I love to run, and I love my dog, Spike. More than that, I love to run with my dog Spike and have trained along side him for seven marathons over the years. As Spike has gotten older, his less than controllable urges to relieve himself have forced me to stop during a run with increased frequency, to clean up after him. These unscheduled breaks have induced some lengthy delays during timed road races. How can I improve my 5k PR without giving up the joy of running with Spike? - Pooped Pooper Scooper
The legend of Phidippides fails to make any mention of his frequent pauses for intestinal relief during his 140 mile run from the plains of Marathon to Sparta or his eventual run from the plains back to Athens following the Persian defeat. We do know that it took him 36 hours to run to Sparta, and must conclude that he had to take at least a couple of "comfort breaks" during his effort.
In recent years, computer technology has enabled runners to record both an "official finishing time" based on the interval between the official start of the race, and the instant that a runner actually crosses the finish line, and a "chip time" which begins the clock at the instant that the runner crosses the starting line (as detected via a magnetically coded computer "chip" worn on the shoe).
It seems reasonable that technology could go one step further and negate the "pit stop time" incurred due to your pups' bouts with incontinence. Lacking that I'd recommend a slightly less technical system of correction, and propose the following items as a means towards shaving a few nanoseconds off your time:
1. Wear two stopwatches: one on your left arm and the other on your right. Designate one watch as tracking your "overall" time for a run, and use the second to track the total time spent during those unfortunate breaks that Spike is going to require. Post race calculate the difference to determine your personal "official" time.
2. Register your dog Spike into races. Note that very few of the registration forms for road races make any reference to "species". As you approach the finish line, ensure that you cross the line before Spike to give yourself a better finishing place.
3. Telescoping titanium Pooper-Scooper with roller blades. Think about it.
While these may not be helpful solutions to your problems, they certainly represent this writers attempt at thinking "outside the box". The standard recommendations include "not feeding your dog" for some period prior to the race, or filling his bowl with that favorite diuretic of runners: coffee.
In the end, while it may not be possible to improve your race performance as your dog increases in age, at least you'll enjoy the benefit of running with a loyal friend.
Run long and taper.