TheFitDog hosts a running magazine giveaway

April 10, 2014

TheFitDog has a big head at the moment. And I’m not talking about the generous proportions he was blessed with by mother nature. He’s puffed up with pride, far beyond his wrinkly jowls and square brain-box.


He’s in a magazine again.
nicola joyce running magazine

Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted him (and me, but that’s by the by) in the current issue of Women’s Running magazine. Remember when we went on a caniX training session? This article is the result*


Anyway, Frankie thinks that absolutely everybody should have the opportunity to gaze upon his handsome face and marvel over this athletic physique. So he’s offering one of you a brand new, slobber-free copy of May 2014 Women’s Running magazine.

To be in the mix – do these two things

1) share this blog post on Twitter (with my Twitter name @thefitwriter in your tweet somewhere)
share this blog post on Facebook (with my FB page link in the post)
2) leave a comment on this post to let me know you’ve done one of the above!

Frankie and I will pick a winner on Monday and get the magazine sent out to you ASAP.

Open to readers anywhere in the world 🙂

*In case you think I’ve gone a bit quiet with the “where you’ll find my byline this month” posts, I don’t do much journalism these days – it’s mostly copywriting. I put a fair bit of client news on my website newspage, when possible.

TheFitDog hosts a running magazine giveaway is a post from the Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

thefitdog on running with your human (Cani Cross)

December 3, 2013

This is a blog post from Frankie, the office dog


Yo yo, whaddup my dogz & bitches!

Golly, sorry it’s been so long since I wrote a blog post. Nic’s been hogging the blog.

Today I am going to tell you all about Cani Cross which is the sport of running with your human!

Nic and I went on a beginner Cani Cross session in Kent this morning with some other dogs and humans (they had all been a few times before) and I had such an amazing time that I feel sure your day will not be complete until you’ve heard about it.

So, turn round and round and round in your bed, lie down, sigh, and have a read.

Frankie goes to Cani Cross.


I love running. And I love Nic! So why not combine the two and take Nic for a nice run. That’s what Cani Cross allows you to do – take your human for a lovely run. You can even do Cani Cross races, but I’m not sure Nic is fast enough for that just yet.

A nice lady named Jenny at Joggy Doggy taught Nic and I how to run together. We met up with her, and with the crew BARKIS (and Nadia), MONTY (and Rob), FRENCHIE (and Claire), JASPER (and Bella) and TILLY (who is actually Jenny’s dog but was running with a different human today whilst Jenny and Sam taught us what to do). Here we are:

Basically, right, you put a special harness on your human (it is called a belt) and then you pop your own Cani Cross harness on and clip your human in via the single line (it’s like a lead but a special one).

Then you go for a run! The great thing about it is that your human doesn’t have to hold on to you: they let go, and you run out to the end of the line, and you just run and run and run. It doesn’t really matter if your human can’t run as fast as you (which they probably can’t), because they are securely attached to you via the line and their belt. The belt is a nice wide comfy one which means you can steadily pull them along in a very natural movement.

Nic wasn’t very good at running but she hasn’t really done much running in a long time. I was way better! I helped her out and made it much easier for her, especially up the hills and through the splashy mud!

We learned all sorts of things today, including how the human tells you to go (or go faster), how the human tells you to turn left or right, slow down and stop. We learned what to do when passing another dog/human combo (useful if you’re in a race, or running where there are other dogs).

Frankie’s top tips for doing Cani Cross with your human
– make sure your human is securely attached to you via their belt and line
– encourage your human to warm up properly first with some walking, drills and mobility (you can have a lie down during that bit)
– bear in mind that your human can’t run as fast as you can, so you’ll need to adapt
– give your human lots of encouragement during the run so they keep going (I find smiling and wagging my tail works)
– make sure your human drinks water after your run
– don’t let your human eat too quickly after running (let their HR return to normal first)
– praise your human lots afterwards with cuddles so they know that Cani Cross is a good thing to do

And do you know what? I stopped for one poo, and I picked up one stick when we all stopped for a photo, but that was it. It’s mad! Normally on a regular walk, I stop all the time for wees, I pick up about 20 sticks and generally just ramble about.

Cani Cross really focused my mind! All I wanted to do was run, and keep up with the gang, and pull Nic properly so she would say “good boy” and “isn’t this fun Frankie?” and stuff.

I can’t really tell you guys too much about it, because Nic is writing it all up for an article in Women’s Running magazine, but I would really encourage you to give it a go with your human. Even humans who don’t like running love Cani Cross! Here are some of the comments from the humans I met today:

“I hate running, but I love running with my dog”
“If it wasn’t for Cani Cross I wouldn’t run at all”
“I can run much faster and for longer when I’m running with the dog”
“Cani Cross running improves your regular running pace and technique”

The dogs had plenty to say, too, but I can’t really share all our secrets.

What I will tell you though is that most of the crew I met today are rescues, like me. One of them (MONTY) has a mega-tragic story, and normal socialisation/puppy classes just didn’t work for him, he got way too stressed and hated it. But he loves Cani Cross, and he finds it really easy to be around other dogs and humans now since he’s been doing it! He even finds that its helped him in the rest of his life, too, he doesn’t get sad or stressed any more. (That’s him to my right in this pic)

If you want to know anything specific about Cani Cross, how to find a local group, how to maybe do a Cani Cross race with your human, or anything else, hit me up with a comment and I’ll get Nic to type out my reply.

Thanks for reading!

PS I am sooooo tired now! 😀

thefitdog on running with your human (Cani Cross) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

My Olympics: day 14, 4x100m relay

August 10, 2012

In this blog series, I take inspiration from one of the day’s Olympic events. Today: the epic 4x100m final.

Gird your loins, folks. It’s the pinnacle of every track meet, everyone’s favourite athletic show-down: the 4x100m final.

I ventured down to my local running track tonight and met with three good-humoured members of Reading Roadrunners (and a fourth – my friend Ellie Barnes – who volunteered to (wo)man the camera and act as commentator).

The athletes? Gosling, Jenkins, Edmondson and… Joyce. Three runners. One bodybuilder. Meet them here…

It was going to be a race which would stay in the memory for a long, long time. Those who were there would never forget it.

The special commemorative baton was unveiled.

First, the athletes were spotted warming up and practicing the all-important handover.

Then they lined up on the track at 100m and the crowd went silent. You could have heard a pin drop as these four talented track athletes prepared for the race of their lives. Would Gosling, with those long levers and suspicious amount of testosterone (being a bloke) power the team off to a storming start? Would Jenkins the little powerhouse keep the pace high in the crucial second 100m? All eyes were on Edmondson, the stalwart of the team, as she was charged with holding it together for the final handover. And Joyce. How would Joyce fare in that critical home straight?

We’d have the answers in just a few moments…

On your marks… set… go!

In an actually-not-so-bad-really time of 71 seconds, the team finished triumphant and breathing hard with the exertion. Well, it wasn’t tooooo far off the new women’s 4x100m World Record of 40.82!

Then, because it was a nice evening and that hadn’t really taken very long, they decided to all line up together and do a 100m race.

Gold to Gosling
Silver to Jenkins
Bronze to Joyce

But after the post-race interview, a heated dispute and much consulting of the ancient tome which is The Rulebook, Gosling was sensationally stripped of his Gold medal on account of being a man in a woman’s race.

So the final positions were

Gold to Jenkins
Silver to Joyce
Bronze to Edmondson

They took to the podium for an emotional rendering of the…er… Berkshire anthem.


How have the London 2012 Olympic Games inspired you today?

My Olympics: day 14, 4x100m relay is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

My Olympics: day nine, 400m (track)

August 5, 2012

In this blog series, I take inspiration from one of the day’s Olympic events. Today: the women’s 400m final.

Christine Ohuruogu and I have a lot in common. Loads. We’re both women. We both wear sportsbras and trainers a lot. And we both ran 400m today.

I was spoiled for choice with inspiration for today’s blog post. A game of tennis? I’d love to, but I don’t have a racquet (or a tennis partner). The entire men’s omnium? That could be fun. Also very time-consuming. The marathon! Maybe not (I have run marathons though, if that counts at all. PB of 4 hours 04 mins – watch your back, Tiki Gelana!)

But I was pushed for time and needed my blog-post sporting effort to be tacked on to the end of my own training session. So, 400m it was (on the treadmill).

I would in no way call myself a track runner, but I have done quite a lot of track running in the past: firstly as weekly training when I ran for a running club (Dulwich Runners AC reprazent!) and more recently a couple of Summers ago when I decided to get my 5km race time down (it seemed a noble cause at the time). I ran many 400m reps during my 5km-Summer (and still never got my 5km time under 20mins!) so knew today’s challenge was doable. The question was: what would my time be?

With just a few minutes until the gym closed, I hopped onto a treadmill and started running slowly. I hadn’t really thought this through. I didn’t have a stop-watch on, and had no idea how to set up the treadmill so it would do a 400m “effort” and record the time. So, I ran a bit quicker until the screen said 600m, then cranked up the speed with one hand whilst starting the stopwatch on my phone with the other hand. Then I ran like hell.

I realised immediately that running a 400m effort on the treadmill is not the best test of speed, because you can’t just go a bit faster as soon as your brain decides to: you have to adjust the speed manually and think about it. It was very different to running it on the track! However, I had no choice and by now I was about 179m through so I just kept going.

400m is a horrible distance, really. Is it a sprint? Or is it endurance? It calls on both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems, which is why it hurts so much (even if you’re slow like me). Sure enough, about 2/3 of the way through, my legs appeared to stop communicating with my brain and started flailing about in a disconcerting manner. Mildly alarmed, I turned the speed down a touch.

Ouch, help me! By the power of Christine, make it stop!

The nice thing about 400m is that, horrible as it is, it’s over pretty soon.

1:28:9. Well, it’s a season’s best! 😉

If I’d been running with Christine & co tonight, this is what the results would look like.

Rank: 9
Lane: treadmill
Bib: t-shirt
Athlete: JOYCE Nicola
Reaction time: slow (fiddling with iPhone)
Time: 01:28:9 (SB)

Awesome! ;D

How have the London 2012 Olympic Games inspired you today?

My Olympics: day nine, 400m (track) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Belkin sport armband

April 1, 2012

Here I am with another fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week, aimed at the runners amongst you (how’s the marathon training going, by the way?).

This Belkin sport armband, available from the Three store, is a water-proof neoprene armband designed to carry a range of smartphones. It’s perfect for wearing in the gym or out running: the neoprene material keeps your phone dry and protected, but the entire display of the phone is visible and accessible through the front “window”. I’ve got an iPhone and had no trouble “swiping” my screen and pressing the buttons whilst the phone was in the armband.

The arm band is wide – perhaps a bit too wide if you’re in the gym doing biceps or triceps (as I found out!) but perfect for running or other cardio. It’s very lightweight and comfortable. There’s a little velcro bit so you can fold up any extra cord from your earphones and clip it up out of the way. It’s only £15 and you can get it here.

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: Belkin sport armband is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: SOLE Sport Flips shoes

March 4, 2012

Today’s fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week is for my runner friends. With marathon season fast-approaching, no doubt you’re all racking up the mileage and spending a lot of time on your feet. Here is something I’ve tried out recently which might be right up your alley, plus a few expert tips to help keep your feet happy before you start your taper.

SOLE Sport Flips

I’ve reviewed a SOLE product before (in this post) – the Exhale recovery shoes, which I still wear around the house. This time, I was sent SOLE‘s Sport Flips, which look like flip flops but offer a lot more support and comfort to tired hard-working feet.

They’re great! I’ve been wearing them round the house and actually even wore them out and about yesterday (that was before it started snowing…!) They’re extremely comfortable (even the bit which goes between your toes isn’t annoying or painful) and very good for you feet. And that, of course, is the point – slippers and socks are all well and good but they don’t help your feet recovery whilst you’re slouching about. In fact, they’re likely to encourage the arch of the foot to flatten out, making the muscles work hard to keep you balanced. By putting their orthopaedic mouldable footbeds into shoes, SOLE give you a couple of great recovery options (these flip flops or – if you want a cosier option – the Exhale shoes I reviewed before) for more cushioning and support.

I don’t do long runs any more but I imagine these would be ideal to pop on after your Saturday or Sunday run, so your poor feet can slowly recover. And they’ll be great for wearing during the days and weeks after your marathon! The Sport Flips come in loads of colourways, too, so you’re not stuck with one choice. They are £50 and you can get them from the SOLE website, Runners Need and other selected sport stores.

An expert note on recovery time between runs: Andrew Stanley, Podiatrist and running Biomechanics Specialist at The Rebound Clinic, says it can be difficult to know how to help your legs and feet recover between sessions when you’re trying to peak for a long race. “Traditional flip flops, slippers and slouch socks create a very unstable platform”. he says. “This instability can lead to excessive foot motion resulting in foot, leg and even back pain – not helpful when you’re trying to recover between runs.

“These SOLE Flips and the SOLE Exhales mentioned prevously are scientifically designed to support the heel and arch of the foot which stabilise the walking motion. They keep the feet and legs in a more neutral position reducing the stresses of walking, resulting in less stiffness, pain and tiredness after running,” he says.

How is your marathon training going? Did it snow on your long run today?

Fitness kit I’ve tested this week: SOLE Sport Flips shoes is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

A cautionary tale (why runners and bikers should always carry emergency ID)

February 17, 2012

Just one day after he was merrily giving you his opinion on rye bread, my husband came off his bike on a busy town-centre roundabout.

He’s (relatively) OK and in one piece. We’re both shocked, he’s in huge amounts of pain, but the main thing is – of course – that he is still here to tell the tale. He has one dislocated shoulder and several torn ligaments, but things could have been so much worse.

So, today’s blog post is a short but serious one. If you run, or ride a road or mountain bike, whether it’s every day to and from work like my husband or whether it’s once in a blue moon, my question to you is:

Do you wear some kind of emergency ID?

Happily, my husband was still conscious and just about with it enough to remember our phone number. And the person in the car behind him, who stopped to help, was a qualified First Aider. And he was (ironically) just moments from his work building. What if all of this hadn’t have been the case?

Who would emergency services – or that good Samaritan – call, if you slipped or were knocked down whilst biking or running? How would they know who to call?

Please, get some kind of ID tag which carries emergency contact details and other important information. It’s easy. Just click here for Road ID, or here for Cram Alert. Make it your Friday Thing To Do.

Happily, sandwiches can be eaten one-handed, so I think my husband will survive this latest scrape. But next time he gets on that bike, he’ll be wearing emergency ID. I’ll insist on it.

A cautionary tale (why runners and bikers should always carry emergency ID) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Treadmill training to try

February 8, 2012

I used to turn my nose up at the treadmill, preferring to head off on road or trail to pound out mile after mile of same-pace stuff, with the odd track session or set of hill reps thrown in. Sport-specific, innit: I used to take part in running races and triathlons, and I needed to train that way.

These days, I do very little cardio, and the cardio I do needs to be short and sharp, stripping away body fat but preserving precious muscle (yep, it’s a good trick if you can do it). These days, I’m on first name terms with the treadmill (Chris), cross-trainer (Lesley) and rowing machine (Simon).

It dawned on me this morning, as I slid home from the gym on icy pavements (I’m still doing cardio during deload week), that even my triathlete and running pals might be getting familiar with a treadmill in this weather. And, why not. Sure, treadmill running isn’t as picturesque as a few glorious miles across hill and dale (unless the person on the treddie in front of yours possesses a particularly pleasing derriere…) but it does the job. And, actually, for the endurance folk amongst you, a short sharp treadmill session could deliver measurable benefits which are quite different to your longer, slower outdoor runs. So this post is for you, too!

I don’t (currently) do anything longer than 30 minutes of cardio in one go, and I prefer to do 20 minutes of “work” with a warm up and down. But the work does need to be work! Got 30 minutes? Then here are three treadmill sessions to try today (not all in one day, obvs). They’re my current “favourites”:

I’ve written about this before. This was given to me by a PT called Ben Lauder-Dykes. It’s a true delight. Really, just try it. And if you think it’s too easy, well that’s great, because you can also do 12/12/12 or whatever you like. You’re only limited by the % to which your treadmill will incline.

How to do it:
– get on the treadmill, warm up (walk/jog) for 4 mins
– set the treadmill to 11kph, 11% incline
– start running and run for 15 seconds
– jump to the side of the treadmill (so you’re straddling the belt) and rest for 15 seconds
– keep doing this 15s on/15s off for 11 minutes (if it all gets a bit much, just remember you’re looking for “15:00” on the display)
– hit that speed button and decrease it slowly for 5 minutes til you’re walking to cool down
There. 20 minutes out of your day=boosted metabolism, fat burning, speed work, incline training, glutey-bootay greatness

Hill intervals
I did this today. How to do it:
– walk/jog for 5 minutes on an incline of 0.5% (only because completely flat feels weird)
– run at a sustainable pace (read the full session to guess at what this might be for you) for 2 minutes
– increase incline to 2% for 2 minutes
– down to 0.5% for 2 minutes
– increase incline to 4% for 2 minutes
– down to 0.5% for 2 minutes
– increase incline to 6% for 2 minutes
– down to 0.5% for 2 minutes
– increase incline to 8% for 2 minutes
– down to 0.5% for 2 minutes
– increase incline to 10% for 2 minutes
– hit that decline button, bring the incline down, and start to bring the speed down too so you jog/walk for a 5 minute cool down
There. 30 minutes of deceptive, increasingly heart-pounding work which will leave your metabolism ramped up for hours and do you much more good than just running at the same pace and the same incline for 30 minutes.

Flat intervals
How to do it:
– 5 mins warm up until you’re running at a sustainable pace (somewhere between 5 mile and 10K race pace I’d say)
– alternate 1 minute at this pace with 1 minute recovery (jog not walk) pace. Try not to bring the speed down too much, simply because then part of your next minute’s effort will be spent getting the treadmill back up to speed
– do 20 minutes of 1 min on/1 min off
– decrease the speed for a 5 minute jog/walk cool down

Do one session per week (or, if you dare, do all of these in one week) and tell me how you feel and how it’s affected your body recomposition and/or fitness goals. Don’t underestimate them, though. I’m always hugely hungry and very tired for a day or so after doing one of these sessions; a sure sign that they work the body hard.

Treadmill training to try is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

2011 XT Memorial Mile round-up

July 17, 2011

Thank you all so much for your sweet and positive responses to this year’s XT Memorial Mile even though I sprung it on you a little late!

Have you checked in and told me how you got on? If not, please do.

Here’s a round-up of XT Memorial Miles I’m aware of (the Mile went global!)

Allie of Allie in Wonderland ran three miles with her Mum (they’re training for Race For Life) and dedicated one of them to XT (and perhaps the other two to her dearly-departed Basil?)
Anna of Up ‘anley Duck walked three miles with her two dogs and dedicated one to XT (and maybe the other two to gone-but-not-forgotten Ruddles).
Jenny of Cover Girl says she’ll run a mile today, even though she’s only just started running AND yesterday was her birthday (happy birthday!)
Richard of Richard’s TransRockies took part in the Chilterns Classic mountain bike event, and rode the first mile for XT (he knew him very well indeed).
Nat of Modal Corpus did a mile for XT on the X-Trainer (clever… clever!) at the gym.
Sable from Squat Like a Lady walked two miles and dedicated one of them to XT.
Kristen from Following Fit ran a mile at track after her gym session.

And non-bloggers took part, too. 🙂

My sister walked a mile with my big ol’ baby nephew in his pram (good going Sista!)
My husband did the same mountain bike event as Richard – the Chilterns Classic (75kms) – and dedicated the first mile to XT.
– My friend Jo and her dog Buddy run-walked on Saturday in memory of XT (they both knew him well).
– My friend Sally and her dog Mws (who looks a bit like XT) went for a walk (which I suspect was a lot longer than a mile!)
– My friend Morag and her dogs Cuán and Xena, along with Jet and Tiggy walked two miles in the pouring rain (I know how rainy it was cos she lives close by).
– My friend Lisa walked at the weekend and dedicated a mile to XT and other furry friends.
– My friend Lan got in on the action early, and did her XT Mile on Friday by walking home rather than getting the DLR (American readers: a bit of London’s public transport) and had a think about XT, dogs in general, and her miniature dachshund Mabel. As she told me, “I remembered the gorgeous pictures of XT and his ears and how well behaved he was at your birthday picnic. I remembered my disbelief at the pictures of him not eating everything!” (He was incredibly well-behaved! And did have incredibly huge ears…)
– My friend Kelly walked a lot on Saturday, including Southport Pier – which is a mile long.
– My friend Gaynor went on a long walk with a friend and the friend’s dog, perfect for remembering XT.

Me? Well, my initial plan was to go to track, where I ran the 2009 and 2010 XT Memorial Miles by myself. But it was absolutely lashing with rain here all day, and my husband had the car, so I would have had to ride my bike there and back. I decided to do the XT Mile in a way that would fit with my current training plans.

My second training session of the day was “steady state, medium”, one option for which is the cardio machines at the gym. So, I rowed a mile, walked a mile on the treadmill on a steep incline and then biked (much more than a mile!) Of course, I also walked theFitDog yesterday (we do about three miles).

Thank you all so very much. I’m really touched that you all took the time to walk, run, jog, amble, cross-train, bike or push a pram whilst thinking about XT. 😀

2011 XT Memorial Mile round-up is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Will you run/walk/swim/amble the 2011 XT Memorial Mile?

July 15, 2011

Ohhh I’m a bad blogger. 😦 I hold my hands up and admit that I forgot about the most important event in the athletics calendar: the XT Memorial Mile.

It should have been on 13th July. But I only remembered (with a start!) this morning. By which point it was too late to hold the event on the 13th, but not too late to hold it this weekend.

For my newer readers: my training partner wasn’t always brown and stripey with a baggy face. Nope, once upon a time I had a black and white training partner with disproportionately huge ears.

His name was XT, and you can read about him here (if you’re a dog-lover, you might want to have a hankie nearby).

It’s been a couple of years now since XT left us suddenly, but he’s far from forgotten.

The day after he died in 2009, I went to the track in an attempt to run the pain in my heart out through my legs. Last year, deep in my running-groove, I celebrated him in the best way I knew how: by running a mile at our local track.

Since then, I vowed that the XT Memorial Mile would become an annual event, and I know a lot of you pledged to run/walk/jog/swim/cycle/whatever the distance this year.

So, we’re a couple of days late, but will you do your own XT Memorial Mile this weekend? Shall we say Saturday (tomorrow)? You can do it Sunday if it suits you better, and of course you can cover the distance wherever you like and however you want. You can even do further if you like: if you’re running a 10k, just dedicate one of the miles to XT and dearly-departed dogs we’ve all known and loved.

Please let me know in the comments if you’ll be taking part, then come back and let me know how you got on.

I don’t expect to run anything like as fast as I did two years ago, or last year! I might even run it as intervals. But I will run it.

Will you run/walk/swim/amble the 2011 XT Memorial Mile? is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

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