A new running blog. A new trail running blog. Starting today, August 10. Maybe a weird day to start a new project, but I think today is as good as any other day. Maybe you are a Nike-fan, maybe not, but you have to admit their slogan is the best: Just do it!
That’s how this blog starts, that’s how my running life started. Or to be more precise my second running life. I have run before. Even finished two marathons. Both times the Rotterdam Marathon. Not in a fast time. Far from that.
The first time, in 1993, it took me more than 4,5 hours. Or better said; it took us more than 4,5 hours, as I was running together with my sister’s boyfriend (back then) and a couple of his friends. One guy started to struggle 15 kilometers into the race, so I think we walked more than we ran. I finished without a sweat.
The second marathon, in 1995, I ran with a friend. We wanted to dress up. After too much beer, we decided to run in lingerie. Lady’s lingerie to be precise. A company was so nice to sponsor us. I had a sexy silk top and stockings. Panther style. It looked great, but didn’t run great. Never dress in silk, during a hot marathon. Lesson learned.
You are young, you are stupid. Well, I was. But we had fun. The first 25 kilometers at least. After that I was completely overheated and it was hell. But I finished. Afterwards I was sick for almost a week. My whole hormone system was off.
I felt like I had to run the Rotterdam Marathon, because the race passed by my house.
Both times I felt like I had to run the Rotterdam Marathon. The race passed in front of my house and it is the happening of the year in Rotterdam. Well, that is, if Feyenoord doesn’t win the title. But that rarely happens. Sadly enough.
The first time I ran the marathon, I got injured two months before the race. Problems with my knee. The left one. I had to stop training. Two weeks before the race, I still couldn’t run, so I decided not to start.
Two days before the race I walked over to the pet shop around the corner when I was stopped by a French guy. He was trying to find his way to Ahoy, where he had to pick up his bib number. I am talking about 1993. There were no smartphones back then. People still got lost.
A French guy getting lost in my neighborhood, made me realize how big this race was. So I decided to pick up my number and just do it. Just start the race. If I could only run 10 kilometers, I would be 2 (metro) subway stops away from my house. 21 kilometers would mean 1 stop by tram. Thirty four kilometers would be the best moment to step out, as that would mean I would be straight in front of my door.
Maybe it was all the walking during the race, but my knee felt fine. It felt so good, I even left my friends behind after 25 kilometers to run the rest at my own pace. The last kilometer, with all the people on the famous Coolsingel cheering, I felt like I was flying.
21 years of injuries
Yet I stopped running a couple of years later. I had too. I have flat feet and fallen foot arches. Very flat and I started to struggle with tarsal tunnel syndrome. Which means as much as the posterior tibial nerve getting compressed as it travels through the tarsal tunnel, a little tube-ish thing in your ankle.
The pain and tingling that is the result of that, I can live with. The problem is the numbness. Often at night or in the morning I would step out of bed, but not feel my foot.
I went to several doctors, but mostly got stupid advise: ‘So you have pain running, why don’t you start cycling?’. ‘You are 35 years old, I think you have to learn to live with it’.
I get pain in my butt from cycling and if everybody should stop doing what they love when they are 35 years old, we will have a lot of cranky people in this world.
So, I kept trying. Every time my ankle felt fine, I would start, but within a week or three I had to stop again. And then, I found a doctor who actually knew what was going on with my ankle. He even operated on me. It solved the problem. For a few months. Then the numbness came back and I stopped running.
Just do it, again
So what changed?
Yoga and me moving back from Spain, where I used to live, to the Netherlands in 2021. To a house, next to a forest. It literally takes me 200 meters to be in the forest. First we started walking, then we started running a little, then I continued and Sara, my wife, guided me on the bike.
My ankles are holding on, as long as I don’t run too much on tarmac and I don’t run every day. Trails are fine. Mountain trails are the best. It’s the monotonous hammering of my feet on tarmac my ankles don’t like. Trails are soft. Uneven. The mountains are steep. When I run on a tarmac, every step is the same. When I run on trails, every step is different.
Yoga, especially all the balancing postures, has made my ankles stronger. I have a bit of an arch now and definitely more muscles in my feet. At the same time my feet and legs are more flexible and can handle the impact of running better.
Just do it, old man
I also got older. Wiser perhaps. I have taken the time to start my second running life in a proper way. What helped is that I studied loads of anatomy and physiology in the last couple of years. So much, I even started to teach it. Now I am studying everything there is to know on Sports Science, training methods and more.
I also took my running schedule into my own hands. No more schedules from books, magazines or made by others. I think a running schedule should be tailor made. And who knows my body better than I do?
And if I can start a second running life, being almost 50 years old (I will be October 2022), you can run as well. The only thing you have to do is Just do it!