Archive for March, 2009


March 29, 2009

I had the suspicion from the beginning that Xavier would be the one writing about the joys of running on this blog and I would write about the trials. And this post comes to confirm this. So, today I’ll tell you about the problems that I had (and still have) to deal with since I started running.

Problem no 1: Black nails on my toes: Yes, it is disgusting indeed but the nails of my big toes are black since I started running longer distances. And the worse part was that they were very sore for a couple of days after the run. My running shoes were one size bigger than my normal shoe size but still I was told that they were two tight because the foot sets out when you run, and especially when you run more than 40 min it sets out even more. The whole thing became more serious for me when I was told that I’m risking to lose my nails. So, I went for a new pair of running shoes which are the same size as the old ones but they are a bit larger in the front. The nails are still black but I have not felt any soreness since.

To be continued with problem no 2

Posted by Maria


The Benefit of Training

March 28, 2009

The other day I saw the tangible result that careful training has yielded.

At the start of the year, I would run slowly for 50 minutes to an hour on a treadmill once a week as part of my weekly training routine. My first such sessions were run at a speed of 8.5 km/h with a gradient of 1%. At that speed and with that incline, I could run at roughly 70-73% of my maximum heart rate.

Last week – after three months of training – I ran at 9.2 km/h with a gradient of 1%. But my heart rate barely reached 70% of its maximum. 

Posted by Xavier

Last of the Long Runs

March 22, 2009

I ran my last long run before the Paris marathon on 5 April. Because I learned my lesson about rest, my intention is to reduce the weekly distance quite a lot between now and the race. 

So, 30 kms it was tonight. Running at a pace no faster than 70% of my maximum heart rate. I feel quite fresh afterwards. 

I have done four runs of about 28-30 kms, with plenty of runs of about 20 kms and two half marathons since the start of 2009. Yet, you never feel it is quite enough !

Whether it is enough or not does not matter now. Getting rest does matter.

Posted by Xavier


March 20, 2009

Treadmill it is! This is the solution to my problem with the lack of places to run in Athens. After several efforts in vain to find a place to run outdoors which would be pleasant and convenient at the same time, I decided to subscribe to a gym and run on the treadmill during the week.

Ok, I have to admit that it is definately not the most exciting run ever. But it is not that bad after all: you can actually go running whenever irrespective of the weather, it’s good for doing intervals (and Xavier has already stressed their importance for a good and complete training) and training there during the week helps you maintain the long distance that you run during the weekend, as Jeff Galloway stresses.

However, in any case, a long distance outdoors seems to be necessary once a week. Mine will be this Sunday…

Posted by Maria

The Importance of Rest

March 19, 2009

Running half marathon races on two consecutive Sundays taught me a valuable lesson. It is the importance of rest. 

I felt fresh and fast in Paris. Then I did three training sessions during the week. While I ran the next half marathon at Silverstone on the following Sunday at a fast pace (for me), I did not feel I had any margin of speed or strength left in me. I did not feel bad or uncomfortable, I just felt I had reached top speed. 

The moral of the story is that rest is important. So from now until the Paris marathon on 5th April, it will be case of tapering down, as they call it in the running books, and early nights. 

With that, I bid you all good night!

Posted by Xavier

Silverstone Half Marathon

March 16, 2009

Another successful run on Sunday. This time it was the Silverstone Half Marathon in England. It took place on the motor racing circuit.

The organisation – by those who organise the London Marathon which takes place on 26th April (no, I couldn’t get a race number) – was excellent and the weather was just right. Rather like Maria in Greece, I needed sun cream. Well, almost…

I did it in 1h40 and a few seconds, pretty much at the same pace as the Paris Half Marathon last week. 

If you are looking for an early season half marathon in England, I’d recommend the Silverstone race. Next year it will be held  on 14th March 2010.  

Posted by Xavier

Sick, and tired…

March 14, 2009

Here  I am, back from a short and slow run of 38 minutes (not in Athens). Since my arrival in Greece a week ago a cold or a virus is torturing me. Nothing serious, not even temperature, but still it is such a burden on the body… I decided to run today thinking that I am better but I started feeling tired after the first 10 minutes. I managed to continue but my heart beat rate was so much higher than usually (at least 7% higher) and my pace was getting slower and slower. Exactly the same  thing had happened in Brussels some months ago after a light flu. So, I’ll blame the sickness for my poor performance today.

What definately was my fault, was not putting on sun block. At nine o’clock in the morning, the sun was burning! And we’re still in the beginning of spring…

Posted by Maria

Fast but not Furious

March 12, 2009

It is really difficult to account for ! I just can’t work out why I was able to run last Sunday so much faster than I usually do. As I wrote, I managed to break through the 12km/h barrier.

Perhaps I managed it because I was towed along by two fast pals. Yet that would not account for feeling so good and comfortable at the faster pace.

Perhaps it is the interval training I have been doing. I don’t like intervals so I’m not very rigourous and disciplined. What I have been doing though are some “Billat” intervals. That is a type of interval training session invented by a French researcher called Véronique Billat. If you “google” her name, you’ll find lots and lots of things about her and her research. I brief, her training scheme involves short, fast intervals with short recovery: 30 seconds fast, 30 seconds recovery jog, for example, or 1 minute/1 minute. 

For a better, more precise idea, have a look at this web page. This page provides a briefer explanation. 

Time to go now and prepare for the trip to England for the Silverstone Half Marathon.

Posted by Xavier.

From Brussels to Athens

March 10, 2009

Let me first congratulate Xavier on his personal victory. He definately “νενίκηκε” (or nenikike)! Great start of the season!  As for me, this period coincides with my moving back from Brussels to Athens.

I started running last October in Brussels for the first time. Yes, I certainly am a beginner. I cannot tell exactly when I started since I was sure that I would abondon very soon. Running had never been my thing and I always considered myself as the person with the lowest resistence ever. However once you start, then it feels so good, that it is so difficult to stop. It’s like a drug, as a friend of mine says. And my progress, I dare say, has been quite remarkable for my standards. Tell you more some other time.

Now the problem is that Athen is the most running unfriendly city I have visited. No big parks (not even small ones), no pedestrian streets, very narrow sidewalks… Once I figure something out, I’ll let you know.

Posted by Maria

Start of the Season: Paris Half Marathon

March 9, 2009

The running season started with a bang on Sunday. It was the Paris Half Marathon. 

What a terrific race: 22000 runners, a more or less flat course through the east of Paris and excellent organisation. Each runner had to give an estimate of his or her time and was allocated a place in the appropriate starting box according to the estimated time. 

I ran with two pals who were fast. Somehow I kept up with them and managed to complete the course in 1h39 mins. That is the first time I’ve broken through the 12 km/h barrier. What’s more, I felt fine all along.

I’ll see if I can do as well at Silverstone next week!

Posted by Xavier.