Dogs love to run, and that's what makes them such great fitness motivators.

Need some help motivating yourself? Try borrowing a four-legged running partner for a jaunt around Lady Bird Lake.

Austin Pets Alive, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making Austin a no-kill shelter city, lends out particularly energetic dogs as part of its Healthy Dogs, Healthy People program.

From 9 a.m. until noon every Saturday and Sunday, people can stop by a station on the south side of the pedestrian bridge beneath Loop 1 and check out a dog for a run or walk.

The dogs get a break from shelter or foster life, and the people get a chance to see how dogs can fit into their active lifestyle. "A lot of people think they're too busy to have a dog; then they find these dogs are a perfect match for their lifestyle," says Sarah Weinstein of Austin Pets Alive!

The program helps the pups, which sometimes develop behavior problems after spending long periods of time in a cage without one-on-one attention. "We figured out the solution is to get them out and active," Weinstein says.

Healthy Dogs, Healthy People will mark its first anniversary with a celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Austin Pets Alive! Adoption and Resource Center, 2807 Manchaca Road.

A human-doggy fun run, fitness boot-camp sessions, canine massage and dog-training demonstrations are on the agenda, along with an agility course, paw-print painting, canine apple-bobbing and a photo booth. Adoptable dogs from Austin Pets Alive, Town Lake Animal Center and Love-A-Bull will be in attendance.

Admission is free, with a $3-$5 donation for special activities. Dogs are welcome, as long as they are leashed and friendly.

For more information about the event or to volunteer with Austin Pets Alive, go to www.austinpetsalive.org.

A great reason for kids to run

Remember that feeling you had as a kid when you ran just for the sake of running?

Austin Area Physical Education and Recreation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing a quality physical education experience for all Austin children, wants to spark that love in Central Texas kids ages 5 to 14.

The Austin Youth Cross Country Run, a 1K and one-mile fun run, raises money to benefit local P.E. teachers and programs. Organizers say the run is also a way to remind the community of the importance of lifelong fitness.

Money raised at the event will be used to send local P.E. teachers to state and national conventions and to provide children with scholarships to summer sports camps or youth running programs or pay soccer registration fees.

The race will be staged on the same grass field course near downtown Austin where it's been held the past 34 years.

The run is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at Festival Beach, 2201 Bergman Ave. Registration is $5 at 1379 Sports, 2727 Exposition Blvd., or online at aaperxc.com. Scholarships are available.

Chasing dreams, embracing life

To Neissa Brown Springmann, fitness isn't just about strong muscles and healthy hearts. It's about chasing dreams and embracing life.

The Austin founder of iGnite Your Life, an outdoor fitness program that combines exercise classes with wellness retreats, seminars and events that encourage women to live holistic lives, will bring her message to the Texas Conference for Women in Houston on Nov. 10.

Springmann, a kinesiology graduate of the University of Texas, wants women to know it's OK to nurture themselves because they spend so much time nurturing others. Her program mixes activities like Pilates, yoga, strength training, core work, swimming and cycling. Sessions are held at different locations around the city.

"It's about community, not competition; cooperation, not judgment," Springmann says. "It's really about having fun and being outdoors and moving our body in as many different directions as we can but not striving for perfection."

Among her clients? Texas first lady Anita Perry.

For more information, go to www.ignite yourlifenow.com.

pleblanc@statesman.com; 445-3994