Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Elitist editorials and Wednesday long runs

I'm not a fast runner. I'm faster than some, slower than most. But I am a runner.

Yesterday I got the latest issue of Runner's World in the mail, along with a letter urging me to renew my subscription. I have thought about cancelling it for over a year, but after reading the editorial I have finally made up my mind.

The magazine does not inspire me any more. I find that it's more aimed at beginners, and the only things I've been enjoying are ultra running legend Rune Larsson's column along with a couple of others. The editorials always seem to be about the same thing: the lack of good results in Swedish running. The magazine's editor has made it into his personal crusade to turn Swedish runners into Kenyans. He's been trying to convince people to run faster for ages, but in the latest issue he goes as far as to imply that speed is the only running merit worth mentioning. He writes that we should leave our comfort zones and run faster. Any speed below 6 min/km is slow.

I find his attitude elitist and provocative. Tell ultra runners that they are not daring enough when they run 100 kilometres ”slowly”. That it's somehow comfortable to run that far. Tell it to trail runners, climbing up mountains. Or let's not even take it that far. Tell it to the couch potato who's heading out for their first -probably really slow- run.

I agree that we should push ourselves sometimes, if we want to get better (but not that it's wrong to not do so). But pushing ourselves and leaving our comfort zone can mean very different things to different people. We all have our own ”demons” to fight: for some that means running faster, for others running further, for others just getting out the door. 

Those were the things I thought about during the first few kilometres of my run on Torrekullaleden. I wanted to test a new route that took me through the Sandsjöbacka nature reserve and back towards the first part of my usual long run. My reverie was rudely interrupted by a snake that slithered across the path, which I almost had to jump over to avoid. Then I arrived at the more technical part of the trail and I couldn't think about anything – I had to concentrate on not breaking a leg. Or my neck.

After 10 km I left the trail and was on a country road that winded through horse pastures, farms and birch woods. The cool shade of the woods was replaced by a merciless sun. I sipped water out of my Camelbak constantly to keep hydrated. Soon I was back on my usual route, heading home, but I chose to take a little detour through a neighbourhood where I hadn't been before. There weren't many people around – not so strange on a working day.

20 kilometres later I was back home. I'm loving the fact that I can run two long runs in a week. They weren't fast, but they certainly were outside my comfort zone. Eat that, Mr Editor.

He's not leaving his comfort zone for anyone


  1. Håller med dig om mycket när det gäller Runners, efter ett år känns det som att alla artiklar komer igen! Svårt bara att hitta en tidning som håller. AktivTräning är så "kilig" och "MåBra" så "tjejig". Jag köper utländs Runners ibland men den är lite dyr. Just nu är min favorit "Outdoor" - de har också en väldigt bra FB-sida med kul artiklar!

  2. Tack för tipset, jag ska kolla på det :) Jag prenumererar på Trail Runner, som jag tycker är väldigt inspirerande. Man kan läsa gamla tidningar på deras websida:

  3. Den har jag aldrig läst! Det får bli semesterlitteraturen! Taack!

    Kattbilden är underbar!