Change Like a Long Distance Runner…

This weekend, I will run – weather permitting – the High Trail Vanoise, which is 70 kilometre across the mountains of Val d’Isere with two peaks well-above 3000 metres.

I am an avid runner. I have been since I was eight years old. However, for 15+ years I’ve had injuries – typical runner’s injuries. I’ve had knee problems; and I struggled with at times severe lower back problems. Since so many runners have these type of injuries I regarded these as normal signs of my increasing age and a bit more dramatic of my mortality 🙂

Two years ago – at age 49 – I asked myself the question: Am I running the right, proper way?

The data and science available gave an unequivocal answer: “no”!

I decided to use my profession as strategy and change advisor… on myself!

Any change needs to address where it is we are changing towards. Quite often we might know what we do not want, what we are fighting against (injuries). For change to happen, however, we need to know what we are for, what we are changing towards.

Here’s what I wrote at the time:
“I want running to become an integral – injury free – part of my life in such a way that 3 years from now I can finish an ultra trail marathon without wrecking myself”.

This was my strategy:
I (slowly) changed towards forefoot running as I was an avid heel-striker. This – and my wonderful osteopath Yves – cured my lower back problems;
I started adding strength training like planking, 100 push-up per day challenge (with the family:-), jumping rope, weight vest hiking/running to strengthen my core;
I changed my eating habits towards more whole foods, healthy fats, and low carbs (no artificial sugars, etc) to facilitate fat-burning;
I started with low (maximum aerobic) heart-rate training – in my case maximum 135 beats per minute – enabling me to run for hours without any muscle problems or bonking;
I slowly and consistently increased distance and altitude metres and planned trail races of marathon distance after 1 year, double marathon distance after 2 years, and – ultimately – a 100 miler ultra race after x years.

Last year I ran my first 30+K trail race in the mountains of Combloux and six weeks later a full trail marathon with plenty of altitude meters.

This weekend, almost two years in, I will run – weather permitting – the High Trail Vanoise, which is 70 kilometre across the mountains of Val d’Isere with two peaks well-above 3000 metres.

In the past 14 weeks in order to prepare for this race I ran 1100 kilometres with 50 altitude kilometres with about 150 hours of mostly joyful running.

Change doesn’t come easy or automatic

“When I run, I feel His pleasure” — Eric Liddell, a Scottish Athlete who won the 400 metres at the Paris 1924 Olympics

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