lowers my stress in an instant. I love running alone, single track through the woods, no music, just the noise of nature and my breathing to keep me company and of course, with always, my dog.

There have been 4 loyal companions over the years; Abbey my first dog, a white boxer, was a proper outdoor lover, the Chiltern Hills were our stomping ground until the big C caught her too early. The overlap was Horace (the hero of this story) he was a proper lad; spent his youth chewing the house to bits and causing my pregnant self to loose it on numerous occasions. But when my second child, and first born son arrived, it was love at first sight between them both. We spent hours with Ed in the baby jogger and Horace loyally setting the pace... pulling us up the Inkpen hills as part of my first London Marathon training, always with a romp in his step and ears flapping... Standing on the start line of the 2000 London Marathon I was missing my training partner, he was home alone wondering where his Sunday Run had gone, it was a surreal moment but for sure every step of those 26.2 miles, he was by my side! Next came Indy - The Siberian Husky - she was my pace maker! Together we had a good 12 years exploring and clearing our heads, it was a sad day when I had to force myself out of the house without her, knowing she had to hang up her running shoes. That beautiful old girl lasted another 4 years to be one of the oldest Huskies alive, now she is running free with Horace again!

Now we have Artemis... my black shadow... a faithful black lab who simply follows me everywhere. We are not as fast as we used to be, but still 2/3 times a week she knows the drill and motivates me to a quick loop of the woods in between marketing meltdown! The companionship and loyalty these animals show, give me the drive to want to run with them, our pets boost our self esteem and help us keep fit and loose weight. A fit dog also lives for 2 years longer, so why wouldn't you want to extend your best friends life? No more excuses... your best training partner yet is right under your feet.

Start small and work up and I promise you will never look back - I have based my brand on it!!