I’ve often heard people say that running is the cheapest sport you can participate in since you only need a pair of shoes and yourself. However, you can make any sport expensive, and if you run with your dogs, like me, running can become a truly frightening undertaking with all the gear for yourself and the pooch. I personally have five different items I use when I run aside from myself, my shoes, and whichever dog is getting a run.
The first and most important item for running/dog walking is my Cabela’s fishing vest: .
Before this vest I had a Walmart special that lasted many years until the zipper on the front broke. I keep empty plastic bags in the front left pocket, full ones go on the right to go home for disposal, a leash is in the top left pocket, and my house key clips to the plastic loop inside the top right pocket.
Because Perdy managed to break two regular hands-free leashes trying to run the fence with dogs as we ran past and chasing the city buses, I had to get creative with how to safely run with her. I’ve had a pinched nerve in my neck that caused me a lot of pain, so just using a leash wasn’t a viable option. I ended up modifying a rock climbing harness from REI:
The carabiner on the end of the leash clips to a harness on the dog. The stretchy leash was re-purposed from one of the hands free leashes Perdy broke.
Both Perdy and Patience have issues with other dogs and some people, so I have to walk/run them early in the morning before the sun comes up. Texas also gets insanely hot in the summer, so everyone has to walk their dogs in the mornings or late at night to avoid broiling. To be visible and be able to see the sidewalk/where to pick up the dog poop, I use a head lamp:
This particular model is available at Academy and Cabela’s, but I’ve seen several similar types sold for plumbers and other tradesmen who have jobs where they need both hands to complete the task.
My last two items aren’t strictly necessary for running, but my insurance plan gives me points to spend in their online mall if I track my exercise routine. As a result I got hooked on tracking my steps and heart rate while exercising. First, I use a Humana pedometer, which I got “free” with my points:
which is a nifty tool to track how much you move during the day. The goal for the average individual is 10,000 steps per day. It’s doable, but I do have to make an effort to move around more at the office even on days when I do a lot of dog walks.
My second tool is the Polar FT7 heart rate monitor: .
When it works properly the FT7 is a great tool because it allows me to see how much more work I do when running versus just walking. When walking my dogs my heart rate rarely breaks 100, in part because I am walking 3 elderly dogs, but I actually have to be cautious when running because I can exceed my max heart rate easily when it’s hot and/or humid. I have had issues with the FT7 malfunctioning though since it is a simple machine. The chest band sometimes unlatches, which means it doesn’t communicate with the wrist unit correctly, or the unit will just stop communicating for a variety of bizarre reasons. I’ve also had the unit register highly incorrect values such as a heart rate of 46 when I was running (trust me I am not, not will I ever be, that insanely in shape). However, I do find it useful most of the time.
What special tools do you use for your runs? I suspect everyone’s favourites are a little different!