Rob's Blog Archive

May 20, 2012

Spring Training










It’s not “pitchers and catchers report,” but the motivation is the same.  Just as it takes longer for pitchers to get into condition than other ballplayers, it also takes old dogs longer to get into shape than youngsters.  Pitchers start training early and so should old dogs.  And most of my dogs are older than all of my wine. 

With my goal of doing the Serum Run next February, an 800 mile expedition with daily runs up to sixty miles, my dogs will have to be in good shape.  With my old farts, that’s going to be a challenge.  When I ran in the Iditarod, the oldest dog on my team, Otter, had turned nine a few months earlier.  During the Serum Run, five of my dogs will be six or younger, six will be between eight and ten, and ten will be ten and over.    When the Serum Run begins Otter, hopefully, will be thirteen. 

My solution is to do something I haven’t done in the past, train during the spring.  My training plan includes three weeks of light training in May and three weeks in June.  At two three mile runs each week, this is very light.  However, I do expect I’ll be starting my hard training in August with my dogs in significantly better shape than in years when the dogs had yard time but no ATV mileage.

As of now, we’ve done three of the six runs in my first session and, barring something strange, we’ll get the fourth run in tomorrow.  That’s right on schedule.  Aside from the fact that these are starting to require getting up between 5:00 A.M. and 6:00 A.M., something I loath, the running is delightful.  At this time, I can do everything from setting up the lines and ATV to putting everything away plus, of course, running two teams, in two hours total.  That’s sixty minutes of overhead for forty minutes of running and twenty of yard time.   It’s a good fun stuff to overhead ratio and at two hours, it’s a small commitment.  By comparison, running everybody,  like I did this past season, on two 18 mile runs that included three miles on the ATV and 15 of sledding had about four and two thirds hours of sledding, pulling an ATV, or free running in the yard plus about an hour and a quarter of overhead tasks.  The “fun fraction” was better, nothing beats sledding, but the commitment was six hours---easy if that’s all there is in life but hard if I’m trying to devote six to eight hours to writing and reading as well. 

All of my runs are along the same roads so I have a very slight concern that the dogs will get bored.  Without exception, though, my elders have said that the dogs almost never get bored on their own---they see their mushers get bored and cue on this.  I’m still the person who can happily work out on a stationary machine like my beloved Nordic Track day in and day out and enjoy it.  Doing the same three miles with the dogs has tons more variety.  I figure we’ll be fine. 

So for now, life is easy and relaxed.  Each two hour run is better for the dogs in every way than an hour of yard time and only takes an hour longer.  The members of the Silly Lake Pack, me included, are a happy bunch.

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