a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Boot Camp

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Boot Camp

SUMMARY: I've signed up to make myself really sore and tired.

I've been pondering a yoga class for years and never could bring myself to make the time or money for it. Don't know why; it seems like a really good idea. But what I think about, when watching videos of me running with my dogs, is that I look like I don't know how to run. And, when I'm loading my car, I'm thinking what a wimp I've become--my shoulders, arms, back, stomach--none of them work the way they used to.

A comment by one of the instructors at Power Paws Camp this spring got me going. She said that she always felt incompetent when running and handling her body (from a perennial nationals finalist--maybe we all feel that way!) and decided that "this problem, like many others, could be solved by throwing money at it," so she hired the local high school's soccer coach (or the equivalent) to give her lessons. I'd been on the verge of going over to the local high school, now that school has started, and asking for the soccer coach.

See, I did one season of track and field in high school, and the coach worked with us on how to run, how to start, how to move arms, shoulders, everything--but the details have fled my head. I'd love to relearn and to regain some body strength (I ended up doing shot put and discus rather than running).

Then, two weeks ago, an agility blogging online pal from New Jersey posted a message about doing an all-women's boot camp, and about feeling so good as a result. That hit fast and center.

But I had doubts. (1) Started at 5:30 in the morning. STARTED. Ha! Bad enough I have to get up that early for agility. (2) Five days a week. I have meetings in the mornings 1 or 2 days a week, plus with everything else going on, I don't have a lot of time. (3) Even if there was a San Jose-area location, it would probably be a lonnnng way from here, probably north, and I'd have to fight commute traffic, and wouldn't that make me just cheery in the morning? (4) 6-week sessions--I'd have to take a week off for Nationals at the end of the month, and don't want to pay for something I'm not going to use, and so might not be able to sign up until late fall sometime, and how off-putting is that?

So I went to bootcampfinder.com/. Lo, there's a San Jose location. And someone In The Great Upstairs just knew what I was thinking:
(1) For the first time, they're trying a 9:00 session.
(2) They don't always offer it, but this time they're offering a 3-days-a-week option.
(3) It's only 15 minutes from home, by surface streets or freeway.
(4) Most sessions are 6 weeks, but in October they're doing a 4-week session, which would finish the week before Nationals.

This particular Boot Camp was clearly meant for me and only me! How could I not sign up? So I did. I'm sure it'll be worth the money; less than the entry fees for 2 dogs for one weekend of agility, although I can't afford ongoing sessions.

I'm looking forward to it with both excitement and trepidation. The trepidation part is--my knee sucks. My back sucks. I can't do a single pushup worth beans. My cardiovascular system is a mess. Am I going to be able to do it without hurting myself more?

I met the instructor today. They have alternative exercises if anything aggravates my knee (or back or whatever). He's the right one to be the leader--his energy level matches Tika's! He bounced cheerily all over the place while taking my initial measurements and talking about the program. Funny thing; he has a 6-month old Mastiff, Bacchus, whose front paw is almost bigger than Tika's head! And Bacchus just lay on his side through the whole 20-minute meeting, dog-napping. Wagged his tail lazily and sniffed my fingers without lifting his head when I said hello. What an interesting match in energy levels! Instructor says that all of Bacchus' energy seems to be going into growing, so mostly he just sleeps. But he does attend all the Boot Camp classes.

They want me to have Running Shoes. Not sneakers, not cross trainers; Running Shoes. I think that my shoes are technically cross trainers. But, especially after paying for the Boot Camp, I can't afford another pair of shoes. We'll have to use what I've got.
So--Monday morning, 9:00. Oboy. But they have only 6 (!) signed up for the 9:30 session. Sounds iffy as to whether they'll offer it again. Who are all these people who can get out of bed in the middle of the night, 3 to 5 days a week, and exercise frantically for an hour at 5:30 in the morning??

If you're in the San Jose area, and feel like you want some exercise, sign up for the 9:00 session to encourage them!


  1. Oh stop whining already. You haven't even had to go yet. I can tell you definitively that I have not felt sore once. I have more energy than I did before all day long. I am actually trying to figure out what I am going to do during the hiatus week between sessions to maintain some continuity.

    Because you are worried about your knees you should walk rather than run the laps you are asked to do.

    And when you can afford to get running shoes, I've been wearing ASICS 2120's and they've been good.

    I do wear my goretex Vasque Velocities when it is wet.

    You'll love it. I'll be thinking of you at noon on Monday (EST).


  2. Oh--Whining. Their rules say that if they catch you whining, you have to do 20 pushups. Since that could take me 6 weeks, I'd better get in practice not whining!

    I'll see what I can do in the running stages. After all, I run when I'm doing agility with my dogs, so it's not a bad plan to do some. I'm practicing checking my heart rate, too. :-)


  3. If you're doing any significant amount of running as part of this program you really might want to consider running shoes, esp. since you've got a bad knee. Old worn out shoes can lead to injury more easily than you'd think. A good running shoe store will have a treadmill with a camera to analyze your gait (this service is free) in a given pair of shoes. Everyone's feet/biomechanics are different and there are all different types of shoes for different biomechanics. However, if you're not doing a whole lot of running it might not be a big deal.

    I'm sure the trainer will work well within your physical issues and alter exercises as needed. These programs seem ideal for people just starting out.

    You can get a heart rate monitor pretty cheap these days-$20 or so for a basic model (Al's Gifts has the best deals). It's much easier than checking your pulse all the time.

    If you can be self-motivated you can probably do many of the exercises on your own once the session ends. There's also a DVD (http://tinyurl.com/3ygw3a) out on human agility training by a woman from my neck of the woods. She teaches proper running form for agility and other things. I've never taken her courses because of scheduling issues and I haven't seen the DVD but I know her and she seems pretty competent (how's that for an endorsement?). Something else to consider if you can't go to classes all the time.

  4. In the bootcamp I attend we do a lap in between sets of exercises. I am still walking my laps because it is still so damp in the morning my breathing is pretty bad (asthma). But that hasn't been a problem with the instructor and the others are happy because it gives them a few seconds more to recover while I catch up. I agree with Elayne that running shoes are must. You will probably run no more than 400 yards, but it is different than running for agility. I learned that very quickly.

    You will be fine!!!!!

  5. Hmmmm...now I'll HAVE to look into this! Found one in Indy, doggone it! I've been complaining that I'm totally out of breath at practice - running 8 full runs with two dogs in one hour just about kills me for the day. Hope you like it!

    BTW-That's really cool about the deaf dog in your club. Sure would like to see them run someday. We've been featuring deaf dogs on our Rescue Me blog all week. A couple are great agility candidates.

    Leslie (Johann's Mum)