Talkback: ASICS Target 26.2 Team: Emma

Introducing the fifth and final member of our ASICS Target 26.2 team - Emma (aka EmmaC) Emma will be mentored by Sam Murphy on this thread ...

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07/01/2012 at 21:12

The problem is that I have parents evening on the Thursday so I can't run that night! One of the pitfalls of teaching - everyone thinks we have short days and long holidays but truth of the matter a normal day is 9-10 hours and some days are 14 (like parents evenings!).

I'll have a chat with my Mum and Dad and see how they feel about doing several weekends in a row - I might be able to rope in one of my in laws or my sis to help! The alternative is that I get up v v early on the Thursday morning and do one of the sessions - I could do the 5 x 1k as this wouldn't be a long run.. if I could get out of bed in time it may actually make the rest of the day easier to cope with! PMA!

However some good and bad news about today..

Had a terrible run in with an Alsation - owners had no lead and were encouraging it to jump up to head height and chase them. So we stopped and my friend went ahead to ask them to restrain dog until we passed (we were on Downs link so no way to change route). The dog took a brief look at her, then a long look at me and charged for me... I went in to total shut down, hands in fists over my eyes, back to dog and a new uncontrolled reaction, thumbs shoved in my ears so I couldn't hear! It charged right to me and growled - I screamed! Anyway they called it back and were fairly appologetic. But they had no collar or lead and clearly had no control of their dog. I was an absolute sobbing wreck and had to be helped walking! I did stop my Garmin so that time won't count! Absolutely awful, horrendous headache and then need to fall asleep - classic reaction to the stress.

My friend (who is a dog owner) finds it really frustrating as there is no need for the dogs to behave like that - it is the owners. Other dogs on the journey were totally in control and doing busy work like sniffing trails and collecting sticks! Such a pity as it is car free, sinter/gravel/mud track but pancake flat and kinder to the knees than tarmac.

Good news - 10 miles in 100 mins! I felt great!

Splits were not totally even but pretty good:

10:37, 10:12, 10:03, 9:47, 9:41,10:08,9:59, 10:03, 9:36 (clearly adrenaline from canine encounter!), 9:55.

So thought that was pretty good news!

Edited: 07/01/2012 at 21:24
07/01/2012 at 21:23

Ruth - I often have some unpleasant symptoms when I run very hard or for long distances. Any fruit the night before I run is a no no, as is anything chilliish but I aslo think wheat adds to the problems (emergeny toilet stops and other things that I shan't put on the forum - but would happy email you about!)

I think wheat makes me bloated and refine carbs cause me to have sugar highs and lows that I struggle to deal with - when I stick to rye bread and cut out junk I am more energised and less grumpy. But I need to always have snack like bananas and oatcakes otherwise I get exhausted. Have a low GI diet for the summer seemed to really help as I lost nearly a stone. I'm about 5'6" (I have thought for the last 20 years that I was 5'7" but never mind!) and 9 1/2 stone. Certainly not a super slim runner type but pretty healthy I would have thought. However my bupa test said I had too much body fat (shall not disclose value on here!) and needed to build lean mass and cut fat ... surely this could have been influenced by how hydrated I was?

Shall endeavour to keep a food diary ... from tomorrow after I have my cookies and cup of earl grey this evening!

07/01/2012 at 21:33

PS - general question to Sam/Ruth (or anyone who knows more than me, which is most) - should I be using gels in training? If so at what distance and how often?

Didn't feel the need to use one today so didn't - will my body learn to use fat rather than carbs with or without them?

Thanks... Tea and choloate chip cookies await!

07/01/2012 at 21:38

Hey Emma - hope you're ok - that sounds horrible.  I'm a dog owner but I'm intimidated by big dogs when I'm out in the forest by myself! Sometimes I wish they would bring back dog licences and an element of accountability.  I spent months at classes learning how to train Rascal - unfortunately not everyone does this.

Hope you feel less traumatised soon.  Have an extra cookie, or two. No-one will ever know!

07/01/2012 at 21:45

Thank you Sleepy Bear - have had 3 cookies (don't tell anyone). It means that I can never, ever run along bridle ways paths etc on my own, which is sad.

Most dog owners are fab, if they know their dog will get frisky in anyway (or want to run along and join us) they stop and hold the dog/put in on the lead etc until we pass. Then I can beam at them and thank them for their courtesy, but not those folks with their great big, bloody intimidating dog! Bet they drive in a similar way!

I've decided that I rather like Spaniels.. they have really sweet little faces and are always very busy sniffing things and being all purposeful! Also they look really funny when their ears flop up and down.

If onlly all dog owners were like you - I wouldn't have this phobia! Thanks for the support - did you run today or are you out tomorrow?

07/01/2012 at 21:47

Really sorry to hear about the dog incident Emma .

People who let their dogs scare other people like that and can't keep them under control in public make me so cross. There is so much they can do training wise to sort out issues with dogs who chase runners too, but unfortunately owners who are irresponsible enough to let their dogs be out of control in public usually aren't the ones interested in sorting out specific behavioural issues.

I know you know all this already, and instinctive fear reactions are really hard to modify when confronted with the situation, but if, after shouting to the person to get their dog on the lead or hold it for a minute (perfectly reasonable thing to request when running past, they have a legal duty to be in control of their animal in public), the dog still charges at the runner, any screaming or shouting at pitch or fearful movements (flailing, running away, swiping with arms) are likely to stimulate the dog's instinctive prey drive and exacerbate their behaviour. Arousal and aggression are generally considered to be on a continuum in dogs so the best thing you can do to reduce any risk if you are confronted with irresponsible dog owners is to be as in control of your own response as you can be, and reduce their excitement as much as you can. Dogs are really tuned into behavioural cues so there is quite a bit you can do to affect how a charging dog responds when it gets to you - even though it's owners are clearly idiots and irresponsible to put you in that situation. If you are afraid the best thing to do is act as unafraid as you possibly can and stand still with your arms into your body and avoid eye contact with the dog completely. Don't turn your back if you can help it, and when you do move away back away still facing the dog. If you fall roll into a ball with hands behind your neck. I know this is a rubbish thing to have to do when you are out just trying to have a run.. Some people advocate dog deterrants (throwing water etc) but these can be dangerous and wind the dog up, so it sounds like the approach you and your friend are taking is best..

Edited: 07/01/2012 at 21:49
07/01/2012 at 23:24

You are so right Rosie - the sort of people who have badly behaved dogs are the sort of people who don't want to sort it out. They need clear boundaries, lots of positive reinforcement... a bit like children.

I've been a very grumpy Mummy today (think the alsatian thing shook me up so much) so will endeavour to be lovely to my little boys tomorrow! Smimming or bike riding I think!

Thank you so much for the advice - I will try to put it in to practice! Somethning just sort of takes over. The comments like 'he's alright' about a big boisterous dog are not very helpful either. He might be but I'm not! Anyway - onwards and upwards ... one week done! I'll see you in Brum soon - hope you are feeling tip top now! x

08/01/2012 at 00:23

You're right Emma, people who say 'he's alright' about a dog they can't control are not only unhelpful, they also don't know much about dogs , any dog has the potential to not be 'alright', dogs I've been bitten by (at work, never while running, though I know that won't be much reassurance) often haven't been known as 'biters'. They were just afraid or very wound up (the arousal-aggression spectrum again, put any dog in the right situation and it has that potential).

Sometimes as you don't have much time from seeing a big dog off the lead to when it has run up to you it can help to have a short phrase worked out for owners - telling them to hold their dog, and giving them a short reason why (e.g 'can you keep hold of him? I was tripped by a dog and injured') . You shouldn't need a reason why, but as you've noted, people who don't control their dogs are usually of the opinion their dog is 'alright' and unfortunately require an explanation as to why they should control it. They are totally in the wrong on this, but as you don't have long and it can be a charged situation a stock phrase can help. Rewarding the owners for good behaviour as you are doing by thanking them (even though they are just doing what they are legally required to) seems to work sometimes too, as inevitably running near home you will come across the same dogs on different occassions so it's worth training them if you can. Owners are much harder to train than dogs, but it is possible!  If there is a particular dog that causes you problems more than once, there are avenues you can pursue to try to force the owner to better control the dog, but these are hasslesome and can be difficult to get results with.

Unfortunately some owners will always be irresponsible, so being ready for it happening and understanding why dogs are attracted to runners can help you read their behaviour too. If you get used to dogs over time it can help you learn how to modify their behaviour with your response. I've seen runner-chasing described by four key areas of dog behavioural motivation. This is a long dog-waffle on my part, so have split the motivations to the next post...!

08/01/2012 at 00:23

1. For some dogs it's just play. They think the runner is playing and it's a game of chase. These dogs will often leap playfully while chasing and bark quite a bit, they'll be bouncy, wagging tail, they may be quite mouthy and try and play bite or nip. Being really boring looking and standing still with your arms into your body can help reduce how interesting you seem to play with.

2. Movement-related. Fast movement triggers an instinctive chase or prey drive, particularly in certain breeds of dog, though any poorly trained dog can be susceptible too. It's the movement of the runner that drives this and the dog will often lose interest if the movement stops (hence standing still to stop them). Very rarely dogs will have a predatory motivation (these tend to be dogs that have been trained to attack) and will try to cause injury on catching the person. If it's any help, in my experience people who train their dogs to be like this usually don't take them on country walks (fighting dogs rarely get walked and are even exercised on treadmills indoors in preference to outside such is the nasty weirdness of the dog fighting underworld), so it's unusual to meet a dog who is motivated to attack like that while running, though prey-chasing is common. Dogs prey chasing or predating like this usually won't bark while approaching you, the chase is their focus.

3. Territorial aggression. This tends to be when you go near what the dog perceives to be their territory (eg their garden or home), and they'll run out and chase you. Some dogs will be terriotorial around their owners too - it can help not to run in between a dog and it's owner if this is the case, give the owner a wide berth. These dogs will often bark while chasing you as they are trying to scare you away.

4. Fear related. Some dogs see runners as a threat. Generally fear is one of the most common causes of aggression in pet dogs. Often while you are approaching them fear-aggressive dogs will bark or growl, but actually it's when you are no longer facing them as a runner that the problems start as you become a safer target in their scared view of things, and they'll then chase (hence staying facing the dog, and not making eye contact - eye contact in dogs, especially unbroken staring, is quite an agressive statement). Fear-agressive dogs often bark while chasing too.

Wish I was nearby and there was more I could do to help...

08/01/2012 at 08:39

I wish you were here too and could provide both therapy and training! Thank you so much for all your time and effort with this it means a lot and I am going to try and put some of your advice in to practice. When I know owners I don't have too much of a problem and I hate to say it but you can judge how a dog will behave based on the owner that's with them. I am completely happy walking past dogs up mountains - poor dog owbers don't take their unfit dogs up to 1000m very often! (falling of the mountains/sheep etc to be dealt with).

I'm going to print out your posts and keep them ... I think a lot of what you've said is actually common sense. Trouble is I'm so frightened of dogs that I don't read 'want to play with you' and 'I want to bite you' as different signals.

I'm going to try and be a bit tougher - am loads better with smaller dogs (eg spanials et al. - not so much terrier nippy type dogs). Breeds I am terrible with are Alsatian/German Shepherds, boxers, dobermans (Weimaraners/dalmations) and the big scary dogs like Rotweillers. Don't like greyhounds either as they are so fast and can be very highly strung. I'm getting better with the dopy dogs like labradors and retrievers.

Runs will have to be on country roads rather than on bridle ways etc unless I am with a chum - in fact I think suburban runs on my own only - I'll have to run around the outskirts of the town twice to achieve a decent distance! A pity as I was thinking about getting some trail shoes to help as the cross country runs are so lovely around here!

The barking really frightens me - but is it really growling that I should worry about?

08/01/2012 at 08:42

Emma - you really have had your challenges!  Can't help wiht the dog situation as not a dog owner (although I've got one sleeping on my foot as I write - we are dog sitting for my son and his wife while they are on holiday for a week - when we walk him he is always on the lead cos we are scared of losing him !!)

Your long run time and splits are great and I hope this now banishes the memory of your earlier run when you doubted the ability to keep a pace up for a long time - your fitness is obviously improving which is great news.

08/01/2012 at 08:45

Food diary for Saturday!

Breakfast: large bowl of special K with 1% milk, teas spoon of sugar, cup of coffee with one sugar.

Ten mile run

Lunch: 3 slices of low GI toast (lots nuts/seeeds in it) with peanut butter. I choc biscuit!

Snack: 5 doritos, massive coffe in the park with 3 sugars!

Dinner: smoked haddock (poached in milk), cauliflower cheese, green beans (lots), broccoli and 2 small roasted potatos (took real restraint not to hoover dowm my usual 8-10!). 3 choc chip cookies!

Usually there would be more fuit but next delivery of food and Tuesday and it all gets a bit ropey by this stage in the week!

08/01/2012 at 09:26
Ouch hope you ok today...... My oh has been bitten twice once by a Doberman on the backside it was sadly put down as the owner had no control over it. It's the owners who really need training...........she keeps running though now usually with sis in law or daughters.
Happy Sunday's all.
08/01/2012 at 10:03
oscarr wrote (see)

Emma - you really have had your challenges!  Can't help wiht the dog situation as not a dog owner (although I've got one sleeping on my foot as I write - we are dog sitting for my son and his wife while they are on holiday for a week - when we walk him he is always on the lead cos we are scared of losing him !!)

Your long run time and splits are great and I hope this now banishes the memory of your earlier run when you doubted the ability to keep a pace up for a long time - your fitness is obviously improving which is great news.

Thanks Oscarr - I was pleasantly surprised that I felt ok. Not having a gyppy tummy for once was v helpful too! In fact I felt slightly more comfortabe running a touch faster! Can my fitness be improving after only 2 weeks?

How is your training going?

08/01/2012 at 10:05
mcs wrote (see)
Ouch hope you ok today...... My oh has been bitten twice once by a Doberman on the backside it was sadly put down as the owner had no control over it. It's the owners who really need training...........she keeps running though now usually with sis in law or daughters. Happy Sunday's all.

My God your poor OH! I think I'd have been put off for life!

I think that is the plan - always run with other people if going in to countryside as there will be doggies not on leads there!

Have a good Sunday - are you going out or have you done your LSR?

08/01/2012 at 10:23

Emma - sorry to see you had such a bad time with that German Shepherd. We've got three of them and - paradoxically inspite of their reputation - they are usually lovely docile things which don't represent any sort of threat to you. Of course that's no use to you when you encounter one who's daft owners haven't sorted the dog out. If they go into "guarding mode" and perceive their role is to protect their owner when they are adolescents it's very hard to switch them out of that mindset as they get bigger and stronger and more intimidating.

Clearly Rosie knows alot more about behavioural stuff then me but I'd really echo her advice that the best thing you can do if you do have an encounter with one that goes badly is to stand still, put your arms by your side or cross them in front of your body, try not to shout or scream, look away and do your best to stay calm. You're far less likely to get nipped if you can do that than if you continue to escalate the dog's aroused state by making lots of noise or putting your hands down to try and keep him off. Not easy at all if you're scared in the first place

Do you know anyone who has a guarding breed that you trust and could spend some time with in a controlled environment to build up your confidence? You obviously like dogs fundamentally and that might help alot. Good luck !

08/01/2012 at 13:04
Hi Emma- another one to say that I feel much the same about dogs, and it's getting worse for me, I'm not as bad as you, I don't think, but there are a couple of places I now avoid on my runs due to bad experienes with dogs- I usually follow the advice given above - stand still, arms up across chest to protect my self, and say to the owners- "I'm scared of dogs, get it away from me", then slowly walk past, without getting between dog and owner. I've never been bitten, and I'm nervous even around mid- sized dogs- pain in the a$$, really.
08/01/2012 at 14:34

Guys thank you so much for your support - it means a lot!

Tricia  - it is a massive pain as I feel like I am being held hostage to the fear and poor dog handling! I get cross because the small minority of owners who can't control their dogs stop me being able to do what I want with my life and they reflect poorly on so many excellent and considerate dog owners! Still not going to run on my own! You're not based in Sussex are you - thinking could be of practical support on training runs!

Fraser - Thank you for advice (I still can't run on my own), I shall try to put it in to practice and act a bit tougher! As you say - its the owners not the dogs. I do make judgment calls based on how the owners are behaving with their dogs - for example large dog on the same path yesterday but running with two chaps not on the lead... but it was totally in their control and quite frankly being well exercised! I think I should perhaps try walking with my friend and her chocolate retriever? It would be a start?

08/01/2012 at 14:42

Hello all

Emma - I can empathise, I have issues with dogs too. A couple of years ago a massive wolf hound bounded towards me. owner said the usual about it being a lovely dog ripped the arm of my running jacket with its teeth. Owner didn't say a word! I do ru on my own but am very careful if I see a dog off the lead! I hope you make progress with this.

Ruth - thanks for the advice, I think my problem may be portion sizes...trying very hard to cut down!

I set off for 10 miles this morning and ended up doing 11.5 after a detour to find a loo!

08/01/2012 at 18:05
My god MWW - you are so brave!
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