Friday, 4 January 2013


I've had a fairly low point in my training over the last few weeks. I knew it would happen when I started out on this journey and while having a Buddist "accept, acknowledge, right action" attitude and method for dealing with it it still hasn't made it any easier.

I don't want to be overly negative on this blog, but part of my journey has to be the acknowledgement that this isn't easy. It was never going to be and I think I probably thought more of my physical capabilities than I should have.

Perhaps I'd forgotten just how hard those mud runs were last year.

Perhaps I should have not tried to change my running style while stocks also training for my first marathon.

I get updates from my friend John who I'm running the marathon with and he's just doing one long run a week. No other runs! I'm thinking that that's not sensible but then he goes and knocks out 20 miles the other day and I can only just managed 10! I'm really chuffed for John and super impressed and I know that I shouldn't compare our performance let alone training plans but my competitive nature can't help but feel frustrated and a bit inadequate in that comparison.

Suffice it to say that I'm genuinely worried about being able to run the whole marathon (oh I'll still do the full distance but I might be walking the second half) but I'm feeling more positive as the event gets closer and I am getting more excited about the desert and refugee camp elements. And helping the refugees is what it's all about isn't it?

Anyway, I entitled this blog post "Dogs" for a reason.

I have recently re-discovered the location is did all my mud run training.  It's a local nature reserve with excellent stone chipping paths, hills and I have a good 3.5 mile circuit. If you want to see what it's like, checkout the video I put together of John and I doing a Tough Guy training session around it.

Being a public park and an accessible and beautiful place to visit means that the majority of people there are walking dogs of various kinds.

I have nothing against other people's dogs, though I'm not sure I'm the dog owning type, and mostly their owners are diligent about collecting their waste and putting it away in the provided bins (which cannot be said of the horses and their riders who also use the byways in the park).

The problem I have is with a certain subset of dogs that like to challenge me, a runner, to a competition of "who's top dog".

Most dogs will generally ignore me as I run past, choosing to carry on what they were doing and in some cases actively getting out of the way.

Image by Lemondridge on Flikr

I've not been chased, bitten or barked at (well, in an aggressive way at least) but certain dogs, especially the bigger ones though that is not exclusively so, see me coming, work out where I'm running and then actively put themselves in the way!

Some of them are quite subtle about it and will change direction so that we would collide if we both continued in the same direction thus forcing me to change direction and go around them. Generally I don't mind this as they mostly do it with plenty of distance to let me change direction. By and large it is the smaller breeds that do carry out this tactic.

The most annoying type of obstruction is where the larger dogs (mostly labradors I might add) see me coming and, with a challenging glint in third cunning eyes, deliberately turn themselves to stand sideways across my path.

So far I've always been able to swerve out the way at the last minute and on one or two occasions its been the dogs owner, with a curse at the dog, who jumps out the way to let me through. I have benefited tempted to hurdle the dog several times but couldn't face the possibility of accidentally catching it with a shoe.

Any other runners out there experienced this sabotage by dominance challenging dogs and have any advice?


  1. One thing I've learned from running long distances once a week is this: Just because I can, doesn't mean it's good for me. I pushed my joints and ligaments further than was healthy for them and limped for a a few days, not from muscle pain, but from joint pain.  My right foot and left ankle are still tender. I'm lucky I didn't get a stress fracture. As of this week I'm switching back to standard training - more runs at smaller distances. 

    The good part of doing the long run was that I destroyed the kind of limiting belief you have yet to destroy. The belief that you can't run a marathon or that you'll need to "walk then second half". I could have kept going to 26 miles last week...because I believed I could.  The thing that stops you is the same thing that starts you on a run: Decision. And our decisions are our only true locus of control. It is our will that gets our legs moving and our will which stops them. 

    We're both going to run the whole thing...even if it means we have to limp for a week (or two). Neither of us are in likely danger of getting a serious injury from jumping up to a big distance right now. I'm going to need you as much as you are going to need me and our legs are only going to be one part of the challenge. In the Sahara we'll face dehydration and glaycogen depletion more rapidly than we have yet to experience. I know from cycling Death Valley that it is mind boggling how fast the body can ingest and expel water in desert heat. We will lose salt and burn sugar in excessive amounts. 

    Despite all of this, and even if we run into a few dogs, we'll go slow, we won't stop and we'll both come home victorious. 

  2. Training little and often will keep you fitter and stronger in the long term…so keep at it!

  3. @John. Thanks for that. It's just the gee-up I needed :)
    @Jamie. You're right of course and that's the approach I've been using for my training with 1 long run and several shorter runs. It's all a bit harder than I thought it was going to be that's all. Especially while also building up the mileage from nothing for barefoot style. I have to hobble about for a minute each morning before my feet work properly. Same if I sit down for too long without using them...