Running Matters One:2:One with Hans De Raeymaeker

Running Matters One:2:One with Hans De Raeymaeker

by Martin Lyons

This week I’m interviewing a man from a competitive sporting background who found running in 2011 after finishing competitive canoeing and has used it as a substitute, to keep his competitive juices flowing.

Hans De Raeymaeker has many positive and passionate views on running and in a particular way, marathon running, its pros and cons. Hans also has his eyes set on impressive personal best times in the coming years, in distances ranging from 1 mile to 10, and there is no doubt that his smart approach to training will pay dividends. He is also helpful and supportive to other runners and volunteers regularly for the Mullingar Parkrun.

There’s no doubt his love and passion for running shines through in this questionnaire and in many ways, running in Mullingar and the surrounding area is lucky to have someone as passionate about the sport as he is.

Name: Hans De Raeymaeker

DOB: 15/12/70

When did you start running and what motivated you take it up?

I started running in December 2011. The motivation behind that was that in my previous sport I felt I had reached as far as my capabilities were going to allow (third in the K2 class over 16k – Irish National Marathon Championships – Salmon Leap Canoe Club). If there are no more chances of PBs or greater achievements, I see little point in merely making up the numbers.

In hindsight though, running is only second to cross country skiing in terms of the cardio and fitness benefits. If I were to return to canoeing today, I rather fancy that my increased fitness would allow greater success. But thankfully I love running so much that such a move is utterly unthinkable.

What is your favourite and least favourite type of training and your favourite race distance?

My favourite training is definitely speed work. Anything from 200 metres to 1 mile repeats. It allows the tank to be emptied once a week, or however often you make it (less than a handful in 2019, hence the awful times). Least favourite is hill work, despite fully appreciating the massive benefit it gives. "Sufferfest maxmius ouchicus"!

As with my time in both Clonliffe Harriers and Celbridge Harriers, it is the club-mates we train with that we must always thank. Not sure how widely this is known and/or acknowledged, but usually the greatest competitiveness is within any given club. This is essential. Without it, we would never push ourselves to the extremes that we do.

Mullingar Harriers has an enviable history of members representing Ireland at Olympic and world championship levels. And it can all be traced back ultimately to those many private battles during club training sessions. We all drag one another ever higher.

I generally like shorter distance races, as I’ll explain below.

What running achievements are you most proud of and why?

I’m not exactly sure why, but week four of the 2017 Pat Finnerty 5k series in Belvedere. The previous three weeks had been progressively quicker each time, and on that fourth and final Wednesday, it was one of those rare times when we runners are just bursting with unbridled energy. Everything had conspired perfectly and aligned itself favourably. That remains my 5k PB and as any Belvedere past participant knows, the course is anything but flat!

List your current PBs for the following distances:

1 mile: 5m 10s – Clonliffe Harriers Grand Prix series – May 2012

2 mile: 11m 03s – Clonliffe 2 Mile – 2012

5k: 17m 36s – Pat Finnerty Road League – May 2017

10k: 37m 15s – Annagassan Viking 10k – November 2017

10 mile: 64m 01s – Frank Duffy 10 Mile – 2014

Half marathon: 1h 26m 26s – Bohermeen Meath Spring Half Marathon – 2014

Full marathon: 3h 13m 33s – Dublin Marathon – 2012.

What are your running goals for the next 12 months?

I’m mainly going to aim for PBs in both the 5k (Enfield/ Johnstownbridge in May perhaps), 8k (Streets of Galway in August), and possibly 10k too (Annagassan in November), all going well.

What advice would you give to anyone who is looking to take up running?

Easy – albeit protracted. Do not under any circumstances even ponder running a marathon. It is the single, most damaging notion that for some odd reason grips people.

Furthermore, if a prospective runner was dead keen on doing a marathon and all the well intended advice could not sway them, then they must never attempt their first one without a minimum of four years running under their belts. Our bodies require time to train, to become used to all the mileage, cardio demands, limb depreciation, et cetera.

Fast tracking the body to do so prematurely will equally result in premature injuries and possible retirement. If you’re taking up running, do so tentatively and progressively. Listen to advice given earnestly, take much, but not all of it on board – advice, however genuine, is not a template for success nor remaining free of injury. Basically, we are all individuals, and what works for some, or even most, may not work for all. Hence the gradual, deliberate four years of learning and listening to our own bodies.

Marathons are overrated, in my view. But again, if a runner is in a hurry to abuse themselves, it’s worth bearing this in mind (I may have worn the ear off many people with this factual statistic). The time which a 19-year-old runs a marathon is more or less equivalent to the time that same runner will run it at the age of 64. So why hurry? My advice would therefore be: avoid marathons and concentrate your efforts on the shortest distances you can manage.

As age begins to catch up and/or speed is lost, then steadily move to longer distances.

That speed gained at the shorter distances is carried forward and all that is required is some stamina into the mix: easy!

What are your lifetime goals and PBs for the following distances (where applicable):

1 Mile: 5k: 10k: 10 Mile: half marathon: full marathon: 1 mile – without doubt I can go under 5 minutes for a mile, I just never specifically tried to. As for 5k, again dipping into the 16 minute bracket should be achievable, it just requires sustained training rather than my legendary stop start shenanigans. The 10k Annagassan in 2017 was a real surprise. I had absolutely rakes left in the tank at the end, which was down to my inability to spread my effort out more evenly throughout that race. So getting into the 36-minute category, with some element of ease, I expect. Lower than that... I may well already have invited enough egg on my face!

10 mile – I would dearly love to break the hour, even by a solitary nano second. Half marathon and full marathon don’t feature at all. Having dropped out of them in 2014, not once have I reconsidered either!

What is your favourite post race meal?

If ravenous and needing quick sustenance, then corncakes with hummus topped with sliced red pepper, mini tomatoes, fresh garlic, red onion, and spinach leaves. Any substantial later meal would nearly have to include boiled potatoes, then pan fried, with crunchy steamed broccoli, and whatever else with it. Mind you, if the finish line was just crossed then I’d be like most people – I’d unmercifully and happily savage any chocolate in reach!

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