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.

 

 

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.

 

 

Expectancy is the atmosphere for miracles.

Christmas time

This is a time of the year that everyone is getting busy with organizing everything for Christmas and arrival of their families. I feel lucky and not lucky that for us it is peace and quiet time and this year I have decided to even take 3 days off work. Even if you are busy don’t forget to squeeze training with your pups, it will only take max an hour if you plan it well.

Motivation

Recently my motivation has been playing around. I am very motivated for doing the training, but not necessarily sticking to my usual healthy diet which is probably not helping in sleeping, recovering and training performance. I know it and that makes it worst. It is hard as it is my birthday month and we love to eat for Christmas.

I feel a bit lost and trying really hard to get back on with eating less sugar than I really need. Surprisingly day after my birthday I felt like I have massive hungover. Hah! I don’t drink alcohol so it was definitely sugar hungover. I felt really awful. Do you think I learn from that? Yes, I went shopping and bought zero sugar! Is that me back on track? We shall see. This time of the year is tempting all of us with nice tasty (not good for us) food. Stay strong, it will pay back.

Equipment for dogs

Changing the subject. Finally, I have managed to find a place to try jacket for Laferra and first time ever decided I will not buy it online.

Lafie is one happy dog ready for winter coming. I must say I am very surprised even tho I have seen it before, but Hurtta quality is just amazing. I wish I can have that good quality jacket. Bring on winter as I am looking forward to try and test this summit park with Laferra in different conditions. Say no to shivering pup. It is black with nice orangish adds to it and has high visibility reflectors. I think it really suits Laferra (I am not biased hehe). Review to follow.

On that note

 

Team LaRogata is wishing you all the best for Christmas and New Year when it comes. Keep positive and dream big! Our 2018 will be busy and some exciting news coming (hopefully!) 🙂

 

 

The IFSS World Championship 2017 in Poland- “Winning doesn’t always mean being first. Winning means you’re doing better than you’ve ever done before.”

The IFSS World Championship

We are back and I can’t get over it is over. Probably that why I can’t find the motivation to write about it too. I just refused that it has finished. However, so many people asked me how was it so I think it is time to share with you the truth.

The long trip

From Scotland to Poland is a long way, I can’t believe that my parents drove to Scotland twice, yeah they did it twice. From Edinburgh, I drove to meet my road trip buddy Kim in England. We left Roger with his arranged nannies for 10 days, and Laferra and I went away. I have decided to stop every 2 hours to let her stretch legs, make her drink water and have a walk together around. This was just perfect as it took us just over 6h to take to Kim, so 3 stops and I was buzzing.

I must admit services on the way to England are amazing, they have so many dog walking areas. Laferra was enjoying being the only dog too.

Kim and Mark were so nice, so we could stay at theirs until next day when Kim and I were finally leaving UK for Poland. What a great place is the Forest of Dean!

Laferra got to know her road trip buddy Dusan. I knew she will fall in love with him, such a handsome dog he is. And as I discovered later she looked like mini Dusan!

England-Eurotunnel-Poland

I was buzzing all the way, I have never felt tired or even tried to close my eyes.

Eurotunnel is just an amazing to cross with dogs, easy to find the ways, dog-friendly having a massive fenced place to let them run around.

We even had a takeaway dinner in the wooden shelter while dogs were running around. I was surprised they never checked dogs’ passport on the way to France.

Here we are in France, first time ever I am driving with a dog abroad. I am super excited and even buzzing more. The weather was awful as it was raining all the way, but we have managed and we were delighted to approach Poland just in time for breakfast on Tuesday.

Poland

We had plenty time to rest before even approaching the venue and think of racing. It was fice of us who stayed in the same accommodation. 5 humans and 5 dogs, which was just brilliant for Laferra’s confidence. We even decided to have a wee jaunt around the village so our bodies stretch and started to prepare for the races. I was honoured to run with Ben Robinson and Kim Mazzucca (current World Champs) and Ben’s dad. Oh amazing. This bunch is just great as I have learnt sooo much from all of them including Ben’s dad 😉

Day 1

We were planning chilling again, but there were some issues at stake-out so we went to see the venue, trails, stake-out and the rest of the Team GB. I was overwhelmed with everything and everyone and I haven’t expected it will be such a big event. I heard the numbers but I think seeing it there you just start to feel what you have signed for.

As a Team GB Leader, I have decided to delegate as many tasks as possible, which worked. All tasks for the day done, sorted and I have picked up my card for a vet check.

A great laugh at the accommodation in the evening by the dinner, I don’t feel stressed for racing yet. Susie Tawney joined us too. That’s a full house! Dinner cooked and served, great company, great dogs, what else could we ask for?

Day 2

A bit more issues and tasks from the team, but I am managing so far. Today was Thursday, the first official day of the event as today all the teams were having a vet check. I was a bit stressed but it went all smoothly for our team, the vet group was very nice and friendly. Oh wait! yes, I forgot that Laferra needs to be checked too. Thanks to Someone who reminded me that too. I was worried a bit but ran into a car, grabbed her and we walked to the vet group. They loved her and were so nice and gentle with her. I think she loved them too. Laferra was growing in confidence every day since we left home. I was very proud of her.

Today we could walk the trails too, I have decided not to take Laferra around, so she is a bit suprised whats there ahead of her. Not very technical course with many turns, so I knew she will do fine even tho not knowing directions well.

Thursday was also the day for the official ceremony, which was awesome. In a polish style, there were some traditional music and dancing on stage too. Once again I was honoured to represent Team GB and walk with a flag, but also pick up World Cup medals for Lucy and Colin. I took Laferra with me and she totally rocked the stage.

Tonight my parents also arrived and met the team and finally met my golden girl. It was great to see them, they also stayed until Saturday.

Today I also met finally my “facebook” friends (Kika, Ellie, Kale, Blanka and so on). Amazing to finally be able to talk to my friends.

Day 3

Today was the first official start of the first races. I tried to do my best and be there for team, check on athletes, dogs and sort out other stuff too. Crazy day, but amazing to watch so many big names at the start and finish. I spend all day running between stake-out, race office and start/finish lines. I made sure I saw all the starts for our juniors. Great to be on side and support them. Remember never shout 🙂 at the races!

I haven’t seen my girl all day as Kim offered me that she will look after her. I totally forgot about her during day as I didn’t have a chance to look at my phone. Laferra had a blast with Dusan and was very happy to see me in the late afternoon.

First day races finished, and I thought great this is easy and went smoothly until team GB told me times are missing and so on. Here we go, I thought I can relax but I needed to go back to being a Team GB Leader. Loved it! All issues sorted and yes glad to speak polish!

Day 4

I couldn’t sleep last night, even tho I came back late. I was stressing for my race. It was happening today at 14:22. Dual start, which I have never practiced with Laferra. I was worried as I know she likes to be best friends with everyone.

I was glad to hear that Ellie (Deputy Team Leader) offered me to help so I could focus on my girl and race. Few issues that TL was needed, stressing even more. The weather was awful, rain and a lot of mud around.

I forgot about everything else, starting to be angry due to high stress and nerves kicking in. On my way to start met Kika, a wonder woman who always appeared at the right time. She makes me calmer….

First international race

Time to go to control zone: my legs are like jelly, my head is spinning, I realized that even tho I spend the whole day at the start and finish line I don’t know how it looks like and what I should do there. Time is ticking, my girl doesn’t really know what is happening too, as she didn’t see start/finish line at all. I have doubts I didn’t take her for a walk around course, but it was too late now. We are moving closer to the start line. Every 30sec new pair is starting, I am trying to see if I can see how people hold their dogs, but I see nothing. My heart beats like hell… The girl who was paired to start with me started talking to me and it turns out that it is her first international race too. I felt a bit better.

Time to go!

Ok it is our turn, we move to start line, people talk to me in polish, then Kale shouts from behind too. I really don’t know what is happening around. Laferra picked up it is a race and she is super keen barking to go. 5,4,3,2,1 Go.. and there we go. I thought to let my pair go, but we left her behind and Laferra is going strong, not even bothering that there were so many people at the sides of the trails. It was pissing rain.. Awful. I didn’t realize how cold I was until the first corner, I feel my body starts to shiver and fight with cold weather. Rain starts to be heavier and worst.

Laferra shook off around 5 times but continues to run. I feel super proud of her. We are overtaking no problem. We are passing people and photographers on the side and Laferra doesn’t even look at them. I can see sign finish and feel that my eyes are getting wet, I can’t brief and just continue moving my legs. We got to finish line and I have no clue what, when and how. Nothing at all. My girl is exactly same. I praise her and cuddle with her. I still don’t know what I said or what we did when we got to finish line. Yes, vet checked her chip that’s all that I remember. We have finished 41st.

Day 4 late afternoon

I have no memories here in my head still remember me buzzing and stressing for the race. I missed on musher party as needed to deal with race office. Other than that I was delighted to finally reach my bed. I slept really well that night.

Day 5

My start time was in the morning (10:22am). I wasn’t as stressed as yesterday and I was way better prepared for everything. I slowly walked my girl to start area and had a lot of clothes in my gifted bucket (amazing gift as from Polish Organisers, this is the most handy thing ever, I still use it). We were both in many clothes keeping warm. Once again Kika appeared from nowhere and told me to get warmed up! She even told me what to do and how while she was holding Laferra.

I took all layers off and put a running harness on Lafie. We were heading towards control zone. I feel relaxed today, however, I see Laferra knows that this will be her second race, she is keen to go.

2nd race was staggered so it was just us in the start line box. I felt good about it, but I knew it is just seconds that we are behind from others and it is just seconds for those behind us. The game was on, I felt we can do better today. We trained hard for this and Laferra was loving the whole experience.

Second international run

We are in start line box, I am in the zone, Laferra is jumping out of her harness. I have a good feeling and all those hard trainings appear in my head. I believe we can do it. I feel IFSS judge hand on my shoulder. 5,4,3,2,1 Go and we are off again. I feel my body is warm and ready to push with every step. We managed to catch an athlete from Canada quicker than I thought. I kept my eyes on her and kept digging every step. We were getting closer and closer. I quickly calculated in my head that we just need to be behind her at the finish line to hopefully land on a higher place. Laferra is amazing and surprisingly choosing the easiest paths to run. Like she knew it is important to make it easy for both of us.

We overtake Canadian athlete and I try even harder as I know there is just one more turn and straight and that will be us at the finish line. Unfortunately, Laferra spotted kid behind the tree and started barking. I am worrying but keep going, she never slows down just barks. We continue. The last turn, we ran amazing, first time I feel we finally work as a team. I feel the Canadian is coming behind us, and Laferra is a bit shy that there is a big dog just near to us, and she goes to the side of the trails but we keep pushing together. Never give up! I found out later Canadian Athletes is called Flavie. She finishes just in front of us. However I feel like a champion with my girl, she got a lot of cuddles while vets are trying to find her chip. We walked away from the finish line and Laferra knows we did amazing.

Finish

I cuddled her and she cuddled back to me. We are both happy, I have tears in my eyes. All that hard training paid back. I glanced at results and I can see the 37th place and red signs. I panicked and asked what that means. They tell me to calm down and it is just an error on screen, but I am 37th. Omg, I can’t believe, we picked up places! We are Champions. Well Champions on 37th place! In zone again, super chuffed walking back to start line for our bucket!

Closing ceremony and last day

I realised it was last day of the event and I felt sad. It didn’t feel like just a few days around my new friends. It was just amazing experience being around the best athletes in the world. It motivated me to work hard as I had a moment to give up on Laferra’s canicross, but never did and we did it. We went out there and smashed every step of our run!

We met amazing dogs and people, hopefully, friends for life!

The closing ceremony was emotional as my two new friends Kim and Ben both won gold medals. I was super proud that I met them but also shared all my experience with them.

Time to go home

It was challenging 30h driving back home, but I was despearete to see my Rogerowski, who was struggling without us.

Eurotunnel on the way back was even better. Pet reception is just so dog friendly. We met Laferra’s rescurers too! Random! The whole trip was like a big dream! I can’t get over it.

Thank you

  • Thank you to my sponsors: Odlo, Merrell, Fitline and Scruff Muffin.
  • Thank you to Colin and Louise for all the training. Bring on more hard training.
  • Thank you to Sharon and Monika for support even tho the distance!
  • Thank you to Pani Ania, Beata and Jarek for all support and patient with Team GB.
  • Thank you to my new friends Kika and Ellie to being there for me!
  • Thank you to my amazing housemates: Kim, Susie, Matthew (Ben’s Dad) and Ben, and four legged housemates: Rivelin, Dusan, Blake, Zofie and Nova.
  • Thank you to IFSS for an amazing event.
  • Thank you to my Team GB for being so challenging so I could learn a lot! I really do love you guys 😉
  • Thank you to my dogs <3 for being awesome.

 

Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss.

It is time

It has been a stressful week, preparing to make sure I thought about everything for the dogs and myself. I have been traveling a lot abroad but never with a dog. Just stressing about everything. I will definitely share my traveling experience with you when we are back.

I wish Roger could go with us, I feel anxious leaving him behind, so he defo comes for adventure with us next year.

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He deserved a short holiday off from training as he worked really hard last 18 months.

Pack the bags

Oh! I hate packing, this is stressing me a lot. I have new jackets for Laferra, her favourite food. Time to pack her bag and my bag too. A list is long but I really don’t want to take too much.

Lucky me my parents are coming so they will bring me some additional stuff if needed.

Travelling

We are leaving tomorrow, long drive before we meet with BSSF for some last briefing chat for Team Leader role and reaching to a friend. On Monday we will be on the way to Eurotunnel and Polska. 1923km from home to the race HQ. Hoping to arrive on Tuesday if Kim and I will drive well. I can’t believe my parents did this route twice by a car.

Training

Today was our last Parkrun run and training for Poland. Princess will rest and get full energy for the races on Saturday and Sunday. I will probably do some wee jaunts around to make my legs going.

Keep an eye on our FB page for some updates how are we doing and how our adventure looks like. Full update when we are back.

 

History to be made

Here are some photos from the past and how we all started this crazy sport.

This was our first time ever…

 

Happy Saturday.

The World Championship preparation

We have now less than couple weeks left and leaving for probably the biggest trip of my life. We are going to the World Championship in Poland.

Firstly I would like to thank you to those who donate to my crowdfunding, we are way over the target. Really appreciate that.

Secondly here’s to the post that will be full of panic and excitement ( I would advise closing the tab if you aren’t interested :D).

Pre-race preparation

Last 2 weeks is really all about pre-race preparation. We have a couple more “race environment” runs for Laferra to grow into even more confidence. She is coming along so well. I am super proud of her. At training, she can fluff around, but at the race, she really surprised me. She is keen to go, stay focused, overtake and continue with the run. She does exactly what we have been training last few weeks. I am very happy that she made training hard so hopefully, we won’t many mistakes at the actual races.

Pre-race packing

I have been panicking and thinking about this for weeks. What do I really need? I have never been abroad with my dog. I know funny right, as I was always planning to take Roger, but didn’t really manage.

So what do I need?

Of course my running gear and Laferra’s running gear. I am sure we need more than just that?! Hope we will cope with weather in Poland. At the end of November, it will be cold there. Ohh gosh so glad we have nice warm accommodation booked. Still panic is there.

We are going to a different country, different climate and totally the place I know well, or that what I thought. Yes, Poland is my country but I panic. I have managed to put this list together (please let me know if I missed something):

  • running gear: Lafie’s harness, my belt and bungee lead
  • spare my belt and bungee lead
  • my running gear: shoes, long socks, shorts and vests
  • water for Laferra (how much water do I really take for her for 10days?!)
  • food for Laferra
  • sardines for Laferra (hydration)
  • tapeworms tablets for coming back
  • Blanket for Lafie
  • Jackets for Laferra
  • Waterproof day to day shoes
  • Hoodies
  • Winter Jacket
  • Casual clothes
  • passports
  • insurance documents
  • first aid kit for dogs (thanks for reminding me about this)

Here my list finished. I have no clue. I think I will start packing a week earlier, so I am totally sure I have everything. I am glad my parents are coming to the event, so they can always pick up something for me if I totally forget about it.

Pre-trip checks

Although I am taking Laferra, I can’t forget that I am leaving Roger on his wee holidays here in Scotland. Need to make sure everything is arranged for him: dog walker, pick up at the weekend for the away weekend. Leave his food and toys, oh favorite blanket.

As I am driving first part of the trip myself, I need to make sure my car is checked: oil, bulbs, and tyres are pumped. Windscreen liquid filled. Yeah I know I am doing better here right?

Also enough money to pay for tolls on the way to Poland and back.

Pre-race training

Another weekend, training and learning. Spot on! Up and down and I am defo buzzing for Poland. It is all about the clear run with my wee girl! She is doing soooo well! Different runs, different locations. Few mistakes but we learned the lesson! Last 2 weeks before us heading.

Rest

It isn’t just all about training. We had an amazing fun at the beach with our pals too!

Happy Monday.

My superheros and weekends away

Such a busy time that I didn’t have time to write any posts recently.

Weekend away

We were away last weekend to Jedburgh for Cani-sports Scotland races. Just before last few weeks pre-race preparation, I have decided to go away for the weekend with West Lothian Canicross club and race in the unusual 7.66kkm course.

Right, let’s start from the beginning. Jedburgh is a town in the Scottish Border (yes I love Scottish Borders). It is 10miles from the borders with England, and around an hour drive from Edinburgh, or if you drive like me it could be 2.5 hours as I did a wee detour by mistake (I was dreaming about MTB hah).

A beautiful small town with a lot of nice historic buildings around. I have noticed one thing in there: rugby is a sport of choice as it has one of the most famous and oldest rugby clubs.

Lilliardsedge Holiday Park was the choice for camping. Unfortunately, you can only book 2 dogs with one booking. However, the location is just 5 min drive from Jedburgh and facilities are amazing. There were even baths. Perfect for an ice bath after hard running.

Races

Our race was starting at the rugby club. Wow, what a course that was. 7.66km… tough over 2.5miles uphills. Never thought I will say that but I loved it, I loved every single hill and took it one by one, I haven’t think what’s in front of me, just simply focus on one hill at a time.

https://www.relive.cc/view/1254517065

We have managed to fly it somehow with Roger in 37minutes and got the 4th position within my category. Absolutely loved every single hill and took it one by one. Super chuffed.One happy dog afterward.

Princess Laferra, on the other hand, took her run on a short course, and wow. Even that there was only one person in front of us and soon we overtook her, Lafie was flying. Super focused pup which was what we needed. Time to build longer distances now as we are leaving for Poland in 16days.

Another weekend away

The dogs had a blast at the weekend, and they spend all day Monday just snoozing and catching up on the sleep. It looked like we all had a great weekend. Now time to focus on hard training and get prepared for Poland, although we have few more “race prep” that we attend. Tentsmuir- time trial and away to SDAS weekend race in Kershope Forest. 16 days until we are leaving for Poland.

Happy Thursday Folks.

 

 

 

 

Big dreams turns into hard work!

Most important preparation just started, in 5 weeks from today, Laferra and I will be probably heading to start line to have one first race at the World Championship. Just writing this gives me goosebumps, so I can’t even imagine how I will feel there.

Preparation

Proper preparation started a few weeks ago, and I can see massive progress in me as an athlete who runs, in my body and in my head. I also see my girl is growing up in confidence too. She has her up and down, but it is going well. As they always say it is better to do mistakes at training and work on them, the actual race. I have decided that I will do my best myself, and have fun. I will not put any pressure on my girl. She is an amazing dog anyways!

Vet check

Part of the preparation for that kind of event, we needed to have a passport ready to travel abroad but also a vaccination so she can compete. Surprisingly even tho day before the event there is a vet check if the dogs are fine to compete, you still need to ask your vet for a clear green light and health check! Laferra is ready!

Planning the journey

I think this is the most exciting part where you need to plan when to leave, which way to go and when you will arrive there. What an exciting thing… I am going to leave earlier than we have planned, so we can be in Poland earlier, and recover for races. It is a long journey. 1291 miles. Many hours of driving. We need to plan where to stop too, as having dogs with us we need to make sure they can properly stretch their legs too.

Game up

As per the previous post, I really needed to pick up the game and make sure Lafie is ready. She is shy and timid, so I needed to find the way to build her confidence in very short time. A friend of mine recommended me to start going to parkrun. I always refused parkrun, as they are just too busy for me. It was great to test us last Saturday. I didn’t know what to expect (exactly like it will be a World CHampionship) so I was a bit nervous. What a surprise to see my girl chilled and relaxed around so many people.

We went to Falkirk to Callendar Park. I can say we stormed it! I was super proud of my girl, even tho she slowed down twice. I had a great time and going to be back again this Saturday. Going to ask if we can start at the beginning rather than overtaking 200 folks.

Obedience training

We work hard at home and outside. I make sure it is loud and busy so she can get used that it is all ok. Does anyone want to go to the pub? Let me know. The more unusual places the better. She is doing great.

Running

I feel like it is going up and down, not always the best! But we are getting there. The most important thing is that we both enjoy it and have fun. I feel again that I am getting addicted to all this running! Rest days turn into more running. Maybe eventually it will pay back.

Dreams

My dogs changed my life. I always dreamed of things, but when I have them I live the dream. I make sure all my dreams are becoming true. Dream big, live big. Last year I said I will go to Poland and we are. We will represent My Home country in my Homeland! I am super excited! Counting down begins. And noone said it will be easy! It is hard work.

Happy Friday Folks.

 

 

 

Cause weekends are all about fun.

I love my weekends. Also full of something, always being outdoors and having fun. That makes me happy.

Beecraigs Country Park

But firstly just a quick note. We were back to Beecraigs Country Park. It was getting dark but before the run, I wanted to walk the dogs. I thought quick power walk around and we will be fine to come back to the car before the dusk. Well, it was fine, until we were halfway through and I lost a bit of orientation and it was getting darker and darker.

My advice is always to have your head torch, as I was really anxious that I couldn’t see anything when walking. We only went for a walk around (square). On the other hand, princess Laferra had a blast as she was on a mission as there must have been something in woods.

New location that we explored

So we had a chance to join West Lothian Canicross club for a run at the new location for us. Lionthorn Woods is situated near Callendar Park. An excellent place full of mixed wood with a beautiful burn. It links with Union Canal which is nearby. I didn’t realise until I was halfway through that actually I have been here before. I came here with my MTB group. If you want to practise hills than this is the place to be for either MTB or canicross. Nice and soft paths around with livestock which is a very exciting place for the dogs to run.

Another weekend full of fun

I always try to plan so many things to do with dogs during the weekend. A lot of friends complain that I never have time for them! Well, weekends are for me and dogs. haha For a change this weekend we have spent it differently and we worked on the bonding.

We have spent time with my friends, who lives in heaven. Literally, heaven. I had the opportunity to cuddle and feed goats. They are amazing. Such a cuddly and soft nature pets. I really want a goat now. Roger got over obsessed with them, probably as they were moving quite fast. I have decided to take him out and let him be around until he got overexcited. When he was overexcited he was back to crate to chill.

As you probably know from my previous post, Roger is obsessed about livestock, he doesn’t remember me or hear me when he smells other animals. I have never tried it before so this was our opportunity to see what Roger will do to the horses or around them. Firstly wee walk around the field and boom he is gone and Laferra follows him. I try to recall him, and unfortunately, zero reaction, what is worst Laferra is just chasing Roger. After few minutes Laferra realises it isn’t fun anymore and she comes back to me no problem. Roger runs my way, does the eye contact and just go straight back near the goats. Surprisingly horses didn’t interest him so much.

Bonding

I think that kind of weekend help me and the dogs to build our bonding even more. It isn’t all about running or biking. It is all about happiness and having fun! I like to be outdoors and explore.

Overall amazing day

In short, it was an amazing day as this was the first time I could let my dogs so close to other animals and also I had a shoot of ponny! I used to do horse-riding so it was amazing to feel like a child again.

4 hours of playing and having fun! What a great weekend. Looking forward to our next weekend, which is race weekend! Yay

Happy Friday Folks.

Equipment that will make you a “Pro” Canicrosser or Bikejorer!

I have decided to write a post about equipment as there are a lot of posts on facebook where people are asking for what is the best!

I am not an expert but I have learnt a lot in last few months being involved in the sport. So here’s my experience and only my opinion (you don’t need to agree).

Canicross

Let’s start with canicross. As of yourself, you will need something comfy for running:

It is an easy choice for people as there are a lot of different running companies that sell the right gear, but when it comes to dogs gear that’s another story. When I started my adventures with canicross, I couldn’t find much or I found information that now I know they were misleading. A lot of companies are trying to say their equipment is right for running with dogs, but I have learnt that a lot of them are purely business and money orientated and know nothing about canicross, and not talking here about faster pace sports like bikejor or scooter.

Dogs equipment

I struggled to understand and find something that will be good for Roger. He has an unusual shape. So I made him run in his walking harness (what a stupid idea that was, note on that my own gear wasn’t good either). I have decided to buy my first equipment back in Poland. DC Grizzly belt for myself, manmat bungee line and Roger had his walking harness. We were very slow but we enjoyed the runs (as per photo above).

Eventually, I have learnt that it is very important to have the right equipment:

  • A dog can get injured, if harness is incorrect for pulling.
  • Dogs should be able to use their shoulders without any restrictions.
  • The harness shouldn’t be too high on their throats.
  • Bungee line has a different length for different sports.

So my first equipment was a wrong choice. My belt hurt my lower back. Now I use this belt for hiking and it is just perfect. My bungee lead was too long (bikejor line) and it was harder to work together as a team. Also, Roger harness made restrictions on his running style and choked him.

Right choice

I still struggled to find the right equipment. I thought I went in the right directions and ordered a customised harness for Roger. Well, once again wrong decision. I was close to giving up when I decided to go and ask for recommendations from folks who do the sport for years. They know the sport and they know what is right for the sport and why.

My old equipment ended up in a bag. Roger got his brand new harness from Dragratten. How surprised I was on our next run, his pull was stronger. I noticed that more often when he saw his harness he got super excited. Note from me: his harness was tight, it wasn’t loose, it worked really well with his running style.

I have changed my belt for the lightweight and it was sitting on my hips too. Amazing, no more pain in my lower back. Bungee line was a bit shorter and the whole experience of canicross has changed. We started to progress with our times and I could see it helped as to become stronger.

My younger dog got her pro harness straight away. She will probably grow up from it soon, but it is defo worth the money as she learns in the right equipment from the start. She was 10 months when she got her first proper sled dog harness. 

Why use a collar?

I decided to keep Roger as he pulls a lot during a walk in a harness, but it is a different one than his running. Laferra walks on the collar, which helps before races that I can keep her on the collar when she is trying to be mental. Also during training, it is handy with her to have the collar to cool her down or walk her to start point. When I am nearly starting running I clip her on harness so she knows she needs to pull.

Bikejor and scooter equipment

Ok with caniross you can make mistakes and learn from it, but when it comes to faster speed sports you better with the right equipment. So what do you need here:

  • MTB bike or scooter.
  • Helmet and gloves.
  • Bikejor/Scooter bungee lead (longer than canicross).
  • Dog harness.
  • Arm antenna to keep the lead away from wheels.

People ask why do you have arm antenna on your bike. Ok on the photo above you can see lead is a bit slack as Roger slowed down due to big stones and hill. Arm kept the line away from wheels so I didn’t have an accident. I tried bikejor and scootering without the arm and instead of having fun I was thinking about line and brakes all the time.

Once again a lot of money if you think, but again it changed the way we train and how much we enjoy all this. I use same arm antenna for my scooter.

Equipment is very important

I have learnt: it is all worth the money! The dogs love it more and you can really push your team at training and races.

There are a lot of companies who say they are great for canicross, but think twice. In last couple months, I have managed to stay injury free and my dogs got excited when they see harnesses.

Think twice about your dog health! Use the right equipment, ask experienced folks for advises! It changed my experience and I hope you will find the right path to the right equipment yourself!

I am not an expert but been to may races in UK, I watched and observed, I have learnt out of my own mistakes!.Be happy, enjoy your running with furry friends.

 

Good shop with equipment: https://www.k9trailtime.com/shop/