What I hadn’t counted on when I began training Lumen in earnest – which is to say, all the running around, playing, and getting her motivated- was that my fitness was just as important as hers.
Midway through 2012 I was running 10km at least once a week, running to the gym and working out for an hour, taking classes, being active. Then, we planned a wedding, bought our first house, threw a wedding, got a very young pup, and I became iron deficient (which, for those of you who don’t know, resulted in my living in a fog almost all the time, occasionally finding myself sitting on the floor and unable to find the energy to get up, and generally feeling apathetic about pretty much everything. Fun times). Needless to say, my fitness disappeared. I found myself puffing while walking up hills or stairs and I’m not overweight.
Then, I started playing with Lu as she got older and bigger, and we moved to ovals and parks to play and run around. I put her through tunnels at light speed and found myself keeling over and puffing. Uh oh.
I had perhaps underestimated that I needed to be in better physical shape to get the most out of her- that if I couldn’t keep up, or if we could only play for 3 minutes instead of 10, then we weren’t going to be doing the best we could.
So I made a plan, of sorts. I found time to start running again, began the Couch to 5K program that had worked for me in the past, made sure I took the dogs for at least a 20-30 minute walk every morning if I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do anything more in the afternoon. Sure, I haven’t been back to the gym, but with training Lumen and keeping her active and occupied, I just don’t have time. Or, if I do, I’d rather be spending it mucking around with her.
Once I’m running 5km again, I’d like to start doing interval sprints until I can sprint for 60 seconds comfortably. When it comes time to run an agility course, this should be a breeze, because I’ll be ready for it.
I think, if we want to get the most out of our dogs- to be able to motivate them to be driven, active, forward moving and fast, we need to be all those things. If we’re lethargic or puffed, or try playing just ‘half-arsed’ because we’ve already physically exerted ourselves, I don’t think we can get the most out of our dogs, our training or playing won’t be quality. Sure, maybe that doesn’t matter for some dogs who will just hang off a tug rope and amuse themselves, but imagine how much more engaged and excited they’d be if we could be running around, too, tugging with them.
I feel like sometimes in agility, we do so much for our dogs- keeping them fit, doing exercises, putting them on the fit-ball, doing warm ups and cool-downs and dog massages, and yet we completely forget about our own fitness and how that affects the sport we love.