We’ve had a wonderful weekend in Brussels. Warm and sunny. Summer, finally?

Every MEP is allowed to bring 100 visitors per year to Brussels or Strasbourg. The trips are sponsored by the European Parliament. It’s a great way to show how the EU works and what MEPs actually do for a living.

I had a really nice visitor’s group in town over the weekend. The group (some 20 persons) was composed of individuals who work with gay and lesbian rights. Our programme was focused on anti-discrimination and other issues relating to the field.

The group came to our place for drinks yesterday afternoon. In the evening we went down to a local Italian restaurant called La Laguna. We had a blast.

Today I had probably one of my best runs, ever. I am training for a marathon and did the longest run of the programme (3 hours) this morning. I ran together with Bill Pierce and my assistant Tuomas Rautanen.

Bill is a running guru. He is a professor at Furman University, South Carolina (my alma mater). Last year he published – together with fellow Furman Professors Scott Murr and Ray Moss (my health and exercise science Professor at Furman) – a book called Run Less, Run Faster. The book became an instant best-seller and has been praised  by Runner’s World, among others.

The basic thesis, developed through years of scientific research at Furman University, is simple: you can improve your racing times by running less. The key is intelligent training: three runs per week (long, pace, interval) and two sessions of alternative training (swimming, biking or rowing). The programme is designed for all of us who complain that we do not have time to train.

I started reading the book today…and I can already recommend it.

In any case, the run was great. We hit the tarmack around 9 am. Ran from Porte de Namur, down Avenue Louise, into the woods, down to the ring road, back to Boitsfort, down Roosevelt, up Tervuren and back into town. 

To top it off the city centre was free of cars today. Running does not get much better than that.

After the run I went home and picked up the whole family. We took our bikes on the train and enjoyed a fantastic afternoon without cars. Weekends do not get much better than this.