Yes! Friday Runner spotlight is BACK.
I have so many runner stories to share with you guys and just got a bit bogged down with other stuff in life.
However, now I want to at least share Els with you; funnily enough we live VERY close to each other and haven’t met each other in “real life” yet. But that’s the beauty of meeting runners online – you already have something great in common and it’s only a matter of time until you actually do a race or a training together.
With that, I’d like to introduce you to Els!
When did you start running? What was your goal at that time?
I started running December 2013. I had been a member of a gym for some time, but got a little frustrated that while I did get stronger (i.e. being able to pull myself up out of the pool by my arms) my endurance wasn’t that much better. So when I finished my 100th workout (they keep score at the Curves gym), I set myself the challenge to train for a 5KM race.
Did you reach your initial goal?
Yes I did, although it did take me a little time to actually get started (money was a little tight back then, and I did want a good pair of trainers.) By December 2013 I got that issue sorted. In May 2014 I ran my 1st 5K (Marikenloop in Nijmegen).
Do you have the same goal now, or have your goals changed or evolved with time?
Definitely it evolved with time. When I managed to run 5KM, I wanted to run longer and further. And before long, I decided I wanted to run off road as well. So, in my 1st year of running I trained to run up to 13KM, ran some more 5-7 KM races.
I was getting ready to run my 1st cross-country 5KM to prepare for my 1st trail run, which I ran in May 2015 (Koning van Spanje, 9 K). In my 2nd year of running I ran trails and 10EM races. I started training for my 1st Half Marathon in January 2016 (in Egmond). Recently I also ran Koning van Spanje again, 22KM this time around. For the remainder of this year I will run slightly shorter trails and road races (around 15-17KM), give sprint triathlon a go for fun and I hope to best my time at the Montferlandrun (15KM)
Well that certainly answers my next question – Have you run any races?
Yes, anywhere between 5-22KM, road, cross-country and trails, my sprint Triathlon is 21st of August!
My 1st race was the Marikenloop 5KM and I loved the atmosphere with all these different types of women and girls. My race was definitely not my most comfortable moment, I went out too fast and it was very warm that day. But I finished much faster than I thought I would be, so all’s well that ends well I guess.
And you have done other races since then…
Yes, but I am selective. I tend to stay local for most of my races and run maybe 2-3 bigger races further away a year, although I have to say this year has really filled up much to my surprise!
What is your favourite distance?
At his moment 15KM or 10EM races, but I do hope to run Half Marathons again next year, a little smoother, stronger and faster. Working on that.
In training I will typically run between 5-12KM on weekdays, with a longer (trail)run on Sunday.
Do you have a running support network?
I am a member of Duiven based run crew Funrunning on Sunday (FRoS), I also keep in touch with other runners on IG and write the occasional blogpost on Looptijden.nl
What about gear – have you got any gadgets that you love?
Not many gadgets; I track my runs on Runkeeper on my cell phone, usually I mute the sound and only check my progress later. I love the camera on my cell, and use that occasionally. I don’t take pictures on every run.
I will usually wear a cheapo version of a flipbelt to carry my phone and keys. If I run longer I may change out for a drinking belt.
What else do you do besides running?
I recently stopped my gym membership – I wasn’t going often enough anymore. I do take cross training seriously, but I discovered I enjoyed swimming and yoga for runners more. Since June and until 21st of August I will take on sprint triathlon as a cross training experiment. I am taking part in a beginner level training program. My goals are learning a decent crawl and hopefully becoming less nervous about the cycling part.
What’s the most positive thing that running has brought into your life?
I feel very fit and confident, and I met a whole new group of people that are both individualist and independent yet social.
What, if anything do you find frustrating?
I am rather slow. It doesn’t bother me when I am on my own, or even during races. But it does get a little frustrating sometimes when running socially. People are either much faster or even slower than me. So for the moment I run semi alone most of the time.
Have you been injured at any point? If no, what do you do to avoid injury?
Nothing major, but I did have some lower back pain and got physiotherapy for that. As a result I now know to be mindful of my ‘weak spots’.
When I over train, my body very quickly lets me know. I listen to my body. Sometimes it means a little adaptation to my planned training (not as far or intense), sometimes it means going walking/cycling/swimming instead, in the worst case I take some extra time rest.
If you have been injured, what did you go through to recover?
Physiotherapy, exercises like squats and lunges, a little yoga for runners every day.
How do you stay motivated when you don’t feel like running?
Sometimes you just have to go out and do it anyway. You may surprise yourself when you do. When I really, really, really don’t feel like running I may postpone my run till the next day, or switch with a cross training activity. It can mean I really am too tired or not fit. The next day I usually feel eager again.
How can we find you on social media?
As ‘Onthecountof23’ I am on Instagram and I ocassionally keep a sort of blog/log on Looptijden.nl by my given name (Els Kooi).
What advise would you give to someone who wants to start running, but is maybe too unsure to start for reasons of weight, age, lack of athleticism?
I was in my late forties and somewhat overweight when I got started, so I feel you! I actually like sports, but plain determination and stubbornness are really my greatest assets, I am not that athletic by nature.
Get a decent pair of trainers, and a couch-to-5K-program (and a decent sports bra if you’re a girl). It’s OK to take baby steps, as long as you keep taking them. I am not going to lie; in the beginning it can be hard. You sweat, you pant, you get sore and stiff in all kinds of places. The good news is: keep it up and in two weeks you will already be able to do things you couldn’t do before and it only gets better.
Anything you want to add?
Don’t try to go too fast, even if you catch the bug. A lot of people got nasty injuries trying to run too far too fast, that is before their 5K ready limbs were able to catch up with their already 10K ‘s worth endurance.
A little patience with yourself goes a long way.
And enjoy yourself! You chose this! It’s fun (mostly!). And anyway, none of us get out of this life alive! So don’t take it too seriously (unless you’re Kenyan, perhaps – ha!)
Check out Els on Instagram, just send her a request to follow her journey (and cheer her on for her triathlon!). Or, have a question for Els? Want to get into trail running but just don’t know how or don’t feel confident? Comment below and I’m sure she’d be happy to support.