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!

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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.

ICF World Championship in Lubieszów, Poland

I think it is time to write about totally different experience I had than IFSS World Championship last year in Poland. ICF focuses only on mono-sports, so it was great to see so many athletes dong canicross, bikejor or scooter.

Road trip

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I was super excited as the races where near my hometown so I knew I can spend some time with my family. Unfortunately my two dogs got very unwell first few days in Poland, and Laferra even lost her usual colour, wasnt eating. It was stressful and decision needed to be made. No go, no racing for my two at this ICF. Luckily I got an offer from my coach to run his dog Nero that I know well.

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ICF preparation

I was gutted I couldn’t run Laferra, as we trained a lot for this… a year… I felt it was right decision to let her rest and see what the future brings for her. It was worrying that she didn’t want to eat and so on.

Few days before actual races we went to our “Athletes accomodation” and I could see that Laferra is picking up being happy around the dogs that she knows from races, training and the UK.

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ICF races itself

Well not sure where to start here…

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Weather wasn’t help as it was very hot so on second day the course was shorten. However let’s start from the beginning. Trails were amazing, up and down, deep sand, twisty and exciting, very well signed.

Day 1

Lucky draw so there were a lot of fast people behind us, I was expecting to be overtaken and so on. However I didn’t expect so many people standing on side out there. Yes start and finish had a lot of people spectating, but when we were out on trails there were photographers almost on every corner and also a lot of people spectating there too (shouting and clapping).

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Nero and I went very well the first 2km, and unfortunately by the time of split (half way through the course) Nero didnt like photographers sitting almost on trails and those beeping machines. So we got breaks on and tried to pass it all in a positive way. Uff we passed and continue… But the struggle began. As there were only 15sec break between runners we got caught by few and unfortunately (maybe due to weather) dogs were loosing focus in running, I hold Nero to my left side and left the whole right trails for overtaking teams… He got attacked… not once but twice. It was very stressful. It happens tho, I tried to continue running but he was just trotting near me. I just wanted to have positive experience for him. So we continued. It was ok until we got caught by a group of 5 runners…. Dogs lunged towards Nero. Sad. Very sad! We finished but I was upset and frustrated (literally in tears).

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Ok lets forget what happened on Day 1 and move on. I took it as an experience and the biggest lesson of my life.

Day 2

I was dreading for the mass start. What if the dog will think it is ok to lunge after Day 1 experience?! A lot of thoughts were going through my head. It is our turn, I am standing behind everyone to make it safe for Nero and myself.

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3,2,1…. goo Oh gosh Nero is smashing it! We pass one, second, third person… in 100 m almost getting into trees and trails! Oh wow we are first into trails. Nero wasnt bother at all and just kept running. Mass start wasnt that bad. However if you don’t like to run in a group it is not the best as the whole round we ran with 3-4 other canicrossers and dogs were a bit looking at each other. We kept going and finish on a positive way.

What an experience

How did I feel then? Frustrated and upset as the plan was to run Laferra. How do I feel now? I am actually glad that she got unwell, she wouldnt cop well with everything what happened on trails. It was hectic and insane, very busy out there. Personally never experience so much in one race. Congestions on trails but also a lot of people on side. We just couldn’t prepare for that as there aren’t any races as busy as that here. It was great experience and I will defo be back to ICF, however I really need to think through how to prepare my little princess for all this chaos.

Personally (and I know people might not agree with me here) I feel like the mass start encourages zigzaging and lunging from dogs towards others. The first 500m is the most crazy when you start as dogs are very wind up for the running. Secondly 15 sec between not seeded runners…. hmm that’s to me the problems all around for us slow runners! Yes I kept under control my dog, but others?! not necessary!.

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Future

I am looking forward to next event which is Sweden, I feel that IFSS is a bit safer for me as a slow runner with my shy rescue. ICF was another great experience, maybe not the successful one, but I take it as a lesson. I have been there, I ran for my country Poland, I finished and Nero had fun. I spend time with my friends and looking forward to see them all again.

My experience is my lesson, I will defo try to go to totally different events here in the UK so my dogs can experience different environments, different dogs running around them, different trails. Bring on Sweden next week.

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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.

 

Cannock Chase Fur Nations weekend

To finish our season we have went all the way down to England to Cannock Chase for Fur Nations races at the weekend. 5h drive on a nice motorway feels like nothing compering to my trip to Poland. Services on the way are super dog-friendly! I tried to stop on different ones and already have few my favourites as some of them are fenced and you can dogs let off lead for a proper stretch.

Weekend away

Have a look at our post how to prepare for your camping with dogs: http://dogxplorescotland.com/camping/. This was our first time to Cannock Chase. Cannock Chase Country Park is one of the largest country parks in England. It is a local government district in England and it covers a large part of Cannock Chase forest and the towns of Cannock, Rugeley and Hednesford.

Unlucky this time the weather wasn’t the best. It was raining a bit and during night there were thunderstorms which was a bit scary even for myself.

As always dogs had a blast.

Surrounding

Cannock Chase is located between Cannock, Lichfield, Rugeley and Stafford. It comprises a mixture of natural deciduous woodland, coniferous plantations, open heathland and the remains of early industry, such as coal mining. The landscape owes much to the underlying Triassic bunter formations. Cannock Chase was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) on 16 September 1958 and is the smallest area so designated in mainland Britain, covering 68 km2 (26 sq mi). Much of the area is also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Despite being relatively small in area, the chase provides a remarkable range of landscape and wildlife, including a herd of around 800 fallow deer and a number of rare and endangered birds, including migrant nightjars. A feeding station at the Marquis Drive Visitors’ Centre, sponsored by the West Midland Bird Club, attracts many species, including brambling, yellowhammer and bullfinch.

 

Efforts are underway to increase the amount of heathland on the chase, reintroducing shrubs such as heather in some areas where bracken and birch forest have crowded out most other plants. The local flora also includes several species of Vaccinium, including the eponymous Cannock Chase berry (Vaccinium ×intermedium Ruthe). In January 2009, an outbreak of the plant pathogen Phytophthora ramorum was discovered on the chase, at Brocton Coppice. Various restrictions were put in place in an attempt to prevent its spread.

Races

So once again we had two days of racing, great finish to Laferra’s first season. The trails were just under 5km but surprisingly very tough (elevation only 91m). My greek rescue girl was very strong all around and did well by overtaking more people this time than being overtaken. Lovely mix terrain full of grass and forest trails made her go even more. It is very challenging to start in mass and then meet a lot of people out on trails. At the end of the day she is still very young dog and took it all without any problem. 3 weeks after Glamis, I felt once again stronger and really worked hard. Looking forward to part 2 of my programme with Ben Robinson. Time for summer and work even harder for next season. Fur Nations races are joining the list of race must attend next season.

 

My 12 weeks adventure with running programme

Hopefully you had a look at my previous post including some insights into the programme I am doing with Ben Robinson. Why Ben’s programme? Well he is the best in the World, Europe and UK. I think that’s good enough answer. If it isnt enough well here you go more information about Ben:

– BTEC in Sport & Exercise Science.

– Degree in Sports Strength & Conditioning.

– Over 6 years working within the fitness Industry.

– Running at a high level for over 15 years (As well as Canicross since 2014).

– Multiple county titles on the Track, Road & Cross-Country during Junior & Senior years.

– Sub 02:00 800m, Sub 04:00 1500m, Sub 15:00 5km.

– Three-time British Champion of Canicross (2015, 2016, 2017).

– European Champion of Canicross (2017).

– World Champion of Canicross (2017).

– World Record Holder (Canicross 5km) of 12:24 (2017).

– Self-coached Athlete who also coaches Matthew Robinson (Robbo Snr/Ben’s Dad) & Elaine Sherwin (A previous British & European Canicross Champion & current World Record Holder for the Women’s “assisted” parkrun).

The adventure begun

I have never known what to do to improve my running skills. I always stick to good healthy food, which probably somehow helps, but nothing really changed much in the performance. There was maybe slow progress but nothing major. The 12 weeks programme changed the game for me. At the beginning it was to understand the different wording used in “athletics world” and the pacing terminology. Surprisingly I really struggled with it. I literally needed to learn from start. Week by week and it was getting easier to know the paces and what to do.

Firstly I have learnt that recovery runs are very important, and rest days not as much. It is all about different running, not just same session all the time just faster. Variety is the key! I probably don’t make it easy for myself choosing the terrains that aren’t the easiest but I really want to work hard, and push myself!

What has changed?

As I am planning to stay on Ben’s programme for some time (approx 2 years 😀 haha- he cant get rid of me now), it wasn’t all about results. I needed to build strength and my head around all that running. I don’t know how that happened but I felt super excited about every single training session. Half way through the programme I had a break down, but got an amazing support from Ben which really help me to pass that tough time. Back on track and week 9 and 11 proved that hard work pays off. I improved my times, but what is more important I really enjoyed racing with my girl! I felt like running, not trotting anymore. I felt strong and love every step out on trails!

Week 12 just finished and I can’t believe how much it changed. My body is stronger, my head is loving and buzzing for all the running (even hills) but also legs just goes themselves (it feels I started running lighter-not so heavy anymore), my strava keeps saying trending faster. Yeah I just love the running! I even managed to skip my healthy diet, and slipped to have some bad habits for a bit! It didnt affect it all. Everyone deserve a small treat from time to time, right? No more skipping it tho 🙂 and I have added some additional restrictions.

New thinking

I also discover that if I follow the same patterns for pre-race and post-race my body prepares and recovers much better. I felt I was always good, but Ben really changed my thinking on small things, for example to leave my chilli behind if I know I have races coming. I love my chilli and never thought it can affect my running.

I used to be dreading for hills training and my legs would be very tired. Now I understand that the hard work and the tiredness after training is worth, and eventually it will pay back. I also unexpected gain few kgs, but I blame all the muscles, as I see my legs getting stronger. Despite the extra kgs, my legs are feeling lighter and faster, my body looks stronger and tighter during running.

Time to start part two- next 12 weeks programme

I am so looking forward to next programme. Now we are just training, no more races as season finished. My next stop is Trophee des Montagnes in August in France. This event is more about holidays: fun and meeting friends. My next major stop is Canicross Midlands and ICF in Poland. It will be challenging, but I hope to enjoy it and tick it off my bucket list than race it as fast as I can. Keep smiling, keep training and results will come!

 

 

Glamis Castle Fur Nations weekend

Last weekend was very spontaneous, after few chats with friends, I have decided to sign for Fur Nations races at Glamis Castle as it wasn’t really far away from home. Oh boy! It was one of the best weekends.

Weekend away

We love the weekends away with dogs and even better with couple friends and their dogs too! Have a look at our post how to prepare for your camping with dogs: http://dogxplorescotland.com/camping/

Luckily for us the weather was just amazing! We now have much bigger tent, so there is a lot of space for everything really. Although dogs discovered how to escape from it!

Surroundings

Glamis Castle is a living, breathing monument to Scottish heritage, hospitality and enjoyment for all. The family home of the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne, Glamis Castle is the legendary setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the childhood home of HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother and the birthplace of Princess Margaret.

Glamis Castle has evolved over the years to create a stunning architectural treasure that is full of vitality to this day. Once inside, every room has its own story and the evolution of the castle and its legendary tales and secrets are brought to life by your own enthusiastic and knowledgeable tour guides.

Every painting, every piece of furniture, every little detail along the way is a sharp reminder that this is not a museum but an incredible family home that has witnessed everything from Royal births to being the setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

The gardens surrounding Glamis Castle are beautiful all year round. Walks have been created to take in a mixture of habitats ranging from park land and policies in the immediate vicinity of the castle to the formal Italian Garden, mixed woodland and Pinetum to the North East.

Unfortunately I couldn’t take any photos of inside while we did our tour around the castle. However the staff was lovely saying hi to my dogs asking their stories.

Races

So we had two days of races, it was Laferra turn as Roger still building up for running in the harness. The trails were 5.2km and the start was at the small incline and then via water to then through the woods. Absolutely lovely soft and nice trails.

A lot of overtaking and being overtaken as the categories started in mass start and we were in 4th wave. Laferra loved the mass start and all the dogs around. We worked well together finishing 7th overall in our category (out of 42 runners). 9 weeks training with Ben Robinson proves it works, it made me stronger runner in head but also physically! Ben also supported me with preparation prior to the races (nutrition). We loved it so much I have decided we are going for English leg to Cannock chase in two weeks time!

I know Roger would have loved a run and he is very good with his commands, so he ran with our friend’s little girl (6) and loved it. I think she loved it too.

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Amazing time to be out with our dogs and friends. Chilling all days outside. Absolutely lovely atmosphere and zero politics. That what racing should be all about… fun with dogs 🙂 Looking forward to Cannock Chase!

 

 

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.