Photo: Essi Rahikainen
Ira Mikkanen is a 26-year-old agility enthusiast, competitor and coach from Mikkeli in Finland. Dogs and agility became a part of her life when she was only 9 years old. Ira felt agility was her thing right from the beginning and what an amazing journey it has already been.
At the moment, Ira competes in class 3 with her 8-year-old dog Carma and 3-year-old dog Iva. She has represented Finland in European Open during 2016 – 2019 reaching amazing 10th place in 2016.
Ira focuses on individual skills instead of trial practice.
Ira is known both for her skillful dogs as well as her physical handling style. Now it’s Ira’s turn to talk about her experiences in the Speed Up All Stars online training program, which didn’t go entirely to plan. She did, however, get amazing results with hard work and dedication!
For me agility is a sport. The better shape I’m in, the better I perform.
“Agility is such an amazing sport because it can be done in so many ways by people with different goals. I have always enjoyed sport, but agility is what really gave me the push to keep fit. For me agility is a sport, in which I want to be present physically. When I’m in good shape and feeling energetic, I believe I can do better and I enjoy myself more on the course. Agility is my motivation and gets me to the gym and out for a run,” says Ira.
How did the exercises in All Stars make you feel?
“Before the course, I felt like my fitness training was lacking precision and clear objectives. When the course began, it was amazing to get a complete training program. Knowing what to do and why, made it so much easier to get out and train, “ says Ira.
To say that I was always full of energy to train, would be a lie
“Usually I felt good about training. To say that I was always full of energy and enthusiasm to train, would be a lie. There were times when I would have wanted to stay on the couch. Fitting training into my busy schedule wasn’t always easy either. I follow my emotions, and when I’m down I don’t feel like doing anything. However, if I have planned on doing something, I do it despite being busy” Ira sums up.
Injuries made training more difficult
“Both my own and my other dog’s injuries made training more difficult. My knee pains have made this year difficult and have affected training. Despite my knee being examined thoroughly, even by MRI, no visible causes have been found. Knee pains restrict training and on painful days, training sessions need to be modified,” says Ira.
You can’t always do everything, and yet nothing will go wrong
“My dog Iva was also injured twice this season and rehabilitating her has worn me out both physically and mentally. As a person who follows her emotions, setbacks affect me greatly. Falling behind in the training program was, of course, stressful, but it has been important for me to learn that even though I cannot always do everything, nothing will go wrong!” ponders Ira.
Ira’s amazing results after the program
Looking at the numbers, my results are good, but I wish I had been able to train more efficiently throughout the training program.
Ira’s progress in numbers:
Push-up – 33 > 40
Squat – 50 > 56
Back extension – 73 > 76
Line drill – 28,4s > 26,2s
Spurt – 3,53s > 3,30s
Forward Leap – 1,6m > 1,6m (knee pains prevented me from training this and mid-course I stopped doing this move altogether)
Ira’s tips for the tests and training
“Don’t run on natural grass with trainers! It’s slippery. Attempt to do kick off, midway and final tests in the same place with the same shoes. So choose a good surface to begin with.”
Co-operation with Ira continues
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to co-operate with Speed Up Agility and everything has gone well. I have been supported when I have needed it. The course platform and web page have functioned well and are easy to use. I believe that the next courses will support my next goals and I can’t wait to get into those exercises. I still want to develop my running technique and speed, ” says Ira.
It has been my pleasure to be able to support Ira on her journey. I hope from the bottom of my heart, that this amazing team has a better and injury-free next season.
All the best,
You can also get into top condition! With the Speed Up way membership, you receive complete training programs and lots of other cool stuff. Check it out here.