Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Rotterdam, the night before

April 10, 2010

It seems it was only yesterday that I was running in Barcelona…. Now I’m in Rotterdam. I had chosen the Rotterdam marathon because it is a fast, flat course and thus ideal for my quest for a Boston qualifying time. As I got that in Barcelona, there’s no pressure to run particularly fast tomorrow. I’ll just take it as it comes and run at the pace I feel is a good one.

The Science of Sport blog, meanwhile, has an excellent article on the Rotterdam marathon, on how it is indeed a fast course, fast enough to rival the very big races like Berlin, Chicago or London.

The race starts quite late, at 11 am, so it will be good to lie in a bit.

Full race report to follow!

Posted by Xavier


Barcelona marathon….. Boston bound

March 9, 2010

Barcelona rather unexpectedly turns out to be on the road to Boston.

That’s a little cryptic so let me explain. I ran the Barcelona marathon on Sunday. A fine race, 12000 and more runners from all over the world: lots of runners from France, plenty from Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, South Africa, Greece, Japan, the United Kingdom…. And those are just the national groups I spotted. I think I caught sight of Stefaan Engels, the 365 marathon man, in the distance.

The route was quite scenic, taking us past the Sagrada Familia, for example. There were some hills lurking along the way too. Not necessarily very steep climbs but the sort of inclines that don’t feel like much at first but after a kilometer tend to sap both strength and morale. It was quite chilly too at first but as the morning wore on the temperature seemed about right.

As for me, I broke my record and managed to do it in 3:33 ! So that’s a qualifying time for Boston 2011. I had not expected to manage it on this occasion as I had rather intended to use Barcelona as a training run in preparation for Rotterdam. The Rotterdam marathon takes place in early April and is reputed to be a flat and smooth as a billiard table.

By the way, the expo in Barcelona was rather good and I could not resist buying a pair of Newton running shoes. I’ll write more about those another day when I’ve actually tried them on.

Posted by Xavier

Jon’s (Triathlon) Racing Blog

February 17, 2010

I just came across this new blog called “Jon’s Racing Blog” written by a triathlete, Jonathon Umlor.

Read the whole of the first post. It is rewarding to do so and will inspire you, I’m sure.

I hope Jon will continue with regular posts to keep us informed of his progress.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, no, I have really no intention of attempting a triathlon. I do admire triathletes but running is difficult enough for me…. As for swimming in dark, satanic waters, that is really not my idea of weekend fun. A duathlon, on the other hand …..

Posted by Xavier

365 marathons in 365 days!

January 4, 2010

No, no, no ! I’m not planning to do that at all. But it is what a Belgian ultra-mega-hyper endurance athlete called Stefaan Engels plans to do in 2010.

No kidding. 365 marathons in 365 days. He’s started already and finished four consecutive marathons since 1st January 2010. Have a look at his website – MarathonMan365 – which, alas, is only in Flemish. But you’ll get the gist ! Here’s a link to a short article in French.

If he keeps it up until 22 February he will have broken the current world record apparently. That stands at 52 marathons in 52 consecutive days in 2009 and is held by the Japanese runner Akinori Kusuda who was 65 years old when he accomplished that.

Stefaan Engels website’s subtitle “Feel Good Tour” seems a bit incongruous to me. I don’t think I’d feel too great after running marathons on four consecutive days in the cold which is currently gripping Belgium, especially with the prospect of 361 more and no days off.

Frankly, I’m a bit lost for words. Anyway, all the best, Stefaan !

Posted by Xavier.

(Not sure how to categorise this post given my reluctance to create a “nuts” category, so I’ll leave it as “uncategorized”, in the sense of “extraordinary”).

Sport’s science blog

November 30, 2009

I’m reading a very interesting book entitled “The Runner’s Body”. It is a sort of précis, for the general reader, of all manner of scientific research on the physiology of running. But more about the book later when I’ve finished it.

What I wanted to point out is the blog written by two of the authors of the book, Ross Tucker and Jonathan Dugas. It is an excellent and informative blog called “The Science of Sport” and it is full of “scientific comment and analysis of sporting performance”.

It is well worth reading !

Posted by Xavier

Breast Cancer Charity Run

November 22, 2009

I had expected a quiet post race season but that’s not the way it is turning out !

Yesterday, a group of us joined in a running and spinning event at the gym I go to in Brussels called Aspria to raise money for research into breast cancer cures and treatment. We booked a treadmill for eight hours but we were victims of our own success and ended up colonising other treadmills when a slot fell vacant.

It was a huge lot of fun : a guitarist, a drummer, a DJ and even a couple of dancers provided entertainment as we ran and span.

I don’t know how yet much money we all raised but the organisers seemed very pleased with how it was turning out.

As for the running part, I simply couldn’t stop and ran for five hours – two hours, followed by a break for an hour or so and then another block of three hours or near enough. I had never run for so long in a single day before. In truth, 24 hours later, I feel great today !

Posted by Xavier

Editors – cool running video

October 11, 2009

Have a look at this, it’s quite cool:

Fifty States Half Marathon Blog

September 27, 2009

Readers in the USA may be interested in the “Fifty States Half Marathon Club“.

Readers outside the USA may still be interested in looking at the Half Marathon Club blog as it contains a wealth of information and training tips.

Posted by Xavier

The Guardian, Running and Liberty (and J.S. Mill too)

May 22, 2009

Emma John, a journalist who writes for the British newspaper « The Guardian », avers in her recent article that runners are crazy or in her own words that they are «a bunch of recluses who enjoy the prolonged sensation of self-inflicted pain”. She probably meant the article to be a light-hearted critique of endurance sports and to bring back down to earth those who make all sorts of spiritual claims for participating in them.

The problem is that it isn’t particularly funny, or erudite or perceptive.

She simply does not get it. The basic points elude her. Runners, triathletes, mountaineers, cyclists do what they do because of two basic concepts : liberty and fun.

First, we can run because no-one, no government has prohibited it. That’s wonderful and to be cherished. Does Emma John realise Hezbollah does not really “approve” of the Beirut Marathon, for example ? That’s why a lot of runners participate in it, in order to celebrate the freedom to “just do it”.

Second, we run out of choice, not compulsion. We do it because we like it, because it is fun for us. Other people prefer to do other and life is enriched by the varied endeavours of individuals.

Emma John blames the fact they put Alan Sillitoe’s “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” on the English-lit reading list” for what she describes as “a golden age of machismo”. And she claims to have read Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”, gets the title wrong for a start (she calls it “What I Think About etc”) and thus completely misses the metaphor.

What Ms John needs to read – a sad omission from her reading list – is John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty”. If she had read that before pontificating, even in jest, she would have been a bit closer to getting it. But I can anticipate her response …. “Why bother reading a book by a dead Victorian?” she may ask. She’ll have to find the answer to that question herself because I’m going running.

UPDATE: There’s a good response by IanM on his blog here. He makes the additional point that many runners, himself included, run to raise money for charity. Good point. 

Posted by Xavier.

Antwerp 10 miles (post race syndrome)

May 13, 2009

I think that the two most exciting parts of a race are the starting point and the finish line. And those two parts make the whole race worth running and are remembered afterwards.

At the starting point there is this whole atmosphere of excitement, impatience to start, smiling and encouragement by the crowd. The same at the finish line, people encourage you in the last meters of the race, the other runners congratulate each other for their success and the whole thing is like a celebration!

These last days after the race in Antwerp and without having another race scheduled soon, I am not that consistent with my training and not motivated enough (or at least as much I was with the prospect of the race). This is why I think that the psycological factor plays a very important role for training. This is why I have to find a race to feel that I’m preparing for…

However, after Xavier’s latest post on Chi running, I’m getting motivated again to try some alternative training 🙂

Posted by Maria