IFSS European Championship in Nybro, Sweden

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

Road trip

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday

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

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

Wednesday

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

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

Racing abroad

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

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Thursday

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

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Friday

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

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

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

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Saturday and Sunday

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

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

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Another year another experience

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

On the way to Poland

All the way from Greece- princess Laferra- the dog who changed my life even more than Roger. She became best friend with Roger from day 1 and eventually she opened her heart to me too. Last season was amazing, we both learnt a lot! Once again thanks Colin Reid and Louise Mitchell for helping, supporting and training with us at the time that I lost my believes. Since then Laferra grew up so much in confidence and now she just loves harness work. She met so many new dogs friends around the world. We have been training and having fun all the time. She is my amazing angel to keep me going and dreaming. I knew I need to step up and do more for her. Thanks Ben Robinson (Robinson Canicross) for last few months of sweat, tears, swear words and hard work, for showing me a level up canicross and for making me do the training, that I have never even think of! We put a lot of work into everything and I know we will have a lot of fun, because that what all matters?! I can’t wait to see my family, friends and meet new friends (Team 🇵🇱 ️be prepared for us)! Today we are leaving to compete at the ICF World Championship in Canicross, Bikejor and Dog Scooter in Lubieszów Poland🇵🇱️ (2nd international event that we will compete at). First a bit of relax at my hometown and introduce my Two crazy mutts to my family (Roger is going with us, his first time abroad!)! Thank you to Westport Vets – South Queensferry and Lisa Cleeton,Veterinary Physiotherapy, Spinal Manipulation & Shiatsu for looking after Laferra. She is ready, I am ready. 💪🇵🇱

New trails and new places

Weekends are made to have fun right? I always try to plan something fun for me and dogs. This weekend it was all about discovering new trails.

Carberry Country Estate

One of the great Castle Mansion Houses of Scotland, Carberry Tower is a multi-award winning, luxury 4 star Castle hotel with an award-winning Bistro, situated just outside Edinburgh in beautiful East Lothian countryside. Standing regally in 35 acres of stunning, private Estate parkland and widely recognised as Edinburgh’s ‘Castle in the country,’ Carberry Tower is a place of intimate grandeur and to arrive here, is to weave your own story into a history that goes back to 1480 when our first foundation stone was laid.

The estate itself is surprisingly hilly, so my long run turned into a tough work. It is mainly arranged for mountain bikers but we had a lot of fun running around.

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History lessons!

There is a lot of history on this estate: “In the 13th century, the lands were owned by John de Crebarrie from whose name the estate probably derives its title. The lands were at one time Crown property and later passed to Dunfermline Abbey. In 1541 the Abbey authorities leased them to Hugh Rigg who built or enlarged the Tower.

By 1587 the church lands were annexed to the Crown and the superiors became the Maitlands of Lauderdale. The Rigg families continued to lease Carberry until 1659 when it was passed to Sir Adam Blair. In 1689 it passed to Sir Robert Dickson of Inveresk who sold it to John Fullerton whose niece Elizabeth married in 1774 the Hon Wm Elphinstone, third son of the 10th Baron, whose son succeeded to the title.

Image may contain: tree, sky, grass, plant, cloud, outdoor and natureThe Elphinstones held Carberry from 1801-1961. Alterations and additions were made to the old Tower from c.1830. The 15th Baron succeeded in 1861 and was involved in political and court life. The park layout was entirely redesigned during his time and the arboretum started. His son, Sydney Herbert, the 16th Baron Elphinstone, married Lady Mary Bowes Lyon in 1910 and they carried out further improvements to the Tower and particularly to the grounds. The formal gardens to the south of the tower were laid out in 1911 and they added to the specimen trees and shrubs in the parks.

The 16th Lord Elphinstone died in 1955 and Lady Elphinstone died in 1961 when the Tower and part of the estate were gifted by the family to the Church of Scotland.” The information was taken from the Historic Scotland page.

Redwood Meadows Dog Activity Park

I was looking for a fenced place where I can let Laferra off lead during her “heat”. A friend recommended me this place. Lovely and very friendly owner welcomed us and showed us around.

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Unfortunately it was raining when we were there, but dogs still had so much fun. The park has a lot of different things that the dogs can sniff, walk on and discover. Laferra as usual was doing her own thing, but Mr Rogerowski was loving everything about it and of course that I had treats to make him do things.

Such a great place and so muh fun for dogs and me😊😂🙊

Posted by Dogxplorescotland on Sunday, August 19, 2018

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

Hiking with dogs

Summer approaches (well maybe not here in the UK). This is the time of the year that we all go more often hiking with our dogs. Here are some rules and information you should remember before planning your hiking.

Right trails

Make sure you look at nice trails that are suitable for your doggies such as soft and not with many cliffs around, so dogs can be off lead all the time. Depending on how fit you and your dogs are, check how steep and how many drops there are on the route. If it is nice sunny day check if there are any water stops for dogs to cool down.

You and your dog

Make sure if you choose the trails that are suitable for both of you! Check if your dog is fit to actually go for a long adventure. Your vet will be able to advise you. Also, don’t feed a massive meal before hiking too.

Check rules and regulations

Check your local rules and regulations, as for example in Scotland dogs must be always on a lead during lambing.

  • During the breeding season (usually April-July) keep your dog on a short lead or close at heel in areas such as moorland, forests, grasslands, loch shores and the sea shore to avoid disturbing birds that nest on or near the ground.

After hiking check your dog

  • Eyes – check for grass seeds.
  • Ears – check for mites and other foreign objects.
  • Paws – check for cuts on the pads, also grass seeds and ticks.
  • Tail – foreign objects caught in fur.
  • “Armpits” – check here for burrs and twigs getting caught as your dog will love to charge through the undergrowth. If these are left to bed in they will be incredibly uncomfortable and more difficult to spot later and could result in a costly trip to the vets to have them removed.
  • Mouth – check for abrasions around the mouth, and cuts on gums etc. Try not the play “fetch” with pieces of fallen branches as they can cause untold damage to the throat and/or mouth.
  • Body-  check overall for ticks.

Items to take along with you

So it is important you pack everything for your hiking adventure, I put a list together what I always have with me:

  • treats- high quality treats to reward and encourage good behavior.
  • favorite toy- we always find time to play and have some fun.
  • doggies first aid kit- cuts and strains could happen so be prepared.
  • spare collars and leads
  • poo bags- always clean waste
  • whistle- to call them back
  • animal-friendly wipes
  • water bottle and collapsible drinking bowl

 

Enjoy your adventures with dogs and stay safe.

 

Canine warm-up workshop- why bother with warming up our dogs.

No automatic alt text available.Another busy day for Laferra and I. This time we attended a canine warm-up workshop with Lisa Cleeton, who is known well in Edinburgh area as a Veterinary Physiotherapist. I was really looking forward to it, to learn a bit more for warm-up but also once again put Laferra in a new situation with other dogs and people around and make her only focus on me so I could focus on her muscles.

 

Muscles

When you think about warm-up for the dog, think about warm-up for yourself. It is an exactly same thing: your body needs to warm up too if you are planning to walk. In general it is good to start warm-up your dog with at least 10min walk on a lead. Depends what sport you are doing there are different things to do, but for us for canicross time to focus on every single muscle. Lisa talked us through every single muscle for running, and I didn’t even know that Laferra has so many muscles. Eventually, when we will become the pro it will take us around 5 minutes, to warm-up all the muscles. We started from the muscles on her head and neck, you would never think that dog uses his head a lot for running right? I was surprised as I rub my dogs muscles before runs, but never thought that the neck and head or even a spine muscles ones are important too. Interesteing point was about ribs muscles! Now I will be checking those muscles, as if they feel a bit harder, that means dog needs rest as it worked hard (for example: day after race or any competition).

Why do the warm- up?

Pretty much it helps to warm-up not just muscles but also ligaments, tendons and muscles.

  • Ligaments: if they lengthen- they are damaged!
  • Tendons are more prone to rupture if a muscle has a spasm in it.
  • Muscles in spasm are “trapped” in contraction.

Lisa talked us why we really should do warm-up, mainly to avoid:

  • muscle tears
  • tendon strains or ruptures
  • ligament sprains
  • lengthen stride length
  • improve performance

Sometime ago I started doing a walk before races around for dogs to be able to do the toilet and then just rub their muscles on front and back legs. Every time I did it, Laferra’s performed much better.

What’s the best warm-up

Better do something than nothing at all. Usually, at least 5-10 minutes walk on a lead, even if you are just planning to let your dog off lead in woods. As the dogs get mostly injured while on that silly walks, running around. In our case, after walk, it is good to rub their muscles. Lisa talked us through all the important muscles on the dogs, simple rub would take even just 5 min. Sometimes we just stand to wait for our start time around that time, it looks like perfect time, to start rub those muscles just before the start. Not just the legs ones, but also the one on the neck, spine or even ribs muscles. Lisa also showed us how to stretch the dogs, but I could probably do that during the training, just too much distraction and hyper dogs around during races. I would keep stretching after runs, as the muscles must be warm-up first for it.

What does warming up means?

  • It brings more blood into the muscles.
  • This preps them ready for action.
  • Ensures joints are ready to move throughout their full range.

Summary

Even a silly walk and running around could injury your dogs. I will definitely find at least 20 minutes before each training and race for making sure my dogs are ready to perform. It is the same idea as us humans getting warm-up for any activities, you need to make sure the blood is there!

If you wanna learn your dogs’ muscles, I would defo recommend go and see sports physio. Lisa showed a lot of muscles that I didn’t even think they are there! (that sausage muscles on front legs! :)) and it looks like Laferra has more muscles than I thought she had.

Overall another great experience for Lafie, to be around the dogs, and other people. She allowed Lisa to touch her and was a really good example of a dog. Once again I know she is great for going with me to any workshops to help me develop better knowledge. We will be back to Lisa in June for some checks before our big races at TDM in French Alps in August. For now, we are practising rubbing all the muscles! Both dogs love it.

Refrences: Lisa Cleeton.