How I learned to run with my dog while training for the Eugene Marathon

Post by Eugene Marathon Ambassador Sarah

When I first brought my golden retriever Finn home, I couldn’t wait until I could share my passion for running with a new buddy. I envisioned long runs with him obediently heeling at my side while people would stare at how in sync and effortless we were.

…..And how wrong I was on so many levels. People stared alright, but mainly to ask if I was ok after tripping over Finn and skinning my knees. Ugh!

Take it from me, running with your pup is no easy feat but it’s 100% worthwhile once you get the hang of it. Here are some tips that have worked best for me and my four-legged running buddy.

Start slow and steady! As Finn got old enough to start running with me, I quickly realized he didn’t share the same passion for running as I did. After the first mile he would literally flop over on the ground and refuse to go on. He soon caught on that when I laced up my shoes it meant running time and he would actually slink AWAY from the door.

I found out that dogs can get out of shape and sore just like humans. After that light bulb went off for me, I knew needed to incrementally increase Finn’s endurance, just like I do for myself. I started taking him on short, 1 mile jogs then eventually working up to 2 mile runs. Now we’re at 4 miles near my target race pace!

My training plan for the Eugene Marathon even has a column to track Finn’s running. We’re really tag-teaming this whole marathon thing.

Practice often and stay patient. Your first pup run isn’t going to be perfect…as a “completely hypothetical” example, you might topple over your dog, who stops dead in its tracks to eat a soggy piece of bread *eye roll.* Ok, that’s not hypothetical — it happened and left me frustrated!

Be patient and set your doggo up for success by picking up on their behaviors. Are they tired? Take a walking break. Are they bad with off leash dogs? Take the long route around the dog park.

I know Finn starts getting tired around 2 miles, so as I’m training to “Finish on the Fifty” in the University of Oregon football stadiumI plan my route accordingly. I typically warm up with him for 1-2 miles, then drop him off at home to rest while I do my workout, then pick him up afterwards for my cool-down. Just like my with my own runs, I look at Finn and I running together as a work in progress.

Most importantly, set fun goals for both you and your pup! Make sure running is something both you and your dog enjoy. I set attainable goals that I knew Finn could work towards like running to the dog park where he could play as a reward.
It took a little persistence and a lot of treats, but now when I put on my running shoes, Finn knows it’s time for a jog and eagerly heads to the front door.

Running with your dog can be trying but also fun and rewarding. For me, I love that it offers some some variation in my Eugene Marathon training runs and helps save time by working out together.

Finn and I have come a long way in our journey as running buddies, and while trip-ups still happen, they are few and far between. Finally we’re in agreement that we’re both out here to enjoy ourselves

Ready to start training and need a race to sign up for? Use the code SARAHEM19 for the Eugene full or half marathon registration discount:



How I learned to run with my dog while training for the Eugene Marathon