Skip to main content

First you run rock hard, then you run rock hard with your head against the wall. Or the reverse order. It’s all part of the journey. We asked the counselors at Runners’ lab not “if” they ever experienced such moments. Well how they experienced them. Read along.

“Every setback is a set up for a comeback.”

Niels – “Like the course of the Crêtes de Spa, my story has highs and lows.”

“I had already run two marathons and wanted to try something different. The Crêtes de Spa 21km is a race that excisted for a long time and seemed like a fun one to get a taste of trail running. I live in the flat area of Deinze, so my weekday workouts included little or no altimeters. I wasn ‘t specifically training for it either , because ’21 kilometers isn’t so bad when you’ve run marathons.'”

“I would quickly swallow that statement during the game. Immediately it was brisk climbing and walking soon became hiking. I felt it would be a long trek. Traditionally, the race is concluded by riders on horseback staying in the back to give quitters directions. The horsemen of the Apocalypse, as it were. The moment I felt the horses’ hot breath on my neck, the urge to give up overtook me for a moment. Fortunately, the realization came quickly that I would regret giving up. I found some power in my legs to accelerate and leave the horses behind me. My wife and son were waiting for me at the finish line. The first thing I said was, “I’m broken. Next year I will come back.'”

371 days later and a lot of specific training richer, I was at the start line focused but nervous. I saw those f*cking horses standing there and told myself I wouldn’t see them again. The first ramp went smoothly. The confidence was back. I enjoyed the scenery and my accomplishment. At the finish line, two things were not to be seen: fatigue and my family. I got to the finish line much faster than expected which meant they weren’t ready. Sometimes you have to run headfirst into the wall – or a horse – to overcome yourself.”

Stefanie – “You live on a cloud, but it doesn’t last.”

“During my preparation for the Venice marathon, I ran the half marathon in Kuurne. I ran to 1h20. I never thought I could do this, even though the past few months went perfectly and I worked hard for it.”

“On the day of my marathon , the feeling was right, the spirit was there and the atmosphere was great. I finished in 2h56’42 which put me first in the F40. I was living on a cloud. Even in the weeks afterward, I couldn’t get off my cloud.”

After that, history repeated itself and I experienced a huge setback. “Why do I still need to run? It was a question that came up regularly because I had reached my goal. One excuse after another followed.”

Meanwhile, four months have passed and the desire to run and finish races has increased again. What helped me? I paired running with lunch with my friends, I sought out other challenges such as trail running or an indoor race, running in nature also always made me realize a little bit more about why I was doing it, and finally, I also put myself out there every once in a while. A new running shoe or outfit, you’d start running for less. Know that it really is okay to say ‘foert’ once in a while, without feeling guilty about it.”

Karine – “If running fast is no longer possible, then perhaps running further”

“After a period of very intense running, I got bad news. My knees could no longer handle the intensive running. Cartilage transplants followed on both sides. Deeper into the dumps, a runner cannot get. But blood creeps where it cannot go. If “running fast” is no longer possible, then maybe run a little farther. Thus, after several ailing years, the idea of trying a half marathon came to mind. Just for fun.”

“When I was able to run 10 kilometers smoothly again, I quietly set up a schedule for the half marathon. It was going well. My knees were OK with three to four workouts a week. Because wanting is one thing, being able to is another. The body remains in charge.”

“I deliberately kept it very quiet. Not too fast long endurance runs. Only in early January did I expand to max 1h45. Everything was going well until I started having back problems in early February . In mid-February, I was on the sidelines again for a few days. To make it complete, the week of the race I woke up with a cold. The doubt then began toset in completely. And then the weather forecast on race day was yet to come…”

“With the wind at our backs and the positive influence of a healthy dose of stress, the first few kilometers flew by. Meanwhile, my cycling buddy Ria carefully watched over my pace. She contained me as I accelerated, because everything went so smoothly. Until after mile twelve…

“From there it was constant headwinds. The pace gradually went down and by mile nineteen I knew what hell looked like. The barrel was empty and cheers flew away with the wind. A well-meaning “it’s only one more kilometer” pissed me off. The last kilometer I ran solely on willpower. For a moment, the Roparun idea came to mind: Running for people who can’t do it themselves. And there it was, the arrival arch. No final sprint like before, just enjoying what I had done. The doubt beforehand was great, the satisfaction all the greater. It was twelve kilometers of flying, seven surviving and two dying, but my rickety body made me have a nice adventure.”

Highs and lows, it’s all part of being an athlete. So you are definitely not alone.