Top tips for walking your dog in the dark

Top tips for walking your dog in the dark

The days are getting longer now but still most of us are walking our dogs in the dark… It might not be a problem if you are based in the city and have well lit roads all around you but out in the countryside winter walks aren’t as peachy as one might think.

I got caught out one morning when I decided to go for a quick walk at 6am in the pitch black… black morning, black dog… you can only imagine where I am going with this… I got scared… re-call didn’t work and Bunk was nowhere to be found… he did come back finally (after a few minutes which felt in that moment like a lifetime) but by this time the seed of fear was deeply implanted. It was time to re-think my walking in the dark routine.

So I sat down and I thought about how to improve our safety, so I read a lot, I did my research and I come across a few pointers I would like to share with you.

Walk route

Darkness is not the best time to go exploring. Pick a well known route which is familiar both for you and your dog. Walks along the side of the road are not ideal but if you don’t have any other options and this is the only walk route with lights along it – then pick it. Remember to walk against the flow of traffic and keep your dog on the side furthest from the road (i.e. your right hand side). Alternatively if you have a bit more time on your hands and have some well lit place which is away from home, then jump in the car and drive with your dog to that walking spot.

Walk routine

Keep control of your dog and do not let him/her off the lead unless you are in a well lit area. Your dog might be well trained but you never know what will happen and there is always a chance of something unpredictable happening so why be tempting fate? Unless your dog is extremely well trained avoid retractable leads. They are dangerous in daylight and can be deadly in the darkness (yes, I am not a huge fan of retractable leads and if you want to know why please read 10 Reasons Why Retractable Leashes Are Dangerous) Also if you are going to let your dog off the lead make sure you have your pockets well stocked with some yummy treats which will help you with that quick re-call if needed.

Human clothing

Walks in the dark are as much about your safety as your dog. If you are walking along the road make sure you wear something reflective. It might not be sexy but a high visibility vest is cheap and will make you stand out for all others road users. Yes, you can and should dress up your dog as well but if you are going to walk along the side of the road you are much bigger than your dog therefore much easier to see 🙂

Dog clothing + accessories

Nowadays there is a huge choice when it comes to reflective accessories for your dog. Pick something both you and your dogs are comfortable with. It might be a high visibility dog jacket or maybe just a reflective neck band; if clothing isn’t really your thing invest in a reflective collar, harness or a lead; if these choices aren’t “speaking” to you either at least get a safety light for your dog. A safety light is small and will clip onto any collar or harness. It will illuminate or flash depending on the program and it will help you easily locate your dog in the darkness.

Be cautious

Stay alert and wary of your surroundings. Listen to what is happening around you. You might follow all these tips and be ready for a walk in the darkness but you can also be sure that someone else might not be so well organized. Don’t be scared! If you are scared your dog will feel it and you really don’t want to be projecting fear into your companion.

Other Equipment

First of all take a torch with you. I use a small LED head torch. The batteries last what seems like forever, it gives a really great bright light and most importantly of all it still allows me to have both my hands free.
Secondly take a phone with you. I bet most of us don’t go far without the phone but walking in the darkness is for sure not the time to forget it. You never know how the walk will end and you might need it to call for assistance.
Third – don’t go wondering in the darkness without anyone knowing you went out. Again you might not think it’s that big a deal in the city but there are many dangerous and risks, just watch the news if you doubt me. If you are going out for a walk in the countryside make sure someone knows you went out in case you get lost or injured and it could be hours before someone finds you to help.

These are my tips.

If there is something you would add to the list please share it with me.

Safe walking!

Nowhere is safe these days!

It was a lazy summer evening. I was just coming back from the late dog walk, passing through a dense overgrown natural tunnel that links the fields to the road, when suddenly my right leg got stuck. It was dark, I wasn’t able to move and it was a good 20 meters to the road and civilisation.

Something was pulling on the bottom of my trousers.

First in the line, from a train load of thoughts in my head, was “WTF is happening?”

Don’t look shocked, I bet Bunks dinner that you have all thought that at least once in your lives. Yes, I agree, this isn’t a pretty thought but come on… I am bumbling slowly along with my two dogs, minding my own business, deep in thought, almost meditative and then BOOM!… just like that I am rooted in place, and did I mention the pain… Not yet…Well hang on to your hats….

I was actually scared, albeit briefly as my aforementioned meditative brain slowly kicked back into life and began to process the barrage of sensory inputs it was now suddenly receiving. I totally didn’t have a clue what was happening to me for what seemed like an ice age but was in reality a split second or two.

So first things first – Stay calm and gently I take my right hand and try to check what was there… this wasn’t a clever move… whatever it was it had huge teeth or claws or fangs and now my hand was bleeding. Lots of small puncture wounds each more eager than its neighbour to be 1st in the race of exsanguinations that was now apparently in full flow, pun intended (the fact that my blood doesn’t clot as fast as it could isn’t helping here, the scene from Carrie was coming together!).

So, I am standing there in this alleyway, stuck in one spot and with blood dripping from my hand and leg.

What to do?

Next bright idea is to use my left foot to stand on this assailant to make this thing go away… so I start waving my left leg like a crazy person only to find out that spiky teeth/claws/fangs break easily and now my whole sole of Crocs if full of them… which means I am in agony…in my right hand, right leg and now my left foot, human making progress…not.

WTF is happening?

Exactly why my dogs aren’t protecting me is a mystery and is the third thought… normally when someone looks at me funny Bunk can show very quickly how displeased he is about this fact, but now… now they both do nothing…. not a thing… OMG are they terrified as much as I am?

Or is this the doggy equivalent of making an “L” with your thumb and index finger, holding it against your forehead and shouting loser whilst stifling a giggle… the pain is making me paranoid.

I tried to turn around and suddenly something changed… my mystery “attacker” backed off and I was free. Yet again I was able to move, my joy was tangible. Yes, I was still bleeding a lot and yes I still couldn’t stand pain free on my left foot and yes my pants have developed a crochet effect but I didn’t care I was free and stumbling, rather unladylike towards the light and civilisation!

I turned around to check what was that… as you do, I guess… I really wanted to know what assaulted me this lovely evening…

The mystery remained as it was devoid of sunlight and too dark to see…

Tune in next week for the thrilling climax to this….

Ok I will tell you what I discovered the next morning as I eagerly ventured forth to confront my assailant… it was a huge bramble brunch…and I mean HUGE! I have seen smaller redwoods!

Yes, my attacker was a dry bramble branch which had evidently become badly tangles into my trousers and Bunk was stood on the other end I realised, hence my being rooted in place, and in the process validating my paranoid assumptions before, they were indeed sat there and they were indeed laughing at me. I can picture it now, “Hey Lilly watch this…”.

The huge teeth/claws/fangs it turns out were all the spiky parts of it, which hurt my hand and then dug canyons into the sole of my shoe and thus my foot…

Unbelievable…

I got attacked by a bush!

So you see, nowhere is safe these days!

Melodramatic I hear you say; pfft all I say to you is…

“You don’t know man, you weren’t there….”

7 tips on how to walk yourself happy

7 tips on how to walk yourself happy

We all have some fitness goals, or at least I would hope we all have them, if you don’t you know deep down inside you should. For me it is to walk more. I love to walk, not because I have to or because my dogs need me too… I want to walk more for myself; to increase my fitness level, to lose some weight, to improve my health and well being and what’s more to help me relax.

Walking is not difficult and it doesn’t require a lot of special preparation. All you need is some comfortable clothing, a pair of good shoes, some basic knowledge on what to do and what not to do, time and willingness. It might seem like a lot but it really is not!

Walking has a lot of benefits. It is free, it doesn’t require any special accessories, it is not weather depending, it can be achieved in any terrain and it doesn’t have an age limit. It is something we do naturally so why not walk yourself happy?

I have a few tips for new comers who want to start their journey into walking as a mean of improving their well being.

1. Get some good shoes and the correct clothing

This doesn’t mean breaking you bank balance. You probably do not need anything else than that which you most likely already own. All you really need is a pair of good comfortable trainers / walking / running shoes and some comfortable clothing. You do not have to walk in a fancy branded tracksuit, you do not need the latest model shoes, but you do need something which will fit you well and something which will be really comfortable (no pants too loose which will drop down every few steps or too short t-shirt which will come up every 2 minutes).

2. Warm up

It should only be necessary to warm up for about 5 minutes before the serious walking, in time when you start to increase the speed and distance on your walks then you can dedicate a little more time to increasing flexibility. Try to do some of the following:
Forward leg kicks – use a pole or tree for balance and swing your right leg in front of you and then behind you, swapping to your legs after 10 kicks.
Ankle turns – Stand on one leg and rotate the ankle of the raised leg, do ten circles in each direction and then change legs.
Toe point – stand on one leg and point the toe on the raised leg, then flax it. Repeat 10 times then swap legs.
Arm swings – stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your arms straight out beside you parallel to the ground. Keep your lower body immobile and swing your arms from side to side through a full range so that you end up looking over each shoulder.
Arm circles – hold your arms straight out to your side, parallel to the ground. Make small circles going backwards, gradually getting larger and larger. Then change direction.

3. Posture

In order to minimize any muscle pain we all should try to keep a close attention to our posture whilst walking, making sure we are getting it right – keep your shoulders back and relaxed and hold your head up, with your eyes looking forward. It’s also a good idea to hold your tummy in and tighten your buttocks.

4. Speed and distance

This is the beauty of walking – there is no speed and distance set in stone. You can walk 5 minutes or you can walk for 45 minutes, it is all up to you. What is important is to just start walking at a speed that suits you, nice and easy. Then everyday you should either increase your speed or the distance travelled a little. Remember if you want to speed up – increase number of the steps you take, not the length of your stride. A good practise is to change the speed at which you walk – make a few minutes of a really fast march and then just walk for the next few and if you are feeling up for it repeat it again. Try and go out walking every day and, if the pace feels ok for you then add 5 minutes to your walk every time, until you’ve covering the distance you’re happy with. If you’re walking to lose some weight, then aim for 45-60 minutes of brisk walking at least 5 days a week.

5. Cool down

It is worth to finish our whole walking session with a little cool down. Just a few stretches to relax legs muscle and relax our back should do the trick. This will help prevent any unnecessary muscle pains. Repeating the warm up exercises from above will aid this process.

6. Eat /drink right

In the 2 hours after you exercise, your muscles are doing most of their replenishing and will need refuelling – the optimum meal post-workout should include a mixture of protein and carbohydrate. Also do not forget about water, staying well hydrated is very important especially if you are off for a long walk on a hot sunny or even warm day.

7. Keep a diary

Keeping good notes on the time and distance covered will help you with future planning of your training sessions. Getting a reliable pedometer might be a good idea. We should be aiming for the goal of 10,000 steps a day; apparently this can be counted as an active lifestyle 🙂

So my aim for the spring / summer is to walk more. I would love for you to join me in this challenge.

Let’s walk ourselves happy!

Who is with me?

* This post was written in collaboration with Expert Panel from SportsShoes. I received an incentive in the form of running kit to help me achieve my fitness goal.

Why walking is better than running

Is walking better than running

Last week I read a funny post by Slummy Single Mummy with the title “9 good(ish) reasons to give up running”. I clocked this post via my email subscription and I simply couldn’t resist clicking on the link and reading it… I just had to know what these reasons might be…

And you know what? It really made me feel better to know that I am not the only one who feels like this about running. I hate running too! It always makes me feel bad when I see all those promo spots with runners… it looks so easy and it looks almost totally effortless… I know from experience that it is not! So stop showing all the clips that make it look so easy… All this pretty looking runners… bah… they do not exist in the real world… I know, I have looked for them…

Anyhow… this has got my thinking… there must be an easier alternative to running… surprise, surprise… yes there is… it is called WALKING!

So I set myself a challenge to find out if walking can out benefit running…

To my huge surprise they do offer more or less the same benefits.

Walking apparently is better for:

Your immune system – running can stress it out, especially long distance running

Your heart – again long distance running can lead to elevated serum markers for cardiac stress

Your joints – running is stressing out our joints too much, which might lead to an increased risk of injuries and osteoarthritis in later life.

Running wins hands down when it comes to fat burning… but to help offset this difference we can simply walk a bit faster for longer 🙂

I also found out a few other interesting facts about walking:

Walking prevents type 2 diabetes. The Diabetes Prevention Program showed that walking 150 minutes per week and losing just 7% of your body weight (12-15 pounds) can reduce your risk of diabetes by 58%.*

Walking is good for your brain. In a study on walking and cognitive function, researchers found that women who walked the equivalent of an easy pace at least 1.5 hours per week had significantly better cognitive function and less cognitive decline than women who walked less than 40 minutes per week.*

Walking helps alleviate symptoms of depression. Walking for 30 minutes, three to five times per week for 12 weeks reduced symptoms of depression as measured with a standard depression questionnaire by 47%.*

So for me walking is the winner!

It doesn’t make me sweat like a horse, at least most of the time; is doesn’t cost so much and I can do it without any huge preparations or long notice…

All you need for walking is time and willingness… that’s it!

Yes, you can get a nice pair of walking shoes so you are more comfortable; you can get a walking pole if you want to try so called Nordic Walking and yes, you can get a pedometer… the last one I would actually recommend if for nothing else it can provide you with interesting data about your walking habits.

Lately I have been using a 4×3 motion digital 3D pedometer from Ozeri. Truly it is an incredible tool. It measures my steps (after setting it to my stride), distance covered, time spent and 4x3 motion digital pedometer from Ozericalories burned (yes, you have to share your weight with it). This is not the first pedometer in our household but it is the first we feel that actually works and does the job it is supposed to do. And to make things easier you are not required to keep it on your hip / waist / belt at all times. It has a clever 3D sensor which works in any position, so attach the lanyard as provided and simply wear it around your neck. Great little tool if you like to keep the score of things.

So what do you think? Walking or running?

While you think about that I will share with you some non-health related walking facts.

Given that the world is about 25,000 miles in circumference and that the average walking rate is 3 miles per hour, it would take a person walking nonstop approximately 347 days to walk around the world.**

The average human walking speed is about 3.1 miles per hour, or 5.0 kilometres per hour.**

And, one more for you; this one is scary when you think about it…

It would take, on average, 1 hour and 43 minutes of walking to burn off a 540-calorie Big Mac.**

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I received an Ozeri pedometer for free for review purpose. All opinions are honest and my own.
Source:
http://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/5-ways-walking-is-better-than-running
https://www.thebmc.co.uk/six-surprising-scientific-facts-about-walking
http://www.fshn.hs.iastate.edu/nutritionclinic/handouts/WalkingFactsBenefits.pdf
*http://www.medicinenet.com/walking/article.htm#what_are_the_top_10_reasons_to_walk
**http://facts.randomhistory.com/walking-facts.html