Slow running: running without a goal

slow running

Beating your personal time record when running feels great, but it’s a shame when achieving your goal means you fail to notice all the great things you passed by on your way. Journalist and novice runner Fleur Baxmeier is an advocate of slow running.

The more running became a regular part of my daily life, the more often people would ask what I hoped to achieve. Sure, finishing an official road race did seem like a great experience, for no other reason than finding out what it’s like to take part in an event like this, not to ‘finish it in record time’ as a friend once suggested. I don’t place demands on myself, always trying to run faster or longer. I have enough performance-driven activities in my life as it is. Running should really be something that I don’t have to do, but want to do, as often and for as long as I enjoy it. Right?

This vision is endorsed by former pro runner Hans Koeleman, who won ten Dutch championships in the 1980s and competed in the Olympics twice. Although at the time his goal was to set a personal best for his time, these days he runs long, slow distances of six to eight kilometers per hour, in the pitch-black of night. “Years ago in South Africa,” he says, “I was inspired by a friend who would leave the house around midnight to run on hills and beaches. The stories he told were so amazing that I also wanted to do it. After two hours, it felt like I was floating and I realized I was smiling as 
I ran—it was such an incredible experience.”

For years, Koeleman ran at night through the dunes and valleys near where he lived, sometimes in the company of other people. “You can’t see anything and you don’t talk,” 
he says. “The only communication you have is with yourself. This is a deep, personal conversation, an experience that results in a state of pure relaxation.”

  • The full story ‘Running without a goal’ can be found in Issue 29.

Text Fleur Baxmeier  Photography Anouk de Kleermaeker  Styling Anne-Marie Rem