IFSS European Championship in Nybro, Sweden

It is taking me sometime to write this post. Why? Yes, ICF was amazing, but IFSS event was just outstanding and I refuse to accept it is over now. Last year IFSS WCh was amazing too, have look here. Right let’s begin by sharing our journey with you.

Road trip

This time it was proper road trip for us as over 30h drive. I am lucky that Ben and his Dad took me as a road trip buddy and we could share this experience together.

Firstly we went to them to have a bit of training with all the dogs that were going with us, to make them a bit tired. Fantastic loops with all 6 dogs. Some breaking speed too.

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A road trip began on Sunday evening, a long way to get to Sweden, however we have managed! Stopping every 3/4hours to walk, hydrate or feed the dogs was spot on. I was a bit worried after trip to Poland about my two, but it seems they were coping with the trip very well, surprisingly Laferra was very calm and chilled (she usually stresses). Good mood all around and I thought Robinsons will be fed up with my top chat 😀

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Road itself was smooth, as all around motorway, probably a bit boring for the drivers, but easy to get consistent speed and move on. We were doing really well! I discover that my German isnt bad either by ordering as solid wiener schnitzel.  I am so glad to my parents for forcing me to learn other languages. It is soo handy to be able to pick up even basics from others and be able to speak what you want.

I knew there will be very strong athletes in my category so I prepared myself to take this trip as an opportunity to train with my dgos and Nero.

Tuesday

We came to the race venue to check the trails. Absolutely love that start and finish were so close to each other that you could see both no problem. That was exciting for spectating during the week.

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Today I partnered with Nero and blast a solid run on 5.3km which wasnt the flatest. There was me thinking Laferra will love it as we train on similar trails (I discovered later I was right). I was buzzing as solid run with Nero of 16:20 on the trails. I was looking forward to compare this time to Thursday results 🙂 I think everyone was excited about racing.

Wednesday

Today vet check and chilling day. I went for a run with Roger, just short easy run, well at the end we ended up running it a bit faster than I planned. Roger was loving it and people were loving him on the trails. I love that any dog can do canicross really.

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Today in the evening we also had an opening ceremony. All teams walked through Nybro to city centre to hear anthems of each country. It was our turn and I only had one thought in my head: one day, one day it will be played for me……  It was time to rest. Always night before racing is stressing and I cant sleep well. Tonight I slept very well, maybe the idea no pressure and this is another training was just great?

Racing abroad

You ever wonder what is it like to go to another country and race?! Do you ever wonder how does it feel? I will tell you! It is bloody fantastic. You go to that event with your dogs, prepare them, look after them, cuddle them, feed them, train with them. You work hard all year for this. You arrive and you see others who are crazy as much as you about their dogs speaking different languages and having different habits. Walking around and watching all those amazing athletes is just priceless. And finally that time when you stand on start line with butterflies and your dog just knows it is time to go. No one can take that away from me and you will really know this feeling if you ever try. Running through trails having different countries cheering for you is just something that gives you wings. 

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Thursday

We all ran in a lucky draw in our categories. I knew I had some strong runners in front and behind me. But I knew I wanted a great positive experience for my girl. It was time, we went to start line…. unfortunately a person in front of us was DNS so a big gap for us to even be able to catch a person 2 min ahead. I knew Laferra can do well running on her own, as that how we train, we don’t need to chase anyone. She knows she is racing, she is raring to go! Jumping and barking at me. I feel jelly legs and butterflies, my head is spinning around. 5,4,3,2,1…. Goo… We are running and she is storming every steep hill and running amazing. I feel tears but trying to keep and hold myself together. Absolutely amazing 18:24. I love my wee girl as she did amazing, I never dreamed of running that time with her on those trails!

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Friday

Today was a whole canicross categories seeded by times, which meant I could watch my coach and friends storming and finishing their runs before me heading to start line. Absolutely amazing to watch all those strong athletes and seeing my coach to get to finish line winning a gold at the Europeans Championship. Yay!

Image may contain: Ben Robinson, Agata Aleksandra Zaremba and Alberto Alda Cosano, people smiling, people standing

I felt more relaxed today as I smashed two runs already on those trails! Competition wise we couldn’t loose our 22nd position as way too big gaps. I think Laferra too as today we were running a bit easier and she wasn’t so keen to help me on couple hills but she still did amazing (maybe she was tired). I was super proud as we still finished in under 19 min. And those trails were demanding on your dog and your legs too.

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Saturday and Sunday

Since we finished our races and this year IFSS decided to be a 4 days competition, we were able to watch others mostly big teams competing. Ahh so much fun to see all our friends doing so well. Those events are just fantastic, you meet all those folks who are as crazy as you! Absolutely fantastic. However there was one more thing to be done after races.

We still needed to do the training! Nice and easy run with friends and all the dogs. Well It was bloody amazing run as Nero and I stormed to 17:14 for 5km 😀 I have never ran so fast or even dreamed it will happen so fast. I think everyone could hear me shouting in woods when we reached 5km 😀

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Another year another experience

Wow! Just wow! I always say those events are fantastic, but this one will stay in memory for long time. Absolutely amazing time training, eating, laughing, watching athletes/races and being in fabulous place with friends.  I loved every moment and I am ready for training even harder now. This trip made me believe in myself. I know I train hard and I am motivated, but that believes in myself are often missing. Bring on 2019 and our sub 16.

Sport camp- canicross taken to another level

Coming from sport background, I was always used to pre-season sport camp, where our coaches made us do things to really make us stronger athletes. I remember very well early morning warm up short training very early morning, which I always hated. Usually it last week or two but you defo were coming back pretty tired. However body recovered quickly and we always were ready for September and our first volleyball games of the season. The older I get the more I miss team bonding and all the fun that was in connection with our sport camp (late night press up punishment for not sleeping! was one of them). Such a good memories. Anyway since I started training under “big eye” of Ben Robinson (current World, European and British Canicross Champion), I feel my canicross and whole running moved to new level. Due to some personal circumstances, I wasn’t able to go to France to compete at TDM, I thought I need to spend my holidays somehow different. With my crazy ideas Ben and I teamed up for a week of training camp.

Training plan

I like the idea that I don’t need to worry about what and where I need to do. Ben made sure me and dogs explored different trails, uphills, downhills and ran a lot of miles that week. Always remember when training with the Champ recovery run turns into massive elevation gain over pretty solid long distance.

Dogs training

It was all about training including dogs. It was great to make sure they run everyday. I also had an opportunity for really first time to canicross with beasts, in other word Champion’s dogs. Well Ben has nice variety of different dogs, but they are all superb with their heads for the running. I was really impressed with even his youngest dog that was super focused even when paired for the first time with my Laferra. If you ask me, yes I ran with Blakey boy- the Champion Dog and yes it was scary, but I felt my feet weren’t touching the ground!

For the first time I felt super strong dogs, but also my body wasn’t broke and I really enjoyed running at 3:21/km pace. Even the trees weren’t that annoying to hit my face 😀

The whole week I could try different dogs and try different thing with my girl. She ran as a single dog, she ran as a first time as a 2 dog team and finally she did a lot of free running while I was working hard. On the other hand Mr Rogerowski train a lot and work hard canicrossing with Ben (what a lucky dug right?). I am so happy he is back to harness as he loves it so much and really never gave up even when I ran big boy Nero and Ben’s Dad had Roger with Nova as 2 dog team 🙂

During the week I have learnt a lot about canicross resistance training for dogs, which is still new and I have never used it really.

Experience from pros

As I was staying with my close friends it was great to learn about their routine with dogs too. At the end of the day it isn’t just running, dogs like to be dogs. All that swimming, fetching and hiking is good for training too. Unfortunately my two still didn’t get the hint how to swim, but I can see Laferra is braver with going deeper to the water (oh and summer is gone LOL).

Athletic track

I know I used to say I will never go and run at the track, but Ben offered me to just experience it. No pressure at all right! First time ever I have been to that kind of place. So many people and I felt absolutely awful (so intimidating), but having my coach on the side explaining the rules and etiquette, I got a bit braver to run my first 400m on a track. I felt like a monkey in a zoo if I am honest. Also struggled when I could do my next time, as groups were running and running. On the other hand it was great to see some of those folks running. Oh they run soooo light! Maybe that gave me courage? I did it again and something broke inside me. Ah, I believed. I believed my dreams are possible to be reached. Maybe not tomorrow or within a month but they are closer to be reached than they were. Loved my experience on track and already looking for a local track availability.

Sport camp

Once again I felt like pro athlete who worked hard for the coming season. Every day training and excitement which dog I can run kept me going. My hard work was paid off in massive blisters and stiff calves, but at the end of the day the purpose of this camp was to experience and learn more. I learnt that a lot of hard work still needs to be done, but I am super excited for 2019.

 

My favourite running partner of my first canicross camp was Nero. We worked a lot together and we both felt same after 8 days of hard training. I am already looking forward to my next camp with these bunch of humans and dogs.

How not to lose motivation?

Recently my training programme is very high volume, which makes me tired and sometimes frustrated. Yesterday during my sessions, I keep saying in my head I need to write about this. So a short note on how to keep motivated on my own experience. It has been almost 15 weeks that I am doing Ben’s training programme and I haven’t missed a single session.

What exactly keeps me motivated? Here are few points.

Identify your goal

Dream big right? So before you start your hard training sessions, have a think what exactly you want to achieve by doing them. Firstly make a short-term goal, but also think about long-term goal and have a wider perspective to see your goals. The results of these perspective could be such as: feeling more confident, better health, happiness and better fitness.

Monitor your progress

Ok, I use Strava, but I also keep my diary after each session. I like to write down how I felt and come back to it, as it shows me that I do progress in all my training. I have three different diaries, one is for canicross (and really dogs’ training), second for my core body exercises, third is for my dogless running and progress there.

Be flexible

Be flexible with your goals, do some changes and make it a bit more challenging specially the short-term one. Remember the small steps will really keep you going if you will see the progress.

Nothing happens without hard work

Some folks think, progress can happen without hard training. Well you are wrong, you really need to put effort to achieve your goals. So remember there are no miracles in this! You need to work hard.

Timeline

Identify your timeline, when do you want to achieve your small goals, but also big goals.

Be happy

You need to work hard but remember have fun during the session too, and if it was bad sessions, remember tomorrow is a new day and it will be better.

Find a partner

Sounds so romantic, but I dont mean it this way! I found that having my dogs off lead is the best thing ever, and I treat them as my running buddies who keep me going.

Stick to your plan and good luck.

 

“You have to fight to reach your dream. You have to sacrifice and work hard for it.”- Training regime

Coming from a sport background didn’t really help me to know what to do with my running sessions. I definitely needed some guidance on how to improve and put the right programme out there. I have improved my running in 2 years quite well starting at 32minutes and being down to sub 20 (all with a dog). However now it is the time that I will work harder and get the right training. I have signed for Canicross Robinson Online Programme Coaching. If you ever wonder how it looks like and what mentally you go through here is my adventure over 6 weeks.

Week 1

I haven’t felt so excited about running in some time! Actually felt like back to those days where I want or needed to train every day. Ben discussed with me my goals and what I have been doing so far. He really tried to understand my idea of running. Week 0 we have done some testing (I had no clue what results they brought, but nevermind!) Finally my week 1 landed in my inbox. Super excited to see only one day rest! Training session really varied from what I have done before, so I was even more excited. I have hit all the sessions no problem but felt thankful for my recovery run session on Sunday. I also managed to discover that I use a lot of my shoulders during running (they are so sore). Week 1 accomplished without any problems, just feeling a bit tired which means I worked hard.

Week 2

I have made mistake this week and decided to do a session in the afternoon after work. Oh, never ever again. So many dog walkers out there and all those dogs that wanted to join me and dogs running around the park. I will defo stick to morning sessions. This week was a struggle, my legs felt tired and my body felt not well. I didn’t have a rest day in the programme, just recovery runs, which I am loving now. I am glad this week has passed now.

Week 3

Week 3 was way easier than before, I felt shit during sessions, but afterward, it looked like my runs are getting stronger and better. A week has been going better than last week, I can feel stronger, but my body suffers every week. Noone said it will be easy right. My recovery runs feel great and legs aren’t feeling like stones anymore. My running buddies are brilliant every time.

Week 4

Week 4 was tough, I was away for a business trip, which means training without dogs- my best running buddies. Ben planned session so I could fit it with my travels. Saturday canicross was mentally tough, as my legs were very tired. Overall I thought this week will be tougher than it actually was. I survived! Looking forward to next week already.

Week 5

It is already over a month I am doing the training, I feel the legs are stronger, splits shows I am getting a bit faster, but I don’t feel like it. This week is a race week, so training programme has been adjusted so I have some rest prior… To finish up the week 5 Laferra and I had fantastic run at SDAS Ford races. Two very consistent runs. Super happy.

Week 6

Halfway through the programme and I really managed to surprise myself this week as I could feel that I am getting stronger as sessions feel like I am doing better and more. I also manage to do 2 hilly loops instead of only one, and still feel strong and breath in! (yes I pushed and work hard). Never thought I will look forward as much to my recovery runs.

 

I always run around, but this tailored programme really builds my strength not only in body but also in my head! I never ever thought I will go out there in the morning and do hills runs! The whole morning training keeps me buzzing for the day but also it makes my dogs very happy as they run with me, and pretty much do the same training! 🙂 well makes them snoring dogs.

 

Happy traning everyone. If you missed my post about early starts have a read here.

Why am I so motivated to start my day so early in the morning?

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As you may know, I am not a big fan of running and in past, I really used to hate it. However recently things changed and I am more into it, even train every day. A few folks asked me how do I do it that I am so motivated to wake up early and just go out there in the dark and do my training. So here are my thoughts on that:

Why early morning

I am an individual that likes to be on her own, a lot of people make me tired 🙂 Recently also a lot of people started asking me how I trained my dogs that they are so well behaved. During training I don’t have time for chatting, I like to go out there and smash my training in 30min! Early morning it is usually me and the dogs, which means I can totally focus on training and don’t need to shout after Laferra to not approach other dogs and of course no people keen for chat. Easy life for everyone: I can run, dogs can run!

Stunning morning

Usually, in the morning I can see the sunrise, which in Scotland is just stunning.

Food fuel

In the morning I can also feel I can go quickly do the training without worrying about food, I can just fuel my body straight after the run and during the day at work. I am always worried to get a stitch if I run after work due to that when I finish work I am hungry for light dinner already. The only minus of this is that if you work hard (most of the time for me) you will get a headache after a good training session and you feel like you can eat the whole fridge 😀

Consistent morning and increases discipline

I am always up early in the morning even at the weekends, so keeping the consistency in waking up makes it easy for the whole week. Also, it means training is done and nothing interrupted it as it the is always the same time. If I decided to do it in the afternoon, my workout time frequently ends up at the bottom of my to-do list and by day’s end, I might not even do it. So I rather hit the trails first thing in the morning and I am able to enjoy it and be fully focused on training. This also means I have a free evening and can spend it on catching up on tv shows or reading books.

Metabolism

I have noticed that morning start helps keep metabolism elevated for hours. Why not get your engines running as soon as possible- the earliest the better hehe?! In this way, my increased metabolism will be working — and burning more calories — while I am, instead of when my body is at rest. If you are like many people who sit at a desk all day, you know that this is reason enough to train in the morning.

Clears your mind

We all know that training really helps clear our head and put us in a healthy mindset. According to literature training before your day officially begins allows you to start each day with a fresh perspective as you destroy the stresses of the previous day with a run on the trails. It would help you to decrease the chance to become stressed or upset during the day. Of course, it also depends on individuals but it defo works for me.

Energy for the day

Early morning… yes it is hard to move from nice and cozy bed when it rains outside. The weather and accumulated fatigue can make you feel a bit lazy, however, if I go out and do the training first thing in the morning I am buzzing for the day. Doing so will release endorphins and other hormones to give you a much-appreciated boost that often lasts all day. In other words, it’ll give you the required energy to work all day and party all night if you desire.

 Sleep better and increase mental awareness

I have noticed that I feel more alert and ready to take on whatever challenge or curveball life throws my way after a good workout. I am ready for the day. As my body learns the pattern I started to sleep very well too. My sleeping patterns are consistent and I feel like I am resting/recovering much better and quicker.

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So stay focused and disciplined yourself! Get your “ass” out of bed early morning and enjoy the rest of the day. Happy training.

 

 

 

Busy is a choice, stress is a choice, joy is a choice, choose well.

Weekends are meant to be full of fun and running, right? We were back to Callendar Country Park and Vogrie Country Park.

Saturday

I always look forward to the weekend, actually I live with the thought that soon there will be the weekend. I have always my weekends free so it means a lot of adventures. Saturday weather wasn’t nice, and my dogs aren’t a big fan of rain. Not the greatest choice of the country to live in.

Falkirk Parkrun is great and quite challenging with hills. People say only one heartbreak hill, but the whole route is up and down. Dog-friendly and when asking if we can start to the front they always allow us as they know it is for the best. I like that a lot, which means we can just fire away from everyone and then pace ourselves nicely with only a few overtaking us.

Laferra loves the starts, she is buzzing to go and really run clean. After not training much I thought this will be a massive challenge, but she ran really well, and not many could overtake us on the first mile. We have finished 12th overall, which means we are progressing and our time is more consistent now. It seems last few weeks we keep 5km easily under 21 min. Time to push a bit more now.

It is great to see photos after the event, as you can really see how much she enjoys it (me not so much!).

Cake and coffee time

Afterwards, we went for a nice walk with friends to Canada Woods, which I know quite well from MTB riding there. Canada Wood is a five-minute drive from the town centre situated in the rural countryside of Falkirk and boasts beautiful panoramic views towards the Ochil hills. Nice surroundings with woody paths, dogs just love it. You can do a short loop or longer loop. Therefore there are many paths to explore and you pass a lot of farmland, so if your dogs are like Roger The Chaser, I would keep them on leads. Luckily the sun came out so it was great to enjoy it. After a good walk, all the “humans” deserved the coffee right?! Canada Woods Kitchen serves anything you would want from nice breakfast up to great cakes and coffee. The great thing about this place is that it is dog-friendly so you can have furry baby with you inside. As it was sunny, we have decided to sit outside. Nice staff brought us our orders outside, which I like too as some places expect you to wait inside for taking your own order outside. I have checked the website and it doesn’t say it is dog-friendly, but it defo is. I think I had the best fruit scone ever.

Sunday fun

We were back to Vogrie Country Park. There are 11.5 miles of signed countryside paths through woodlands and the Tyne Valley.

After rainy and sunny Saturday, I didn’t expect a snow at all. We arrived there and there was at least an inch of snow. I had a great walk with Roger.

I think his feet were freezing as he was running around me on a lead. He is a funny boy!

Celebration

Two years ago I went to Vogrie Country Park and had a blast at my first canicross with Cani-Sports Edinburgh with Roger. I have decided to be back in February and celebrate my 2 years in the sport by running. Being a part of the Akobe TAM Marathon community, Laferra and I ran her first 6 miles, her longest run at only 19months old. Oh, Laferra pulled all the way around. We had a blast stopping talking to walkers, stopping for cuddles and talking to other runners. I had a blast on this sunny frozen Sunday! Great 1-2-1 with my girl to have just fun canicrossing, no pressure of racing (we did want she wanted and whenever she wanted)! We have collected our Titch medal  

Weekend

During one weekend we had any kind of weather, what a great fun! Love that kind of weekends, when we can do whatever we want. It is great to live in Edinburgh as within only 20-30min drive you get to very pretty places. After all that I had two very happy and tired dogs. In four days we are heading to Thetford Forest for 2nd round British National Championship. I am super excited.

 

 

 

Love for sled dog sport? Planning new dog?

I presume most of you watch the Dog Power Movie? If not, please watch it. It is only 25 minutes and it is defo worth if you are looking for a dog for the sport.

My story

I have been reading a lot around and hearing a lot of questions from people regarding hounds or greyster which are great breeds and dogs for the sport. I have followed a lot of groups and forums to get to know the breed but let me tell you my story first.

As you may know I started my adventure with canicross in February 2016 with Roger. Great pullying dog. I thought this will be an additional fun hobby we can do together. How wrong I was?! I was so hooked after my first run that I went home and signed for my first race in April 2016. Despite I hated running. Roger loved it and he was very tired that afternoon. Our first race was with CSS in Plean Country Park. It was very challenging and hilly route, but I loved it even more. That time I discovered that it isn’t just canicross that’s there but there are more to this whole crazy thing. Yes, I was hooked and excited. Literally, I was buzzing after talking to so many folks and meet very good athletes. I started doing my research into the sport.

First proper season

I have decided to compete around UK with Roger and see how things look like and where we stand. I discover that a lot of folks have pointers in the sport, but also dogs specially breed for the sport called eurohound or greyster. I always dreamed about having two dogs so I started to think maybe I could get a pointer and be a bit more speedy than just 22 minutes per 5k with Roger.

I started looking for another dog, that I thought could make me faster. I have trained every day so hard to improve my running. In September 2016 I have enquired about pointer puppy in Greece. To make whole story short Laferra arrived to Scotland in October 2016. This was my first experience with a pointer breed. I read a lot about that they are energetic and full beans, but later on I learnt what that really means. As I am qualified behaviorist I was very confident that I will manage no problem. Laferra was only 4.5 months old and not really house-trained. Personally, it was my first puppy that I needed to teach what is the world.

Basic training started from day one, as I really wanted her to be spot on with everything to make my life easier, as Roger being an older rescue is very high demanding (separation anxiety, behavioral problems and reactive). I always knew staffies don’t understand your personal space, but later I have learnt that pointers are even worst. So house-training became and it was smooth, she was one clever girl. On the other hand, she was a nightmare to be left alone or in Roger’s companion. Laferra was loving to chew two things: socks and plastic things. Constantly something was chewed and I started to worry that something might happen to her. I don’t believe in crates and unfortunately, that wasn’t an option (Roger hates crate so he has access to the whole house, so I couldn’t just close Lafie).

Back to basics

I have started saying to myself she is only a puppy so I presume she will grew up from this stupid chewing. Later on I discover others pointers’ owners had the same issues, but dogs grew up from it. Ok she is only a baby. Laferra learnt quickly to do her “business” outside (very quick actually) and her recall was brilliant! I trusted her everywhere and she wasn’t even bothered when she met a horse on our walk one day. I thought fantastic I have a brilliant pet that I can trust being let off lead!

She was growing super fast and Roger loved her more and more. I could see that he liked to have her around. However, every day coming back home there was evidence that she found something and chewed. I gave up on “5min per month” rule and started really making her tired on walks but also playing games like I do with Roger. You can read a bit more here. It started to work, she finally stopped most of the time, but she was growing and being tall she could reach to the places she shouldn’t be even interested in. The kitchen counter got hoovered so many time and I knew Roger was delighted with her being able to reach there as she shared everything with him. I still kept saying to myself she is only a puppy.

However, being a puppy and being a pointer puppy was a bit different. For Laferra one day of me being lazy (meaning not playing a game or proper long-running off lead walk), she literally destroyed things mainly my clothes: lines, necks, zips and so on. She was bored where I was hoping she would sleep.

Old enough for more running

In 2017 I have discovered bikejor so I started training that with Roger, but to get skills I started riding bike on my own. I thought brilliant as Laferra is great off lead I can take her with me and she could get the activities that she needed. She was old enough to start doing it and be my trail dog.

I was learning myself and building up my fitness but Laferra had the best time ever and she could go for a long time. Our rides were minimum of 10 miles every time we went out. I was gutted that Roger couldn’t join us, but tough life if you have a zero recall. Anyways finally princess stopped all the chewing and she was tired sleeping when left alone. You probably want to ask how do I know this? I watched my dogs on camera while at work, just to make sure they are not stressed. The only problem was that I couldn’t ride a bike everyday I needed to do something with Roger too.

Running around

Laferra learnt canicross, being a bikejor dog and pull the scooter around. I always thought Roger was high demanding, but he was tired after 20 minutes training, where Laferra could go again and always tried to play with him at home. I thought she is young so she must have a lot of energy, but at 19 months old now she has even more energy.

My life changed a lot having her, I wake up 4.30-5am to make sure I go out there let them off lead and let them run around before I head to work. Usually, they have a dog walker during the day who takes them for an hour walk which is usually off lead walk and finally in the evening we drive outside Edinburgh to train: canicross, bikejor or scooter, or just me running with Laferra being off lead. Only Friday is my day that I don’t do anything with the dogs in the evenings (well we clean the house, which is great fun with two barking dogs). If one day I am being lazy and ruin the routine I come back to chewed things! And Laferra isn’t a puppy anymore.

Note: Laferra doesn’t understand personal space at all as per below photo ( you wake up to this).

Sled dog sport

I started my story to show you that a pointer changed so much my life as she has so much more energy than Roger or any other dog really. She also made me super busy with making sure she gets rid of this crazy energy.

Now being in the sport for 2 years, I started looking and learning about those “special breeds” for the sport. There are a lot of folks out there with those dogs, a lot of forums and groups on facebook that talks about them. However, I felt it was just talks and people opinions, I wanted to know the truth. As you know I had a brilliant opportunity and qualified to go to the IFSS World Championship in Poland (you can read here about it). I met with so many breeders but also athletes who own those dogs. This trip allowed me to watch the dogs at home (I stayed with few in the same accommodation) but also I could watch them during the big event racing or just sitting at the stake out.

IFSS World Championship gave me the chance to meet so many those pretty puppies but also see those adult dogs in action. They all were fantastic, strong and very keen to run, no matter if it was canicross or four dog team. Fantastic to watch but I thought there must be something more to it. I started talking around and surprisingly people were happy to share their experience. I discovered that those breeds can vary in mix of the breeds they have already and this mix was changing the way dogs behaved. All those breeds are full of energy, and I knew this kind of dog means more than Laferra herself.

On forums and groups you can read how much they destroy and how difficult they are to be left alone in crate. I know different dogs are different, but people told me it is a tough life to own one of those dogs, they really need attention. In case of the greyster they also need some attention as they love being around people. After few discussion I can easily say that those dogs cant be just pet, you need to train them every day. Canicross isn’t enough for them, and also they are that strong that running in a harness isn’t an option for every day training, so you need to do a lot bikejor and scooter- be brave enough as the speed you can go is crazy. Couple athletes in Poland told me that if I ever decided on that kind of dog I will need to make sure I am prepared for life to change (and there was me thinking, Laferra changed my life enough), otherwise this dog will ruin my house no matter if it is greyster or eurohound. A few of those dogs are only one person dogs, so not really a family dogs either. A lot to take on board before you decided about them.

I am not trying to put you off! I just want that people realize that those dogs are pretty and amazing runners, but there is more to just looking pretty athletes! In my case, how would my dog walker cop with having a greyster on a group walk pullying him?! This is just an example. Do your research, it took me a year to collect all the facts until now and I am still learning every day about them. I use the opportunity to go to different events to spend time with those dogs and their owners. I love to get to know them and see how really different they are.

One more thing before you get bored reading this. Those dogs breed for the sport and there are a lot of wonderful breeders with a long waiting list, but to have a confident and super athlete you need to put a lot of effort and train it correctly! What’s the recipe? Noone knows and you can only try and do as I tried with Laferra (I am still learning that recipe!).

I hope you enjoyed this post and have a better idea! I would defo recommend doing your own homework. Laferra is only pointer, no more crazy breeds in there and one day I was thinking Roger is high demanding right?! There are a lot of things to take into consideration when willing to buy a sled dog and bring it to your house.

For now I just focus on Laferra and Roger, They are both great for the sport and I feel it is great progress for me. Starting canicross at 30min with Roger and going down to 22min and with Laferra down to around 19:30min. I think I am on the right track, slow progress and improvment. I have learnt a lot about other breeds for the sport and still have plenty to learn.

 

 

The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.

This post will be all about training how when and why from my own experience and my own opinion what I would have done differently and why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beginning

Let’s say it loud there is no one right recipe for how to teach the dog  how to canicross. There are a lot of  knowledgeable folks there who are happy to share their experience, but there is no right or wrong way. You need to find the way that will work for your dog.

Roger and his start was the easiest job ever! He is a natural puller, harness on, bungee attached and he is off! He is smart cookie so knows the commands very well. Yes, 2 years old dog and he knew very quickly what to do. Roger was just getting better with every training. I knew I could trust him 100% when running.

On the other hand, Laferra was a puppy when she landed on my doorstep. I had no clue what to do and why. I have search internet, talk to folks and really couldn’t find the perfect recipe for training the dog from zero. It was a really good lesson for her. Let’s start from the beginning then.

Puppy training

You look around on youtube, Instagram and facebook and a lot of top athletes from sled dog sport are starting training their puppies at age of 7-8 months. They run them for 0.5-1mile canicross or even bikejor. I felt for Lafie it is too early and I wanted her to be a puppy for as long as possible. Usually, the start time for dogs according to race rules is they need to be 12 months old for canicross and 18months for bikejor and scooter. I have decided to just make her familiar with a harness so she was running off lead with harness on. I also focused my training on 100% recall of lead as I knew I would train her off lead on bike for her fitness and take her up the mountains when I was out with my MTB pals. We did well there, she has 100% recall! I know you think: not a chance. Well, I have tested it with having fox, horse and deer on the way!

Older puppy

I was super excited to finally start working with her, but I haven’t rushed to anything. At 10months old, we started doing power walk with canicross equipment. She was all over the place. Comparing to Roger she was just daft. We continue that even tho it was very frustrating at times as she wasn’t really good at focusing and listening what I tell her. She just wanted to say hi and be best friends with every single dog. I have never tried her with Roger either, and I know some did. It worked for them, pro-dog teaching new dog. In my case, I wanted to make her confident on her own as she is very shy and submissive dog. We just continue the training, she was more interested in birds and stops when she could cuddle with me. It was frustrating every single time. Now I only laugh at it as she is such a baby.

My teenage dog

She turned 12 months and we started doing more during the run, which was much easier than power walking due to that there was less time for her to get distracted. Finally, she started to understand what is this all about. Training was going really great until our first race! Our first race (first race report is here), Laferra thought we will do exactly what we did at training and we will stop for cuddles. Oh! Princess, we need to run to the finish line! Not successful but we finished our first race.

Racing

Although training was going well I discover that she didn’t understand the 5km distance and stop at the finish line (not when she felt like it). I realized all this few months I did it wrong. I didn’t build her for distance. Don’t take me wrong, she was fit to run it or even longer. It was just her head not ready for 22 minutes constant run or even other dogs on the trails. She was 15 months already so I really felt like I wasted time. It was time for changing the game, or at least I thought I did. Another race and unfortunately another fail (you can read here). We didn’t finish the race and I never give up. I was devastated and very upset that I really tried to prepare her.

I had two months to make sure she is ready as I already committed to going to IFSS World Championship (you can read about it here). After few days having a break from all the running, I sat and wrote a plan.

The new plan which changed the game

I knew that my dogs don’t care about winning or loosing, they just want to run with me. I just couldn’t disappoint them myself. Laferra and I started building up the speed and the distance at that speed. We ran 1 mile! Next week we did 2 miles and so on. I started doing more of 1-2miles with her on scooter or bike. She was loving it. Eventually after few years saying I will never go to parkrun, we went to parkrun and ran it. It was amazing to see how she cops with all the people, noise and distraction.

She was just amazing and I could see all these worked for her, which showed at the World Championship that it was all worth the patient. The time we spent together also build fantastic bonding between us. I have learnt one thing, if one training doesn’t work try something different. Dogs are different. She loves running and her harness.

Reward

Yes, I had an easy life with Roger, but the most rewarding with Laferra. I feel very emotional when we go out there and race. She just loves it. It isn’t always perfect, as you always learn something new right?! Sometimes we go back to basic or a small thing makes her distracted. However, at only 19months coming all the way from Greek streets, she really grew up to a fantastic “sled dog”. I am looking forward to our future and more competition. We both have fun and that what’s matter most.

What I would do different?

I think this time I would make sure Laferra is more familiar with wheels from early stages of her life. Even just putting it near her feeding place. She is brilliant MTB and with scooter, but she isn’t 100% sure about bike. Probably also would make her more familiar with hydration after training as she hates drinking water after training or race (no clue why). Finally, I would defo allow her runnning free when I did training with Roger on wheels or just canicross. She would have watched the wee pro doing it perfectly. Maybe this would help me to have less time being frustrated.

I probably wouldn’t attach her to bike or just run with both of them, but would defo want her to see more of Roger in action. Maybe two dog scooter one day! I presume she would love to have Roger with her during training now.

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Note: here are other posts which has some tips on training.

 

 

Training training- what’s important in the sled dog world

I have been in sport 2 years now and I can’t believe how much I learn in those few months and how many new friends I have made. I would like to share with you my own experience what to do and why you should train it with your dogs. Note: this is only my own opinion, experience and knowledge.

The start line

There is more then just to go to start line and get ready for your run. If your dog is like mine, you need to control them well as Laferra could easily give me the penalty. Roger on the other hand like to sniff, pee on everything and say hi to every marshal around start line. This is important. I try to keep my two near me and just let them go on “go”.

Saturday 08.01.18 British BSSF Series 1 – 2.

Posted by What's My Time Ltd on Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Surprisingly as per video, we did brilliantly at the start at BSSF race.

The finish line

Agata finishing on Saturday BSSF Race 1

Posted by What's My Time Ltd on Tuesday, January 16, 2018

As you can see from video at a lot of events there are those mats and funnel to the vet checks and RM. Laferra was funny about any noise or people at the start line but mainly finish line was a struggle. I went to parkrun as the funnel is getting narrow and there are folks standing around. It is defo something to train to make sure your dog finishes confidently on a tight line which isn’t always the case for us.

On the trails

At the IFSS World Championship, we have a lot of distraction on the trails: talking people, photographers very close to trails or even halfway through a person with a walkie-talkie and beeping machine to check athletes. This is challenging to practice, but we went to Christmas Parkrun and guess what, we passed many marshalls with bells around. Great practice for Laferra.

On the other hand on the trails, you can catch another athlete or be caught by another athlete. Roger has no problem with these at all, however Laferra as a sensitive soul has a lot of struggle with this. She likes to overtake and go away, but she hates when someone catches us and sticks to my heels. She is better than she used to be, as in past she would totally lose her focus, where now she continues to run but she keeps looking at me and the person/dog behind, which means she doesn’t run 100%.

Overtaking

This is one of the challenges while on trails. Most races on the first day aren’t staggered so there is big chance you will get caught by fast one or you will catch slower ones. Laferra is brilliant in overtaking, not even looking once at the dog, but she sometimes struggles when being overtaken. She likes to say hi or look at the other dog, which isn’t ideal and could potentially take as to be DSQ.

Training

Training is there to do mistakes, but sometimes it is just hard to prepare for anything. From where we have been with Laferra in September to where we are now is such a difference and I believe I did great training with her. We are upgrading to more training on wheels now, which means she doesn’t have as much time to think about things around. Hopefully, this will give her even more confidence when out on trails.

Happy training and practising.  

Bring on 2018

Ok so we had a look what we did in 2017 it is time to look what we will do in 2018. So far it doesn’t look that busy yet.

January

We are away to Wales this weekend for our first qualification for IFSS ECh in Sweden which will happen 24-26th October in Nybro, Sweden. Apparently Pembery is lovely, so hopefully, it is worth the drive. Roger is suffering from an allergy so rest for him.

A week after that we are away to Muiravonside Country Park for another Scottish Championship race. I think Roger might run this one, but it all depends on his allergy.

February

I am planning to attend D&A time trial in Tentsmuir and check how we progress in 4 months with Laferra. Lovely place for walks too.

The middle of a month is taking us to England for BSSF National Championship, which is a second part of the qualification for Sweden. Another long trip for some great races. We loved it last year.

Laferra was still a pup, but during that trip, she proved she is an easy dog to take on travels. That was when I knew if we managed for Poland, she is going (and as you know she was a great companion).

I am tempted to fly to Italy for races on snow at the end of February. Of course not to compete but just go and watch it.

March

I might go and do one of SDAS races in Ford (all depends timing).

As per our tradition, we always did Plean race, as that was our first race ever with Roger. This year we will miss it as we are away for third and last BSSF National Championship somewhere in Scotland.

Our Easter weekend this year we will hopefully spend at one of the Midlands Canicross Series. Four days of racing in different classes.

April

We still be at Midlands races but also we are away to CSS Strathallan Castle races. As last year plan is to do canicross and bikejor.

May

We are away to France for the weekend. Yay super excited about this.

 

Oh yes there might be more to come for sure! But that’s all that I have defo planned and put in our calendars. Actually it looks busier than I thought. Happy racing yay.