Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Merell Pure Glove

My poor, running-deprived legs finally got just over 6 kilometres of VFF-in-the-woods joy early this morning. What better way to start the day?

Then it was time for my dentist appointment. I'd rather have run a marathon. The torture, which cost me an hour of my life and both an arm and a leg, left me traumatised. TRAUMATISED, I tell you! So shocked by the whole experience was I that I got lost. Somehow, completely confused, dazed and befuddled, I wandered into Naturkompaniet and bought a new pair of shoes.

Merell Pure Glove
I've been eyeing these beauties for a while. I needed some everyday shoes that look prettier than jogging shoes; I also wanted some flat, ”barefoot” shoes to wear and train my feet in, even when I'm not running. A pair that's both good looking and functional, in other words.

I can't wait to try them out. Unfortunately I'll have to wait. I have to take them back and go up a size, as they are a bit too small.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Hill intervals. Kind of.

Yesterday (and for one day only!) I was superwoman. As you might remember, I couldn't decide if I should go for a run or if I should rest and read a book. So I did both. Impressive, right?

After a tough first kilometre, my body was finally awake. It's a good thing I was wearing my VFF. I suspect that my legs might have felt way too heavy otherwise, and I might have turned back home. Somehow J and I made it to the woods, where we engaged in a strange game. J and his long legs would run a bit ahead of me. When he slowed down while running uphill, I would catch up with him with my short, quick steps and then be ahead of him for a few seconds. But then he would pick up some speed, thinking that I was just messing with him, running uphill fast. And the cycle would start from the beginning.

So what was intended as a very, VERY easy, slow run turned into a kind of hill intervals thanks to an unintentional (yet fun) competition between J and me. As we emerged from the woods to run the last kilometre home, tiredness finally hit me. I only had the strength to read a few pages of my book before my eyes started getting heavy. I slept well last night.

Monday, 27 June 2011

This indecision's killing me

What a week this is going to be. After today, I probably won't be able to go for a run until Saturday. Long working hours, an appointment with the dentist midweek that is bound to leave me with a fever (again) and the Iron Maiden concert on Friday mean that I'll have to take an easy training week. Good thing too, probably, after the super weekend I had.

I'm not sure what to do with this sunny, warm evening I have ahead of me. A part of me is screaming for a run in the woods with J, another wants to zone out with a book. The first part is thinking that it won't get to run for ages and to take advantage of the wonderful weather, the second is saying I've already done loads the last three days and that it doesn't matter if I skip it today. Both parts are right. Both parts are wrong.

The world is holding its breath. What's it going to be? Run or no run? Stay tuned.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Mini duathlon

Days like this it's hard to stay indoors. It's a waste. Days like this are gifts, and it's rude to throw them away. Even if you've been torturing your legs with two consecutive 20km runs.

My legs didn't feel like they had been tortured, though. So I slipped on my VFF, jumped on my bike and quickly pedalled down to Amundö, about 5 km away.

There, I swiftly took my helmet off, locked my bike and started running. I was immediately greeted by these gorgeous fellows and their friends:

Amundö is so unbelievably beautiful. Surrounded by the sea, this little ”island” is a nature reserve frequently visited by families, pensioners, young couples - anyone who likes nature. Vegetation is thick and the contrast between the shade in the wooded areas and the sunshine on the exposed beaches and cliffs is stark.

The path around the island is only about 2,5 kilometres long. It follows the coastline and for the most part it is in such good condition that people walk around it with prams. I settled for an easy, controlled pace, which was soon interrupted by roots and stones when I came near to the sea. I walked, because I thought that breaking a leg would probably be bad for my training. I climbed stairs, balanced on narrow planks, jumped between rocks. Fortunately, it was only a short segment of the path that was so rough.

My dream of running on sand in my VFF became reality. A tiny beach lay next to the path and I saw my chance. The sand was really soft and unstable, giving way beneath my feet, and I could tell what a great workout it would be to run on a long sandy beach.

Once I was back at the beginning, I started around the path once more, this time knowing what to expect and feeling more confident. My feet felt light, my muscles willing. The past few days' tiredness was as good as gone and any soreness that might have been there before disappeared.

I ran to my bike after just over 5 km. I had the wind on my back this time, and it felt so easy. So much fun. Different muscles had to work. This was almost hubris; surely I should be feeling a lot more tired after the intense effort of the last couple of days? It was almost the opposite. The more I pushed, the more my body felt alive and energetic.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Midsummer 2 x 20

I'm going to sound like the most boring person in the world, but I'm not that interested in drinking. A glass of wine to go with my food is great, and I appreciate the taste, but I really don't like getting drunk.

Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was our mood, but no one felt like celebrating midsummer eve by drinking and singing yesterday. We had a quiet (and sober, for me) evening, which meant that I was up at 5.30 this morning, well rested and ready for action.

I know I wrote that I was going to try running two long runs, one on Friday and one on Sunday. Well, that turned out to be kind of true. Instead of waiting until tomorrow (why postpone it?), I went running again this morning.

I barely had started running when negative thinking and self-doubt invaded my brain. Two long runs, two days in a row? That must be wrong! It must be more wrong than running a marathon in one day! I'll never make it - I ran 20 km yesterday, there is no way I'll be able to do it again today.

My body took its time sorting out all the creaking and groaning in my knees and thighs. It first started feeling properly warmed up after 10 km. It's a pattern I've noticed before: it takes ages for my body to get started and get in a flow.

I ran my usual route backwards and took a different road about half way. The variation made a great difference; running the exact same route while on tired legs is a special kind of psychological torture that I didn't want to add to the list of things that could wipe me out.

Once my body was warmed up, I relaxed and enjoyed my surroundings. The thick woods, the tall grass, the quietness. I welcomed any hills I came across, as my legs seemed to wake up then, after several kilometres' worth of repetitive movement.

My initial goal was to run between 15-18 kilometres, but when I came to the crossroads where I had to choose if I'd take the shortcut or the long way around, I chose to run further. The last couple of kilometres felt easy on the legs.

20 kilometres yesterday. 20 kilometres today. Not a great deal by ultra standards by any means; still, I am so glad and thankful that my crazy idea was not so crazy after all. That my body seems to be strong enough to deal with this kind of strain. Today, I feel strong.

Friday, 24 June 2011

A great start to the weekend

My body was filled with jell-o when I forced it out the door this morning. It was probably psychological, but I felt like a couch potato going out for her first run. After just two days of rest/fever.

The feeling didn't last. After a couple of kilometres where I kept a close watch on my pulse, I eased up and let my legs find a comfortable pace. That comfortable pace turned out to be quite a fast one.

I ran under a dark sky past grass fields, tall horses, sleepy houses. And flowers. All the beautiful midsummer flowers. Honeysuckle, roses and jasmine all competed with the pungent smell coming from the sea. And won, with their sweet scents.

The wind stirred the sea, making it wild and foaming at the coast. The waves were white horses, furiously galloping to the shore. Perhaps unconventionally, I loved this weather. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I had the wind on my back, like a helping hand pushing me onwards.

I stopped after 20 kilometres, having run at a speed that would have given me a half marathon distance under 2 hours. Midsummer weekend started off well.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

I'm a heathen

Despite the fact that I've spent all day dreaming about going for a long run after work, I am going to be a good girl and wait until tomorrow. Thermometer showed that my temperature is still a bit too high.

Instead I'll enjoy how silent the flat is compared to work (I'll try to ignore our next door neighbour who's either banging with a hammer or playing techno music – I can't tell the difference), open the great book I'm currently reading and lose myself in its pages. Let my brain do the work instead. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be well enough to celebrate midsummer in my own way: by inhaling, tasting, touching nature. By running. I'm a heathen.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Thou shalt not postpone a run

No, don't do it later, no matter how grey the skies are. Do it now. Because if you postpone your run, something might happen, no, something will most definitely happen*  to prevent you from actually going out for a run.

This was the lesson I learned today. This morning I took a look at the ominous dark clouds and thought I'd wait and go for a run "later". Then my dentist did several painful things to my teeth and now I'm sitting at home with the resulting fever, wishing I had gone for a run, you know, sooner.

So don't think about it. Just get out there and run now. There is no "later". Later your legs might fall off.

*Murphy's law, natch.

Kilometer junkie

The sky is ominously dark outside, covered in thick clouds. I woke up at 5, not really sure if dawn had come. I ate my breakfast, intending to wait for a short while afterwards and then go for a run, but now I find myself wanting to postpone it until later in the day. When the sun is high up in the sky.

Friday is a bank holiday here in Sweden, and once again I find myself dreaming of adventure. It is quite common among people our age (and younger...and older) to celebrate the summer solstice by drinking with friends and singing silly songs, and then to spend Saturday nursing a hangover. We have no specific plans yet as to how we'll be spending Friday evening, but it's safe to say that, with one of J's friends staying with us for a few days, it's not likely to be spent praying and meditating. So here's what I'm thinking: what if I went for my long run tomorrow after work or on Friday morning, and then for another one on Sunday? You know, just in case I *ahem* can't go running on Saturday?

I've been contemplating fitting in two long runs per week since my run last Saturday. I ran 31 km then, followed by one day's rest and then 8 more last Monday. Would I be able to pull off 20 km on Saturdays and maybe a shorter long run of 15-18 on Wednesdays? I'm already up to 11 on my Wednesday runs. Would my body like the increase or would it break down? Am I so comfortable with the half marathon distance now, that I could run it twice a week, or would it wear me out?

There's only one way to find out.

Monday, 20 June 2011

That long dark cloud is coming down

...but I didn't let it scare me. No matter how much rain the sky threatened with, I wanted to run the longer route home, the one that takes me by the sea. I had my VFF on my feet and wanted to run on sand.

My thighs ached so much yesterday that I could hardly bend my legs. They felt only a bit better today. When I left work, they started their whining immediately, but after just a few metres they had completely forgotten all about their troubles. They love the soft steps I take in my VFF.

There is a camping site by the sea, which has been deserted all winter. Now, it wasn't. Trailers were parked in most of the available places, tents in others, children were running around or kicking a ball, old ladies were cycling. I know it sounds like I'm writing a blurb for a Swedish Tourist Board leaflet, but there was one thing that would never find its way on a leaflet: the dark clouds hanging over the allotment houses, while the tenants did some gardening.

I got to the beach where I had hoped to run on sand. Unfortunately, it's getting rebuilt. No, I'm not kidding. They're building paths around the beach and who knows what else, so the beach was not accessible for the public. Oh well. I still managed to find a patch of sand (about one square metre) and afterwards I happily trotted on the grass.

Those long dark clouds came and went, without a single drop of rain.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Do the right thing

While I was running yesterday, aiming to cross the 30 km line for the second time in less than two months, some doubts found their way into my head. Was this right? Was I pushing myself too far again? Was I repeating past mistakes? Or has my training been more balanced than ever before? Has my technique improved? Are my muscles and tendons stronger this time around? Have I been smarter?

The reason for these doubts was, of course, that the last time I dared hope I was strong enough to run an ultra, I got injured.

I revisited my training log from last year and compared it with my training this far this year. I remembered how I had problems with my Achille's tendons last August. How the first warning signals for my plantar fasciitis were ignored sometime in October. How the amount of kilometres logged went from 83 in April to 211 in August (in just 5 months!). How the culmination of all this training was running almost 50 km from Alingsås one beautiful day in November, an increase by 20 km on my longer run up to that point. How I then got injured.

Last winter was, despite my injury, a winter with more running than the one before. But were those 270 km enough to maintain my form and the strength in my legs that I'd built in 2010? Spring brought a satisfactory amount of training, with a long run of at least 20 km almost every Saturday since March. Undoubtedly, I'm in much better form now than I was in June last year. Where will I be this autumn?

When stuck at home nursing an injured foot, it's easy to make promises that you'll listen to your body from now on, that you'll take it easy, that you'll be smarter this time, that you'll do other sports (*cough* swimming *cough*). But once you're up and running again, it's proving to be very difficult to keep your promises. Thankfully, my body has so far been satisfied with how far I've been pushing it, with no more than achy muscles as a testament to what I'm putting it through. But the fear is always there, that something could snap at any minute, forcing me to sit on the bench once more.

You have to push yourself to get better. But push too far and you'll break. How to know how far is too far?

As I've written before, I don't follow a schedule. I just run as far and as fast as the mood takes me. But the lack of schedule also means taking responsibility for any failures, uncertainty on whether or not what I'm doing is right, and an absence of guidelines on how to reach my goals. That's not to say that following a schedule will guarantee a smooth, injury-free progression; but it might prevent me from doing too much too soon.

But then the joy of running would be lost.

Saturday, 18 June 2011


Not following a training programme means that one day you suddenly wake up and feel like going for a long run, and there's no one or nothing there to stop you. Take today, for instance. I woke up after way too little sleep, but I was so eager to go for a run that I didn't let that little detail get in my way. I filled my new Camelbak with two litres of water (of the possible 3) and jogged to the bus stop.

2 extra kilos on my back made my knees ache during this 1,5 km jog and I was worried about how far I'd get before they became too much. Good thing about carrying a water reservoir on your back though is that, as you run further and further, the reservoir gets lighter and lighter. By the end of my run I couldn't even feel the backpack.

The bus ride to Kungsbacka took 50 minutes. I looked through the window at all the beautiful places I would revisit on foot on my way back: eccentric villas, flowers, the seaside, cows and sheep lazily eating grass. I was so excited to be heading out on this little adventure and I couldn't wait till I started running. The trip took forever.

Once I got there, I found my bearings, got a satellite signal on my phone, started my Garmin and began my journey back home. I kept a low pace, trying to save my strength. The first few kilometres after Kungsbacka are mainly uphill. I kept my eyes on my shadow in front of me and lowered my cap so that the view of the long hill ahead was blocked. I didn't want to know. I let my thoughts wander and, before I knew it, I was running downhill.

Leaving the busy motorway behind, I ran on a quieter road. It was surrounded by magnificent fields of green. It is here Sandsjöbackaleden begins, and it did cross my mind to run the trail through Sandsjöbacka again, instead of heading towards the sea and running on the cycle path. It was a very brief thought, though; the memory of how tough it was last week kept me running towards Särö.

I was amazed by how quiet it was. There weren't many cars around, and even fewer people. The few people that I met only smiled, hardly saying a word. I ran past an older gentleman carrying a hydration backpack, heading towards Kungsbacka. The smiles we exchanged were slightly bigger than the ones reserved for others. We were two like-minded people on a similar adventure. I had no idea who he was, yet I couldn't help but feel connected to him somehow.

After a detour in Särö, I was on the old rail road tracks that, many years ago, went from Särö to Gothenburg. Because of its previous status as a rail road, the cycle path is flat. Almost too flat. Muscles tire more easily when there is no variation. When variation finally comes in the form of, say, an obstacle that you have to run around, it's almost as if your muscles have been caught sleeping and wake up guiltily with a start.

I took frequent, yet short pauses to walk and drink water. I think this interrupts my flow, although I'm sure that my muscles are thankful that I let them rest for a few seconds. I had planned a longer pause since the bus drove past Nordgården. Nordgården is a cosy restaurant and bakery. I popped in and marvelled at how many different sorts of breads and buns they had managed to fit in such a small place. I decided on a raspberry and rhubarb muffin, and bought a brownie and cinnamon bun to share with J later. The girl at the counter was also kind enough to give me some water. I sat on a bench outside the bakery and enjoyed the delicious muffin, while the sun caressed my face.

With renewed energy I was ready to face the last 10 kilometres of my run. I was back on familiar grounds, running by the sea. I stopped to splash some sea water on my face and arms. With a little help from a light breeze, the water cooled me down and gave me strength. I wasn't far from home now. Garmin showed 30 kilometres but I kept running. Just after 3 hours, I stopped my watch at 31 km.

As I walked home the rest of the way, I saw a guy who sold strawberries. I had to buy some. ”Have you been out for a jog?” he asked. ”Yes” I said, ”I've run from Kungsbacka”. ”That's far! I run around Delsjön sometimes, it's really beautiful” he replied. I told him I agreed. It's all very beautiful. Running takes something that already is beautiful and turns it into a masterpiece.


6 km after I left Kungsbacka, I heard a braying sound. I knew immediately what it was, and, despite what it sounded like, it wasn't a dog burping; I had heard J's stories from when he had been out camping in the woods. Roe deer! I looked in the bushes by the cycle path. Sure enough, there she was: a gorgeous roe deer mum with her two fawns. They disappeared almost as soon as I saw them, but it made me smile. Even though I once more had failed to capture the deer with my camera.

But then, a couple of hundred metres later, there it was.

Standing among the tall grass blades, looking at me running past.

I stopped, took out my phone, turned around and avoided making eye contact as I aimed the camera towards it.

It stood there paralysed. I cautiously walked closer, still not looking at it directly, still taking pictures.

One good(-ish) picture. Then it was gone.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Longing for a long run

Tomorrow's weather forecast is looking very promising. 16 degrees, almost no wind, sunny. It's been ages since I ran a long, easy run on tarmac. I've mostly been focusing on hills, since it is that kind of training I need for running on Kungsleden in a few weeks' time. But tomorrow it's time to take it easy and run long. Maybe REALLY long, if the mood takes me.

It could be the fact that I've been reading Josefin's inspirational blog (in Swedish, unfortunately), who's running round Gotland this month. Or it could be that I received some running gear in the post today that I ordered last week. Among other things, a 3-litre Camelbak reservoir that fits perfectly in my Inov-8 backpack - I just have to test it. Whatever this urge to run long is caused by, I am willingly giving in to it. I follow no schedule. I do what I feel like when it comes to running. I love the freedom of it.

Running in the woods is amazing, both because of the beauty all around and the training benefits, but there is one fault: I can't get into a flow, like I do when I run on tarmac. Sometimes on my long runs on flat tarmac I get into an almost meditative state, my thoughts drifting away to all sorts of things. Once I was so lost in my thoughts that I suddenly looked around and had no idea where I was. On a path where I'd run a million times before.

Thursday, 16 June 2011


3 weeks left before I go on holiday. 3 long weeks, where I run on empty, using up the last bits of psychological strength I have left. I am tired. It's been a long, tiresome winter / spring and it's high time I took some time off. Some time to be with the ones I love. Some time to do other things than worry about work. Some time to run, read books, watch films, or just lie on a beach somewhere and listen to the sound of the waves. Live my life. Enjoy my life.

At the moment I try to concentrate on making it to the weekend. If I look too far into the future, I get overwhelmed by how many days there are left to our holiday. So I take one day at a time. One week at a time.

Today is going to be a long one. I don't even know what time I'll be able to leave work and come home. There is no running in the cards, of course, but I will take the bike to work so that I can make a quick escape afterwards.

Two days left to the weekend.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Humble pie

From sorry ass to bad ass to dumb ass – all within one day!

Sorry ass: I was certain that the past two days' bad form would keep even today. I didn't know if I would go out for a run or if I should rest.

Bad ass: Seeing as I might not go for a run, I decided to do some spring cleaning. Yes, I know it's summer. Let's just say that this particular matter was low on my list of priorities.

It took three hours and by that time I had found the flow I couldn't find in running this week. I could have gone on forever. However, the clock was ticking and I had to make up my mind. Would I run to town and meet J for some climbing? Or would I call him and say I wanted to keep cleaning instead?

9 km later I was sitting red faced but happy in J's office. I had had a great time making it up the hills in Änggårdsbergen and I was ready to do some easy climbing. Or so I thought. Once we were at the gym, I started with a 6B that has been hit and miss. Sometimes I find it easy, others impossible. Today I found it easy. When I was about half way up, I realised there was a small crowd of 7-year olds gathered at the foot of the wall, looking at me. ”Look, she's almost at the top!” they exclaimed. I beamed, my chest inflated with pride, and climbed onwards, a stupid smile on my face.

To think that a bunch of 7-year olds' amazed faces could give me wings. I got cocky. I wanted to try the 5+ on the overhang, a route that I've tested before, but only got about 2/3 of the way. It's easy up to that point, but then it gets really hard: the wall gets almost horizontal.

Dumb ass: I waited impatiently for J to finish his climb. I was bursting with energy and confidence. I was going to make it up the 5+ this time, I just knew it. The thought of how I impressed those kids would carry me all the way to the top. But by the time it was my turn to climb, my confidence had waned. I didn't want to look up at the horizontal part of the wall. I wanted to feel strong again. I started climbing, fast, determined. But it is a high wall. I got to the first carbine that I had to pry loose and my arms died. I tried holding on to the wall, desperately hoping that my strength would magically return, but in the end I had to face the facts. It was the end of this climb for me. I let go off the wall and hung there in the air, several metres from the ground, thankfully with no little kids around to disappoint. I was humbled, once again, by the great wall.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Coming soon to a theatre near you: The Master of All Bad Runs

It's highly unlikely that my grandmother has access to a computer, let alone reads my blog. But for the sake of all grandmothers everywhere, I will refrain from using profanity in this post.

Not to mention that I don't want the kind of traffic my choice of words would attract to my blog.

But rest assured that my brain is so full of foul language, it could explode like Tourette's suffering fireworks. Why? you ask. Well, as it turns out, yesterday's bad form was not a one-off. It was merely the precursor of today's Master of All Bad Runs. An appetiser to the main dish. A teaser, if you like, for the feature disaster film.

I dragged my feet home from work. Garmin showed a pulse of 228. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to think. It just hurt. And then, when I was but a kilometre from home, it hurt some more. A lot more.

Stomach cramps attacked me with such force that they almost paralysed me. I thought I was going to throw up. I stopped running and started walking. Then after a few meters, I tried running again. It took two steps for me to realise that this wasn't going to work. I resigned to walking the rest of the way. I stretched, I breathed deeply, I walked upright. Slowly, the cramps faded. I kept walking, up some stairs, through the local graveyard, past a school. I started running tentatively, certain that the pain would come back, but it never did. I looked at my Garmin: 4,2 km and I was almost at my doorstep. No way I would accept cutting a 5 km run short because of some stupid cramps. I took a detour to round it off. I survived.

Like I wrote yesterday, some days you feel invincible. Other days you have to give it your all to earn those kilometres.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Wish I was bulletproof

Some days you feel invincible and some days you thank your lucky stars if you can just move one foot in front of the other. Saturday's escapades planted me firmly, if temporarily, in the second category.

J and I went climbing yesterday, but I was too exhausted to put any real effort into it. I picked easy routes, and the only difficult route I tried out I had to give up half way.

I walked to work this morning, planning on running home. The walk warmed up my strained thigh muscles and tricked me into thinking that I had recovered well enough. But when it was time to get home, any attempts to run with good technique were short-lived and I landed heavily with every step. I ran in my VFF, which usually ”force” me to run lightly, but not even they could save this session.

But I don't give up easily. Experience has shown that my tired muscles get better after an easy run, so I'm running home from work tomorrow too. 5 easy kilometres to sweet talk my body into Wednesday's longer run. Let's hope it works.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger etc etc

This was one of the toughest runs ever. This was one of the best runs ever.

Spirits were high when our little group of 7 set out to run Sandsjöbackaleden. It was a cool, sunny day, and nature was doing its best to impress us with its beauty. None of us had run the whole trail before, so the mutual feeling was one of nervous anticipation.

The first couple of kilometres were run on tarmac. It's not that simple to get to Sandsjöbacka nature reserve. The big blue bus doesn't drive past it on Saturdays. Thankfully it wasn't hard to find, and it was a nice little area we had to run through to get there.

The trail hit us hard from the beginning. Stones, roots, mud and hills were the norm during the first 8 kilometres, with almost no flat ground on which to rest and find a comfortable rhythm. It was almost like a concentration test; blink and you might break a leg on one of the stones jutting out of the mud, or get a big wound from one of the roots breaking through the ground. We tripped several times, but thankfully no one was injured – not even a scratch.

A brief respite came around the 10th kilometre, when we came to a dirt road leading to some houses. Some small dogs living in the garden of one of the houses seemed very excited to see us, and their sharp yapping accompanied us long after we were out of sight. After a short break to drink some water and eat some dextrose tablets, it was back to the woods. The ground was flatter now, which was appreciated by our tired legs. Soon we reached a stable. The horses all looked at us curiously, us weird – looking, colourful creatures running past. 

We had run 15 kilometres at this point. A steep hill defeated me, and I had to walk up it, drinking as I went. At the top, with renewed energy from another dextrose tablet, I started running again. The others seemed to be in much better form than me. That is unfortunately almost always the case during our group runs. Not so much fun for them, having to wait for me, but unbelievably good for me that I have to push myself in order to keep up. I've become much stronger and braver thanks to our group runs. 

We arrived at a farm, and from here on it was all very familiar to me. Sandsjöbackaleden here is the same as Torrekullaleden's western half, which I have run a couple of times and hiked a few more. Once you reach Oxsjön, the rugged trail turns into a nice path, which (although hilly) is much easier to run on. Normally. When you haven't just run 20 kilometres. 

I was a wreck. Small hills that I otherwise find easy seemed like a mountain now. I had to stop again, so close to the end of the trail that it felt pathetic. Drank more water. Pushed onwards again. Finally arrived at the end of the trail, and made several appreciative noises. Like "Yay!" and "We made it!"

But it didn't end there. I still had to get home somehow. The others chose to follow me instead of taking the bus, some of them wanting to run all the way home and some to take a different, more convenient bus further down the road. Another 2 kilometres logged brought the total to a knee-busting 25 kilometres. 

This was a much needed trail session. I have to improve. Trail running takes you to such breathtakingly beautiful places, that you'd otherwise miss if you only ran on paved roads. But in order to enjoy these places and not just feel that it hurts all over, I need to get better at it. Good thing there are some cool trails around here!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

In the arms of sleep

I had a very brief discussion with myself this morning. I didn't agree with myself and then things got heated:

Me1: Me, shall I run home from work this afternoon?

Me2: *Yawn*

Me1: Hallo?

Me2: *Downs a mug of coffee in seconds*

Me1: In VFF?

Me2: *Tiredly raises head, pries eyes open with fingers, half interested*

Me1: In the rain?

Me2: And you were doing so well.

Me1: Sigh. Bike it is, then.

Phew! Good thing I wasn't carrying a knife, or things would have really gotten out of hand.

I don't know if it's the weather, but I've been feeling so sleepy the past 2-3 days. I've had enough sleep, but still, this rainy weather presses against my temples and pushes down my eyelids, so I have to walk around with my arms outstretched so as not to bump into anything. Resisting it is too much work. Need. More. Sleep.

I am resolute to keep up with the resting regime until Saturday. Sandsjöbackaleden is no piece of cake. It's a tough, hilly trail that has most likely only gotten worse after the last couple of days' rain. Let's hope that this veil of tiredness lifts from my head before then.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Scream for me, Gothenburg

A day without running can be more tiresome than a day with two running sessions. The proof? That I crawled through the whole day at work yesterday with my eyes half closed, only to come home at 9 and collapse in bed at 10, where I then lay wide awake, having gone so far past tiredness that I couldn't sleep. When sleep finally came to me, it was of the light variety. I was too warm; then I was freezing; then I was too warm again. I tossed and turned. I kicked the sheets. When I woke up this morning, I was only marginally less tired than I was last night.

Still, I ventured outside for a run. I took my phone with me this time, but no deer were anywhere in sight. On the other hand, a thousand screaming school kids were there, if not in sight, then within hearing distance. But I didn't feel as motivated to take a picture of them.

The only wildlife I got to see today

My run felt a bit...bleh. I am used to having the woods to myself, or sharing them with only a couple of others, but today I was late to go out for my run, and apparently the whole of Gothenburg was there. I'm not sure what all those screaming kids were doing there, apart from screaming their lungs off, maybe trying to get in touch with nature? By way of their primal scream? Trying to rid the woods of wild boar? Or wildlife in general? I don't know. But it felt right to leave the main path and cut straight into the woods, on a trail that very few people use. And, of course, I got lost. It's Wednesday after all.

Somehow I succeeded in finding my way back to civilisation soon afterwards and arrived home after 7 km. I am tempted to take two days off running now, in order to rest my legs that have taken a beating the past few days. I have run almost 50 km since last Saturday, 42 of which within 3 days. Another reason I want to rest is that this Saturday I am running Sandsjöbackaleden with the group, a 22-km trail that cuts through a nature reserve and which is pretty hard work. But boy am I looking forward to it. These legs need all the trail training they can get.

Monday, 6 June 2011

The mythical roe deer

Ok, this is getting ridiculous. J and I went out for a run and we saw a deer. It was standing right on the path, and it moved away slowly when it saw us, only to stop again a few meters into the woods and stare at us.

Taking a picture of a deer has become a personal quest for me, akin to the quest to find and take a picture of the Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot or a UFO. The deer are just as elusive. Those of you who don't live in Sweden and have been reading this blog for a while might have noticed all my unsuccessful attempts at capturing the mythical roe deer on film. There was this:

Where is Waldo?

And this masterpiece:

Any blurry photos I have taken in the past cannot be considered evidence of the roe deer's existence, as they are so blurry I might as well claim that they are photos of Elvis, and, dear reader, I can understand if you treat them with scepticism. But I can promise you: the roe deer DOES exist, despite my spectacular failure to present you with evidence. Ask any Swede.

So while the roe deer was posing beautifully among the trees with its big brown eyes, and waiting for me to take a picture, my mobile phone was safely at home. Where, on any normal run, I NEVER BLOODY LEAVE IT.

The thin line between seizing the day and losing your marbles

Bank holidays rock. Especially when they occur on a Monday.

Long weekends are so filled with promise of all the things you suddenly get to do, that you otherwise don't have so much time with. It can also lead to minor panic, because how on earth will you have time to do all the things you want to do?

For me, the prospect of having a few days off is magic. I didn't have any specific training plans for this long weekend other than to run as much as I felt like. And I did. Almost. It was 18 km on Saturday, 12,5 yesterday, 6,5 this morning and I just might go out again tonight. Just to keep J company on his run, of course. And because it's so much fun. But don't call the men in the white coats just yet. Tomorrow I won't do any running at all.

On the aftermath of my new VFF record, my calves felt a bit stiff as I walked down the stairs this morning, but they gave me no grief later, not during the run and not afterwards either. I've not exactly rested since then, as we went climbing, but considering that I ran so far in my VFF yesterday, my calves are fine. The rest of me could probably do with some rest, what I wrote above about long weekends. Carpe diem and all that.

I seized the day, alright. I'm already looking forward to seizing the day next weekend.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Socialising in VFF

The best way to recover from a long run is to go cycling with your friends, find a place on a cliff by the sea, spend the afternoon in the hot sun drinking rosé wine, chatting and laughing and then come home looking like a lobster. Ok, so maybe it's not the best way to recover from a long run, but it's the best way to spend an afternoon (apart from the coming home looking like a lobster bit – that, I really don't recommend. Don't stay in the sun too long, folks!)

I slept for 9 hours last night. A day in the sun can do that to a person. I spent the morning taking it easy, and then hopped on a really warm bus dressed in a technical T and my shorts. The reason was that I was about to meet some people who are into barefoot / VFF running, and run a few kilometres together. I warmed up in my Kayanos and then switched to VFF before the others showed up. I was a bit apprehensive, because I'm still new at this and they're not, but as it turned out, not only could I keep up, but I went above and beyond the call of duty. But more of that later. 

I met up with 4 runners, among which the women's winner of Lidingö Ultra 50km (and one of the chirpiest people I've ever met). The first kilometre was fast. Fast for me, anyway. We ran through Slottsskogen, Gothenburg's most popular park, and up a hill to see the moose calves in the little zoo. I don't know why, but hills feel easier in VFF.

We made our way down the hill again, and into the Botanical Garden. People stared as we ran on the grass, climbed on rocks and just had fun. Pure, unadulterated, child-like fun. Then, it happened. One of the group got injured. His knee got dislocated. He took it pretty well, saying that he'd had problems with it for a while and it was a question of time before it happened. Still. Ouch.

Needless to say, he had to go home, and the session was brought to a premature end. We had run about 5 km together, but I still had to get home somehow. I decided to keep my VFF on and run through Änggårdsbergen. Either it isn't as steep on the Botanical Garden side or I was having a good day, because before I knew it I had reached the highest point, with a view over Gothenburg, and was already heading downhill towards home.

I glanced at my Garmin, not without some anxiety. My calves were doing fine, but my toes were sore. I decided to put my Kayanos back on when I came out of the nature reserve, but once I got there I was keen to maintain my pace and kept postponing the pit stop. 

Before I knew it, I had run 10 km in my VFF and I was almost home. It felt pointless to stop now, even though my toes were screaming by that point. Garmin showed 12,5 km when I arrived, of which just over 11 in my VFF. Once again I shattered my previous record, this time by 3 km. As a reward, I now have a blood blister under each of my big toes and some wonderfully achy calves.