Road to Boulogne: Meet Our Marathon Men

Road to Boulogne: Meet Our Marathon Men

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What does it take to train for a half-marathon? Get to know three Withings employees who joined a race to up their activity and improve their health.

On November 18, three of our Withings team members are set to run in the 22nd edition of the Boulogne-Billancourt half-marathon, an international road race in the western suburbs of Paris. As they’ve trained, they’ve inspired us with their camaraderie and commitment. We talked to them to learn what’s helped them and what’s hurt them. From the music they listen to, to the benefits they’ve found from training, to the maps of their favorite training runs—we hope their profiles can help inspire you to go the extra mile too.

Rudy, age 31

Rudy, who runs our social media and community management, is taking a break from his bike to train for the half-marathon. Whether on wheels or on foot, if he’s outdoors and moving towards a goal, he’s happy. Get to know him now.

 

Q: Do you listen to music when training?

The only time I don’t bring my earbuds is when I know I am running in nature for the whole session. Other than that, I have five different playlists for running with a certain type of mood. Mostly a mix of commercial songs and punk music that I listened to when I was a teenager. And there’s Florence & The Machine: when the song “Delilah” pops up I know I’ll be enjoying the next few minutes.

Fitness inspiration/role model?

My friend Olivier Mansuy with his minimalist running approach, and my Withings teammate Mikaël, whose dedication motivated me to start running.

Favorite activities when not running?

I used to do cycling a lot. Now I’m running 4 or 5 times a week and haven’t had as much time to ride as much as I would like. It would be good cross-training.

Have you ever run a half-marathon before?

Yes, but never in competition.

Rudy's training run by the sea on Île d'Oléron as shown in Health Mate

Favorite place to train?

Next to the sea on Île d’Oléron single tracks.

What is your goal for this race?

Basically, spending more time outside is my number-one goal. That’s why I’d like to give trail running a try too, but I’m a total nerd with elevation. From a performance standpoint, my ultimate goal would be to go under 40 minutes for a 10k and an hour and a half for the half-marathon.

Have you had any training mishaps?

A lot with my knees! Running is a progressive journey and I wanted to run as fast as I could during each of my first sessions. How stupid was that? It led me to get the “windshield wiper effect” (iliotibial band syndrome). So I got back to basics, started listening to my body, changed my shoes, and adapted my stride.

Have you experienced any benefits from running?

I used to get easily bored while running before, and now I have deep moments of excitement. Physically speaking, my joints were very sore only after a couple of kilometers. I feel my body has been learning, run after run, and I consider this physical adaptation a benefit.

What is your current Fitness Level, according to Steel HR Sport?

58

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Mikaël, age 26

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The most accomplished runner of the group is our CRM manager, Mikaël, who manages to inspire all of his teammates to train smarter, which sometimes means slowing down to go farther and faster.

 

Q: Do you listen to music when training?

I try to adapt the music I’m listening to my workout tempo. For slow and long runs, I usually listen to some podcasts, and I keep a couple of power songs for the race days—like Loyal from ODESZA or We Can Make The World Stop from The Glitch Mob.

Fitness inspiration/role model?

I don’t really have one, but I was very impressed by the latest winners of the Grand Raid, a 100-mile mountain ultramarathon on Réunion island. After racing against each other for more than 23 hours, François d’Haene and Benoit Girondel finally decided to cross the finish line together. That’s trail-running spirit.

Favorite activities when not running?

Food! I’m always open to taste new things, try new restaurants, or cook a fancy dinner with my girlfriend.

Have you ever run a half-marathon before?

Yes, it will be my third official half-marathon.

What is your goal?

My main motivation is to push myself further, try to see how much I can do, how fast I can go. For the Boulogne-Billancourt half-marathon, finishing close to 1 hour, 25 minutes would be a huge milestone. But to keep the motivation in the long run, staying one step ahead is key. So that’s why my next objective is already set: finishing the 50-mile Paris Eco-trail in March.

Mikaël's recent Meudon Forest run map in Health Mate via connected GPS

Favorite place to train?

Meudon’s Forest is my sweet spot: not far from the Withings office, decent elevation, fun and single tracks, very calm.

Have you had any training mishaps?

Like many beginners these days, I decided to run a marathon way too soon in my running life. At that time, I could barely handle the training required for such a race—physically or mentally—and I ended up injuring my knee three weeks before the day of the run. Going step by step is really the Running 101 lesson.

Have you experienced any benefits from running?

I’ve gained a lot of confidence in myself, as I achieve things I wouldn’t otherwise imagine to be possible. I’ve also dropped the 20 pounds I gained during my college years, which was a very satisfying thing to look at when I was seeking extra motivation.

What is your current Fitness Level, according to Steel HR Sport?

62

Raphaël, age 29

Our head of customer insights & experience, Raphaël, likes to head to the mountains for inspiration, and has learned to listen to his body and his own thoughts while training for a long-distance run.

 

Q: Music when training?

No, not anymore. I used to listen to random music, but it had too much impact on my pace and I ran too fast. Now I prefer focusing on listening my body and enjoying the view.

Fitness inspiration/role model?

Mikaël has been a great running mentor for me. He really guided me during this half-marathon prep by making me understand that running fast wasn’t the best way to train.

Favorite activities when not running?

I do indoor climbing once or twice a week. But my real favorite activity is mountaineering—from trekking, to ski touring, to rock climbing or alpinism. As I live in Paris, I do indoor climbing and running only to stay fit for my upcoming adventures!

Have you ever run a half-marathon before?

Once, two years ago. But it didn’t end well because I didn’t train seriously, and as a result, I hurt my knees.

What is your goal?

I registered with my brother, and our initial target was 1 hour, 40 minutes. I know my colleagues will be a bit ahead, and of course I would love to finish the race in 1 hour, 35 minutes, but the real reason I registered was to force myself to train with regularity and get out of my comfort zone.

Raphaël's training run as recorded in the Health Mate app

Favorite place to train?

The banks of the Seine, in southwest Paris. I love to run in the morning, close to nature, so this place is perfect as it’s close to my home and full of green spaces.

Have you had any training mishaps?

Beginning in my 20s, I regularly had knee pain when I was running, especially when I was training too hard after a few weeks without training. Over the past few years, I learned how to avoid this pain: first, do stretching before your runs. Then find the ideal running shoes, and finally, train regularly without burning steps. This last item is the most important one, but unfortunately also the hardest to maintain… so be careful to take it gradually whenever you start running.

Have you experienced any benefits from running?

Yes—weight management. Most people today have sedentary jobs like I do, and keeping an active lifestyle is very hard. Running one or two hours per week is a very efficient way to burn calories and maintain a healthy level of activity. And it’s quite easy to insert into a busy schedule. You just need to find the time and stick to it!

What is your current Fitness Level, according to Steel HR Sport?

56

Thanks to Rudy, Mikaël, and Raphael for the time! If you want more inspiration, check out all our fitness posts or let us know if you have a health story to tell by reaching out to us on any of our social channels.

Susie Felber

Susie is a writer, comedian, and producer who has worked in TV, film, theater, radio, video games, and online. As the daughter of a hard-working M.D., she's had a lifelong interest in health and is currently on a personal mission to "walk the walk" and get her writer's body in better shape.
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