Running / Footing : Back to Basics

Familiar sounds

Just finished my running homework, done for today. It’s 1630 on a Thursday afternoon. I did my run during the warmest period of the day – a couple of hours before the sun sets. I am sitting at the dinning table by the casement window that faces rue de Paris. Chatters of students who have just been released from the first day school, after 2 weeks of Toussaint vacation, can be heard. Car engines growl as the road starts to get congested from people getting off work and driving home.

French footing 

Back to my running, or what my French coach would call the “footing”. Footing is how the French calls “running”. Obviously, it’s the anglicism of “foot” + “ing”. One would say “Je fais le footing (literally translated as “I do the run”). It seems that the trendy expression was “Je fais le jogging” a few years back, which was just a simple adoption of “jogging”. Now, it’s adopting an English word and add a twist to it. For me (no idea why), “footing” seems to be more suitable to “soccer” rather than “running.”

Running Coach

Yes, I have a running coach. In an attempt to integrate into the French life, and also to realise our “full potential” in running, Silviu and I have decided to take a hiatus in trails, and switch to the roads.Theoretically, the only time left when we can run the fastest is this period of our life. The best way to build speed is through road running. As such, we have joined a track & field club in September, at the start of the new school year of 2016/2017.

Running clubs in France

In France, it’s very common for the people to join clubs, specific to the area that they live in, dedicated to a particular interest or activity. It’s a good way to get involve in your community. There are 365 track & field clubs in just Ile de France!  Our club is Athlétisme du Club Athlétique d’Orsay, mainly participated by the residents in Orsay.

Training with Club Athlétique d’Orsay

I am not joking when I used the term homework to describe my run. There are 3 sessions of group running each week, and each session lasts 1.5h, and will take place regardless of the weather. Besides the weekday training, the coach would also give us workout instructions for the weekends.

Running in all-weather

In the first few weeks, I was hoping that the coach would cancel the sessions whenever the temperature dropped to low teens or when it rained. However, my prayers were in vain. In October, there were a few sessions when I was fully drenched by the moderate, yet relentless chilly drizzle.

We have just passed the daylight savings last week. The days are getting shorter. Yesterday was the first session that we had to run in the dark for the warm up part of the session. Talking about warm up…

Warmup / Rechauffement

For each session, we would start with a “rechauffement” run or a warm up. Do not be deceived by this “warm up”, if you are like me, just a middle-of-the pack runner (or at least that was what I thought I was, based on my trail running performance in Hong Kong). I was not just warmed up, but closed to being burnt in my first session.

Running shock – Back to basics

For the first warm up, I tried to keep up with them at their 5′ 09″ min/km pace for 5km. After 5km of huffing and puffing, my lungs almost burst, and embarrassed that one of the runners actually had to slow down to run with me so that I would not get lost, I barely hang on to this group of runners! 5′ 09″min/km was how fast I would run during my own workouts, not FOR A WARM UP!

After that session, I was dragged back to earth. Whatever running I did in the last three years on the trails did not help much. I could stay on the trails for close to 30 hours, but that type of endurance does not seem to help much with speeding on flat grounds. I could cover more than 6,000m of elevation gain in a race, but my lungs and legs failed me when I was told to sprint up a 9m/D+ slope 9 times. Did I mention that I cannot even keep up with the teenagers in the group?

I have to start learning how to run. I have to get back to basics.