Qualifying for Boston….

December 14, 2009

I have a dream…. I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

That means, in the real, awake world, that I have to knock at least seven minutes of my best marathon time. The qualifying time for a male in my age group next year is 3 hours 35 minutes.

I suppose that is manageable with an appropriate training programme. I intend to use the FIRST programme which means three quality runs per week and lots of cross training such as cycling, spinning or swimming.

There are a number of blogs chronicling the path to Boston. Have a look at “No Meat Athlete” (there’s a lot about diet and nutrition thereor “On the Road to Boston” (more specifically focused on running).

Posted by Xavier


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

Athens Classic Marathon: End of Season

November 9, 2009

That’s it, the season’s over. It is sort of sad but it ends on a high note !

I ran the Athens Classic Marathon on Sunday. What a truly magnificent race it was too.

It starts in the town of Marathon and follows the same route as the one used for the 2004 Olympics. It also more or less follows the route taken by Pheidippides (or Phidippides, or again Philippides) when he ran from Marathon to Athens in 490 B.C. to announce the victory of the Greeks over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon.

The race ends in the magnificent Panathinaiko Stadium built in white marble for the first modern Olympics in 1896. That is also the place where remains of an ancient stadium used for the original Olympic Games in ancient Greece were excavated.

The course was quite hard. The start is near the sea and the finish in Athens is 110 m higher. In between are several long climbs, just to keep things interesting.

Tthe organisation was very good: plenty of buses to take runners from Athens to the start, refreshments and water every 2.5 kms. Dozens of cheerful, dedicated volunteers handed out bottles and provided encouragement. There was even a stand at the airport to greet runners and give them a free card for public transport during the weekend. Greek hospitality at its best !

And what a collection of runners too ! Russians, Americans, Canadians, Japanese, Colombians (in some flash kit printed in Greek and Spanish), Italians, Spanish, French, Belgians, British. Greeks of course. And those were just the amateurs !

My own race was something special. I loved every minute of it. What a pleasure to follow such an historic route! Above all, I met a young English runner, Duncan, who is in the armed forces, on the bus and we discovered we both wanted to run at about the same pace. So off we went together, keeping each other company the whole way. Running with someone like that makes a big difference and I would not have achieved another personal best with Duncan’s company.

The trip to Athens was also the opportunity to catch up with co-blogger Maria who ran the 5 km race that was organised at the same time.

Posted by Xavier

Final Countdown to Athens

November 2, 2009

It is the final countdown to the Athens Classic Marathon. It will take place on Sunday 8th and it will be the third and final marathon of my autumn season.

I’m really looking forward to it. I have to confess that I’m a little apprehensive about this flu business and an annoying ache in my heels. With a bit of luck, though ….

Posted by Xavier


Editors – cool running video

October 11, 2009

Have a look at this, it’s quite cool:

I did it !

October 10, 2009

I did it, I finally did it !

I went for an hour’s run on the treadmill in the gym (10 minutes warm up then 50 minutes at a gentle 9.5 km/h) and then, feeling hungry for more, I took my shoes off and ran for another 10 minutes.

It felt great. I noticed an immediate change of posture and a change in foot placement. When bare foot, heel strikes just don’t seem to happen and the natural tendency is to land on the middle of the foot.

The next day I noted no particular aches or unusual pain.

I did keep my socks on and the treadmill was really warm and pleasant underfoot. I’ll do it again next week for sure.

More Barefoot Running in the New York Times

October 5, 2009

Now the New York Times has an article on barefoot running. Looks like it is really catching on.

You can read it here.

I’ll just have to get hold of a pair of those weird looking Vibram Fivefinger shoes that I mentioned earlier.

Posted by Xavier

Brussels Marathon

October 4, 2009

Two down, one to go !

Just completed the Brussels Marathon in just under four hours (something like 3 hours 57 minutes, subject to confirmation of the chip time).

The weather conditions were perfect: a calm autumn day, nice and cool, dry with little wind. There seemed to be more runners than in previous years too. It is a tough course, however, with some quite tiring long hills. The winner managed it in 2 hours 15 minutes and that shows that the course is not a fast one.

I ran with a pal and we gossiped the whole way. We both decided to run carefully and not aim for a spectacular time because he’s doing Dublin in a couple of weeks and I’m running in Athens in a month’s time.

Posted by Xavier

Eve of the Brussels Marathon

October 3, 2009

Just getting my things in order for the Brussels Marathon tomorrow morning. The usual questions go through my mind: “Am I sufficiently prepared?”, “Will my knees be fine? And my achilles heals ?”, “Are my shoes OK ?”, “Will I remember to set the alarm clock?”

Two thoughts struck me as I queued to pick up my race number. First, the other runners looked so much fitter than I do. Second, I was surprised by the number of other races that were advertised: Barcelona, Rome, Luxembourg, Riga, Prague, Antwerp.

I suppose it is time to start planning the spring 2010 season ! Fortunately, with the Internet and relatively cheap flights it is possible to run in all sorts of exotic places now. During the Wolverhampton Marathon last month (not the most exotic of locations, I suppose) a fellow runner with whom I chatted described how difficult it was in the pre-Internet age to find out about and sign on for different races. Word of mouth and contacts made during races were so much more important back then, he said.

I wonder what the running-tourist trade is worth ?

Posted by Xavier