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The lessons from a trail weekend in Spa

Sara and I went for a run this morning. My legs felt good. I can feel I’ve had a hard trail weekend in Spa, last week, but I don’t have any crazy pain in my muscles. Even better, they seemed to enjoy running. They felt better during the run, than when I stepped out of bed.

Being home again, I think it’s time to look at the lessons I can learn from this trail weekend in Spa.  

We have mountains just around the corner

We drove back in an hour and a half yesterday. That means we have mountains just around the corner. Okay, the Ardennes aren’t the Alps or the Dolomites, but I’ve done some nice uphill running. I mean Sunday’s trail run was 1.118 meters of altitude. That’s not bad. 

If I want to go to Amerongen, to run on the Amerongse Berg, it takes me one hour and 25 minutes to get there. When I ran the Amerongse Berg Trail I had 282 meters of altitude. So for running uphill it’s better to drive to Belgium

We went to Spa

Okay, this might not sound like a lesson, but it is for me. I told you many times I wanted to go to the Ardennes, but I hadn’t done it so far. There were always other things to do that felt like more important. This time I made time for myself, I set a date, organized it and went. I conquered my procrastination. 

I can run uphill

So far I thought I wasn’t any good at running uphill. The Houffa Trail, for the first time, gave me the idea that I am not so bad. This trail weekend in Spa makes me believe I can actually do it. I just have to run in the mountains more often. 

So I think some more trips to the Ardennes will follow. Not in the coming weeks. Now I’m totally focusing on my first ultra in Sussex, which will involve a lot of climbing as well.

Sara is getting good

Sara likes running in the hills. That’s the best thing. I told you all about it on Sunday. Even before I told you about my adventures. I am super proud of her. 

RELATED: Super Sara is ready to shine in Sussex

I totally understand that running downhill is scary. It’s learning to trust your shoes, learning how to distribute your weight, and getting comfortable with heights. Saturday Sara still was a little hesitant, Sunday she was flying downhill. 

I am super happy for her, but – I know this is egoistic – I am also happy for me. Now it’s easier to plan a trip to the Ardennes.

I am getting in shape

Only 18 days and I’ll be running my first ultra in Sussex. I think I am ready. As ready as I can be. The Run Forest Run Ommerland Trail made me doubt. That day I had heavy legs after 20 kilometers, and protesting legs after 25 kilometers. Yesterday my legs still felt fine at the end of my run, after 33 kilometers and those 1.118 meters of altitude. 

Okay, I felt them, but I think I could have easily done another 10 kilometers, before they would start to protest. That’s a good sign

After Ommerland I had the idea I just had a bad day and I knew I hadn’t slept well the nights before, because of my shoulder injury. I think yesterday confirms that idea, as Ommerland was only 2 weeks ago. I mean, I can’t have improved that much in 2 weeks. 

RELATED: The lessons from the Ommerland Trail

Running poles are nice

I ran – or better walked – with my running poles. I hadn’t used them since the Dolomites. It was nice to run with them. They do take some pressure off my legs. Maybe that’s why the climbing went a lot easier than expected. 

I used Salomon’s custom quiver. I’ll write a separate review for you about that. My trail run vest has options to put the poles away, but they involve all kinds of elastic bands, which means I have to think too much while running.

I love the ExtraTrail routes

ExtraTrail has created a whole network of running trails in the Ardennes. Sara and I ran the 5 kilometers together on Saturday, I did the 22k on my own on Sunday, after which we did the 10 kilometers together. All those 3 routes were very well signposted, which made it easy to run them. 

RELATED: Shake out run to loosen up the legs

I downloaded the GPS, from the ExtraTrail website, on my phone, just to be sure, but I only looked at it once. So a big thank you to the guys of ExtraTrail. 

Well, I think that’s it. Those are the lessons I’ve learned from our trail weekend in Spa. Now my focus goes on Sussex. I’m getting pretty nervous about that one.

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