Sunday, February 3, 2013

TRIOfor2013 February Feature: Core-Stability & Mindful Running w/ @GirlsLove2Run

“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.” 
― Paulo CoelhoThe Devil and Miss Prym

I've been a follower of Girls Love 2 Run blog since they begun - it was the same time I also began blogging here @ Happy Feet in the Netherlands!

Yesterday, I spent a couple of very productive hours of training and running with Fieke & Francien bloggers @ Girls Love 2 Run.

Nicole, Kirsten @,  Annemerel @ & myself - all loyal readers of their blog! - were invited  to join them @ Sportstudio 79 (owned and managed by personal trainer Pim Goedhart).

It was an afternoon of core work-outs led by personal trainer Pim and mindful running coach Benjamin Romkes (reigning world champion on the 3000 meter - class category (45-49)).

image from Girls Love 2 Run

from l-r personal trainer Pim, Fieke from GL2R, moi, mindful running coach Benjamin & Francien from GL2R
I was excited and nervous at the same time about this afternoon.

Excited because I admire and have been motivated by the girls positivity all through out my back to back marathon training last year; I was curious to meet them in person.

Although I did meet Fieke last year in Summer in Vondelpark during the series of #GameOnWorld challenges via Nike+ campaign; it was short and sweet encounter!

I almost missed recognizing her if my sole sister Eva did not point out we just ran backwards with one of the Girls Love 2 Run blogger (I was busy trying to do the running challenges, I was not expecting/planning to do at all! hahaha *still plan to blog about this Summer).

Good thing we saw her again, and she was very friendly and accomodating to grant our request for a group picture. :)

from l-r Udjen, sole sister, fellow Amsterdam Running Junkie, who is one of the members of this year's Runner's World Dream Team Netherlands; Fieke from GL2R; Eva, sole sister, AMS Running Junkie member and blogger @ Little Eve is trying to Grow Up (picture was taken by another fellow Running Junkie friend - Remco)
On the nervous part - I have been missing out on my regular work-outs in the gym since the Christmas holidays, and I was afraid I was going to embarrass myself amongst the young ladies!

It's obvious that I have been missing work-outs in the gym! I struggled with some sets of exercise but Pim from Sportstudio79,   gave us positive cheers and needed encouragement to see us through each stage.

As always with my over-thinking, and constant worrying, it was unnecessary. We all had a great time even when we had to concentrate and work through the sets of challenging core-exercises.

Pim and Benjamin thoughtfully guided us through the afternoon, and everyone came out of it carrying a bit more knowledge in strengthening one's core and how to be more focused, in the flow while running. My muscles are ( as I write this blog!) still reminding me constantly of the productive afternoon!

Although I have become familiar with core-stability exercises during my marathon training last year, I was not able to allocate as much time to it, than I wished.

My concentration was directed to building enough strength and condition to survive the marathons I was determined to run back to back. I told myself, I'll plan time for core-stability work-outs for the next marathon training.

When Girls Love 2 Run made an announcement on their FB page, that they would love to invite followers to work out with them, I quickly wrote them of my humble goal of strengthening my core.  It was the kick-start I needed this year - Paris is after all descending on me! And I was happy that I got one of the 4 oui, oui, oui, oui! :)

What impressed me with the set of core-exercises Pim gave us to do is that I can still remember them all! It was a struggle to coordinate my body and follow each step of the exercise, during the time at the studio but I am confident that I can recall each one of them again because of the logic behind the movements, which he explained while we did each set. They were simple, effective movements, which you need full concentration to execute.

image from GL2R

image from GL2R

image from GL2R

Speaking of concentration! After the core-stability work-out we all sat down with Benjamin, mindful running coach, for a spell of meditation to prepare us for our run together.

image from GL2R

image from GL2R
He explained to us what mindful running was all about.  It is all about being present in the moment while running. How to achieve this? It is something that you have to experience to fully fathom the meaning. I'll share how Benjamin led us through the experience step by step to give you an idea about mindful running.

It starts with breathing and bringing your focus on your breathing in and out.  When different thoughts starts distracting you, you bring yourself back to the present moment by focusing on your breathing.

After this short mental exercise, he asked us to direct our thought to our big toes.  Then to our knee, and to our head.  All of us agree that when we did what he said, we felt a tingling sensation to that part of the body we had to give our focus on.

All of this reminded me of what I learned in yoga - the flow of energy in our body, how we can block it and unblock it.

In the case of of mindful running, you direct your focus on your breathing, then bringing awareness to the different parts of your body, and each movement it makes.

When we were ready to put all this to practice, Pim and Benjamin led us out from Sportstudio 79 to Westerpark. Yay, running! Mindful running experience. :)

Benjamin told us that we will begin slow and build up from there.

image from GL2R

image from GL2R
After the warm-up we learned running techniques for effective running, for example mid foot landing, and how we can get into a consistent rhythm of by using knee lifts exercise to practice.

image from GL2R
image from GL2R
We continued on with running (almost 6 kilometers in total) quietly, focus on our breathing (mindful running!), stopping from time to time to give feedbacks about what we were experiencing.

image from GL2R

The last part of our mindful running experience was the running uphill -

Kirsten from

it was so much fun! Even when there were so many dogs...energetic dogs in that part of the park where we had to run as fast as we can to reach the top. :D

We closed the session with a nice run back to Sportstudio 79, where Pim provided us with fruits and warm tea. Perfect ending to core-training and mindful running

It was a lovely Saturday afternoon; we  tanked positive energy through great work-out, great run and great company! :)

image from GL2R

My #TRIOfor2013 (running 3 marathons in the span of a year): Paris (Spring), Luxembourg & Berlin (Summer)

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If I can run, so can you: big dreams are reached with baby steps!