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First run rock hard, then 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.”

Stijn – “Never train as the athlete you want to become, train according to your own abilities.”

“Besides my job as a consultant in Zaventem, I do athletics at a professional amateur level. Last summer I improved my personal record in the 1500m. All the puzzle pieces then fell together. My preparation was flawless. No injuries or ailments, but weeks of good sleep, ideal conditions and stiff competition.”

“The nice thing about having a good day is that you feel it right away. Everything is easy and relaxed. You don’t remember anything about the race itself afterwards. You go to higher spheres, so to speak. At the finish line comes the release when the clock stops at a time you’ve never run before.”

“From my pink cloud, I started my winter preparation . Determined to run even more miles, train even faster paces. I had trained too much and too hard. With only a half-filled barrel of energy , I was at the start of my races, knowing full well that it was not going to be a shot in the arm. In terms of mental training, that could count.”

“My personal advice? Never train as the athlete you want to become in the future. Train according to your own body’s capabilities. And train consistently. The personal records will follow naturally.”

Katrien – “Nerves were running high after a disappointing European Championship, just then I put in my second-best performance.”

“In 2014 , the Olympic distance European Championship in triathlon was circled in red in my calendar. The year before , I had finished eighth at that championship. So I wasn’t going for less.”

“After the swim , I joined the second cycling group . In an effort to bridge the gap with the leading group, I took much of the work. Until, after 30 kilometers, we found ourselves in pouring rain . The combination of rain and cold meant it was shivering. So hard in fact that I couldn’t control my steering wheel. I let my group go. Descending at 60km/h was irresponsible at that point. In the end, I finished 19th, disappointed. I was bummed that the fitness was good, but the weather conditions threw a spanner in the works. On top of that, Sport Vlaanderen set a top 8 ranking as a condition for renewing my employment contract …”

“After the race, we immediately flew on to the hot Chicago for a World Cup stage. Nerves ran high after the disappointment of the European Championship. Fortunately, conditions were already much more favorable. I missed the big bike group after the swim, but I had such strong bike legs that I was unexpectedly able to connect . In the end I ran to 14th place, my second-best performance at the world level. At the end of the season, I even achieved two more podium finishes in two prestigious races. Fortunately, this did not go unnoticed by Sport Vlaanderen. My contract was extended one season!”

Sam – “Suddenly the motivation was gone, now I can set myself goals again”

“I’ve been doing athletics since I was six years old. I have loved running since childhood . But four years ago my motivation wassuddenly gone. Everything felt too heavy. It became a beginning of a long road with a lot of falling down and little getting up.”

“Those who have never felt it before, couldn’t really imagine what it is to have depression . You feel so empty. You know what to do, but it just doesn’t work. Thoughts overflow and you fall into a kind of tunnel vision where everything is against you.”

“We are several years down the road now, but every week I have to keep working on myself. I did return to running with some regularity . I even dared to set myself goals again. If all continues to go well, I hope to run the Antwerp 10 Miles. Finally, I get happy running again. And especially from running in a different environment. Preferably still in nature where I can spot animals along the way. I’m not thinking about peak performance or bang times. Just running at ease and enjoying the moment.”

Lotte – “Not my dream marathon, but I did it.”

“In 2018 , I would run my third marathon in Berlin . By now I knew what to expect. Thanks to my good preparation, I was all set. Nothing I left to chance. In training, I had extensively tested my nutrition so I knew perfectly what worked best for me.”

“In my case, a gel every 45 minutes and around mile 36 my trusty Coke without bubbles. The latter always gave me an extra boost during my last two marathons. In Berlin, it was not to be missed.”

Still, not everything went according to plan. After 28 kilometers, my stomach played up. Fourteen kilometers is a long way then, but giving up was not an option. I combined running with walking and made it to that damn finish line. It wasn’t my dream race, but I did it. That’s what it’s all about in the end.”

“As a marathon fanatic, my highlight , oddly enough, was not one of my own marathons. However, it does include Eliud Kipchoge ‘s in 2019 in Vienna. The historic race in which he ran under the “impossible” two hours. We got up at 6 a.m. to watch everything closely. It was magical. How Kipchoge and his pacers whizzed by like perfectly oiled machines I will never forget. His technique and concentration was wonderful to see.”