The Peaceful Runner would like to welcome Best Running Tips's author, Dominique De Rooij, for an interview. Dominique is an avid runner and manages the extensive website: best-running-tips.com. Through his website Dominique helps 3000-4000 runners each day. He provides running tips and answers many, many questions from runners and it is all available on his website.
Dominique also offers runners individualized training programs through his coaching service. Please join us as we interview Dominique De Rooij to learn more about the man who provides the best running tips.
Q. Thank you Dominique for joining us today. It is obvious from the Best Running Tips website that you have a wealth of knowledge about running. How long have you been running and why did you decide to start a website to help other runners?
A. First of all, thank you for inviting me over for this interview.
I have been running on and off for over 15 years now. I have always been pretty active in sports. In my youth I played a lot of soccer, but as an adult I have resorted to running.
I decided to start a website about running, because I was curious about website development and the internet. I learned that it was best to make a website revolving around a passion, so that's why I chose running.
Q. You have answered so many questions from runners and posted them to your website. Is there a particular question that you get asked more often than others?
A. There are probably a few types of questions on my Running Training Helpline that I get asked more than others. A common one is about people who have started running, they want to achieve weight loss and haven't achieved that yet.
Another one is about people getting ready for some kind of test, e.g. army test or police physical test when they don't have a history in running.
And then there are many different variations of questions from people who just want to get faster in their next race and wonder how to go about it.
I don't really mind what people ask me, as long as they provide me with a decent background of themselves (how long have they been running, how much do they run, etc, etc). I quite often get one-liner questions ("I need to prepare for a 1.5 mile test. Please help."). I have no choice but to delete those submissions as there is no way to answer the question if people don't provide some kind of background information.
Q. You have responded to many questions about running injuries. In your opinion, what is the most common mistake that runners make that result in an injury?
A. Being stubborn. Pushing on when they know something is wrong. Listening to your body is absolutely key to successful injury-free running. I have had to learn as well through experience that trying to maintain your running program when you have aches and pains is counter-productive. I am much more likely now to take some extra rest or cross-train instead.
Q. You have also provided advice on weight loss. What advice would you give to a runner who runs regularly but cannot seem to lose any weight?
A. The basics of losing weight are very simple: it is about how many calories you take in (food, drink) versus how many calories you burn (via exercise and daily activities). Burn more than you take in and you will lose weight.
Whatever people do, they need to influence that equation. When people run regularly the calories burned is usually not the issue, although they can increase their calories burned via more exercise. But it usually comes down to diet. You think you are eating healthily, but are you really? You think you are not eating too much, but is that really the case? I am trying to hold up the mirror to say, "Look, something is not making sense here, what can you do differently?"
A good solution is calorie-counting for a while. There are some good online tools and apps available that provide you with a daily goal and an easy way to track your calorie-intake. Do that for a month and you will be a lot more conscious about your daily intake, high- and low-calorie foods, portion size, etc. And you will have probably lost some weight too!
Q. If someone who has never run before asked you for advice on how to start running safely, what would you say to them?
A. Baby steps. Take it one step at a time and take it easy.
When you don't have a history of running or other physical activity the best way to get started with running is to do some type of run/walk program. In a run/walk program, runners alternate running and walking. The walking breaks allow you to recover and allow you to cover more distance.
Even if people don't want to take the run/walk approach, the other piece of advice is to start off running at a gentle pace. Many people struggle to get past 1-2 miles because they run so fast. It is hard for me as well to run 2 miles at top pace, so I am not surprised!
Slow down your running to conversational pace, the pace at which you could talk with someone if they were to run with you. It will make running much more enjoyable, safer and you are much more likely to stick with it.
Q. In July, you successfully completed a half-marathon and achieved your set goals. Many runners have a pre-race ritual that they follow faithfully before each race. For example, they eat a particular food the night before, wear a lucky shirt, crinkle their race bib, or do a specific warm-up prior to the start. Do you have a favorite ritual that you like to follow before a race?
A. I don't drink alcohol the night before. I try to get some sleep although I often get nervous about not waking up in time, etc, so usually I sleep badly the night before. It's never really a big problem in the race as the adrenalin keeps me going.
I get up early and eat some toast with jam (2-3 pieces). Drink 2 cups of coffee and take a water bottle with me in the car. Sip the water while I am driving to the race. I like to get there reasonably early so there is enough time to store my clothes, use the bathrooms and do a warm-up (just some easy running with some strides). Then usually another bathroom stop as race nerves kick in and then I go find my way in the pack.
One thing I always like to do is to understand where I will end up in the race. I just look up results of the past few years. Will I be in the top-5%, top-10%, top-25%, etc. Based on that I choose how far back in the pack I will start.
A lot of big races suffer from people crowding up front when they have got no reason to be there. It can cause some frustrations and unsafe situations if you are slower and you park yourself up front. I have crashed into people walking in the first km of a 15k race, because they felt it was a good idea
to start up between the guys that run it in under an hour. Part of simple race etiquette. I am all for wave starts based on end times so nobody is in each other's way and everybody has an enjoyable experience.
Q. You currently have quite a large following on the Best Running Tips Facebook page and you recently held a Facebook contest to give away a copy of the book, "Run Less, Run Faster." Can we expect to see more contests like this in the future?
A. Definitely. I think it was a good experiment. Quite a few people entered the contest, I think it was fun to do. It got people involved. I just need to think of a few good quiz/contest ideas and then I'll put the next contest on the Best Running Tips Facebook page.
Q. We know that both maintaining the Best Running Tips website and running are keeping you very busy. What are your goals for the future in regards to both of your passions?
A. You have saved the toughest question for the end.
For the website I'd like to publish some eBooks soon. That is one thing. There are probably about 4-5 ideas going through my mind about things that would be really good for people to learn more about. In addition to that I'd just like to build on what is already there. I think it is a well-established site, I just need to make sure it stays current and moves along with the times.
With regards to running: my next big goal is a marathon in June. I am using a long base building period until February and then I'll get into dedicated marathon training mode. Then the next year, I'd like to do a half Ironman triathlon. Over the longer term I'd like to do an Ironman triathlon and some ultra-races. I'd like to enter the Marathon des Sables one time (a multi-day ultra race through the Sahara Desert), but my wife has vowed to block me from doing that one... However, there are plenty of other beautiful (ultra-)runs throughout the world which are worth a try.
Thank you Dominique for your time and good luck in the marathon this year. We look forward to seeing more great advice from you on the Best Running Tips website.
Back to top of Best Running Tips
Read more: Running Interviews