10 marathons, 10 mistakes – number 1

LondonBetween 2011 and 2015, I finished 9 marathons, and I am now preparing for number 10. So this is a good moment to look back … and be amazed.

It is amazing how many mistakes one single runner was able to make in such a short period of time.

I hope I learned a couple of things from it, and I am happy to share the mistakes, and what I learned from them.

#Mistake nr 1 : “Trying it on your own”

Trying it on my own was not the smartest idea, to say the least. Before 2011, I wanted to run a marathon, and I really wanted it. But time and again, I started the preparation, full of hope, all by myself, full of ambition, and also, full of theoretical knowledge, gathered from reading articles, magazines, books, etc.

Time and again, I got injured. When training, I went too fast (without realizing this) AND at the same time I increased my distances in such a way that I was – literally – begging for injuries.

Not so smart. At a certain point in time, I gave up. I decided that running a marathon was never going to work out for me. Then I got inspired by Karel Bakkes. Very straightforward, he told me during a Dinner in The Hague (I will never forget this !) : Peter, if this is your dream, then go for it ! And I was told: of course you can do it ! If this is your dream, you will make it happen. Very inspiring. Great to hear from someone else that all of this was going to work out … Even when I was not convinced, at all.

In all honesty : without Karel, this story would be a very short one.

I started running again, that very same evening after dinner. And I realized that I needed to change a couple of things. This time, I was not going to do this on my own.  Annick De Ridder advised me to join MMC, or Manager Marathon Club, and so I did. MMC is a great running club, full of motivated, inspiring, and experienced marathon runners. Their Founder, Wilfried Silon, and their Coach, Tomas Valcke, explained some of the basics to me. Among others, I had to start running with a heart-rate monitor.

I knew that, of course. Because I had been reading this over & over again, but I had never gotten to the point where I actually started using it.  When I did it, I could see immediately that I had to train at a much slower pace.

And I got a great training schedule. Foto Marathon LondonSometimes a fast or intensive running session (interval, hill training, etc.), sometimes a long run (but NEVER fast and long runs !), and to my surprise : on many days, no running at all.

Again, I knew the theory behind this, but only after joining MMC I started to understand the stupidity of training too long and too fast with no rest.

Of course, even with the heart-rate monitoring and the great training schedule, I got injured again. But this time, I got great advise, I got a lot of support from co-runners, and I went to see a Doctor (a marathon runner himself), all of which helped me through the injuries. London - splits

As for the “happy ending” … : I finished the London Marathon in 2011 within 4 hrs 04 mins, going steady until 30 km (at +- 5:30 mins/km), and then my speed went down rapidly, ending the marathon at 6:49 mins/km.

I learned so much from this experience. First and foremost, I learned that I shouldn’t have tried this my own, for so long. That getting great guidance, motivational coaching, sound medical check-ups, etc. are – by far – the biggest “gifts” you can reward yourself with.

And I knew this immediately : more marathons (& many more mistakes …) were going to follow !


Peter De Groof