“Our dogs are such natural adventurers - harness their enthusiasm for exploring and join them.”
Cornish trail runner Lara Trewin is a Canicross expert who loves running with her dog Tilly. Canicross originated as training for the dog sledding community and builds fitness, communication and trust with your four legged companion. Here Lara explains why she and Tilly love the sport so much.
Hey Lara - Tell everybody where you are based and what you do!
Hi, I’m Lara Trewin and I’m lucky enough to be based on the North Cornish coast. I’m a trail runner and enjoy the sport of Canicross with my GSP cross, Tilly, exploring the trails and coast in North Cornwall.
Tilly came here from Spain in 2017 to share my love of running and to live the life she deserved. She proved to be a complete natural at Canicross and is an extremely competent pack leader who takes her role very seriously - she has an exceptional work ethic. She also enjoys snuggles on the sofa in the evening - who doesn’t?
How long has the outdoors been part of your life?
The outdoors has played a huge part in my life. During childhood my family lived near the Forest of Dean and spent many weekends in the forest with friends. My father owned a boat and I have many happy memories of days on the water with him and woodland walks with our family dog Bramble.
What’s been your favourite trip or adventure?
My favourite adventure with Tilly was when we visited Yorkshire in May 2019. I had arranged to meet two friends who lived nearby to explore the Howgill Fells and to climb Pen-Y-Ghent. Both times Tilly accompanied me and we canicrossed both routes. Climbing Pen-Y-Ghent was tough but having Tilly in her Canicross kit really helped to get me up some of those steep inclines!! She always gives me so much assistance.
The Yorkshire Dales had been somewhere I’d wanted to visited for a long time and having Tilly to explore with made it so much more pleasurable. My husband is a road cyclist, so he took to the roads whilst I took to the trails!
Another great trip (minus Tilly) was to the European Canicross Championships in Belgium with my colleagues at DogFit. It was such a wonderful atmosphere, even though it rained continually all weekend; the dogs and human athletes were something else. It really cemented my love of the sport and showed what a team sport it really is. Dogs and humans working in unison towards a common goal, simply stunning to watch.
How do you find a balance between being active and life’s other responsibilities such as work and family?
I’m fortunate because I can combine being active with my work as a Certified Canicross Trainer (Let’s Go Canicross in Bude, North Cornwall) alongside my role as Social Media Manager for fitness and wellness brands too.
My work is extremely flexible and as creating content is part of what I do, the trails and being outdoors invariably inspire me. I Canicross up to 3-4 times a week during the season so I have plenty of opportunity to find content to talk about.
My family are also very active - my two teenage sons play football for local teams whilst my husband enjoys time in the saddle on his road bike at weekends.
Is there anyone who inspired your love of the outdoors?
My initial inspiration for running outdoors was a group of friends within my village. We were all mums of young babies and used to meet each other for a run around 6.30am, just to socialise and keep fit. That started to snowball as some of us took on ever increasing challenges - 5ks, 10ks then half marathons. That’s when I realised I was capable of much more than I imagined.
Do you find that spending time in the outdoors has a positive impact on your well being and mental health?
Being active outside has had a hugely positive impact on my wellbeing. I think my love of getting outdoors is the reason I am still married and have been able to raise two boys who are now decent young men!! It’s definitely my “happy place”, my therapy and the place that inspires me.
Can you tell us about Canicross?
Canicross originated in Europe as training for the dog sledding community during the off season months. It’s the safest way to enjoy running with your dog as you use equipment that allows you to run naturally and hands-free while enabling your dog to run comfortably and efficiently under your control.
I love the teamwork element. Tilly and I really do need to work together to get towards our goal, be that a trail marathon or a session with our Let’s Go Canicross groups.
It is not just running with your dog, it’s about the communication between you both, the bond you form and the trust you put into each other. Tilly has to listen to my commands, especially when we are in an event that we’ve not run before: she’s running out front, attached to me, so I need to trust that she knows what she needs to do at every turn.
Tilly has to know that my commands will get us to where we need to be. It’s a wonderful way for her to be mentally stimulated as well as physically. She really does work when she’s running in harness and takes her “job” very seriously.
When did you discover FINDRA?
I’ve followed FINDRA for a while now since Jo Moseley became a FINDRA ambassador. I’m not into throw-away fashion and love my activewear to do the job I need it to do.
I love the focus on good quality, high performance clothing. I spend a lot of my days in activewear so it’s an investment for me when buying key pieces that see me through several seasons.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Do what makes your heart sing – I took a bit of a leap of faith bringing Canicross to my part of North Cornwall. I hadn’t seen anyone running their dogs in harness here and no one knew about it, but I knew I wanted to give it a go. Following my passions always seems to be the right way for me to work now.
What motivational message would you share to inspire others to get outdoors more?
Our dogs are such natural adventurers - harness their enthusiasm for exploring and join them. The power of being in nature is vast and well documented, whether you are hiking or running, choose activities that feel right for you. Having your dog for company really makes those first steps achievable and much more motivational.
If you are nervous about getting out there or unsure which paths to choose, there are trainers like myself who can kit you out and share our knowledge with you to ensure your first experience of Canicross is a positive one.
The South West Coastal Path, especially the trails around Coombe Valley and Duckpool in the North of Cornwall.
Homemade Granola - my go to breakfast and snack. Oats, mixed nuts and seeds (brazils, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, pumpkin, chia, sunflower seeds), coconut flakes and desiccated coconut, cinnamon, honey, date syrup and coconut oil, all mixed together, baked in the oven and kept for topping with Greek yogurt and fresh berries.
Heart of Courage by Two Steps From Hell
It reminds me of challenges I’ve conquered and makes me feel very empowered. A real crescendo of force and strength.