Category: Running

I’m Not Superwoman: It’s Okay When It Doesn’t Work Out

13/06/2017 | 2 Comments

As my active lifestyle is a big part of this blog I think it’s important to share the highs as well as the lows with you. So today I want to share what’s going on workout-wise lately, or rather, how it hasn’t been working out for me the past month. As many of you might know, I pride myself on being active, on being a runner, and on my workouts in general because I enjoy them and they’re a big stress reliever. I even give the advice to people that when life get’s busy to keep making effort to do your workouts, because it helps deal with stress. I tell most people that, but when push comes to shove I guess I am crap at following my own advice… And you know what: that’s okay.

My workouts have NOT been working out for me the past two months. I still run, but you could call it sporadically at best, and my gym-time has pretty much cut back to zero hours a week. The cause? Three things: exams, deadlines, and life. I am currently finishing up my third year of university, and will, hopefully, graduate this year. The deadlines, my thesis, the finals… they had, and still have, me in its grip. Then, life got rough for me. I won’t bore you with the details, that’s not what this post is about, but let’s just keep it at the fact that I had a really hard time dealing with everything this past semester. With everything going on, and the added stress of deadlines and finals approaching had me increasingly stressed. My workouts went down the drain in no time.

As much as I loved working out, I did not have the time nor energy to spare. And, as I’ve slowly come to realize, that’s okay. It’s okay not to be superwoman. Sometimes you simply don’t have the time or energy to spare for workouts when there’s so much going on around you. I don’t have to be able to lift all the weight of what’s been happening on my shoulders while getting good results at university and have the time and energy to spare for working out three to four (or five) times a week. It took me a while to come to this conclusion. And truly, it is so important to realize that I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a step back, nor is it ‘bad’ that I wasn’t as active in the gym as I normally am. Working out should, above all, be fun. Not a must. Not something to feel guilty about when you skip a day or two (or a month). You do it for you and nobody else.

It took me a while to come to this conclusion. And truly, it is so important to realize that I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a step back, nor is it ‘bad’ that I wasn’t as active in the gym as I normally am. Working out should, above all, be fun. Not a must. Not something to feel guilty about when you skip a day or two (or a month). You do it for you and nobody else. So yeah, maybe I have been a slacker workout-wise, but hey, if slacking allowed me to keep up my grades while dealing with all that was happening around be then I am glad to have been one!

So far I have mentioned what has been going on, but what about what is going on. Well, luckily, I am doing a bit better. I made the deadlines (only a few left) and I had my last exam yesterday. Life is still not back to normal, but it is slowly getting there. I am planning on picking on my run training again today (starting with a comfortable 5k run) and might pick up HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) again because it goes very well in combination with running.

The good news is that I’m back to working out now! My sister joins me on my runs a lot and, as you can see, we have fun while doing it. If you learn anything from this post I hope that It’ll be that having fun is most important when it comes to working out. If it starts being anything but fun, if it becomes a must instead of a want, something has to change. This wasn’t the most upbeat most, but I want to keep it real on this blog. It might seem like working out comes easy to me, but it takes time and dedication, and sometimes this can be hard to find and there’s no shame in that.


The Week Before: the Rotterdam 1/4 Marathon

06/04/2017 | 0 Comments

Upcoming Sunday I am running the Rotterdam 1/4th marathon alongside my dad and thousands of other runners. The Rotterdam 1/4th marathon has always been one of my favorite events to run. The vibe is amazing and there are SO MANY people that cheer you on, another thing that plays a big role as to why it is one of my favorite events is the fact that two years ago this was my first ‘big’ run. I will never forget that overpowering sense of accomplishment once I crossed that finish line and even though the time I ran was nothing to write home about, that 10k was about so much more than simply setting a time.

Two years ago I proved to myself that I could do it. It took me WAY too long to run that 10k, but I proved to myself that if I put my mind to it and trained properly I could run any distance I wanted. Look at me now, two years down the road, and I have a lot more distance in those legs of mine. The past two years I ran some more 10k’s, some 10 miles, and a half marathon. I’m a way more experienced runner than I was two years ago and through it all I learned some valuable things about how to prep for race day. Since this is the week before race day for me, I thought I’d share my do’s and don’ts the week before race day.

The week before

Do not train heavy the week before a race. It might seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many people make this mistake. And I too made that same mistake before. It is so tempting to do that leg day session or to run a 10k just to prove to yourself that you can do it. Don’t. You’ll tire your muscles and they won’t have enough time to recover. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train at all. I usually go on one or two short distance runs. If you’re running a 10k, run a 3k or 5k during the week. Just don’t speed, aim for a comfortable pace that doesn’t get you winded.

Don’t eat any differently than you normally do and don’t eat anything heavy two hours before your race. It might be so tempting to make a special breakfast with more carbs or more proteins to fuel your body, but this won’t work in your favor. It can have the complete opposite effect. Your body might not be used to this kind of nutrition and react badly to it. Believe me, you do not want the be the runner at the start with a stomach that’s cramping or feel your food coming up during your run. If it is oatmeal you have every morning, have oatmeal the morning of your race.

If you’re nervous about running a new route: don’t sweat it. The organization usually make the route known so you can cover the route beforehand. You can go check it out to get familiar with it, or, if you know the area, you can just check it online to see where you’ll be at what distance. I know from experience that it can be a bit daunting when you’re running and you have no idea how far into the route you are. Checking the route beforehand can solve that problem for you. There usually are markers alongside the route as well. Another option is a running watch, this is the more expensive option, but I promise you once you get one you’ll never want to go back again!

Last but not least, stop stressing. If you’ve trained well try to relax a bit. A week before the race there’s nothing you can really do to prepare better. The time to train for a distance is not the week before race-day. Try to enjoy the process. The events itself, you’ll see for yourself, are filled with positivity from the community! You’ll find tons of strangers cheering you on, feeding you, and giving you water. It is so much fun and you’ll only impact your own experience if you don’t try to take it in and enjoy it.



First Half Marathon: The Lessons I Learned

05/01/2017 | 0 Comments

Before the start of the half marathon

My very first Half Marathon is a fact! Yes, you read that right, I ran my very first Half Marathon. This is my furthest distance up to date, and it was scary and nerve-wracking but also exciting and incredibly exhilarating! Even though I have been running for quite some time now, even I make mistakes, and looking back I find that there are some things that I would have done differently now I know what running 21,0975 kilometers is like.

1. Don’t do ANYTHING the week before the race

You’re gonna roll your eyes and say “damn Iris, you actually made that mistake, that’s the golden rule before race days” and YES I admit it, it was stupid as hell, but I did make the mistake. I didn’t go on a run that week. Nor did I train my legs in the gym. What did I do? Train my biceps and abs in the gym… I wanted to work off some steam because I was really nervous, so I figured that since I don’t run with my biceps it would be fine. NOT. I was really sore after training them, and a sore body equals a tired body. Tired body before running your very first half marathon is not a good combination.

2. Avoid adding stress

There were two things that had me stressing out before going into the race. Firstly, considering it would be my very first time running a half marathon I was nervous already, but knowing I did something stupid and knowing it was going to affect my race doubled those nerves about tenfold. Secondly, someone had told me that the last three kilometers would be really hard. I was so afraid of  those final three kilometers in advance, that when I actually got to them I made them harder for myself because of what I thought  they would be like. Turns out that those three kilometers were pretty much the best part of the entire race and I didn’t enjoy them AT ALL because I had been so afraid of them in advance. Running such a long distance is already stressful enough, you need to avoid adding EXTRA unnecessary nerves to that.

3. Shit happens

Sometimes things happen that you just can’t foresee or change. During my second kilometer I got this stabbing pain in my right side. I still don’t know what it was, I never experienced it before, but it hurt A LOT. I kept running but had to slow down because it hurt that much. You can probably imagine how bummed I was. I trained my ass off for this, and then right at the start things don’t go as planned. Sucks, but shit happens, you can’t change it. All that kept going through my mind was that this couldn’t seriously be happening. Those first five kilometers were a struggle but then it faded away. Just as sudden as it came up it disappeared again. Around the ten kilometer point there was another kilometer or so that the same pain bothered me, but just as before it faded away again. Some things happen that you just can’t see coming. It sucks, but you have to go with it because you can’t change it. Will I try to find out what it was so I can make sure it doesn’t happen again? Absolutely! But during the race you will have to face whatever is happening and deal with it.

4. Don’t set a time goal

This might sound unrealistic because EVERYONE sets a time goal for themselves, but I wish I hadn’t. As you can read above my first half marathon was far from perfect and all of the things mentioned above kept me from finishing under the time I’d set for myself. I was quite disappointed at first until I realized that was so damn stupid. I just finished my first half marathon ever. Key words being: I FINISHED! Perks of that first race? It’s always a Personal Record.

5. Enjoy the little things

This too might seem like it speaks for itself, but sometimes it’s not. I was so busy with myself, with running and finishing the race, that I sometimes forgot to look around. The route was great, the supporters were awesome, and kindness and support come from so many different angles. Around the twelve kilometer point, this little boy handed me a cup of water. Imagine me, all red faced and starting to tire, and the little boy just pats my back and tells me “Come on miss! You can do this! You’ve come so far already.” I smiled at the boy and continued but what he said didn’t penetrate until after I finished. Just like my father’s antics. My dad ran the race with me (he’s the best support system a girl can wish for!) and he’s always been faster than me, when I started to tire he would crack jokes or race ahead and make funny faces, at that moment I just brushed it off. I mean, some moments I felt like I was dying, ain’t nobody got time to laugh when you feel like your legs are going to give out. But looking back these moments bring a big smile to my face. I genuinely think that if I would’ve been more open for these moments this race would have been much more enjoyable!

Looking back at my first half marathon there are quite some things that I could’ve done better, but in the end, I wouldn’t change a single thing. I finished my first half marathon and no one can take that accomplishment away from me. I learned from my mistakes and hopefully (probably) the next one will go much smoother. Running isn’t a walk in the park, it’s hard work, it’s pushing through pain, but that moment you cross the finish line is indescribable. That euphoria, that feeling of accomplishment, knowing your body is capable of running 21,0975 kilometers is indescribable!


Race Recap: Antwerp 10 Miles (2016)

30/04/2016 | 2 Comments

As you can all probably see, this is a new feature on my blog! In my latest post I shared how I would be making some changes and this is one of the first sections I added. I have mentioned my runs before, but only briefly, and that’s something I have wanted to change for a long time. Truth is, I run 3 times a week, training towards half a marathon and I want to start sharing my journey and progress with you! So from now on I’ll be doing Race Recaps from the running events I did!


16 April was race day! The Antwerp 10 miles! I’d been training towards this race for the past few months. It would be my longest distance run up to date and to say I was a little nervous would be a big fat understatement. I’d run quite a few 10k distances before, but the leap from 10k to 10 miles (a little less than 17k) is a pretty big one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m well-trained and I’d run distances longer than 10k by myself (and with my dad), but still, this would be a first and I think firsts are always pretty nerve-wracking.

Before the start

I actually planned on wearing long tights during the 10 miles, but when we parked the car and I saw how sunny it was (against all odds!) I grabbed the pair of running shorts I’d hastily thrown into my bag the day before, just in case the weather decided to play nice, and changed. Armed with an iPod filled with kickass fast paced music and the best running buddy a girl can wish for (aka my dad) I joined hundreds of others at the start, nervously shifting my weight from foot to foot. Tons of banners with funky little motivational quotes like “sweat, run, smile every mile” helped in calming down some of the nerves a bit and once the starting shot ran out I resolved to just run, have fun along the way, and not worry about setting a time.

Kilometer 1 – 5

I noticed pretty fast that this was going to be a good run. I set a good pace right away, the weather was GREAT and there were supporters cheering the runners on everywhere. After the first 2k the first tunnel appeared. I have never trained for those and I had been warned in advance to take them slow, as it would be hot inside and because you’re climbing, because it’s an easy way to drain all your energy when you haven’t even really started. I took it slow and as a result I pretty much breezed through the frist 5k.

Kilometer 5 – 10

A little after passing the 5k marker and right before the second tunnel was the first water point. Can’t say I really needed it yet, but with the sun shining brightly and right another hot tunnel coming up ahead I wasn’t going to complain or pass it up. Freaks by Timmy Trumpet blaring in my ears, running was going great and I was having tons of fun watching all the supporters that were literally EVERYWHERE along the route.

Kilometer 10 – 15

Normally, after passing the 10k mark, I start to tire a bit and running becomes a little less fun for me… However, that wasn’t happening, yet. I mentioned the supporters before, and I they pretty much pulled me through those next 5 kilometers. I was hearing my name shouted along with encouragements left and right for quite some time already. At first I wondered how they actually knew my name, silly me, because my name was on my starting number, haha. The music, crazy amount of supporters along the route all attributed to the GREAT atmosphere. It’s the best thing to experience! At one point my dad grabbed a cone and shouted my name through it, supporters all around started clapping and shouting my name, it was crazy, and it all put one big CRAZY smile on my face.


Last kilometers

These last few kilometers were absolutely killing. They saved the last, and hardest, tunnel for last. That picture was taken right before the tunnel from hell. The banner being the only thing that was fun about it, it says: “There’s light at the end of the tunnel”. Do me a favor, if you ever find yourself in the Waaslandtunnel in Antwerp, please curse it for me. I was told that every year quite some people collapse inside that particular tunnel, but a part of me hadn’t really believed the stories. Man, it was hard. It killed my pace, and I pretty much cursed myself for ever deciding to run the Antwerp 10 miles. The heat inside the tunnel was stifling and all I could hear was the pounding of running shoes against the asphalt echoing all around me. My legs became heavy and I looked at my dad and told him that I didn’t think I could do it. I thought I would make it out of the damn thing (the climb was about 1k up). He pulled me through it (almost literally) and told me that once we got out it would only be 500 metres until the finish. I didn’t really believe him, but once I pushed through the pain and exited the tunnel still on my feet I saw a sign saying “500m until finish”. I actually managed to run a little faster and at 01:44:53 my dad and I passed the finish line: 10 miles in the pocket!

Antwerp 10 miles

Even with the tunnel from hell, this was one of my favorite races ever, and most of that has to do with the atmosphere. I have never ran a race where there were supporters throughout the ENTIRE route, it was crazy, the whole 10 miles people were beside the route encouraging and supporting the runners. Best thing ever! I am going to train for those tunnels, and next year I’m running the Antwerp 10 miles again, hoping to better the time I set this year!


What’s up with all those Workouts

22/02/2016 | 1 Comment

Some of you might have seen me mention my workouts on Twitter or Instagram. Now, I know that IrisjeXx is a book blog (in case all the book related content didn’t give it away already), but it’s also my blog, and there’s simply more to me then just my love for books. So I thought it was time to tell you all what’s up with all the workouts I’ve been doing!  I’ve wanted to share for a while now, and figured it was time to do just that!

Where did all this craziness get started?

A year ago I started running. I set the goal for myself to run a 5k, but never really thought beyond that. At the time I just thought being able to run a 5k would be really cool and a great way to get a bit more fit. It wasn’t always fun: lungs burning, legs hurting, cussing at myself for being crazy enough to do this. But that feeling after completing a run: that feeling of accomplishment, of being proud of yourself for grabbing your running gear and just go, of feeling like you’re on top of the world; that feeling got to me. I caught the running bug. That feeling is what motivated to keep me going, and THAT feeling is what’s so addictive about exercising.

What happened when I accomplished that goal?

So I could run a 5k, what now? Well, I just ran a 5k distances for a while. Running outside, and not always running the same round will keep you interested for quite a while, but after a while I pushed myself to run a little longer and a little harder. My average pace started improving, and before I knew it I was running up to 10k! I ran in the Rotterdam marathon (1/4 marathon, let’s be realistic here) with my sister and my dad and everything was going great!

Then, I fell off the bandwagon…

Even though I loved running, before I knew it I hadn’t run ANY distance in a whole month. One month became one month and a few days, and I was REALLY disappointed with myself. I have asthma, and not training in such a long time meant that I basically had to start from rock-bottom again, which kept me from finding that motivation again and getting off my ass and back to training. I had a major exercise rut and had a hard time getting my motivation back. I’ve often heard that it’s not hard to start exercising (and this is so true), however, what IS hard is finding the motivation to keep going when you’re sore, or tired, or just don’t feel like doing anything.

Changing up the routine

So I decided it was time for some change. I started looking for ways to make training fun again and add some variety to my routine, and by searching online I happened upon Kayla Itsine’s Bikini Body Guide. I talked to some girls who were doing the BBG program and their excitement was so palpable that I decided to purchase the guide. The combination of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) turned out to be a golden combination for me.

Six weeks ago (January 11th) I joined in on The Kayla Movement 2016 together with TONS of other women all over the world. I started a separate Instagram account (for those of you who’d like to follow that account: iris.does.bbg) to keep in contact with others doing the same program as me (which was a golden move! Motivation to find in abundance!). Six weeks of 3 HIIT workouts, 3 LISS workouts, and one rest day a week and I feel great. I’m not gonna lie, it’s hard work, really hard work and my muscles were SO SORE after that first week, but it’s so worth it.


I have a LOT of energy, I am happier than I’ve been in a long time, and I’ve never been more comfortable in my own body than I am now. I’m improving in all fields: I’m running faster than ever and I’m getting stronger and stronger each day. I can see my body changing; my muscles are developing and I love how strong I’m looking.

What does a week in workout-land look like?

I’ve got quite a happy workout schedule going on right now. Warning: you might think I’m crazy.

Monday: 4 x 7 minutes Legs & Cardio (HIIT)

Tuesday: 5 to 10k run (LISS)

Wednesday: 4 x 7 minutes Arms & Abs (HIIT)

Thursday: 5k run (LISS) in the morning and Abs workout (HIIT) at the gym later that day

Friday: 4 x 7 minutes Full Body workout (HIIT)

Saturday: 5 to 10k run (LISS)

Sunday: Rest day (or, when I’m feeling like it, a 5k run)

That probably looks crazy to you, but if you do the math, besides Thursday (and the days I run more than a 5k), you’ll see that I only spend 30 minutes on my workouts every day , and 30 minutes really is such a small proportion of the day, almost everyone can miss 30 minutes. I just to spend 30 minutes of my day, that someone else might spend in front of the tv, working out. I have all the equipment I need at home: dumbbells, medicine ball, and workout mats. So there’s no need to do my workouts at the gym (I just love to do so every now and then, especially when I go with a friend). If it’s raining outside, I can always switch around, and if I feel like having a rest day, I’ll just have a rest day.

I don’t force myself to train, I want to. I get restless and have too much spare energy when I don’t. At a certain point I started to crave those workouts, I crave exercise, they clear my head and make me feel strong. I push myself every day to become a stronger version of myself and I am SO proud of how far I’ve come!

What am I working towards?

March 6th I am running a 10k in during the CPC (City Pier City run) in The Hague with my father. I’ve been working hard on improving my average pace over the last two months. I run a 5k under 30 minutes quite easily, and I’m a bit afraid to set a time goal for myself for the 10k, but I’m hoping it’ll at least be under 1 hour and 10 minutes (taking in account how many runners there’ll be and how swarmed the road will be with them).

Recently, I was chosen for the most awesome project EVER! Glamour magazine (sponsored by Maybelline) set up a program to work towards half a marathon. Together with 29 others, we’re going to train, under guidance of professional trainers, towards 1/2 marathon. Our starting ticket will be paid for by Maybelline New York and we’ll get a ticket for the Glamour Health Challenge (last year THE Kayla Itsines gave a bootcamp, so I can’t wait what this year will hold!), we’re all getting a personalised training schedule, and a package from Maybelline New York. I literally CANNOT contain my excitement about this and I cannot wait to share all about it with you on my journey to 1/2 marathon! #Makeithappen

So, how crazy do you guys think I am? Haha