Running again & new workout clothing

I’ve been longing for a run for a while and have jealously been watching some of my friends progress through the NHS Couch to 5k program recently. I can’t believe it was 5 years ago when I did it. 5 … Continue reading

The best shoes for a dog owner

All girls love shoes right? Well my love for shoes is a little bit different to the average girl. I love all things walking, running, waterproof and mud stomping shoes! Give me a pair of chunky kick-ass leather boots caked … Continue reading

Hands free running/walking belt from CanaDog

I’ve had this product for nearly 3 years and cannot believe I’ve not written about it! I use it almost every week and it’s really made a difference to my running. A couple of years ago I found a CanaDog hands-free … Continue reading

Our Fitness Plan

I’m lazy. There I said it! To be honest I’ve never tried to hide it. As well as being lazy, I’m also extremely busy (odd combination I know!). Therefore I really struggle to implement and stick to a fitness plan! More … Continue reading

Fitbits, Fat Bits and Pet Trackers

For the last few weeks Guinness and I have both been trying out our own fitness trackers. I went for the FitBit Charge HR and Guinness has been using the Tractive Motion Sensor, currently the first and only pet tracker … Continue reading

TAG Easter Saturday

Today I was at TAG. My first outdoor show of the season.

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5.30am we were up and making scrambled egg for me (on toast) and for Guinness’ breakfast. I’ve been pondering a lot about what to do with Guinness’ meal on show mornings, he often has a bad first run and especially if he hasn’t done a poo, but on the other hand they do need some energy food. A recent discussion on facebook brought up the method of feeding high protein food such as scrambled egg and as I love it too I thought it was a jolly good idea. So with breakfast and poo’s done before we left we set off in search of unknown territory, West Midlands Show Ground!

I arrived before 8am (shock horror) and had plenty of time to get my bearings and walk my course. First up, Grade 1-3 Agility, although a long wait until our running order. I walked into the ring and my stomach fell, first hurdle, a tyre! We have not seen a tyre for over 12 months and the last time we did one in training Guinness ran smack into the bottom of the loop and head-butted it to the floor. He then jumped through it afterwards, but still a concern.

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We got there towards the end of the class and had a nice short queue which Guinness happily tugged in! I decided to run start him to help him through the tyre (plus I wasn’t confident with our wait anyway) and I revved him up, aimed him in the right direction and hoped for the best! Hurrah we got through and onto the Aframe. Jumps, seesaw then pull off the tunnel for 180 jumps. A lot of people chose to handle it differently to me, pulling the dog back onto themselves, off their natural path, and I was really pleased with my decision. A blind cross while he was in the tunnel and then dog walk, a tight right angle from the contact down three jumps and then another tight 90 degree angle into the weave. No chance we were getting it, refusal. Second entry and good weaves until pole 11! Too late I’d started running on and we’d had a pole down so time to finish. 2 poles knocked on the 270 boxwork and finish.

It felt like such a messy round, but not too bad. Lovely Ella happened to be watching and videoed us. Watching back it looks a lot more successful than it felt! Of course lots of little things to improve but I am generally pleased with our contacts, handling and overall performance.

A huge break until our next runs and I was given a very appreciated seat, coffee and company from Lou and Deb. G1-2 Agility was set up before lunch and I walked it then sat in the sun with Guinness to eat my sandwiches.

G1-2 Agility was a lovely course, all on one side and very fast and flowing. Jump jump seesaw, I went for another running start, tunnel dog walk tunnel and I saw the judge raise him arm to fault us as we left the dog walk for the tunnel. “What?!” I thought. Guinness never gets faulted on contacts, even when he self-releases his 2 on 2 off he has normally gotten into position. Tunnel to weaves is often a challenge but the weaves were a lovely distance away so I could collect Guinness and send him. Yes! He nailed the entry but then popped out about halfway through and then again at number 11. We carried on for a tight 90 degree and then a 180 and as I stopped still in the middle of the 180 he pulled through the gap to me. Douche, my bad really, second attempt and I kept moving and he turned nicely. Aframe and I held his contact. I expected him to run off and I made it very obvious that I was stopping and expected him to do so also and he stopped nicely! A nano-second passed and then I released and we continued across a box to finish.

Pfft there were my dreams of going home Grade 2 gone! I won’t lie and say I wasn’t disappointed, I was. But I was pleased and having a great day! Ring experience. We said it last year and as this is the first competition away from home of the season we haven’t yet got the experience of new environments. But every show helps and Guinness was running lovely.

Speaking to Lou later on and she had seen our run from a distance and said it looked like Guinness took a very long strides off the dog walk and she wasn’t surprised he had missed it. We had been quick releasing all day and with the tunnel in sight I reckon he pulled off a very un-stylish running contact, otherwise known as not even attempted to stop despite his training! We had a great contact training session on Thursday however it is nowhere near the level of proofing that I am aiming for – gotta keep at it!

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Final class of the day Combined 1-3 Jumping. We watched as the Judge laid out his course. There was a tricky section in the middle which looked a little strange but okay, then the Judge wasn’t finished and he changed it completely to something far stranger. Gosh. I hate to be one of those people who complain about a course, especially as I know how it feels to be a Judge myself, but I couldn’t help it. It wasn’t good in my opinion. Sections were nice but the tunnel was a very close trap in more than one place, the long jump was set off at an odd angle, directing away from the dogs path and there was a huge space between the long jump and another jump then onto an angled jump at minimum distance, a bounce for large dogs. 180 degree pull off a flat tunnel and then flat tunnel quickly to tyre ending. Plus I wont even bother trying to explain the funny middle section.

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I put my positive head on, decided how to handle it and went for the challenge. We had a lovely time in the queue with no barking collies in sight. Guinness queued next to a male husky which I was a little concerned about (because Guinness can be a dick not because the husky was nasty) but we all kept a nice distance and Guinness stayed calm.

With nothing to loose we went into the ring tugging and I popped Guinness into a down, ready for a wait. I unclipped the lead and walked away backwards, then calmly turned away from him, silently expecting him to break. He didn’t move. Time stood still! Feeling more confident I walked a little further and then released. Ahhhh!!! Hurrah!! (I really need to man up and start pushing my dog more. So what if he breaks and we get E’d?!)

Onto the course and a nice 270 avoiding the tunnel and then into the weaves. Guinness wasn’t giving 100% and spun around in front of them but on second attempt he got in and flowed through 12 weaves in great style. Finally! Only taken 3 runs! Off onto the tricky bit and I’d opted to work it from behind, a little more risky, and I couldn’t pull him off a jump in time. Never mind we carried on and over the long jump and then he flew straight past the next jump. The 180 was superb and then he zoomed out of the flat tunnel and quickly ducked under the tyre. I’m just so grateful that he didn’t run into it! Not wanting to leave on a failure I popped him back over, and he ducked under again, then third and final attempt and he jumped through it.

Day finished! Phew. Three disastrous Eliminated but three runs with positives to take away!

A lovely first experience of TAG and West Midlands Show Ground with a stunningly sunny but cool day!

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Dig It Christmas Show

Today was the Dig it Christmas Show and a lovely finish to 2013.

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I’m not really sure what our aim was. Just to have fun and have a run.

We ran one for competition and one for training.  Guinness went up first in Jumping. He tugged really nicely on the start line and waited, although I did back away from him steadily, not march off with confidence. We had an around the back of the jump which we got nice and then missed the weave entry first but did 6 weaves lovely second attempt and came through them a second time too.

Agility we were tugging lovely in the queue and on the start line, although he broke he his wait but I got him back into place. He self released one contact but had the rest nicely and again missed the weaves first time but nailed it second attempt.

The Agility course had a few wing wraps and a pull in. Nice things to train in the ring. My wing wraps need work. I was watching Lauren Langman’s session on Friday and she talks about having a command for absolutely everything. This isn’t the first time I’ve told myself I need a command for Guinness to shorten his stride but I seem to forget to say stuff when running. Definitely need to practise “Dig”!

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Our training run went much better although no tugging in the queue. Finally Steeplechase. Guinness went into a wait position nicely but I still stood him up and run start as it wasn’t a long lead out. My course choices went well however I wasn’t really competing properly and hadn’t decided if I was front crossing or not at a section. I got there in plenty of time so decided to cross, but didn’t cross enough and ended up in a jump myself! The pole was down and I was in between the wings before I’d barely had time to realise what we’d done! What a funny run.

The weather stayed nice and clear and I mixed around between Ring Managing and helping.

Low entries meant that we went home with a 3rd and a 4th! Although the bottom of the placings due to high faults.

A lovely finish to 2013 and nice to have a fun run without thinking too much. It was so relaxed and it’s nice to run in my training arena.

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Week 9! NHS Couch 2 5K! Finish Line!

Finished!

9 weeks of NHS training program and I am a runner!

This week is just as expected, 3 runs of 30 minutes.

I did the first run with the podcast, another with my own music using my watch and the final listening to the podcast again.

I haven’t found it easy. I’m not a super sexy, easy runner. But I did run for 30 minutes without stopping. Plus I always feel good when I finish. I struggle a little through the runs, sometimes I feel close to the edge of my ability .But I can always keep going and I can always finish!

It’s absolutely awesome! In 21 years of being fairly fit and active I have never been able to run for much more than a few minutes and now I am running 2 and a half, nearly 3 miles.

My pace is average, quite slow but good.

I’m going to make sure I go for a run at least once a week so I don’t lose fitness, but as long as I have time I will be running for 3 days a week and work to increase how far I go in 30 minutes.

For anyone considering doing this then I would say YES YES YES! Honestly I thought I’d never be a runner and even though I do lots of walking, climbing & play sports I have never ever been able to jog and this has got me jogging easily! For 30 whole minutes! When I started the podcasts 5 minutes of jogging seemed like a marathon but in a few weeks 5 minutes is nothing.

Everyone can be a runner with a little help from the NHS. Thank you so much!

Week 8! NHS Couch to 5K

I feel great!

28 minutes runs! Get in there!

Each run is still tough. It’s a struggle. But the after feeling is fantastic. Every time 60 seconds left I get rocket shoes and get up to a near sprint at the end.

I haven’t been doing these podcasts regularly. Things have gotten in the way. But I’ve been doing them and I’ve completed each one!

When telling my friend he said “Why didn’t you do 30 minutes!?”. I thought this myself, I could do another 2 minutes! It’s only 2 minutes! But that’s what comes next and only once Week 8 is finished.

I’m still amazed at the progress I have made. I started this not being able to run for 3 minutes. I never thought I’d be able to run for 28 minutes. My pace isn’t bad either. 11/12 minutes miles! That’s good. I use MapMyFitness phone app to record the section I am running to get stats about speed and calories.

It is very important to me that I keep running. I don’t want to lose this new fitness I have. I don’t want to give it up because I know I will quickly decrease to being unable to run for very long again. I shall keep this up after completing and I shall keep my new stamina. Not only that but I want to improve! I want to up my speed! Faster, harder, fitter!

Bring on Week 9! Stay tuned for the final of my NHS Couch to 5K Experience!

Week 7! NHS Couch to 5K

Week 7!
Every run of the week is the same again, doing long runs with only a days break in between. A different form of stamina building.

5 minutes walk. 20 minutes run. 5 minutes walk.

This week has been tough and long. I’ve not kept to the schedule very well due to various things, so I’ve had a week in between runs at time. Not recommended, it definitely makes it much harder! However for one run I covered 2 miles! Another run it was 1.5 miles. Not bad! Laura is great as usual and talks at all the right times to keep you motivated. I do find the music a bit boring though, especially on long runs, but it is upbeat enough.

As usual I did it! Not too shabby. It was hard, i nearly gave up, I pushed and I feel good.
It’s very important to do your runs with only one day break, even if its raining or you’ve had a bad day get out there and have a run. You’ll feel worse if you have longer breaks.

On to Week 8! Nearly finished! But I shall keep it up.

Week 6! NHS Couch to 5K

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Finished! My pace has slowed so bad after 2 weeks off, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I kept going and I completed them.

Split into 3 runs. Each run starts and finishes with 5 minute walks.

Run 1 – 5 minute run. 3 minute walk. 8 minute run. 3 minute walk. 5 minute run.

Run 2 – 10 minutes run. 3 minute walk. 10 minute run.

Run 3 – 25 minute run.

This makes more sense now. Last week we increased through the week to a long run, then it has been important to go back to easier shorter runs and progress to a long run again. Next week we move on to longer runs every time.

Boy do I hurt now! I’ve really struggled with my stamina and breathing after my very pathetic cold & break. But I’ve managed fine and felt better each time. The 25 run was tough. I started off very well, then developed a horrible stitch that came and went. For the last 5 minutes it felt like a knife in my hip! But then I finished! Walked it off & feel a little sore, but good.

Now I can’t wait for next time and to keep improving! Brilliant program.

Week 5! NHS Couch to 5K

Wow! This week really steps it up! Week 5 is split into three podcasts, each run is different!

Every session starts and finishes with a 5 minute warm-up and cool-down walk.

Run 1: 5 minute run. 3 minute walk. 5 minutes run. 3 minute walk. 5 minute run.

Run 2: 8 minutes run. 5 minute walk. 8 minute run.

Run 3: 20 minutes run.

Gosh! Having just completed Run 3, doing 5 minute runs in Run 1 feels so long ago! It felt like such an achievement. Each session I started off with a little bit of dread, then finished with a great feeling of elation and achievement! It sounds and feels like crazy progress but it really works. The big one is run 3, running for 20 minutes! I started off sure that I wouldn’t be able to do it, but quickly pushed that thought away and kept telling myself I could. Laura said I could do it too and I believed her!

It’s all about pacing yourself. Which is easy by now! Plus I find breathing nice and easy too! For the first few weeks I was panting away sucking in and out breath. During week 4 and 5 I’ve been able to concentrate on slow breathing, in through the nose and out through the mouth. I still breath in through my mouth sometimes and get a little out of breath but that’s fine.

I couldn’t believe it when I ran for 20 minutes tonight! The most I had done was 8 minutes and suddenly I’d done 20 minutes! The feeling is awesome. And it’s doo-able! Almost easy! When Laura told me there was 2 minutes left I started pushing faster and getting less tired, almost as if I’d hit a runners high! (If there is such a thing). I actually struggled less on my 20 minutes run than on my 8 minute runs. Wow. To think only 5 weeks ago I couldn’t really run for more than 2 minutes, and some people can’t even do that when they start this. Running with my dog outside in the fresh air is so beneficial as well, and it’s great for my dog! Although he finds it far easy than me being a Border Collie.

This plan really really works! And feels sooo good. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done so far.

Week 4! NHS Couch to 5K

Week 4 now complete!

5 minutes warm up walk. 3 minutes running. 90 seconds walk. 5 minutes running. 2.5 minutes walk. 3 minutes running. 90 seconds walk. 5 minutes running. 5 minutes cool down walk.

I feel like I am saying this every week now, but oh my god that was tough. But good. But tough.

It’s very difficult to explain how I really feel. Each run I set off, I struggle, I do it, I felt better!

Before I put you off, I have felt the best during this week! The hardest work produces the best feeling! Also the noticeable progress throughout this week has been better than ever. During my last run of the week yesterday I felt really good and fit.

Yes my legs ache at the end and yes as I’m running for 5 minutes my legs start to feel like lead. But it’s all worth it. Let’s keep it up!

Week 3! NHS Couch to 5K

Well this week was interesting.

Usual 5 minute warm up walk while Laura explains this weeks program.

90 seconds jogging. 90 second walk. 3 minutes jogging! 3 minutes walk.
90 sec jog. 90 sec walk. 3 min jog. 3 min walk cool-down.

Ouch! 3 minutes jogging?! Bit of a step up. But it’s not bad at all! Not easy, but not bad. It’s really important to keep a nice pace. If you find your pace then you can keep running without getting tired. The 3 minute walk feels quite long so you are more than recovered.

My legs were certainly feeling it at the end. In a nice way. I benefit a lot from taking a bottle of water with me and my running bottle with a handle is lovely.

My second run of the week didn’t really go to plan; turned down a public footpath thinking it was a nice shortcut to the tracks but no.. Up and down hills, through long grass and cow pat! Not the best training route.

I am feeling a bit fitter so far. Let’s see what Week 4 is going to bring!

[FYI: It is not me in the photograph, unfortunately, I cannot stride that long. That is my boyfriend & my dog.]

Week 2! NHS Couch to 5K

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Now finished Week 2!

90 seconds running and 2 minutes walking. Repeat for 20 minutes.

2 minutes sounds like a long time walking, however it’s enough rest time after 90 seconds running which feels long enough. 90 seconds is a good time of running, it’s doo-able, but you feel it.
Remember this is designed for people who can’t run very well.

After my first 90 seconds I had a stitch, but I walked it off after 2 minutes and it didn’t come back again.

As long as you keep a steady pace it is quite enjoyable. My muscles felt it afterwards in a good ache way. After last week I wasn’t sure I’d be able to step it up but I really surprised myself.

I feel great! Bring on Week 3.

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/get-running-with-couch-to-5k.aspx

NHS Couch to 5K! [Week 1]

I have always been a terrible runner! Always. I’m quite fit. I’m quite active and healthy. But I cannot run more than a few hundred metres without stopping, hand clutching a killer stitch, gasping for air.
I’ve tried to motivate myself, to go out and push myself on a run. I’ve managed to commit to a weekly run of 1 mile which I can do in about 11 minutes with a couple of walking breaks.

Recently I grabbed myself some books about running from my library and in one of them it mentions the NHS website for advice to start running.
Here is where I discovered Couch to 5K!

Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K is a program created by the NHS that aims to get any beginner to be able to run 5K in 9 weeks.

It consists of free podcasts which you download to your iPod or other MP3 device. There is one podcast for each week of training. You have to complete three runs for each week with at least one day break in between.

The podcasts are about 30 minutes long and you have Laura, a lovely lady, talking to you, explaining what you are going to do and giving you instructions of when to run and when to stop and walk, accompanied by some background music.

I found Laura’s voice so friendly and encouraging without being judgemental. (Yes I got all of that from a voice). Which is extremely important. I find it difficult to work with a person such as a coach or even a friend because I feel embarrassed and defeated. However Laura’s voice is brilliant, she makes you feel good about yourself and she’s not actually there to see you struggle.

However you must not cheat as it’s easy to stop running before the time as no one will ever know.

Week 1
So far I have completed 2/3 runs of Week 1. Week 1 consists of a 5 minutes brisk walk warm up. 60 seconds jogging and 90 seconds brisk walking, repeated for 20 minutes. 5 minutes brisk walk cool down.

My first time I found it tough but do-able. When I got to my 4th lot of 60 seconds running I was feeling pretty tired and sweaty but I kept pushing. The second to last run is probably the hardest point but knowing you’ve only got two more left is very motivational and it’s very easy to finish.
I run in the evening about an hour after my tea. On my second run I went out before my tea and found myself much weaker.

I didn’t ache or hurt for my rest day and don’t notice any difference so far which is expected as this is a slow period. I’m not looking forward to my first run of Week 2 as I feel like I’m not ready for the increase but I’m sure I’ll push hard and hopefully surprise myself. Looking forward to the progress.

The music of the podcasts is ok but it’s not as good as having my own choice. However it is motivational music with a tempo that I found myself matching to my stride. Ideally I’d have one earphone for my podcast and one earphone for my music!

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/get-running-with-couch-to-5k.aspx