The lessons from the Houffa Trail

My legs feel good. So it's time to make plans for the coming weeks. But before I do that, let’s look at the lessons from the Houffa Trail.

My legs feel good. Peter Hoevenaars just massaged them. That wasn’t too painful, which is a good sign. Good enough to make new plans for the coming weeks. But before I do that, let’s look at the lessons from the Houffa Trail.

RELATED: Houffa Trail; running in winter wonderland


My knee is almost fine

I didn’t struggle with my left knee yesterday. I think that’s the best news. I felt my knee a bit after 15 kilometers, but that feeling went away again. I wouldn’t say I’m totally fine, but I definitely can run again.

However, I think it’s wise to keep taking care of my Sartorius muscle, by massaging it in the evening and taping it for every run. I did that for this run and it helped.


My strength training is paying off

My ankles are fine. I’ve been doing a lot of foot mobility and strength training in the last couple of weeks. I think it’s working. The Houffa trail was slippery with all the snow, my feet weren’t always landing the way they should, yet I have no reaction at all.

RELATED: When will I trust my ankles again?

I ran on my Brooks Caldera 6. I think that’s definitely an option for the longer runs to come. Maybe it’s even wise to buy a second pair, as they really fit nicely.

Although on the down hills my toes were still hitting the front of my shoes. I’m not sure if a size bigger would prevent that. If so, it would mean I have to have a size 48 (US 13.5). That sounds crazy.


Focus on altitude

Yesterday I ran, or more walked, almost 800 meters uphill. Only when I ran up Mount Conero I did more meters of altitude. However my legs feel good today. Although when I walk up the stairs, I do feel my quadriceps and my butt. I think it’s wise to use March, April and May to do lots of altitude training.

RELATED: The difference between Dutch trail running and running abroad

I mean, I’ve been doing pretty good lately. In December Sara and I ran in Maastricht and we did the Eindejaarstrail. Both of them had some altitude. Okay, maybe only around 150 meters, but that’s better than the runs we do here, which have no altitude at all. Plus, in November we did the Alfa Bear Trail. That one had 560 meters of altitude.

However, more is always better. So from March on, it’s mountain time.


Ready for the marathon

Why from March on? Because I have one more mission to do. Run a mid-winter marathon. I had planned it for these days, but because of my knee injury I postponed it. Yesterday was kind of a test for my knee. I think I’ve passed the test, so I can look for a marathon now.

RELATED: My left knee is not happy

I know, yesterday was only 23 kilometers, but I was running and walking 3 hours and 15 minutes, because of the almost 800 meters of altitude. If I can find a trail marathon that doesn’t have so much altitude, I should be able to run it as well.


Work on upper body strength

The focus so far has been on my feet. I know I have to work on leg strength as well, but I can’t do it all at once. I mean, my body has to get used to doing more training. I’m 50 years old. I should do things gradually.

RELATED: Training is damaging your body and that’s good

I think my feet are pretty essential, as they were the weak link in my first running life. That’s why I have been strengthening them. Now it’s time to build mountain legs, and work on my upper body.

Sara and I have been pretty good in building core strength the last couple of weeks. I think I should work a bit more on my shoulders. Partly, because my right shoulder is still injured, partly because I do feel my shoulders during the run.

As trail runners we carry a lot with us. Not just 1,5 liters of water and energy bars, but also a waterproof jacket, survival blanket, dry shirt, a phone and so on. The longer the distance, the more it starts to weigh on you, so a pair of strong shoulders are handy.


Train with poles

I didn’t bring my running poles with me. Well, I forgot them at home to be honest. I discovered it when I arrived Saturday in Bastogne. I’m not sure if I would have used them yesterday. On some steep parts it could have been handy, but I was doing fine without them.

Yet, for the Dolomiti Extreme Trail, my big goal this year, I think they are handy, so I should start training with them.

RELATED: I need a running goal

I think that’s it. Those are my lessons from the Houffa Trail. Now it’s time for Sara. She’s home again, so I hope you’ll excuse me.

Photo Sportograf

Today's training

Yin Yoga for Runners
40 minutes

Morning Meditation
15 minutes

Core Strength - OMG Abs
10 minutes


John Kraijenbrink

The Running Dutchman

I run. Trails mostly. I am Dutch. That makes me The Running Dutchman.

I am also a massage therapist, yogi, sports science nerd, and journalist/writer. Everything I learn and research about trail running, I share here, on this website, with you.

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