International double take – still waiting for my breakthrough

Porta Nigra

In my library of running books I have one titled The Art of Running Faster,(authors Julian Goater and Don Melvin ) – given to me for my birthday a few years ago by my regular running buddy and good friend Alison. Alison, as my most frequent running companion and confidante, knows all about my running phobias and areas of self-doubt – one of which is my fear of running too fast 🙂

running bookThis is quite an odd fear, as the chances of me running too fast are fairly unlikely given that my average pace tends to settle around 10 min mile mark, regardless of terrain or distance. I can endure the slog up a steep hill or find life in weary legs to keep plodding on after several miles in all weathers – but I am no good when it comes to pushing myself to sprint for any length of time or running at a speed that makes me feel a bit sick.

Trier - 4

Back to Julian Goater’s recipe for fast running – unsurprisingly there is no single magic sauce to make you a fast runner, as with most sports or tasks in life – the result and outcome will depend largely on the effort you put in. In his book Julian sums up the key components of fitness as the five Ss – speed, suppleness, strength, stamina and skill (oh and ‘s’ psychology 😉 ) – if you focus on these and take this advice and assuming you work on ALL of them – you will achieve a ‘breakthrough’

Variety is the name of the game when it comes to training- you have to mix up the sessions and avoid racking up junk miles, and one way of packing in all these different runs is to double up – or do 2 runs in a single day.

another worried selfie

I would love to say that this is why one day last week I chose to run in the morning and again in the evening – the runs sandwiching a longish period of work travel – but truthfully I was motivated more by the geeky appeal of running in two different European countries on the same day than by any quest for breakthrough.

Run number one was a nice easy trot around the German city of Trier – on a cool November day with grey skies, no wind and an easy temperature. I have run in Trier before,and on my last visit I tried and failed to find the birthplace of Karl Marx.

Karl Marx magnet gift
Karl Marx magnet gift

On this run I was on the tourist trail once more and with the objective of sliding down the Domstein- a large stone pillar that lies in front of the cathedral and allegedly the purveyor of luck giving powers.


This had been suggested to me by my work colleagues the previous evening – who told me that according to Trier custom or folklore, sliding down this shiny pillar outside Trier Cathedral would bring me good luck .There are many conflicting explanations of why the pillar is there, and the inconsistency of the story should maybe have had me questioning the reliability of this luck giving custom, but regardless of which version you think is most likely,  if you slide down the Domstein – good luck will come your way.


My hotel was very close to Trier cathedral and the Domstein outside and so this seemed like an task to accomplish – and as I was running in deserted semi darkness at 7am, I reckoned this had to be much easier than tracking down Karl Marx Haus.

Porta Nigra ,Trier
Porta Nigra

Unfortunately as I reached the cathedral I saw a man standing right next to the Domstein – and so with a combination of trepidation, shyness and fear of embarrassment I opted out of sliding down the stone pillar and scuttled past the Domstein and with it, my chance of good fortune.

Trier - 6

Luck gathering aside I did an enjoyable circuit of Trier – taking in the Cathedral, Porta Nigra and a stretch along and across the Moselle river over the Unesco Roman bridge adding in an extra 1 mile loop as I managed to get lost on my way back to the hotel.

Roman bridge Trier

Trier run



So run number one – 4 miles in Germany – check !

airplane view

Edinburgh landing

Fast forward a few hours and one European time zone – I  was back home in Edinburgh and had arranged to run with Alison at our usual after work slot.

By this time the weather had deteriorated to heavy horizontal rain, and of course it was pitch black. But despite these less than appealing conditions – we did our triangle street circuit, while I downloaded the days events to Alison, and as is often the way when the weather is inclement, it made for a swift 3 mile run.

As I got back to my house in wet, twice worn running kit, I can’t say I was visualising any speed breakthrough in the near future – but was very happy with my international twin country double up.

Trier - 3



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