CHANGE IN PLANS

Yeah so I’ve ran a whole of five times since my 10k trail race in October. I really don’t want to start making excuses but my left foot was inflamed for almost two months from mid October to around mid December. I have no idea what initially caused it but at first I could barely walk for 5-ish days and after that walking with shoes on was doable but without shoes I still couldn’t walk at all for weeks. Running was obviously out of the question. It was a struggle because as I’ve mentioned, I’m an equestrian and in addition to having two horses to ride daily I have a whole bunch of barn work I just have to do no matter what. I don’t really have anyone to back me up if something like this happens.

 

Anyway, a long break like that really affected my enthusiasm for running. I was just starting to get decent at it! Now I’ll have to start right from square one and seems so daunting to me. I still haven’t mustered up the courage or discipline to get my Hokas on and just do it even though my foot has had plenty of time to heal. I haven’t turned into a total couch potato though: I have my barn and horses to thank for that. It’s obvious that my trail marathon goals are off unless some miracle happens but I’m still keen on doing a half marathon this year.

 

This was just a super quick update just to let you know that no, I haven’t died or anything 😀 It’s just that writing about running when you can’t run is not very exciting. I’m applying to vet school this year and the exam is in May so my time will be somewhat limited as I have to prioritize studying and my horses above all else but this is definitely not the end of Front Runner. Just gotta gather myself and get to work! Thanks for sticking around!

 

IMG_20180908_172338.jpg
Not pointing fingers here but the narrow toebox of certain shoes might have had something to do with my inflamed foot…. hmm.

10 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT RUNNING

Did you know that…

 

1.Women tend to run the second half of the marathon faster than the first whereas in men it’s completely the opposite?

 

2. The treadmill was originally developed as a punishment device for prisoners in English prisons? Turns out, the nickname ’’dreadmill’’ isn’t that far fetched after all!

 

3. The worlds fastest marathoner is Eliud Kipchoge, breaking the previous World Record with the time 2.01.39.

 

4. Said World Record marathon was run in 2018 in Berlin on a course that has seen every single new world record in the past 15 years? This is due to the few sharp corners and flatness of the course.

 

5. 12 of the top 20 distance runners in the world originate from the Kalenjin tribe of north- western Kenya. Eliud Kipchoge is one of these runners.

 

6. Your feet can produce up to a pint of sweat every day. That’s almost half a liter!

 

7. It takes the cooperation of 200 muscles to take a step when you run.

 

8. When we run, the human heart can create enough pressure to squirt blood up to 30 feet. Impressive.

 

9. Running does not always improve your health. Running over 80k weeks can increase the risk of upper respiratory diseases.

 

10. In 2012, 56% of all 15,5 million race finishers in the US were female. On the half marathon distance, the gender split is around 61/39 women to men.

13 TIPS FOR RUNNING WITH YOUR DOG

Are you like me and are wondering why you’re running without your dog? I started thinking about how ridiculous it is to go running alone and then walk my dog separately. Why not do both at the same time? Obesity and inactivity are the 1st world problems for pooches today and as dogs are essentially made to run, bringing your pup along will be beneficial for him in countless ways. Here’s why you should consider starting to run with your dog:

  • It will keep him fit and help avoid obesity. Obesity in dogs increases the risk of many ailments such as joint and bone problems and problems with the digestive and respiratory systems and heart issues.
  • It can help with many behavioral issues. Bored dogs often cause all kinds of problems ranging from destroying furniture to other unwanted behaviors. A regular physical activity can improve your dog’s life quality enormously!
  • Getting out the door will be so much easier when you have your best buddy tagging along!
  • Many breeds downright require hard exercise on a regular basis.

 

Because I’ve never run with my dog, I wanted to search for some basic info to make it enjoyable for the both of us and most importantly: not harm my four-legged friend’s health! Here are some tips I found most helpful to consider before heading out with your dog:

 

WHEN IN DOUBT, CONSULT YOUR VET

If you are not sure whether running is good for your dog, do consult your vet before hitting the road. If your dog is young, old or has some chronic illness or old injury, talk to your vet to avoid any injuries or pain. Your vet is guaranteed to help you find an appropriate exercise form for your dog!

 

DON’T START THEM TOO YOUNG

Puppies haven’t finished growing yet and hard exercise like running can seriously damage their growing and soft bones and joints. Depending on the breed and estimated size of your dog, 12-18 months is the recommended minimum age to start any tough physical exercise. Small dogs can generally start sooner and large breeds usually require more time to reach their adult size. If you are unsure, see tip #1.

 

START EASY

Just as you would when you start running yourself. Even though dogs are generally good at running and are indeed distantly derived from wolves, your furry friend is not automatically an athlete if the couch is all it’s ever known! Their muscles, bones, joints and tendons as well as their hearts and lungs need to adjust to this new exercise just like ours do. Always start by walking your dog briskly as you would anyway (let them take care of their business…) and start with about ten minutes of running the first time. Increase the duration weekly and keep an eye on your dog to see if they’re getting too tired.

 

DON’T IGNORE THE WARM UP

Dogs need to warm their muscles and tendons up just like we do. Start by walking first after which you can speed up to an easy jog before going up to your regular pace. Once accustomed to running, any healthy dog can keep up with any runner.

 

DO YOU HAVE A BRACHYCEPHALIC BREED?

Do you own a brachycephalic breed, such as a pug, chihuahua or a bulldog? Brachycephalic breeds have exceptionally short muzzles and can have mildly to severely obstructed airways causing obvious breathing problems- try running while breathing through a straw and you’ll get the pug experience. Not all brachycephalic dogs experience these problems but it’s better to be safe than sorry so please ask your vet before taking your brachycephalic dog for a run.

 

DON’T ASSUME YOUR DOG WILL LOVE IT

While most healthy dogs will love to accompany you on your outings, not all dogs will like it. It may be something to do with their health or they might just simply prefer the couch. Look at your dog’s signs; listen to him. Is he jumping up and down at the door as soon as you get your running clothes on or is he nowhere to be found at the first sight of running shoes?

 

CONSIDER YOUR GEAR

You don’t need any spacial gear when you’re first trying out running with your dog. If you do love it, however, it’s a good idea to give some thought to what kind of gear you’re using. Anything can happen while out (especially on the trails) and your dog pulling or you tripping and accidentally yanking on his collar can cause potentially serious damage to his neck! My tip is to avoid collars altogether and get a (running) harness to maximize your dog’s comfort. To free your arms, you can get a special running belt and attach your leash or bungee (and poop bags!) on it easily. If you run in the dark, get reflectors for you and your dog both!

 

PAW PROTECTION?

Especially if you run lots on asphalt or your dog tends to have sensitive paws, irritation can occur. There are special boots for dog to avoid this problem altogether. You could also try running on trails if it helps. If you use boots, make sure no dirt or small rocks get in there and hurt your dog!

 

HIT THE TRAILS!

To me this is an obvious one! As a bonus tip, take your dog running to a new location to get him more pumped up about moving forwards!

 

TRY CANICROSS?

Canicross is a dryland sled dog sport where the runner is pulled by one or two dogs. They hold competitions at least in Europe if you’re the competitive kind and what’s more, any breed can participate as long as they’re fit for the task!

 

TEACH SOME BASIC COMMANDS

If you’re not interested in canicross, teach your dog not to pull on the leash. If you’re into canicross, you’ll need to specifically teach him to pull. A helpful trick for this is to always use specific gear when practicing so your dog will learn to associate a certain harness to pulling and another for mere walks. Again, you can go to new places to get some excitement into your dog. If you run on trails in the nature, teach your dog to ’’leave it’’ in case you run into something you don’t want your dog eating.

 

REGULAR WATER BREAKS!

Offer water to your dog rather too often than too seldom. Just like when we sweat our butts off running, dogs cool themselves down by panting. As a byproduct, they lose heaps of water doing so. Take into consideration that some dogs will be so hyped that they won’t  ’’remember’’ to drink even if you offer them water so be careful!

 

DON’T RUN WHEN IT’S VERY HOT

Monitoring a dog’s hydration level can be tricky for even the most experienced dog owners. Once again it’s better to play safe and avoid running completely in the hottest weather. You could consider running late in the evening or early in the morning instead. If you live in a hot area, you can always ask your vet for their view.

 

And that’s it, pretty much all of the most basic tips for running with your dog! As always, common sense will get you a long way and if you ever are in doubt, your vet will be happy to help! I hope you found this post helpful and I wish you and your dog have fun running together!

OCTOBER BLOG DISCOVERY

I’ve recently found it a bit of an effort to get into my running gear and get going. I’ve found that- like many people- I don’t run nearly as well and am more tempted to walk when it gets even a bit too tough when I run alone! It was so easy to just plod along the single track in a 10- strong group of people in the trail race I did. When running alone, there’s no one to see me walk so it just gets that much more tempting!

I have a 5- year old Labrador Retriever, Dino. I’ve never really thought about bringing him with me to the trails and lately I’ve realized how ridiculous it is. I have an active breed and I’m not even taking him for runs with me? As I’ve mentioned, we own horses and I ride almost every day. In the colder seasons I do like to take Dino with me for rides. He’ll trot alongside my horse (at a safe distance) and he just absolutely loves it! Other than that, he’s never been running with anyone. He’s normal weight but isn’t too used to running- type exercise and since labs are suuuper prone to get joint issues I’ve maybe just thought that long runs on difficult terrain might not be the best for him.

 

chocolate labrador retreiver canicross trail running with dog
A good looking boi

 

That all changed when I randomly discovered this sport called canicross. You may be asking yourself ’’wait, I thought this was a blog discovery post?’’ Hold on, I’ll get there. canicross is a sport where the runner is pulled by one or two dogs that are attached to the runner from their special harnesses by a bungee. Canicross was developed in Europe for training sled dogs in ’’dry land’’ conditions. Other sports with the same idea are bikejoring (dog pulls bike and rider cross- country), skijoring (during winter obviously) and scootering (you get the basic idea).

Obviously I had to look into all the details, intrigued as I was. While the sport has gained heaps of new interest (mainly in Europe), it’s not that easy to find too much info about. How do I know what pace is easy enough for my dog to start off on? How do I teach my dog to pull at the speed I want and in the right direction? How can I participate in races? Where do I find the gear? Do I have to reconsider my dog’s nutrition? As my dog is a Labrador (aka canis lupus nutcaseous) I can promise you he will run till he drops if I let him so I’ll have to be super careful not to injure him. Also, if I can’t control him properly, he is guaranteed to pull me straight into the closest body of water 🙂

 

chocolate labrador retreiver canicross trail running with dog
He had a small hot spot, hence the sock. Guess twice if he kept it on for over 5 seconds.

 

I found a website aptly named ’’K9 of Mine’’ while browsing for answers and I have never seen such a thorough website for dog owners! K9 of Mine was founded my now- CEO Meg Marrs because she wanted to help new dog owners find answers to the questions she had when she got her first dog. Other team members include Ben Team (dog owner and professional writer) and trainer/ behavioral expert Kayla Fratt.

At K9 of Mine you will find an answer to almost any question you could possibly have. Even if you don’t yet have a dog, worry not, for K9 of Mine even has breed recommendations and advice for choosing the right breed for you. Other topics include nutrition, training, product reviews (from dog food to toys to training gear), canine health and grooming.

 

miniature schnauzer and labrador retriever
The troublesome trio of two Miniature Schnauzers and a Lab

 

 

This is a bit of a confusing ’’Blog Discovery’’ since K9 of Mine isn’t specifically about canicross but a general advice site for all dog lovers and owners. I feel like often we don’t even think about our four- legged companions’ specific needs too much because ’’it’s just a dog’’ or ’’as long as it haves food, water and shelter it’ll be happy’’ and the same goes for cats. As a horse owner, I think most horse owners know a lot more about horses than many dog owners know about dogs? I don’t know, I just feel like a horse seems like such a huge investment and they are thought to demand so much more from the owner compared to house pets that people usually don’t get horses with absolute zero knowledge. Man, where is this post going?

I wanted to pick one specific article from K9 of Mine to share and that is the canicross/ bikejoring/ skijoring article the link at the top leads to. As far as I know, canicross isn’t very popular in the US and as that’s where most of my readers are from, I really wanted to inform you people that this glorious sport is a thing. Quite a big thing, actually. They have international competitions all the way up to the World Championships and it is considered an official sled dog sport.  I will most definitely be writing quite a bit about it as I delve deeper into the world of canicross. I just need to get my belt, bungee and harness first!

RACE RECAP: SOLVALLA TRAIL

I probably mentioned at some point that I was doing my first trail race in October but didn’t really talk about it much since. Truth be told, I’ve had to cut down on running a bit during these past weeks due to a budding injury that I was healing up. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before but my right hamstring started to get really sore at the end of my runs quite a while back like maybe five or six weeks ago. As I’ve said, all my regular trails are super hilly and I’m 98% sure that my glutes were slacking and my hamstrings were having to do much of their work to get me up those hills. Eventually my right hamstring just got so overworked that it started hurting and cramping. I’ve done more running on flatter trails now and ran way less these past two weeks and finally I hope to have healed my hamstring completely.

 

Back to the matter at hand. I signed up for this 10k trail race over a month ago and it was quite a bummer to be forced to stop training as I would’ve wanted to just a couple weeks before… That’s running I guess! As if the leg pain wasn’t enough, I’ve had a persistent cold for the past week and a half too. On race day I wasn’t too worried despite all this because I’m just generally good at not worrying about things I can’t help. I showed up overly relaxed, got my bib, did no warm up whatsoever and just chilled until 10 AM when the gun went off 😀

 

This was a completely different kind of event than the previous race! There were over a hundred people at the start line and this was also the first ever Finnish Championship in trail running. The trail was pretty brutal and for the most part it was super narrow single track so passing was hard. For the most part I ran with the same group of people, running in a single file along the twisting trail over treacherously slippery rocks and roots. There were bits where you just couldn’t run because of how slippery or narrow the path between the rocks was. I came close to rolling my ankles probably 10 times and very nearly face planted once!

 

All in all, I’m very content with my underdone performance despite my time being pretty slow (1h 33min). I got a pretty bad headache around the 2k mark which was strange since I thought I had hydrated enough. Apparently I hadn’t because a cup of water at the 4,6k aid station made the headache almost disappear and luckily it didn’t come back.

 

One thing I realized was that I’ve done nowhere near enough actually technical work on trails. My legs were on fire at around the 7k mark and I really had to slow down because I felt like I wasn’t in full control of them anymore and the trail just got more and more technical. This is where I started rolling my ankles… And the Speedgoats didn’t help with that at all 😀 Don’t get me wrong, I still absolutely love them and they have more pros than cons but the downside of all that cushioning is the increased stack height that will not save you from rolling your ankles!

 

I was just absolutely wrecked afterwards but still feeling good for having the courage to participate, having the discipline to train for it (even though I had to rest my injury) and pulling through on the day! For now I’ll just focus on getting back into a training routine and start easy after a quiet couple of weeks. My next race will likely be in December and I have to think hard about gear and/ or clothing I need for running in the winter. We probably won’t have snow in the beginning of December but anything could happen. I wonder if running is even possible when winter really hits and the temperatures drop to -22 degrees Fahrenheit and everywhere is covered in snow and ice…

SEPTEMBER BLOG DISCOVERY

It’s time to go back in time 5 weeks and glimpse back to the UTMB of 2018 one last time with September’s Blog Discovery! Trail Running 100 is written by Trena, an American mother of three who began running five years ago at the age of 48. Over the years, she first set out to finish a half marathon. Then a full marathon. After that, she ran a couple more marathons including the Atlanta Marathon. After a few more road marathons in early 2014, she took to the trails and fell in love with trail running. Distance running had become an enjoyable challenge for her and she entered and finished her first trail marathon in 2014. While before she hadn’t thought about running even a marathon, now she found herself entered in a 50k Ultra Marathon!

 

Trena had told herself to ’’always try something at least once’’ and this mentality has brought her from hiking to power hiking to trail running to running one hundred miles. Summer, her Italian Greyhound is her best running buddy, keeping her company on runs up to 30 miles and even in the occasional race!

 

Trena’s UTMB journey started in 2015 when she gained her first qualifying points (you need points to enter the UTMB lottery) by finishing the Georgia Death Race 100K. When I realized that Trena had gone from beginner to 100K finisher in two years, I was pretty amazed of what one can achieve when they really set out to just do it. True inspiration right here! However, Trena and her friend Stephanie got lucky and got chosen in the lottery out of thousands of participants to run in the UTMB as a team of two determined women.

 

After long training miles and hours of work on the trails over long months, it was time to pack up and head to Chamonix, France. The weather on race day took a turn to the worse and runners had to don their mandatory cold gear kits. 2 500 people were packed behind the starting line on the streets of Chamonix and the massive crowds were buzzing everywhere. I can only imagine what a surreal feeling it must’ve been when that gun went off!

 

Trena has written an in depth report of the whole experience which you can read here so I won’t go into that much detail of the race itself.  However, since we are talking about the Ultra- Trail du Mont Blanc, this journey turned out to be just as brutal as it is for everyone running it. Cold and wet weather, cutoff times and the crushing climbs and treacherous descents of the course had Trena and Stephanie really fight and sometimes ride the struggle bus to the finish! They did it nevertheless and I cannot even begin to comprehend the sensation of finally arriving back in Chamonix and crossing the finish line hand in hand with her team mate Stephanie.

 

Trena has a very humble way of writing about her endeavors and highs and lows in racing and training. The love for enjoying the outdoors by running on the trails shines through in her writing and her open mindedness towards new things (try everything at least once) is a mindset to look up to. Not to mention the serious respect for her achievements! Trail Running 100 is a blog that will make you want to go out there yourself and do it too! At least that’s how it made me feel! I was having a bit of a low point in my training partly due to my strained hamstring that I’ve been healing up but scrolling through Trena’s blog gave me a slight kick in the butt and a spark for running again!

WEEKLY TRAINING ROUTINE

So now that my goal is set, I’ve had to do a lot of learning about different aspects of marathon and ultra-marathon training and nutrition. I realize that there’s no way I’ll be able to finish my planned races with dignity if I don’t start training more consistently and gradually building up my weekly mileage and fitness. While none of the entries for next year’s Trail Tour races are open yet, I have set a goal of finishing 2-3 races. Most likely I’m going to go for one half marathon and two marathons so that much is set for me.

Since I started running again this year I’ve been working with 3 runs and 2 strength workouts per week. I’ve consistently increased my distances but my runs have all been ’’easy’’ runs so far to give me an easy start and strong base mileage for future training. I’ve done it enough now that running feels completely normal and is a regular and fun routine for me. I’m feeling good and enjoying my runs so now is a perfect time to step it up a notch and add a fourth run into my regime. I’ve done tons of research about how people generally structure their training plans and have built a weekly frame around which I can plan runs and workouts. My weekly mileage is still pretty low so I’ll still keep my focus on running more easy miles. Here’s what a typical week looks like for me:

 

MONDAY

Rest/ Active Rest. I try to schedule my horses’ training plans so that I have no horses to ride on Mondays. That way I can have as physically restful a day as possible.

TUESDAY

Easy run. Currently a good and easy distance for me would be around 7k’s on undulating terrain. My favorite trails are super hilly so I might also go run them and just hike a lot.

WEDNESDAY

Strength Workout. I’ll go into more detail in another post but this routine targets all the main muscle groups from legs to core.

THURSDAY

Hill Reps. I’ll choose one of the many hills I have on my regular trails and do reps of 60 seconds. If I work on a super steep hill I might do less reps and more if I choose an easier one. Or I might alternate my speed for more or less difficulty.

FRIDAY

Strength Workout, same as on Wednesday.

SATURDAY

Easy Run.  This time I’ll go on for a bit longer than on Tuesday but aim to keep most of it aerobic. I try to think of a conversational pace and maintain that throughout the whole run.

SUNDAY

Long Run. Even though my long run isn’t very long at the moment but hey, you’ve gotta start somewhere! I’ll go for approximately 9-10k’s depending on the trail I choose to work on. Both of my regular trails have 5 and 3k routes so combining the two will give me a good 8k’s already. If I drive for a bit, I can go to this national park that has routes from 2-8k’s that I can combine.

 

I aim to do most of my training at an aerobic, conversational pace because I’m training mostly for endurance, not explosive power and speed and the fact that my current weekly mileage is still so low. That’s why I have hill reps on its own day entirely to free up the rest for endurance- type training. As my weekly mileage gradually increases, I can start doing more specific workouts to build speed and strength on top of a good base. As a warm up, I’ll do some reverse lunges and leg swings as well as some jumping jacks or squat jumps at home. When I get there, I’ll usually do a couple minutes of brisk walking or hiking and 10-15 minutes of easy jogging before starting the actual workout. I’ll do the same stuff afterwards as well.

It’s been super fun and motivating to dive into this whole new world of endurance running that I didn’t really know even existed! I absolutely love planning so for me it’s no problem to spend hours researching and learning new things and putting that into my own plan! Obviously, my health is no. 1 priority for me and I’ll never stop listening to what my body is telling me. If my training feels a bit too hard, I won’t hesitate to cut it down for a while.

This is what I’ll be working with for now! I feel like I’ve been having a super unproductive week so far… But I ran a total of 26k’s this week over four runs. One run I cut short because for some reason I felt like crap the whole way but the other three runs felt great and I got into a nice flow!