Archive for April, 2009

Antwerp 10 miles (part 1/mind games)

April 28, 2009

I cannot believe it even myself but I participated in the first race of my life on Sunday. It took place in Antwerp, Belgium and it was 10 miles (or 16 km). The whole experience was so intense for a new runner like me that I cannot decide from where I would like to start my narration.

It was the first time that I ran such a long distance. I cannot really make up my mind if that was good or bad. Immediately after the race I thought that it was bad because I did not have any idea of the lenght of the distance and that I could not “see the end” in my mind. Now I think that it was probably good because if I knew how long it was, I would not have participated in the first place.

And this gives me the opportunity to tell how much I consider running to be a mind game. The most important thing for me is to know/feel that I have to go somewhere, to reach a point. Having your mind set on an even finctionary finish line helps you so much to continue running. And an actual finish line in a race is the greatest incentive to keep you going! This, and my running mate!

to be continued…

Posted by Maria


Cross training, strength training

April 21, 2009

Maria’s latest post, “Obstacles…(part 2)“, gives me the opportunity to write about cross training and strength training. 

For me, running is just a part, albeit a big part, of getting and staying fit. As much as I enjoy it, I feel I need a bit more. And I’m certainly not a qualified coach or anything like that but my own experience is that without some other form of exercise, I don’t improve at running and I get little injuries such as pains in the knees. 

Maria was able to sort out her aching knee by doing some leg presses in the gym. Those exercises do strengthen the legs and having strong legs helps prevent knee injuries. If you don’t have access to a gym and the requisite machines, you can achieve pretty much the same result by doing squats.

Here are a couple of videos showing how to do squats properly. There’s this one  and also this one. Both are quite clear and worth watching.

If you want some suggestions for a more complete physical fitness programme, have a look at which has a lot of videos of different exercises, all charmingly explained.

Obstacles… (part 2)

April 16, 2009

It’s been a while since part 1 but anyway… Luckily, I am more consistent with training than with writing. However, today, I had a discussion with a friend and I realised that the second obstacle is very common. and that is… knees.

Some weeks ago, I had a terrible pain in my knee, not while running but afterwards. I felt that I could not rely on it (I mean the knee), especially when it was bent. The pain grew more and more intense and it was becoming worse when I was trying to go up and down the stairs. While I was getting too stressed out of it and I was thinking that I should give up running for a while, a friend told me that I should try to work out more the muscles above my knees. And that I should use the machine on which you add weight and then you push a board with your legs so that the weight is lifted when your legs are straight (and you repeat it quite many times).

The truth is that I did not research on it more because after having a couple of sessions (running and then… pushing), the pain went away! It felt like a miracle… Since then, whenever I run at the gym, I always use that machine afterwards. However, as I did no research on it and I did not ask for professional advice, I am not sure whether this… pushing thing could be considered as a panacea for every knee-pain.

Posted by Maria

Message in a Bottle

April 7, 2009

One of the nice details of the Paris Marathon is that your forename gets printed on your race bib. That way hundreds of adoring fans can scream your name as you rush past….in your dreams. 

Well, as I arrived at the finish, a gentleman name Jean pulled up next to me and started up a conversation. He was as fresh and bright as a mountain spring. He was 75 years of age, loved marathon running and hoped to make it to the New York marathon in November. A real character and a very engaging personality. He was clearly as excited at the prospect of running in New York as he was to have finished Paris in four hours. 

Encounters with people like Jean make the whole enterprise of running a big race an especial joy. 

I don’t know whether  you’ll ever read this, Jean,  but I’ll be thinking of you in November and during every big race I run until I’m 75. 

Posted by Xavier

Paris Marathon

April 6, 2009

The Paris Marathon took place yesterday.

What a wonderful race!

It must surely be one of the most scenic marathons in the world. Can you imagine what it is like to see the Champs Elysées taken over by tens of thousands of runners on a bright, sunny Sunday morning ? The crowds were impressive, the organisation excellent, the course fast and beautiful. What more could anyone want ?

Well, I would have liked to be without a cold, without a cough and without a head that seemed as if it wanted to implode or explode. Frankly, I felt dreadful. In fact I thought about not showing up at the start all through an almost sleepless night. 

On Sunday morning I got up, felt relatively stable on my legs and made my way to the start. The atmosphere was infectious – in the good sense – so I ran. And ran. And ran. Coughing and wheezing as I went along, but running, ever forwards. 

Four hours and five seconds later I crossed the finishing line. I simply could go no faster. How many times did I consider giving up ? Too many to count. I’m so glad I persisted because, as I said at the beginning, what a wonderful race !

Be warned. The books advise strongly against running with a cold. So, as the say on TV: “Don’t try this at home.”

Posted by Xavier