Winston’s marathon canicross adventures

Posted by Gail Walker, 1st January 2019

Last month I shared a blog about commencing training for an off-road marathon (the Endurance Life CTS Sussex event in March) with my side-kick Winston! Well, we are now a quarter way through and gearing up for some ‘long’ canicross runs.

The good news is we are feeling well prepared, I’m injury free, and Winston is loving every minute!

The trick has been to use the initial few weeks to up build a good base and mix up the types of run – from shorter mid-week runs to longer, slower-pace runs at the weekends. The longer runs should be increased gradually each week so your body gets used to the mileage and the increased length of time on your feet. A key thing here is to avoid ‘overloading‘.

training for a trail marathon

Winston is fine with the pace (it’s a breeze to him) but my challenge is to keep up with him on the big day so I’ve also been adding some speed work sessions – just one a week, and nothing too arduous! I just want to see if I can run a bit faster whilst keeping the runs we do together fun for Winston.

Speed work is often associated with feelings of apprehension and just plain had work but it doesn’t have to be awful. Though I’m afraid in order to get faster, you have to train faster. Just like you have to train longer distances to run a marathon! The trick is to make it fun and to build up gradually.

If you have never done speed work before but want to run a bit faster, I suggest you introduce some fun and short speed sessions initially. Fartleks are the best example of this.

canicross with a dog

Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play” which sums it up perfectly. There’s no structure or set distance. You simply alternate moderate-to-hard efforts with easy. After a good warm-up, you play with speed and distance by running at faster efforts for short periods of time towards a random target, eg. to that tree, the next crossroads etc, followed by easy-effort running to recover. It’s particular fun if you are running with a group of other canicrossers as you can alternate the leader (who will pick the target) and mix up the pace and distance.

Intervals and hill repeats are also good for building strength and engaging different muscle fibres.

Winston and I are 5 weeks into our 16 week schedule and we have been building up slowly. As well as helping build endurance, this approach is key to avoiding injury.

There’s a whole load of info out there on injury prevention for runners but this blog, written by Sports Physiotherapist and experienced canicrosser Sophie Leyland, sums it up perfectly.

I have also included some post-run static stretching into my schedule. If you aren’t used to doing this, I would definitely recommend you read this helpful blog.

Happy canicrossing!









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