In June, I did the Nacht Van Vlaanderen marathon in Torhout. Great race, with a long tradition, it was the 36th edition. Nacht van VlaanderenFor me, this was the first time I had to run in the dark (literally). Running in the dark, I found that quite challenging, mentally. First, there’s daylight and a great atmosphere: people having their BBQ in the garden and cheering, ec., but then, as it gets dark, you’re on your own.

So after this race, I started to train on that dimension. If I need to run at 10 PM or at 11 PM due to my schedule, so be it, then I consider this to be a good “running in the dark” session.

I enjoyed the Nacht Van Vlaanderen race a lot, everything went according to plan. It was the first time that I ran with such a small number of co-runners, and that’s perhaps not entirely my cup of tea, so afterwards I decided to switch to larger races again.  After the runs (there’s also a 100 km distance on the menu !), there’s always a big party in Torhout, but I skipped that one.

To get an idea about the atmosphere in Torhout & reports from the proud runners who finished the race, feel free to check out the following  Storify story: https://storify.com/peterdegroof/nacht-van-vlaanderen-nachtvanvlaanderen !sjampetterworsten 

As I am always keen on observing the food on offer (is it mainly healthy stuff, or not?), I have to report the “Sjampetterworsten” that were on offer ! 🙂

One of the things I learned over time: the importance of cross-training (cycling, swimming, etc.).

At first, I didn’t see the use of it. I enjoyed running, and I didn’t want to contaminate my great running experiences with other, let’s be honest about this, inferior types of sport.

Swimming: I found that really tiresome. If I swim across the lane 2 or 3 times in a row, I’m really exhausted.

Cycling: I didn’t have a decent bike, and I wasn’t keen on buying one.

Fitness: too boring for words.

Of course, cross-training has substantial benefits ! According to Runners World: Map TorhoutCross-training builds strength and flexibility in muscles that running doesn’t utilize. It prevents injury by correcting muscular imbalances. And the variety prevents boredom.” The principles is of course that you still train intensively: “When cross-training, keep your heart rate at or above 70 percent of your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age) most of the time. In other words, you should be working hard and sweating a lot”.

So, I wasn’t a big fan of cross-training.

Then I got in touch with the 1000km Event of Kom op tegen Kanker, which is a great event, it supports the fight against cancer, this year 3.485 particpants, and 598 teams managed to raise almost 3 million euro !

You can find out more on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/1000kmkotk/) or on Twitter (https://twitter.com/1000kmKOTK), and more than 7.000 supporters follow this on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/1000kmtegenkanker/?fref=ts).

Here’s a couple of Storifies:

1000km picsDay 1 – https://storify.com/peterdegroof/1000km-dag-1

Day 2 – https://storify.com/peterdegroof/1000-km-dag-2

Day 3 – https://storify.com/peterdegroof/dag3-1000km

Day 4 – https://storify.com/peterdegroof/dag-4-van-1000km-laatste-dag

So, in order to join in, I did buy a bike :-), and it was worth every euro of it !

One way or another, sports like cycling & running are a great way to express solidarity and to assert the battle we fight against cancer. In this respect, this is also a moving, must-read story : “Woman with terminal illness runs her last marathon“.

Mean to runIn recent years, I have come to appreciate the benefits of cross-training much more … Even swimming is now on the menu, from time to time.

No need to exaggerate, though ! 🙂 Swimming is still not my cup of tea.

But indeed, cross-training really increases your general fitness, without the risk to get injured, which is a sweet deal, for every runner.

It’s just not “the real thing” !

If you have any experience (good or bad) in cross-training, feel free to share ?

( Quote “Anybody can be a runner” : http://quotesgram.com/inspiring-quotes-for-track-runners )

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Peter De Groof

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