Saturday, 9 July 2011


When I was still living in the Netherlands, I was quite a keen jogger. Not that I was material for championships, but I was a member of one of the hundreds of informal jogging clubs in the Netherlands. Most of these clubs however have qualified trainers, and they knew what your limitations were.
I have spent a long time running twice a week, and since these sort of clubs heavily emphasize social contacts, the training evenings were spent nattering away whilst running. Also outside training evenings there was social contact between the members; trips were organised to various runs in the Netherlands, barbecues were held, in short, we did a lot more than just training for a 10 km run or half a marathon. Only training for the full marathon I did on my own. My tempo was considerably lower than that of the group that trained together for the Rotterdam marathon.
After I arrived in France I discovered that running in a group as a social event was not very well known here. Hence I trained on my own, did minimal 10 km a week, including running up a steep hill, and occasionally ran with some of our campers who had brought their running shoes with them. Finally I decided to post the question “Is there some running club around here?” on a number of forums. A guy from an athletics club in Tournus, about 30 km from here, answered and one Monday evening around 7h00 I reported for duty. There was a very small group, which was split up in even smaller units. My “group” consisted of one guy with a torch mounted on his head and myself. And off we went, on a dark late autumn evening, into a pitch black forest. I am night blind, but nevertheless I got back in one piece. My second run was less fortunate. Almost back, near the stadium where we gathered, I hit a tree root with my foot and fell flat on my face. My “buddy” waited till I was back on my feet again, but never said a mumbling word. In the dresser rooms (there were no mirrors!) I rinsed my hands, said to the coach “See you next time” and went to my car.
Only there I saw how much damage there was. My nose was severely damaged, it looked like a tooth had gone through my lip, my face had blood all over it, in short, I looked like a cowboy coming back from a nice brawl in the local saloon.
Once home, my wounds were tended, and only then I realised that this could not have happened with my Dutch running group. When somebody fell, another runner would turn back to the club house with the victim, look after him or her, and bring him or her to the first aid post if necessary, or home. And after that, one or more members would stay in contact with the victim, to hear how everything was developing, and when the trainings would be attended again.
One can draw the conclusion from the story above, that despite a few emails from me, I never heard anything from the club in Tournus. And I have left it at that. For a while I have tried to keep up running on my own, but the fun diminished further and further. And my condition has dropped to zero after having undergone 3 operations, all involving a pacemaker.
But, recently I have made up my mind again: I have got to do something to get back in some sort of shape. So presently, in the morning, I am very carefully running my 1.6 km from home to the edge of the village, hoping to build up in time to a 10 km run.
And who knows, I might be able one day to do the Classic “2 km de Cormatin” in a respectable 10 minutes....

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