Our family has always had Newfoundland Dogs. Jonathan and I grew up with them. They are wonderful dogs, huge but friendly, powerful and level-headed – and best friends. When they are healthy, these giant dogs are surprisingly active and love to go on walks, hikes, and adventures. And as natural born swimmers Newfoundland dogs love any kind of water: the sea, lakes, rivers… They need a lot of exercise and why not combine that with an outdoor workout for myself.
Our current family dog “Fellow” is still young. For a Newfie, he is rather small and lightly built weighing something between 50 – 60 kg. I take him outside every morning. Most mornings I meet som friends with dogs which are Fellow’s friends, they all go chasing each other and playing for about an hour. That is a perfect way to start a day!
Some days we do not meet friends, and I admit I also love these days. Usually, Fellow and I go on a “run” on these days. As a Newfie, Fellow is not the perfect dog to run a marathon; he is too heavy for this kind of distances, and he gets bored by going at the same speed all the time. So my runs with Fellow look totally different, they are not really “runs” but much more some special kind of outdoor workout.
We go to the river – after all, a Newfie workout has to include some swimming 😉
The trail goes right along the river with sandy beaches mixed up with reed and more swampy patches. We start our workout with running. After about 300m the first beach. Fellow needs a stick that I throw in – sometimes there are some ducks he talks to.
In the meantime, I do some squats. For about the time Fellow needs to swim after the stick, I threw in and get it back to the shore at least twice. Then we are ready for the second part of the run.
Another 300m of running. Fellow is still not up for an even tempo. Sniffing is mixed up with sprints and pulling at some toy I brought. Overall, we run much faster than I would on my usual longer runs.
The next beach – Fellow runs into the water, eagerly looking at me, waiting for me to throw another stick. At this beach, there is a little stone “bench”, which I use to sit on and to some crunches while Fellow goes after his stick. Again I do crunches for the time Fellow needs to go twice (sometimes three times) after his stick.
Off we go again. The next section of our trail is a little longer. For about one km we run now. Since Fellow still needs some time to sniff around, chase some birds or look into the swampy reed if he can find a wild boar (yes, Berlin is a wild city and has wild boars everywhere, no kidding) – I do some knee-lift-running and jumps while waiting for Fellow to catch up with me. By now, I am more than warm and breathing heavily 🙂
The next beach, another stick, and another little bench. More crunches for me, more swimming for Fellow.
On we go. Fellow is chasing some crows. I am sprinting for a while. This section is about 800m long. The next beach is going to be the place where we turn around – after some more swimming. I throw a stick; Fellow is off into the water again and for me it’s time for some lunges. I already feel my legs.
Depending on how much swimming Fellow wants, I also have some time for some planks or push-ups. There is a little ridge where the boats for the water rescue station land. If I am not up to doing planks in the sand, I can use the ridge.
At this small beach, Fellow is the one who decides when we start our return run. It is easy to tell when he has done enough swimming, he then takes his stick and starts hopping towards the trail.
The way back to the parked car is going to be a fast but very steady run of about 2.5km. Fellow usually chooses a much faster tempo than I normally run. Every time I almost catch him, he speeds up just a tiny bit so that I never get close him. It is a nice game that makes me run fast.
Somehow on our way back Fellow does not insist on going into the water at the beaches we pass. He now clearly has one goal: reaching the car first. And afterwards, I have one happy and tired dog.
For me, these Newfie-runs are great workouts that change my routine and add a ton of valuable core strengthening exercises to my usually rather constant and unidirectional running efforts. Plus Fellow and I have a ton of fun because from his point of view we play all the time. I enjoy the picturesque scenery of my lovely hometown. And I even enjoy my sore muscles and feel great for being on a great path to more overall fitness.
I tried to add some distance to the run, the trail along the river goes on for a couple of km, but Fellow expressly told me that he thinks our run is perfect as it is and he does not want to run any further than his favorite beach. So we stick to what works for both of us. The whole workout takes me about one hour of combined running and strengthening exercises. For me, that is a good length for an early morning workout.
(These Newfie-Runs are not limited to running along a river in Berlin. I have done similar runs around mountain lakes in Bavaria/south of Germany. I am sure with a little phantasie you will find the perfect place for some fun runs with your running partner, too.)