How can a Husky run for so long? Again and again, I am in awe of the endurance of our Huskies. The ability to run dozens of kilometres or miles on consecutive days is just wonderful, in the true essence of the word. Properly trained long distance Huskies will do over 150 km or 100 miles a day, without an issue.
Compared to humans?
Sometimes people make the claim that humans are the best endurance athletes in the world. There may be individuals who can somewhat compete with the Arctic sleddog (like Dean Karnazes, who ran 350 miles or 560 km in 80 hours and 44 minutes without sleep in 2005), but those are few and far in between… and even then they flat out lose to the Arctic sleddog, the true champions of endurance sports.
Definition of Magic: the power of apparently influencing events by using mysterious or supernatural forces
So what’s the trick? A magic switch in their cells! I use the word magic here, as we cannot explain it by means of science (yet), and it baffles us. The switch lets the Huskies take fat directly from the blood and burn it inside their muscle cells as energy. And they do it without using any carbohydrates in the process.
EDIT: Update on this as of August 2018. As much as I love using the word “magic” here, it seems the science has provided answers on this area. I most likely need to further update this blog post later, but I wanted to drop in this disclaimer: The magic trick would appear to be keto-enabled metabolism which can be achieved by humans, too. If you want to read more about it, please refer to this study by Dr. Jeff S. Volek.
Fat instead of glycogen
This is pretty spectacular. Basically, mammals use glycogen stored in the cells during endurance exercise. The problem is that you can only store so much in the cells, and once that is used up you need to replenish (eat). It takes recovery time for this to happen.
The Huskies, however, only start their engines with the glycogens. But once they are running the engine hot, they flip the switch and start burning fat directly from the blood, which can be replenished on the go!
This should not be possible, according to the classical understanding of cell membranes. Fat is not supposed to pass the membrane into the cell. But somehow, perhaps using insulin as a carrier like it does for glycose in the picture above, the Husky can do this, and keep on running!
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
This might also be linked to another interesting finding: you should be careful when using recovery agents, like maltodextrin, to speed up the recovery of your Husky. It may very well mess up this system, and according to some reports the damage thus done can be long-lasting.
So how can a Husky run for so long? By burning fat directly into energy at the cellular level, unlike any other mammal, we know of (including other dogs)!
Balancing fatty acids in the diet
Trailwinds Huskies uses Effektri Dog dietary supplement to improve the fat metabolism of our Huskies. The product, made of fish oil and extra virgin olive oil ensures the right balance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids.