Not so boring after all

Sometimes training can feel like ground hog day. Just another run around the same course you ran a gazillion times before. These days it can be especially hard. With the different types of corona lockdowns we have around the world, ground hog day is a common feeling. 

Today I ran the same course I did many times before.

It’s a small 3k path (with a 1.5K detour in the middle) designed for horses from the riding school nearby. It’s nothing much. It’s on sand (so at least I’m not running on the pavement). It has a total elevation of 1 meter or something. To be frank, it’s boring as hell!

Not today though…

Today I briefly had the experience of trail-running on that boring as hell round. It has been raining a bit after 6 weeks of drought. The gras and weeds and stinging nettles have exploded to life. The sand was a bit wet, the grass and weeds wore soaked. The horse path became a single track. I couldn’t see where my feet landed, so I needed to adjust constantly. My feet were wet after 1k. 

In short I HAD A BLAST!

Why I run…

Why I run

Of course I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t love running. I love the outdoors, the training, the sense of adventure when racing ultra’s. And after running for a lot of years, you could also say I’m an addict. I need the adrenaline, endorphins and everything else. But there are two reasons that are more fundamental to who I am as a person and why running helps.

Solving puzzles

When I start running, the first 30 minutes are juist about the running itself. My body needs to get into it, get into the flow. So in this first 30 minutes I’m watching my posture, looking at my cadence, making sure I’m breathing correctly. In these 30 minutes my body relaxes more and more and things start to go by themselves, no more need to concentrate on things. 

After those 30 minutes my mind wonders and I’m in puzzle solving mode. They are the day to day or work related things I want to solve. It can be an argument with the kids or Irma, it can be a problem at work, it can be an idea for a presentation, anything at all. My mind goes all sorts of ways, but in the end the puzzle is solved. I know what went wrong in the argument, I solved the problem at work, I have a good idea for the presentation, etc. and so on. My mind relaxes.

That almost zen mode of clear thinking doesn’t happen with me by just sitting in a chair, thinking about things. I need to be moving my body, preferably with an easy run for longer periods of time. I mentally get frustrated or better get mentally stuck when I don’t run.

I actually think I dream less when I run more. I process things during running so no need to process things while sleeping.

Tired

The second reason why I run is partly related to the first, but is a reason on its own as well. I have ADHD tendencies with an emphasis on the H. Although not officially diagnosed, Irma is a psychologists and we did a couple of tests. Let’s say I’m on the spectrum. 

One of my coping mechanisms is making sure my body had enough movement and therefore is tired. When my body is tired, I can relax more. I can sit still longer, my mind doesn’t race and I can be relaxed. I can actually sit really still instead of fidgeting with stuff (my hair, a pen, or whatever I can get a hold of).

Not running

…is not really an option, or better said, has some challenges for me. I have notices this especially in the last couple of weeks as I’ve been injured and now recovering. In this period I’ve biked, but that doesn’t give me the same satisfaction. And it has been a challenge even more now with the coronavirus and sitting indoors as much as possible. My coach (Danielle Snyder) really helped me get through this by the way.

Why do you run?

Here we go…

This is me:

  • Father (Fien & Bram)
  • Husband (Irma)
  • Freelancer (Clear&Done)
  • Runner

Nothing special, except for the fact that running is a bit different for me than for most people. I usually say:

I’m a runner, but a bit on the extreme side of running. I like to run distances over a marathon and preferably in the mountains… ultra trails.

People look at me like I’m crazy, and I probably am…

A Dutch guy running in the mountains is weird anyway. It’s the Netherlands. It is flat, really flat.

I’m a normal guy, trying to combine a full family life (priority 1) with a 32-40 hour workweek (priority 3) with a 5-6 day a week training and running schedule (priority 2). I’m trying to live as an athlete (living, working, training, eating vegan/vegetarian, repeat) without the full support a professional athlete has although I do have a wonderful coach Danielle Snyder.

In this (hopefully weekly) blog I’ll write about my challenges and my highlights, my questions and my answers to the complexity of this combination of priorities. I know there are more people like me, facing the same challenges. With this blog I hope we can combine our collective knowledge and experiences to help each other out. And I’m hoping for your input.

Me during the 80k Trail des Templiers 2018