Category Archives: dogs

5k A Day you say? Oh go on then…!

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One of my favourite 5ks…with my bike-mad big boy as pace maker

Lately I’ve been distracted and drained by negative things. I’ve let everything that winds me up, stresses me out and generally saps my positivity dominate my waking day and my sleepless night. So with the summer holidays just around the corner, I decided I needed to re-focus and re-energise myself with a new happy project to drag me out of the doldrums.

My 100 Happy Days phase phased out after an amazing week in NYC and after Day 48, I stalled. It was almost too tough to top such a steady succession of happy days. That’s not to say I haven’t had a fair few since though! Some particular favourites have included running the Hackney half marathon in a PB time; enjoying the great outdoors and plenty of giggles at Center Parcs; performing live on stage at the 02 Arena with Take That; and watching Federer and Murray on Centre Court at Wimbledon…but I digress (purely to brag!)

So on a quest for a daily endorphin high, and in a bid to get beach-ready, I decided to set myself the goal of running 5k a day in July. This challenge required a certain amount of logistical planning given our family’s weekly routines and limited childcare options. But I reasoned that surely it wouldn’t be that difficult to find half an hour in every day to devote to pavement pounding when I frequently find myself wasting hours of my life Facebook-stalking and Instagramming my lunch.

The first few days felt easy, fun even. My usual running routine is limited to three runs a week; one 5k, one longer pace run (7-8k) and a distance run (10k or more). So not having to run more than 5k at any one time felt a bit like a luxury. I also soon discovered that I could multi-task whilst running short distances. Dog walking can be easily incorporated into daily runs if I plan my route around the local park. My energy-infused puppy then bolts about my legs as I do laps of the playing field panting far harder than he ever does. Childcare can also be managed during short distance runs. By plonking the boys in the playground (with strict instructions not to leave the fenced area), I can run rings around them which is ironic really as they usually do that to me! I’ve yet to work out how to do the ironing and reply to emails whilst running but with a few days left to go to until the end of the month, there’s still time.

In a bid to be sensible and kinder to myself I’ve allowed myself one rest day per week. There have been some days when squeezing in a 5k simply wasn’t going to happen. Last Wednesday for example; after leaving early to drive to Surrey for work, I then had to rush home to walk the dog before legging it to school to watch the Year 3 Folk Dance Festival, whereafter I collected the boys from school, the toddler from nursery and the tea from the pizza aisle in Tesco, before heading straight off to watch an open air performance of Mr Stink as soon Dave walked through the door. When I finally flopped on the the sofa that evening, I’d have rather boiled by own head than gone for a 5k run.

But has it been worth it, this pig headed and fairly pointless goal of mine? To be truthful, I’m not really sure yet. Physically I am exhausted. My body just isn’t used to running every day. My shins are sore, my legs are stiff and I’m fairly sure my muscle fibres are refusing to refuse just to spite me. Some days I’ve run so slowly that when I’ve caught sight of myself in a shop window or car door, I’ve looked like I’m jogging on the spot! And when I’ve reluctantly laced up my trainers simply to stick to my schedule, my NMA (negative mental attitude) has added seconds to my split times. I’ve also noticed how much my diet effects my daily runs. I’ve often used my running routine as a way to legitimise my bad eating habits. Chips for tea or biscuits before bedtime can be justified when I tell myself, it’s ok, I’ll run it off tomorrow (which BTW really isn’t ever the case as a half hour run only ever burns about 300 calories which is barely a bag of crisps!). So this challenge has taught me that I really need to learn more about how to better fuel and condition my body for exercise, instead of using exercise as an excuse to pig out and binge drink.

I’ve also learnt that I run faster first thing. And getting up early to clock my 5k before the kids are awake is hugely satisfying. I can then enjoy the endorphin rush and smile smugly to myself for the rest of the day, happy in the knowledge that I can put on my slippers not my running shoes once the little ones are in bed. Conversely, on those tough and tiring days, the thought of having to do a run when Dave gets home from work is almost as physically painful as the run itself!

So with the figurative finishing line in sight, it’s safe to say that I’m looking forward to going back to my less demanding ‘as and when’ weekly running routine. In fact, I plan to take large chunks of August off as a reward for my efforts this month! Assuming I make it to Friday without injury or apathy, I’ll have run 130 kilometres in one month which is considerably more mileage than I’ve ever achieved before. And maybe my legs do look a teeny bit more sculpted than they did in June, so my beach ready remit has in some small part been addressed. But give me a week in the Med and on the prosecco and I’ll no doubt be back to where I started…but hopefully with a clearer idea of how to chase my thirties with a bit more direction and dignity.

  

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#100happydays – day 42

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Today was a fairly unremarkable Wednesday until I took the dog for a walk. The kids were at school and nursery so I was looking forward to some ‘chatter-free-no-need-to-referee’ time with just the puppy and my iPod. T’was not to be! We got about 200 yards down the road before Beano made a beeline for the bum of an enormous German Shepherd who appeared to be randomly weaving in and out of parked cars. I then spent the next hour or so doggie stalking (as I tried to work out if he was alone and lost or heading home like Lassie did), sweet talking a van driver to lend me his belt as a makeshift lead to guide the gargantuan beast back to the safety of my garden, googling the RSPCA (and being redirected to the local dog warden service), and trying to prevent my over-excited puppy from potentially pissing off our furry guest. I then had the dilemmas of what to give him to eat (the options were limited to Beano’s Turkey n’ Rice kibble or Lamb n’ Rice kibble…he liked the lamb) and where best to leave him while I dashed to school and back. After a short deliberation I realised the garden was my only option. The boys were just as excited by our garden-guest as Beano and it took all of my patience and powers of persuasion to convince them that no, we should not let him come inside, even just for “a little bit”. By 4pm I was beginning to panic, having not heard back from the RSPCA, Enfield Council or the Dog Wardens. I mentally began planning how to turn the playhouse into a makeshift kennel for the night whilst Reece offered to make flyers to begin mail-shooting the neighbours with. He loves a project! But my ultimate happy-cheesey-Hollywood-style-moment finally came when the dog warden arrived with the fairly distraught owners in tow and my canine squatter was reunited with his family. They were grateful, I was thankful and we all lived happily ever after…for today at least.



#100happydays – day 28

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IMG_6806Dog walking always sounded like such a chore to me before we actually got a dog of our own. And some days it does require grit-your-teeth-and-just-do-it effort (particularly when it’s pouring rain or I have a cantankerous toddler in tow). But with all the kids packed off to school and nursery this morning, I enjoyed some alone time (and today’s happy moment) with my scruffy, puddle loving, dirt magnet pup Beano.

I’m still surprised by how relaxing and rewarding it is to walk the dog. Taking him out at least once a day is a small goal that I can quite easily achieve. I get a sense of satisfaction from doing it and a 45 minute walk adds balance to the day. When I’m later sat flopped in front of the TV or I find myself fretting about all of the outstanding things on my To Do list, I can console myself with the reminder that ‘at least I walked the dog’.

It’s also lovely to see how much Beano loves his walks. He jumps a good three feet off the ground whenever he spots me holding his lead and always leaps into the car boot with flare and delight. Apparently a car journey seems to suggest a more interesting destination for exploration than our less ambitious route through the local playing fields.

The way he bounds and leaps across fields to catch birds always makes me giggle and his downhill bum shuffling manoeuvres to wipe leaves off his arse are laugh out loud hilarious. So although this dog owner/lover business is still quite new to me, I’m beginning to enjoy it, especially since the ‘chew everything & poo anywhere’ phase seems to have finally passed.

#100happydays – day 20

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#100happydays – day 20

Day 20 has been a momentous one for our little pup Beano as today saw his first trip away from home. After being left quite confused by us packing his bed into the car’s top box, he spent the first half hour of our journey sitting bolt upright and whimpering. (The boys blamed this behaviour on my earlier apparently insensitive quip that we were returning him to the breeder…) But after Leo had fed him his own body weight in doggie treats and we’d listened to the entire Frozen soundtrack for the second time through, he settled into the road trip quite comfortably. And when we were eventually greeted at my mum’s house by his gal pals Molly and Tilly, Beano reached new heights of doggie delight. Our afternoon walk through country lanes and soggy fields proved to be the icing on his cake (although I was less than impressed by his new found taste for horse poo. Ugh!!!!) Having worried about the impact this trip might have on Beano, I’m so relieved to see how well he’s adapted to being alway from home. And now having left him snuggled up happily for the night in the kitchen with Molly and Tilly, I think it’s safe to say that Beano’s first sleepover looks to be a resounding successful.

#100happydays – day 19

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It’s the first day of half term and it’s raining. But my brood surprised and delighted me with their collective enthusiasm for a dog walk in the woods. And as only a handful of other fools were out and about, we had free rein of the forest and plenty of time to make silly videos…All their own work, I was just giggling behind the camera. I found the emergency dash to the public toilets with Niamh, the uphill walk back to the car when Leo fell flat on his face and the muddy welly footprints all over my driver’s seat less amusing but a recovery cuppa back home went some way to restoring my happy mood.