How much of an addictive nature is necessary to be a long distance runner? My unscientific and tongue-in-cheek theory has always been that long distance running is for the untalented people. In my opinion, one needs talent and be at a young age to run well over short distances, e.g. distances between 100m and 3000m, as the fast-twitch fibres of the involved muscles are activated. The ability to use these is a genetic disposition, but also a capacity that deteriorates with age. Therefore, you will see many world class sprinters in their early 20s, whereas world class marathon runners can be well over 30.

Long distance running has got a lot to do with will power. You need will power to put in a huge amount of training. Will power that keeps you going when you get tired. It’s the build-up of mileage that will eventually give you the endurance to run a half marathon or a full marathon. Once you have the endurance (and it doesn’t come overnight, that’s for sure), the speed will follow.

All this will happen in a time span of years. I only started training continuously and without further big breaks after my daughter was born in 2008. If I look at my 10k times since then, I can see the gradual improvement. Half a year after my daughter was born, my 10k time was 53 minutes. Five years later, my 10k PB is 41:22. Over the years, I have slowly worked my way up. Occasionally and with a bit of luck, I might even have the chance for a podium position these days.

So is it my addictive nature that got me here? Or simply the love of running? The kick that you get out of completing a tough session. The kick that you get that you beat someone in a race that used to be faster than yo.

Many runners I know that have been running for years or even decades will confirm that other runners are nutters. Oneself is, needless to say, always the big exception. They would run too often, too far, at crazy hours. Work, family life, social life and holidays are scheduled around the running and training for a particular race.

At times, common sense leaves the runner. Then they will run when injured. Sitting out an injury is not a runner’s strength. A week might be OK, even two, but longer than that? They will get restless, will look for ways to speed up recovery. They will ice affected injury areas in the office, do strengthening and stretching exercises until they drop, wear compression garments underneath their work clothes. And then they will go for a run. Just a little one, very slowly. Just round the block, to see how the injury is behaving. And by doing so getting themselves back to Square One.

A physiotherapist once said to me that all the good work she is doing to injured athletes is being undone when the athlete goes for his next run.

My hip adductor injury that I suffered from during my Berlin marathon training is still there. In addition I keep on getting a tight hamstring on the same leg. I was prescribed complete rest after the Berlin marathon until all symptoms disappeared. I ignored this advice. The sore adductors and hamstrings are still bugging me. I took a 10 day rest from running. During that time I hit the gym everyday to strengthen my core, hips and upper body. After those 10 days of rest my training for the Dubai marathon was supposed to start. After the first run all my niggles were exactly were I left them. Those 10 days have done nothing. What is it now? Still love of running or my addictive nature taking over? My addictive nature doesn’t let me rest. It sends me to the gym to work out like a lunatic. In my desperation to get over this injury as quick as possible, I seem to lose common sense at times. There is no shortcut to recovery. It needs patience and rest. Even my blurred mind can see that at times. At other times it sends me to the gym. Right now, my Dubai marathon training is at stake. I am not able to run as much as I want to. If I don’t get the appropriate training in, I will not run in Dubai marathon. I am a sucker for PBs. If I don’t have the chance for a PB, I will simply not run. That is quite a bitter pill to swallow. I will keep you posted.

Meanwhile, I have been cooking and baking again. I raided my pantry for ingredients and found an unused bag of teff flour. I had never baked with teff flour before. Cookies are a safe thing to try a new flour in. Chocolate cookies are an even safer thing, as the strong chocolate flavor might cover up unusual flour flavors. My kids loved them. That’s the best compliment a cookie can get.

Print Recipe

1 cup teff flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
3 tablespoons boiling water

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup coconut sugar or grated jaggery

Yields 20-30
Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl whisk together flax seeds and boiling water. Let stand for a few minutes.Meanwhile, sift together, teff flour, cocoa powder and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside.

Cream coconut oil and sugar/jaggery. Stir in flax seed mixture. Combine wet and dry ingredients. If the dough is very soft, form it to a disk and put in the fridge for 10 minutes until slightly hardened.

Roll balls of the size of a walnut out of the dough and place on the prepared baking sheet. Leave about 2-3 inches space between the balls. Bake in the preheated oven for about 8 minutes. Let cool completely on wire racks.


  1. Anja, injuries are always a blow and tough to deal with. I hope yours are soon a distant memory. Be good to yourself and to your body. Injuries and illness are also the body’s way to tell us to slow down…maybe it’s time to hit the pool instead. They put race horses in water to recover…maybe it will be the same for you. Good luck.

  2. What is teff? I’ve never heard of that. Long distance running always feels amazing, I find. When you hit a mile you couldn’t before – amazing feeling.

  3. Oh gosh I know exactly what you mean. I’m nowhere near as good a runner as you but i have exactly the same mindset! My runs take priority when making plans, and I’m always thinking about my goals. But more annoyingly my on going ITB pain has had me stop/start running for a year now. and when i can’t run I’m in the gym like a lunatic, praying I’ll be able to get out and run again soon. I do EVERY strength exercise I am told religously in order to strengthen everything…all I can think about is being able to run and train properly!! so frustrating isn’t it. I hope your injury heals quickly…I share your frustration.xx

  4. Love the phrase “nutters”. I’d certainly apply that to all runners I know, simply because running is really not pleasurable for me! I do like reading your stories though, and your recipies =).

  5. Hi Anja,

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  6. Hi Kim, thanks for your comment. I am glad I am not alone. Things seem to have improved a lot in the last few days, strangely after a tough TRX session. Will write about it in my next post.

  7. Hi Edwina, thanks for your comment. I often think about you! Hope you are well. The pool is a good idea. In fact, my South African (!!) physiotherapist prescribed me walking in the pool to recover from groin my injury.

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