Trail training in Viscri

I spent last week in Viscri for a project we’re doing with SPC Leuven. The main group was driving up and would arrive on Sunday evening but since there wasn’t enough space on the bus, my sister and me flew in to Bucharest on Saturday and toke the train to Rupea/Viscri.  

With a spare day before the rest of the group arrived, I strapped on my running shoes (first test for my new Ascics trail shoes) and headed out of a run. Weather-wise we had -5 degrees C in the morning and at night, but in the afternoon the sun was out in full force and it felt quiet warm.

I started off on the mountain-bike single track from Viscri to Meșendorf, which is about 16km one way. Since I only had a limited amount of water with me and I had to be back in time for dinner, the plan was to run for about 90 minutes and then turn back on myself and run the same route back.

Once I found the start of the trail, I was on my way. The first part of the run went quiet smooth, transitioning between forests, fields and meadows, up & down. I quickly put on the extra  jacket I had with me because in the shade on the forest and sweating, it got quiet chilly fast.  The combination of running and navigating the trail was a bit harder than I had expected and I did my fair share of walking, both on the climbs and on the flats.

After about 12km, I felt tired and really cold all of a sudden so that seemed like a good point to turn back and run head home. Turning back and knowing how long I had to go before I got home gave me a big mental boost and the rest of the run went great. On the way back I also passed 2 mountain-bike riders, the only 2 other people I saw on the trail the entire afternoon.

I reached ‘home‘ with 24km in the books, in 2:45:41. That’s 6:54/km, which is much slower than my road pace, but all in all, I’m quiet happy with it. This puts me on track for a sub 6-hour trail marathon and that’s what I had in mind beforehand.

Back in Belgium now, planning my training for the coming weeks and looking around for a trail half-marathon somewhere in early 2016.

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Transylvanian Bear Race

From Viscri to Sighisoara, 950m of elevation over a 42km course, through forests and fields. That’s the Transylvanian Bear Race.

The courses will take you through Europe’s last unspoiled wilderness, combining the unique cultural heritage and landscape of Transylvania. Runners follow a pre-marked course through ancient Saxon villages, virgin forest, a ruined castle, open pasture land, meadows and rural village pathways. This culminates in the infamous ascent of the Sighisoara citadel, a UNESCO world heritage site and the birth place of Vlad Dracul.

I was a little tempted to enter in the ultra marathon (which is 80km here), but something tells me that for my first trail race, a regular marathon is going to be tough enough.

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For now my training I will be running 2/3 times every week, 10 to 15km each for now. Building up the distance in the new year, I hope get a ‘practice’ marathon (yes, that sounds kinda weird) on the books somewhere in march/early april of 2016. Trail-wise I plan on going off-road at least once every 2 weeks right away and  also a couple of races in early 2016. I’m also going try and write more about my training, the scheduling, the gear, the ups & downs, etc… Stay tuned!

Fast times: what will it take to run the marathon in under two hours? | The Guardian

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The world’s best marathon runners are just 177 seconds from breaking the two-hour barrier: what will it take to get there (apart from drugs)?

Nobody finds the marathon easy – even professionals, especially professionals. The distance is democratic. It has become an event against which hordes of people – fat people, thin people, people crooked by time and people sprightly as foals, rich people and people in need – test themselves. There are now more than 500 marathons all over the world, and more competitors than at any time in the history of the sport.

Source: Fast times: what will it take to run the marathon in under two hours? | Sport | The Guardian

4 Lies You’ve Been Told About Kinesiotape | Breaking Muscle

My experience of sticking tape on thousands of patients, running hundreds of taping workshops for health professionals, and taping myself whenever I hurt, is that tape works. It does cool and surprising stuff to reduce pain and improve movement. But I also hear a whole load of nonsense, misinformation, and misconceptions about kinesiology tape and what it does.

Source: 4 Lies You’ve Been Told About Kinesiotape | Breaking Muscle

Bring back the boom

I’ve picked up running again over the past couple of weeks and I’m trying to get at least one 10km run in every week. I keep track of those on Strava, because I really like their service and the maps, segments and integration with Garmin. Strava regularly runs “challenges”, usually coupled to a t-shirt of other piece of apparel that you can buy when you complete the challenges.

Last week I saw Koen post about their latest running challenge: Run 70km in seven days, from November 17th to 23rd. Needless to saw I joined in. It’s going to take some planning but with a couple of longer runs I should be able to make it.

★ Köln Marathon 2013

As with most of my marathon plans the past couple of years, this one started on a whim and without any actual planning. I had run London in April and after that I just defaulted back to my regular Crossfit training, not doing any running and distance work at all.

I don’t really remember when we (Pieter and myself) entered Köln but I think it was somewhere in May or June. Fast forward to August, neither of us had done much running and Pieter decided to cancel the race due to a health issue. I still wasn’t sure if I’d go or not. It was after “our” badminton tournament in the second week of September (the 2013 Yonex Belgian International) that made up my mind, I was going to Köln. Booked a hotel and got a train ticket, no way back now. I ran 2 to 3 times during the following 2 weeks and things were looking good: no pain in my right knee (that’s what I was and still am afraid of the most), stamina and speed looking good. Time for a long(er) run.

With only 2 weeks to go, I mapped out a 24km route. The run itself went fairly good but I had forgotten to take water or food. Which is a bad idea when you’re going to run more than 20km. I hit “the wall” hard around 21km and struggled to get home from there. All in all, good time for that distance.
http://www.strava.com/activities/85657148/embed/9c91ae3571b7dad2bd7763044f28c174d4a2eb90

The weekend after that (October 6th, one week until the marathon) I ran the Brussels Half Marathon. I had run that race in 2012 as well and with all it’s uphill stretches, it’s a good race to see where you’re at fitness-wise.
http://www.strava.com/activities/87267754/embed/a738975d0738ddcffee8291e722a4e22934cb8e7

I finished in 1:46:01, about 5 minutes faster than the year before. I was feeling good about Köln and ever started dreaming of a sub-4-hour finish (which was my goal when I started training for my first marathon in 2011). But I’m the first one to reign in those expectations and got my feet back on the ground. Once you hit 30km, anything can happen (especially when you haven’t trained for it).

I left for Köln on friday evening, with the Thalys from Brussels-South. Arriving in Köln, rain was pouring down and it was pretty cold. I made my way to my hotel and settled in. On Saturday morning I headed to the Marathon Expo to pick up my number and timing chip. After that I walked around town, did some shopping and had lunch with my sister and mom (who were in Köln to cheer me on the next day but they came over a day early). I planned where I needed to be on sunday and when and then went to bed around 11pm.

Sunday morning, 7am, wide awake and it’s raining. Fuck. That’s not what you want on race day. I only had to leave by 10 so I snoozed for 30 minutes, took a shower and headed for breakfast. Then I packed my bags, checked out and I was on my way by 10am. I decided to go the starting area on foot and to not bother taking the train or tram. It was only a 25 minute walk and public transport would be way too crowed to go smoothly. By then it had stopped raining but it was still pretty cold and very windy. With about an hour to go before the start (which was at 11:30am), I wondered around a bit, got changed into my running clothes (which were long sleeves and long compression pants for the occasion, it was way to cold for shorts), handed in my bag and headed for the starting grid. I made it to the yellow starting group (3:50 – 4:00) with 10 minutes to spare before the start. It had stopped raining by now and the crowd was ready, as always you could feel the anticipation of the race in the air, everyone was ready to go.

20km into to the race and I was still on track, I may have started a bit too fast but all in all I was doing good. Around 26km, my calves started cramping up so I pulled up my tights to my knees to give my lower legs some breathing room. 30km came and went, my legs were hurting but nothing I hadn’t seen before. Best of all, my feet were still in pretty good shape (off course they were hurting but it wasn’t the giant blister pain I had in London). The last 5km were especially rough on the mental side. I knew the last 1,5km of the route but not really how we would get there, so every turn I expected to recognise a building or street that wasn’t the case. When we finally turned onto the shopping street I knew it was almost over and that I had it in the bag. 2 more turns and one stretch (that was longer than I expected it to be) to the finish line. My time? 3 hours and 49 minutes. Boom! My first marathon in under 4 hours!

http://www.strava.com/activities/88944851/embed/ae734b53cc2c46ead9ab123eabc6c5cb8ae347cb

I met up with my parents and sister in the baggage collection area, we had a quick dinner, got our bags at the hotel and drove back home. I was sore for a couple of days but best of all: 0 blisters. Ha!

Was next? Not sure yet. Maybe Paris in April 2014. We’ll see.