Training for Bello Gallico – crashed and burned

It is Sunday afternoon, the 13th of November, the runners of the Legends Trail training weekend in Bouillon (Belgium) are still on there way back to the headquarters, I look around in the eating area of the headquarters of this training weekend with one hand on my left upper leg, worried if I just destroyed my winter plans.

The week of training started perfectly and went exactly according to plan with a rest day on Monday, speed training on Tuesday and 3 long runs on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Before the weekend started I had ran 84 km and was feeling fitter than ever, looking forward to the weekend.

Tuesday run
Wednesday Run
Thursday Run
Friday Run

The Legends Trail training weekend

From Friday evening to Sunday afternoon Astrid and I would be volunteering at a training weekend for the runners of the Legends Trail which would take place in March 2017. Looking forward to see some trailrunning friends, meet a bunch of new people and hopefully getting a chance to do a bit of trailrunning myself we arrived in Bouillon in the South of the Belgian Ardennes on Friday afternoon.

Friday the 11th of November

On Firday afternoon and evening it was nice to spend some time talking with other trailrunners, mostly people to which my acomplishments look like just a walk around the park. During dinner I get the chance to chat with Maarten and Marek, two Dutch runners that I met at the Legends Trail and that I really look up to. Their long distance adventures are an inspiration to me and one of the reasons I believe I can continuously extend my limits.

In the evening we get an explanation about navigation by map and compass. Interesting, but it also makes me even happier with my handheld GPS. If you would drop me in the forrest in the middle of the night with just a map and compass I will probably end up in the news 30 years from now as a news item about an old guy that was discovered living in the forrest for all those years because he could not find the way back home.

After Maarten and Marek’s story about their Legends Trail experience during the first edition this year it was time to go to bed, tomorrow it would be an early rise to hit the trails.

Saturday the 12th of November

On Saturday morning I had planned a 25 km trailrun in the environment and Jan, one of the other volunteers, would join me for this run. And so at 9:30 we left the headquarters. The run was a challenging one with a lot of elevation changes, steep descents, a number of ladders and some beautiful views.

For me it was the first time running in the Belgian Ardennes since my failed attempt at the 65 kilometer Trail des Fantomes in August. I instantly remembered why I love this environment so much, we don’t have anything that even comes close in The Netherlands.

Jan and I take an easy pace progressing quickly through the first kilometers of the run. Before we left Jan told me that his regular pace is about 8:00 / km which was fine for me because I wanted to get an easy run in. In the first hour we reach an average of 6:30 / km still ok for me and we are having fun on the trails, enjoying the environment and stopping from time to time to take a few pictures.

Somewhere halfway through the terrain became more chalenging and more fun! Challenging descents, scrambling over rocks going uphill, climbing hills with no sign of a trail anywhere and a few ladders to complete the experience. It reminds me that I really should visit this area more often, this is so much more fun than the trails in The Netherlands.

BG Week 6 - 1
BG Week 6 - 2
BG Week 6 - 3
BG Week 6 - 4
BG Week 6 - 5
BG Week 6 - 6
BG Week 6 - 7
BG Week 6 - 8

Close to the end of our litle adventure we start to slow down, partly due to the technical nature of the terrain, but also because we are feeling the efforts that we made on this run. Jan is having problems to keep up and I am also looking forward to the end of the run. And then the silliest accident happens. While we were just walking on the trail at a low pace I slip on a tree root and hit the ground pretty hard smashing my upper left leg on that tree root.

I stay on the ground for a moment, Jan stays calm and checks if I want to sit or stand. I want to get up as quickly as possible to get moving again and Jan helps me to get up. My leg hurts, really hurts. I can still stand on it so the first check is ok. After assessing the damage and assuming nothing is seriously wrong I want to get moving again to prevent my leg muscles from growing numb. Slowly I start walking along the trail. We have about 4 kilometers to go before we are back at our starting point so I should be able to walk that.

Despite the fact that I am limping I still manage to run at a reasonable pace those last kilometers and by the time we arrive back at the headquarters I have almost forgotten what happened as I see Astrid running towards me. After a shower and sitting still for a while it becomes clear that this is not just a litle pain that will pass overnight.

In the evening from 18:00 to 22:00 Astrid, Jan and I are taking care of one of the check points for the runners of the training weekend, serving them soup, coffee and some snacks as they navigate and run through the night. This is always fun to do and at the moment it also really helps to get my mind of the pain in my leg.

Sunday the 13th of November

On Sunday morning my left leg feels stiff and painful, no running for me today, just a short walk and help cleaning the headquarters as the training weekend comes to an end.

With just 5 weeks to go I was right on track, but this injury could provide a major setback and could endanger the participation in the Bello Gallico trail. And yes I am worried…

On the 19th of November I am supposed to run the 55 kilometer Lommel trail, If I am recovered enough to show up at the starting line there I guess I will be fine for the Bello Gallico in December as well. If this takes more than one or two weeks I will probably have to be realistic and postpone my first 50 miler…

To be continued…..

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