For this week’s article, I asked Ariane for some training advice. As you’ll see, enjoyment is essential. Feel free to leave any tips you might have in the comments section.??

Ariane and chocolate!

Diet

It’s a question of balance: you have higher needs when you do sports at a high level, but you also have to find some enjoyment. You need carbohydrates as a source of energy, good protein for muscle building and recovery, fruits and vegetables for vitamins and antioxidants, and above all, good hydration. I drink two or three litres of water a day at a minimum and I avoid alcohol, which isn’t a great help in sports. I do however enjoy my daily piece of chocolate.

Training

I train about six days out of seven, but it’s quite variable. It comes out to about 8 to 12 hours a week. I do a lot of cross training: running, trail running, ring training, but also cycling, cross-country skiing, fitness, hiking, climbing, rollerblading… Other sports where I can train without always moving the same way.

How to avoid getting hurt

You need a balanced, complete and sufficient diet, as well as good hydration, but you also need to know how to listen to your body. Well actually … to listen to it and not listen to it. During an endurance race there will inevitably be pain or discomfort, but you need to differentiate between small aches which are normal and something worse which might imply stopping the race to avoid a serious injury.

Ariane’s knee after surgery

General strengthening of muscles in the abdominal wall and back is very important to prevent any kind of injury. Runners mostly hurt their legs, ankles and knees, but the more stable your torso is, the less likely your are to be injured in any way. Recovery and rest are also very important. Self-massage, massage and physiotherapy also help a lot.

Mental preparation before a race

You need to stay focused on your goal, on why you’re there. Staying positive is important. If you start a race with a negative mindset – and all athletes have experienced this – you won’t do as well as if you’re optimistic and positive, I try to avoid “bad stress” that tires the body for no reason, but a little bit of “good stress” to stimulate me and not relax too much is important

How do you finish a race when you just can’t go on?

You have to analyze the problem. Did you start too fast? Forget to eat or to hydrate? Is it just normal fatigue due to the length of the race? Are you injured?

Then, if possible, try to solve the problem. If it’s just fatigue and you’ve eliminated the other factors, you can try to finish the race on will-power alone. Sometimes your body’s tired, but your brain is still capable of a lot, so you need to focus on your goal, find your rhythm and try to avoid negative thoughts.

I was once able to stay in third place with the next runner on my heels. My body couldn’t take it anymore, but my brain said, “Don’t give up, there are only four kilometres left”. I collapsed on arrival, but I finished third!

The best advice you’ve received?

Always enjoy yourself! If you Iike what you are doing and you believe in it, you’re in the right place. For me, this is important both in training and competitions. It’s what allows one to go so far. It doesn’t matter what path you choose or who does what in which sport, what counts is to have fun, to grow and to find your place.

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