It may just be me, but I find much of the equipment offered for training purposes to be superfluous.
Which is not to say that it's useless or even that it's not worth the money you'll pay for it. I simply mean that there are many around-the-house objects and DIY techniques that can make all the fancy training gadgets in the world unnecessary.
One example that I remember from my days watching commercials (God bless you, DVR) was a little parachute that someone (usually an impossibly-sized football player) would wear while running sprints across a field. I admit that it looks pretty cool. It evokes images of drag racing and wind surfing. The logic behind it is simple: if you train with wind resistance, you'll be even faster without it. Trouble is, for this nylon square and fancy harness, it can cost a fair amount of money, which you need not spend. Not if you have a dog, that is.
Perhaps it requires a certain kind of dog. One who has enough energy to be able to run, but not enough attention-span to focus for more than half a mile. One who loves kids and kites and other dogs and will still be trying to get back to them half a mile down the road. And most importantly, one who thinks uphill running is for suckers.
Combine these traits with an already windy day and some residual muscle soreness from your weekend, and you've got yourself a pretty good workout.
For the first half mile, before the pup realized what we were doing, it was my own legs that were holding me back. I felt like I was running in a pool, pumping my legs as hard as they could go but getting nowhere. Eventually they loosened up, and we had a rather enjoyable half mile. Then came the park, where we passed a school's field day. The dog wanted to play, too, and when I informed her as nicely as I could that it would not be happening, she decided that the run would not be happening either.
I make it sound much worse than it is, but all that really happens is that she falls behind and slows down. It's not because she's tired (Lord knows, she's got plenty of energy), but rather that she's looking over her shoulder at all the fun she could be having and that slows her down tremendously. Once we're out of eyesight, she still drags a bit, like she knows that she was pouting about something, and maybe if she stays back here, she'll remember it.
This continues for the next mile and a half, until she suddenly realizes that we're on the way home. Home? That's where mom and water and treats and food are! Now suddenly she's got all the energy in the world, and I don't look like the meanest dog owner ever born, dragging a pathetic little pup behind me. Really, it's not that she's tired. She'd just rather play with someone else.
We finally get back into a pace when, with about half a mile to go, the hill gets steep, and she's done again. How could I possibly need a parachute at that point? She'll pull me back far more effectively than any silly old force of nature. Still, up we climb and home we come where she stretches out on the concrete floor for twenty minutes or so until she's fully recovered and ready for the next round.
If she came with GPS, I'd be set.
71 Degrees / Cloudy, Humid
25 Minutes, 10 Seconds