Allez Les Braves

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Despite saying I’d never do one again, I find myself in Paris anticipating a course à pied of epic proportions… Not a 10k, not even a half. But a full blown marathon with my sister, a self-proclaimed “sedentary solicitor” in tow.

Doing it for a charity is one thing. But running 26 miles for fun? Surely a 5k around the Bois de Boulogne and a spin class would suffice?

Blame it on dopamine, but setting goals and staying motivated towards them feels good. The more epic the challenge, the greater the sense of achievement. It’s a form of pleasure seeking.

An inspiring route, delicious food and a spa at the finish line certainly helps… Paris being the obvious choice.

After a two hour delay on the Eurostar that calls for even more champagne (you can tell we’re taking this really seriously), and a minor detour via Salon du running to sign away our fate, we arrive at The Westin Paris – Vendôme.

A stunning 4 star hotel close to the Louvre Museum and the Place Vendôme with unrivalled views of the Eiffel Tower.

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We’re shown to our suite (usually reserved for honeymooners) and swiftly inhale a plate of macaroons on our balcony, spellbound by the dazzling light show.

It’s hard to imagine we were close to quitting just a few weeks ago. Considering my sister’s crazy working hours – this is understandable. I have no excuse… blame it on “hedonic substitution”, swapping exercise for, er wine.

But both being suckers for reward and punishment, we powered through. And here we are, pounding the Champs-Élysées to a background battle cry of “Allez Les Braves”.

While we made a pact to only complete half, the atmosphere soon convinces me otherwise. It’s hard not to get a tiny bit excited on this endorphin fuelled sightseeing tour aside from the questionable brass band or two. Nothing a pair of noise isolation headphones can’t fix…

As temperatures soar to 25 degrees (another thing we didn’t prepare for), even the Eiffel Tower loses its appeal. I somehow manage to keep going, aided by many a fireman hose and that divine force known as the runner’s high.

The biggest high of all doesn’t come at the finish line. But dining with my sister on Bordeaux and steak frites, in her former stomping ground of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

The next day we reward our efforts with a visit to the sumptuous Six Senses Spa for an Oriental massage combining Thai stretching with acupressure. The perfect remedy for tired legs with vibrational therapy using a Tibetan bowl, to leave chakras in check.

We practically float onto the Eurostar. I don’t know if it was the magical massage or mountain of macaroons courtesy of Pierre Hermé. But somehow we end up booking another marathon.

Next stop… Lisbon.

Tip: If running marathons isn’t your thing… try a running tour around Paris instead. Or a park run around the Bois de Boulogne. If time is of the essence, squeeze in a treadmill session at the WestinWORKOUT Gym. Or fancy hitting the studio? Read our post on 20 wellness spots in Paris.

But if you’re going to train like a Parisian… be sure to add a sprinkling of sex dust to your superfood smoothie. Yes, it’s really a thing. 

By Hettie

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