Wednesday, 24 June 2009


I haven't been able to post for a while but there's not much of an update other than the exciting fact that I ran 3 miles yesterday - I am: delighted, exhausted, a bit foot sore but generally very pleased. It was a really hot day and I was near a beach so ran through the dunes for one and a half, then dived into the sea and ran back - does that count I wonder?

I've not been able to go training with the huskies as I've been away, but looking forward to seing them soon.

The whole 'Justgiving' experience has not been great over the last few days though - friends have had problems giving - isn't that just crazy? The problems arose from thier recent upgrade I hope it's all sorted now...

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Home run

Next time I'll get the start - it's rather bumpy when we set off, especially where the dogs have dug little holes whilst they are waiting...

Back in the saddle

Yesterday was a good day for a run, as was Monday and my dogs are really enjoying the extra time out. The weights and resistance training is making a difference too as I went out with The Girls this morning and didn't feel my muscles being taxed at all. If that's just after 10 days then I am sure there is hope.

I've got my timings worked out for morning training too so I didn't have to get up till 3.20am this morning and still made it on time. It was a beautiful morning and the sun rose as we were on the second round. Ali took the racing cart out, it is very light and looks rather like a chariot, here she is coming out of the gloom

Here is the beast which the teams pull and is where my camera was found

They get very excited as they are being harnessed and my goal for next session is to be able to harness up a small team. I watched really closely today and I think I have got it - maybe I should borrow a harness and practice on Willow and Luna - they might get a taste for it.

Later I'll post the homeward bound journey - it was slow enough for me to be able to record a bit of video.

Monday - Banana, tahini and honey on oatcakes, chicken and alfalfa salad, Brie and toast
Tuesday - Tahini and marmite on oatcakes, rice with tuna and beet-root, avocado, tomato and mozzarella salad
No alcohol this week... so far!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Gorgeous day today

Sunny, breezy, great for the run this morning - 1.5 miles followed by weights. I'm missing my friends, but it is too hot for them today.

Food: yesterday - broccoli and cauliflower spicy cheese bake, salmon with lemon and couscous. Today - Pitta, falafels, alfalfa and avocado, oatcakes and goat cheese.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Training cancelled this morning

Ali called at 3am to say it was raining in the forest and that the temperature was 12 degrees. Far too warm for my four legged friends. I can't train with them tomorrow, due to other commitments, so I'll have to wait till the weekend. In fact it rained on and off for most of the day, which was good for the garden. One plant suffered though - the big smelly one collapsed.

Completed 1.2 miles - if my calculations are correct, having inputted the wrong pace measurement in the first place - at a good running pace, then walked for 10 minutes, did all the resistance exercises except the push ups, I really can't get the hang of them at all. I'm going to have to get some advice, but as I don't belong to a gym I suspect it'll be from YouTube.

Food: Salmon in ginger and soy with broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. Oatcakes with goat cheese. Pineapple.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Back into the swing

Today I bought a pedometer as I really have no idea how far I am walking/running when I go over old territory, now I just have to work out my pacing. Tough yoga this evening followed by some weights. I am also going to start recording my food, this is recommended
in the pack and then tomorrow I start the official programme, this is what they sent:

The most important exercise aspect of training for dogs sledding is exercise recovery, being able to run or kick

to help your dogs up hills, through deep snow or because they just need help. They are machines but even machines need help; you have to work just as hard as the dogs to be able to explore this snowy wonderland. That’s why fitness is such an important factor with this trip.

You need to train your heart, lungs and muscles which will allow your body to recover quickly. This will mean that when you are dog sledding and may need to work hard every ten minutes for one minute it won’t be a struggle. The training below will also allow you to strengthen your body, allowing you to hold onto your sled at all times over various terrains.

Most importantly this training will allow you to really enjoy the experience of dog sledding – the fitter you are, the easier the trip will be, and therefore the more enjoyable.

N.B. Access to a gym would be the best for training but if you have no access and do not wish to use a gym we will give you an outside option.

RPE – RATE of PERSEVED EXSURTION (how hard to work)

RPE is the easiest way to gauge how hard you are working, and can be used anywhere without the use of technical equipment.











Training Program Month 1


Week 1 & 2

15 mins – walk / jog – RPE 4, 2 mins –RPE 5, 1 min RPE 7 (walk / run complete this 3 x with 1 min rest in between)


3 x 15 squats

3 x 10 – 15 half sits

3 x 6 – 8 press ups

Plank 2 x 30 secs

Week 3 & 4 15 mins – walk / jog – RPE 5, 2 mins –RPE 5, 1 min RPE 8 (walk / run complete this 3 x with 1 min rest in between)

3 x 20 squats

3 x 15 – 20 half sits

3 x 8 – 10 press ups

Plank 2 x 40 secs

Training Program Month 2



Week 5 & 6, 20 mins fast pace walk RPE 5 – 6. 25 mins walk RPE – 5 1min, then 1 min run RPE 7 – 8


3 x 25 squats

3 x 20 – 25 half sits

3 x 10 – 12 press ups

Plank 2 x 50 secs

Week 7 & 8

20 mins fast pace walk RPE 5 – 6. 25 mins walk RPE – 5 1min, then 1 min run RPE 7 – 8,

3 x 30 squats

3 x 25 – 30 half sits

3 x 12 – 14 press ups

Plank 2 x 50 secs

Training Programme Month 3



Week 9 & 10

15 mins Med pace Jog RPE 5 – 6. 35 mins walk RPE – 5 1min, then 1 min run RPE 7 – 8,


3 x 30 squats

3 x 35 half sits

3 x 14 press ups

Plank 2 x 50 secs

Week 11 & 12

20 mins Med pace Jog RPE, 5 – 6. 40 mins walk RPE – 5 1min, then 1 min run RPE 7 – 8,

3 x 35 squats

3 x 35 half sits

3 x 16 press ups

Plank 2 x 1 min

Run or Walk -can be done in side or outside use the RPE to gauge how tired you are, if you do not

wish to walk or run, other CV machines can be used ie: Versa climber, stepper, rowing machine, but

some running / walking must be done at some point.

Squats – keep your back straight, hands on your back of your head, bend from your knee’s and

hips… working your thigh, push your bum down toward the floor making sure it goes no lower that the

level of your knees, and then push back up, this is one complete squat exercise.

Half sits - lying on your back, with your feet flat on the floor, hands resting on your thighs finger tip’s

resting near knee cap , looking over the tops of your knees, keep your arms straight and locked, tense

your abdominals squeeze up and push your palms up to you knee caps, lower back down that is one

complete rep.

Press up – on knee or feet, hands on same horizontal line as shoulders, slightly wider than the

breadth of them, body in a straight line resting on either knee’s or feet, lower the chest down to the

floor keeping the body straight, bending at the elbows, then return the body to the straight arm

position one complete rep.

Plank – Elbows resting under the shoulders, palms together, push the body up into a straight line so it

is resting on the toes and the elbows, tense your abdominal, if your lower back hurts, push your bum

slightly higher in the air.

Output: Walk - 1 hour, Yoga - 1.5 hour, weights - upper body 3 x 10 reps.
Input: Whole-meal pitta, tomatoes, feta, alfalfa an mayo. Olives stuffed with almonds. Pea, asparagus, broad bean and pesto soup.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

What was lost is found!

Ali rang this morning to let me know that they had found my camera - hurrah! It had been round the forrest a couple of times since I left as it had slipped into a ridge on the quad bike and lodged itself there - pity I hadn't left it on video! I'll pick it up next week and take some more shots of the training session too.

Today has been a total write off due to rain, we went to a local show, but it was just foul, so came home and ate too much instead.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

First morning out training

Now I know what it is all about and I suspect that this thing will not end with the Arctic Challenge in February.

This morning I left the house at about 3.20am to get to the training area in the forest, meeting Sally and Ali just before 4am. As before, their directions were great, which was a relief as the whole area was crawling with police for some reason which remains a mystery. The system that the girls have for preparing to run is so slick that I struggled to see what was gong on to start with as there is a real sense of urgency that kicks off the minute that the dogs realise where they are, the levels of excitement run so high and the sounds that they make are primal.

The team train using a quad bike without an engine, and this morning we took 2 teams of 8 and one of 6. Some of the dogs were at home recuperating from cranial massage or resting injuries, and a couple are retired. The first out were so thrilled and grinning from ear to ear, their enthusiasm was enough to make me forget that it was still only 4am. Sally and Ali have different ways of harnessing the dogs as Ali has a back injury, and this gave me a chance to see both, still done at such speed that I couldn't quite make out which cord attached to which, but they talked me through everything. Each team is planned so that they swap sides and therefore avoid becoming lopsided, I didn't have a hope of helping out at this stage, due to the speed and the fact that I don't recognise the dogs by name yet, hopefully that will come.

Once the first 8 were on the line they began to strain, pull, jump, do summersaults and generally try to get going - they just want to run! I hadn't expected to be allowed to ride pillion straight away but Ali called me over, and a nanosecond after my bum hit the seat we were off. It would be foolish to try to be cool and laid back about what happened next because I wasn't, The dogs had stopped yelling and now it was my turn - what a rush! I had no idea that they could pull with such force, I have driven horses in harness before but this was a completely different sensation, a bit like driving a really fast old british sports car. You feel every movement of the dogs, their energy is so concentrated at first and they are hell bent on getting away, but once they get their stride you sense them waiting for their next command.

The girls take them on different routes each time, so that the dogs don't anticipate the turns and this means that they pay attention, even ignoring the wildlife in the path - not something I am used to with my two... With Ali at the helm we followed about 4 miles of beautiful track, through the forest, not that I noticed anything much on the first run as I was just too tense, not knowing what to expect next. I am grateful to the various friends who have given me pillion rides on motorbikes over the years, at least I knew how to stay on. Some of the turns are seriously hairy, not just the angles, but the ground is very uneven and some parts are really for trial bikes. The dogs seem to chill and get into a rhythm on the straight and do what my driving instructor accused me of in my youth, they speed up on the bends, this make for an exhilarating ride.

Getting back to the truck I was reminded of what professionals the girls are as they steered the dogs to their resting place, alongside the next team (prepared by by Sally), just in front of the water bowls (also prepared) and the quad came to rest at the perfect angle to swap lines over, although a little closer to the truck than I was expecting. Then I remembered to breathe.

The ritual on arrival was wonderful, all the dogs get an individual thank you from both girls - I had to join in of course - then they had a small bowl of water so that they don't drink too quickly, it is refreshed once they have calmed down. Those who were not lead dogs got filthy, so they were all toweled down and then given a little food and a pee break. No time for any of that for me though - off again with the waiting team and Sally in control this time. I knew what to expect now and was able to look around and appreciate the views, which were amazing, it was a really cold morning this morning, 3 degrees at the start and the mists were rising through the forest, not as cold as I will be in February, but everything in time... It was so quiet, the dogs don't speak when they run and the tyres are big so the only sound, other than my heart beating in my ears, was the chat that I now felt relaxed enough to have with Sally as we covered ground.

I learned so much in such a short time and when it came to the last team I was allowed to take a dog from the truck and put her onto the line, she was already harnessed, but then on return I removed a harness and took the dog for a pee walk. I think I will feel confident enough to put a harness on next time.

I'm afraid that there are no photos of the morning as I was so excited that I forgot to zip up my pocket and lost my Ixus on the second drive. We drove around at the end to try to find it, but no luck. Such a shame as I did love that camera, I guess I'll have to look at my insurance policy.... Next time I'll take a proper camera and leave it in the truck.

So, I am hooked. This brings together so many things that are good, speed, fear of the unknown, beautiful landscape, lovely people and intelligent, powerful dogs.

I could become a bore....

See Sally and Ali's details here: Forstal Siberian Huskies

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Looking after your feet is very important

After a long day's walk, a soak and some Weleda foot lotion, the world looked rosy.

The next day involved some serious weight lifting - carrying the full size windbreak 2 miles out and 2 miles back certainly did the shoulders the world of good. Not sure if that's what they meant in the training manual though.

Walking in the sand - it's just like snow, really.

Willow pretending to be a husky in the snow.

Everyone was a bit grumpy by the time we got to North Norfolk at lunchtime on on Saturday, so we didn't walk very far that day, we set off at about 3pm and walked out across the marshes covering about 4 miles.

Sunday was the challenging day - the sun and wind were both high, so we took the Norfolk Coastal path in and out from Stifkey to the Cley Swallows and back, a total of about 14/15 miles but it felt a lot further with the wind in our faces.

I've just noticed that I am not supposed to increase the length of the walk by more than 10% each day, does this mean I should be doing 12 miles today I wonder, if so I had better get back out there...