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Getting Fit for Agility - It's Not All About Going Fast!

Kathy Rudolph varies her workout intensity to improve her fitness.  By Brenna Fender

Kathy Ruldoph was determined to get fit for agility in order to be more successful in the ring.  "I got in shape strictly because I cost us some Qs because I couldn't get to the spots I wanted to on the agility course," Rudolph says.  "Even though I have distance handling with my dogs, I do like to run with them.  Last year I found as my young dog gained confidence and got faster, I could no longer get to the spots I wanted to control the lines for the next obstacles.   It cost us two QQs on one weekend.  That's what got me started."

Rudolph found out that being a fit agility handler was about more than just being able to run fast.  "So much of our handling has to do with our own speed - speed up to drive, slow down to turn, stop for a contact but then go again at a fast pace, etc. After my training regimen, I can get where I want, my legs aren't sore after a run, and I am no longer winded," she says.

Her workout is tough.  She says, "I do 1.25 miles two to three times a week on my treadmill.  For Lap 1, I walk the first 200 meters at a fast pace, for the last 200, I kick the speed up to 5 and run, for Lap 2 I again walk the first 200 at a fast pace, the last 200 I run at 6.  Laps 3 and 4 are done the same way only the fast sections are at speeds 7 and then 8.  I walk the last .25 as a cool down."

Rudolph's method of training in intervals (alternating moderate and fast speeds) is well known for being good for weight loss.  It also resembles the kind of performance a handler gives on the agility course.  Bursts of top speed that then reduce to a moderate pace are typical in agility.  Rudolph agrees: "This has really helped with the get up and go you need on the agility course."

Rudolph admits that she is more focused on her training program during the agility off season.  "Now that I'm trialing every weekend I have backed off the treadmill work," she says.

Did Ruldoph change her eating habits as well to better fuel her new agility body?  She says, "Change my nutrition?  One thing at a time, please!"

Kathy Rudolph works it out on course.  Photo by Paul Rudolph.

Brenna Fender is the editor for the USDAA's subscriber services portion of the website.  She is also a freelance writer, wife, and parent of two dogs and two children.  Please contact Brenna at with comments, questions, or submissions.


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