Tuesday, 31 July 2012


I was really nervous before my run this morning. My knee has been acting up, feeling vaguely irritated and apparently kneeding (HA HA) rest. I've been following my physiotherapist's recommendations slavishly, increasing my running time slowly, my running calendar looking like a chessboard:

I couldn't decide what shoes to run in. Should I try my insoles again, to give my tendon some rest? Or should I keep running in my VFF, which were better for my runner's knee? Did it even make any difference or was it all in my head? I was becoming so paranoid at this point that I honestly started believing that my training had nothing to do with how my knee felt. No. It was the weather's fault. Thunder in the air? Discomfort in my knee. Sunshine? Knee's a go. It was just a symptom of old age rapidly approaching.

Of course that was a very convenient way to convince myself that I could still go running, and whatever happens, happens for some obscure reason that I have no control over. I mean, if there's thunder in the air, the knee will complain no matter if I run or not. This way, I can successfully shed any shred of responsibility I have over the state of my body. If only I could explain the existence of my love handles the same way.

Anyhow, I finally decided to run in my VFF, because runner's knee is in my brain a much more serious problem than a strained tendon (no, it never occurred to me to take an extra rest day – how would I keep my calendar looking like a chessboard?). I chose a route that would take me further away from home and to a different lake. I'm starting to run out of forest, you see. That's the kind of distances I'm covering now. Let's ignore the fact for a moment that I live close to a whole nature reserve I could spend a whole day running in. It's so much better for my self esteem to pretend I've outgrown my local paths.

The heavy rain had brought out a lot of stones. What used to be a gentle massage on my feet now felt more like acupuncture.

My knee was doing great. It was admiring the jungle-like scenery, waving at other runners, smiling dreamily. It didn't make a sound. My other knee...well, I'd read about people who had runner's knee on one side and when that side healed, they got it on the other side. My other knee sent me some warning signals a couple of times that I might join their leagues some time soon. Because running injury free is not challenge enough for me.

I kept my speed lower than I had the last few times and increased my run by another 3-minute interval instead, bringing the total up to 45 minutes. I am thankful I get to run at all, let alone 45 minutes, but I never for a moment let my guard down and think that I'm injury-free now. Because weather forecast says there might be thunder on Friday, and you bet my knee is going to whinge about it. But I didn't escape my run completely unscathed; the last few minutes were run in pain, thanks to a seam on the inside of my VFF rubbing against the side of my foot. I've had the same problem before, at the exact same spot. But pffft – real runners don't let a little wound scare them! So as I was taking my VFF off, I managed to jab my thumbnail in the sore. I'd like to say I did it on purpose -because I'm tough as nails, biotch! -but the sad truth is that I neither did it on purpose nor managed to stop myself from whimpering.

Monday, 30 July 2012


Resting from exercise, that is. With the exception of the plank challenge (week 7, day 1. Going strong). Because I haven't done so much resting otherwise.

I've packed some things. I've covered the holes in the wall with putty. I've mopped the floor (following the little accident one of our cats had in the living room at 6 this morning – who said you get to sleep in when you're on holiday?). Done the dishes. And I've baked.

Rosemary and sea salt focaccia was the result of my efforts. And a blister on my palm, because – who would have thought, right?- the tray is VERY F*!&ING HOT when it's just come out of the oven, especially if you expose any skin to it. Yes, really! I might have to finish that bottle of wine to forget the fact that even I, an otherwise wise creature, can sometimes make mistakes. Like sprinkling rosemary on the focaccia. I hate bloody rosemary. What's wrong with thyme and garlic? Feta cheese and olives? Sundried tomatoes and, well, feta cheese and olives?

Maybe the wine will take the edge off it.

Sunday, 29 July 2012


I chose to run on tarmac this morning. The soles of my feet were still sore after I walked barefoot on the gravel roads of Brännö last Thursday, and, besides, I wanted to try a less hilly route. My knee (not so much my runner's knee, as the other knee, the tendon on the side of the calf) has been unhappy lately, painting its eyes black and moping in a corner, writing poems and feeling terribly misunderstood, so I tried to give it some rest from the ups and downs of the local forest paths.

Easier said than done, though, when you live near the coast in Gothenburg. The hills might be gentler, rolling softly towards the sea, but they're still hills. I was fighting my way up one of them, sounding like a coal-driven locomotive, when I jogged past a lady pushing a pram.

”Bom-BOM-bom-BOM-bom-BOM” said the one-year old in the pram, echoing my VFF-shod feet on the pavement. Which I up to that point thought were not making any sound at all, light and elegant as they were.

I tried not to take that flippant comment as a slight. Not to think of it as an observation on my running style. To breathe in deeply and let each negative thought leave my head with every exhalation. I failed. I was more elephant than elegant. It was plain for all, even the young, to see.

Fighting back a sob, and the urge to flip the insolent little s*!t the finger, I stomped past like a herd of angry cows. I then calmed down and focused more on my technique. Tried to imagine I was running on hot coals. Minimum contact time on the ground, leaning forward with my whole body, bouncing as little as possible. I ran swiftly past the beach and camping site, which was more crowded than a shopping mall on pay day. My knee was happy, and with every metre I covered I felt how the metaphorical weight was lifted off my shoulders. I was no elephant; I was a beautiful butterfly.

Ok, maybe not a butterfly. A bumblebee then? 

Friday, 27 July 2012


From the Merriam - Webster online dictionary:

nu·mi·nous adj \ˈnü-mə-nəs, ˈnyü-\

1 : supernatural, mysterious
2 : filled with a sense of the presence of divinity : holy
3 : appealing to the higher emotions or to the aesthetic sense : spiritual 
Despite my cynical approach to life and the world around us, there is a place in this cold heart of mine for numinousness. Take yesterday, for example. I felt the numinous all around me several times, while J, some friends and I were out on the archipelago island of Brännö, celebrating my birthday, among other things. The open sea can do that to me, fill me with awe and happiness. Summer afternoons can do that to me. The feel of grass under my bare feet or the drops of salt water on my skin. The blue, cloudless sky. The endlessness and vastness of it all.

Goat cheese with beetroot and honey

And, also, finally getting to empty my bladder crouching behind a bush right before my run this morning.

It doesn't matter if I've been to the loo before I left the house 10 minutes earlier. Drinking water in the morning goes right through my body and I can't ignore it. And when I finally get the chance to let it go, hiding 5 meters from a heavily-frequented path in the woods with my behind exposed for everyone to see, I look forward to old age and the ease of wearing diapers. Men, you have a good thing going there.

My knee doesn't like cycling, but, ignoring the fact, I cycled both to and from Saltholmen yesterday. That, in itself, was a nice experience. A cycle tour by the sea on a summer evening is hard to beat as far as experiences go. But the Knee was a bit grumpy this morning. No pain. Just a vague stiffness. I decided to try and take it easy. I don't need to run as fast every time I step out the door. So I jogged around the woods, concentrating more on technique and failing spectacularly at keeping a good posture. 

The woods? Also numinous.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Cannonball read #21: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit has been a favourite of mine ever since I first read it as a kid ages ago. I remembered bits and pieces with great fondness (Trolls! Dragons! Riddles in the dark!), and reading Lord of the Rings as a teenager only served to firmly place Tolkien on the number one spot among my favourite authors. I've been meaning to re-read the Hobbit for years. And now I finally have.

It is a very well written book, full of adventure and Tolkien's trademark mythology. But it is a book for children, a fact that somehow escaped my nostalgic reminiscing and regret that they don't make books like that any more; unlike Lord of the Rings, with its dark themes and complex writing, the Hobbit is a fairytale.

Of course, even a fairytale is a majestic thing when written by Tolkien. But you can never go back. Knowing the story that follows the events in this book, I nitpicked about how Gandalf was portrayed, wondered about some things that seemed to be inconsistent with LotR, wanted more...seriousness in the book. I am an adult now, and the days I could curl up with a book like the Hobbit and enjoy it like a child are long gone. But, if I had any children of my own, you bet I'd be reading this book to them every night before they went to sleep until they hit puberty. After all, they don't make children's books like that any more.

A simple life

I don't need that much more to be happy. Sunshine, a knee that behaves for 7,3 km and J for company. Skatås showing its best side on a warm summer morning. Once again marvelling at the friendliness of the running community, and at how easy it is to strike up a conversation with people you don't know just because they see you running in, say, VFF. J unwittingly acting as a hare and me trying to catch up with him after each walking break. An average of 4.56 min/km pace and a face that was redder than a beetroot afterwards as a result.

And some ice cream at the end of it to top it all off. Tell me, what more can a girl wish for?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Runner in deadly face off in the woods

(Click to enlarge)

Cannonball Read #20: A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin

Major spoilers, obviously.

I was a latecomer to the Game of Thrones party. It wasn't until after I had watched the first episode of the TV series in mixed horror and fascination, that I knew who George Martin was. As an avid Tolkien fan (you know Tolkien: Fairies, elves, hobbits, heroes and maidens), this particular brand of fantasy, with all its sex, drugs and rock n' roll, sellswords and whores, flux and greyscale was completely new to me.

As a latecomer, I skipped the long wait others had to suffer between books and dived right in. Bought the first four. Loved some, loathed some. And then it was time for A Dance With Dragons. I bought this book a year ago, as soon as it came out, but put off reading it maybe because just looking at it made me collapse under its weight. This year I couldn't put it off any longer. I started reading it almost two months ago, and made slow progress. A few pages every day were about all I could fit into my life, at a time where work and other worries occupied my mind.

I was bored. I had trouble keeping up with who was who and who was doing what to whom. Whose side was Bolton on? Who conspired against Daenerys? And how did all of those minor characters fit into the story? My eyes glazed over the lengthy meal descriptions that seem to be a Martin trademark. I had favourites, of course. Arya. Theon. Tyrion. I still looked forward to reading their chapters. Martin finally bringing back my favourite characters was probably what kept me reading.

Then I went on a month-long leave and suddenly I had time to read. I read the last 250 pages of the book in one day, pausing only to eat and visit the loo. A revelation. That's how Martin is supposed to be read! In one sitting, so that you don't have the time to forget all the sub-plots and plotting! I was having a blast. The man can write.

Is he wordy? Yes. But he also gives us fascinating, rich characters. Could he have skipped the history lessons? Perhaps, but it gives some depth to the story. Did he make me sick to my stomach with his depiction of Cersei's humiliating walk through the streets of King's Landing, Cersei whom I've thought vain, stupid and unlikeable until now? Yes. Women get a very different treatment than men in Martin's world, and you kind of have to leave your feminist ideals at the door before you go in, but there are strong women too – Asha Greyjoy, the Sand Snakes, even Arya...Does he have a bad habit of introducing new characters 5 books into the series while killing off a beloved old one? Yes. Now that is unforgivable.

So now I've joined the ranks of others who will have to suffer before Martin's new book comes out, hopefully sometime before my hair turns grey. In the meantime, I'm cleansing my palate by rereading the Hobbit. I have to wash the filth off my mind.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Fun, fun, fun

Finally! Enjoying a run on more than an intellectual level. Or maybe enjoying it intellectually has helped me appreciate emotionally what this small triumph means. I tested running for 3 minutes instead of 2 and walking for one, and managed to run 5,6 km and 30 minutes this way. Getting past the 5 km mark last Thursday left me kind of indifferent, because I had other things to think about, but today, the progress I made had an impact. 

3 minutes is so much longer than 2. You can relax and enjoy the scenery without having to look at your watch all the time. You can move further, cover a greater distance. It feels more like a proper run, in other words. So far, my runs have been more about rehab and less about feel; today, the feel made a comeback. I ran by the lake and in the thick woods surrounding the horse track, looking for deer among the trees, listening to birdsong and the wind in the branches of the canopy over my head. Almost carefree. Almost. Because I was also listening to my body, see if the irritation from yesterday's cycle ride was getting worse.

It wasn't. The irritation is not in my knee. I don't know what this new thing is, but it doesn't seem to have to do with my runner's knee. So I ran on in my VFF, absorbing every little sensation, taking in the sunlight, having fun. More of the same, please!

Friday, 20 July 2012

An ode to halloumi

The weather graced us with a sunny day. Summer here has been so...wintry this year, so rainy and cold that sunny days have been rare occasions and, as such, have had to be taken advantage of and appreciated. Carpe sunny diem.

We cycled to Gunnebo palace, a favourite destination for many Gothenburg residents who want to have a picnic on the meadows surrounding the building or having lunch at its ecological café. Despite the shining sun, it got chilly quite fast after we stopped cycling. We took some photos and returned home, having logged 22 slow kilometres today. Not long distance when it comes to cycling, exactly, but it was enough to irritate my knee. Hopefully it'll get less and less grumpy as the day moves towards its end.

No photo manipulation needed when nature puts on such a show.

Unfortunately they kept the cows away from me today.

We also experimented with HDR.

Once we got home, I felt energised. Someone on jogg.se had recommended the website Vad ska vi äta? for vegetarian recipes. My food inspiration well dried long ago, and to find this website was like someone emptying a bucket of water over my head. I chose to make a French potato salad with grilled halloumi (recipes in Swedish, but if you don't speak it and you're interested, I'll be happy to translate them and send them to you). 

The potato salad was light, the flavours of thyme, capers, red onion and mustard blending harmoniously. But the halloumi...the halloumi was a revelation, simple to make though it was. I could probably eat halloumi every day - I simply adore it. If you need me to do you a favour, just grill some halloumi and I'm yours. But in this recipe, what was already a tasty dish was elevated to gourmet status. Chilli, lemon juice, olive oil, roasted pine nuts and red onion provided an extra kick.

I think I might have sung while I ate this.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Goodbyes suck

There will be a lot of goodbyes said before this summer is over. Friends, colleagues, places. This morning I had to say goodbye to my parents, who are returning home after having stayed with us for two weeks. Two weeks?! It felt more like two hours. It's always sad saying goodbye to them, because it's usually many months before we meet again, but this morning it was sadder than usual, because I knew it was the first goodbye of many.

After dropping them off at the airport, I felt unmotivated. Not even the prospect of running made me want to get out the door. The weather had taken a turn for the worse once more. I tidied up (as if that would cheer me up), did today's plank challenge (3x basic plank and side plank with my arms on the balance board for as long as I could) and I finally found the energy to stop procrastinating, change into my running clothes and head to the woods.

On the way there, I saw a young fox in someone's garden. It looked at me curiously for a second, then decided I was dangerous and disappeared behind some bushes. The ground in the woods was soaked and I didn't feel like running barefoot. Wait, that's a lie. I did feel like running barefoot, but I didn't want to have to drag myself down to the lake to wash off the mud afterwards. On a sunny day, the idea of cooling my feet in the lake after a run is tempting. On a rainy day, less so. I ran around the lake in my insoles, taking walking breaks every two minutes. No flow, no real enjoyment, just going through the motions. Somehow looking at your watch all the time to make sure you don't run more than you're supposed to takes away the fun of it.

Then I left the lake and headed towards the horse track. Even though I was mindful for the sound of approaching hooves, I immediately felt much more at peace with myself. I didn't see a single person in the lush forest. The ground was soft, and there was no gravel as far as the eye could see. I was wishing I could run barefoot but there was no place to wash off before I got home, and I didn't fancy walking up the stairs to our flat (or walking around the flat for that matter) in muddy feet. Despite my feet being shod, my steps were light and I picked up speed. My allotted time for today was to be 26 minutes and a glance at my watch told me I would be running further than last time.

I left the woods and the horse track and headed home. With seconds left, I saw that I was only a hundred metres away from 5 km. I kept running, the twisted logic in my head dictating that if I run fast, then I can cover more distance. Get more value for my money, so to speak. Makes sense, right? Only what I was forgetting was that the effort was greater, and thus the strain on my knee might be too. I stopped after passing the 5 km limit and listened for any complaints from the knee. So far so good.

The flow was still escaping me, and so was the endorphin kick. On an intellectual level, I celebrated this small victory, but on an emotional level it had little impact. Sometimes not even running can cure the blues.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Dirty hippy

You should have seen the look of disgust I got from a girl who was out walking her dog in the woods when she saw me running past with my bare feet covered in mud. But hey, if it takes being a social pariah to be able to run pain free, so be it. I've always been a bit odd.

Isn't the whole point of getting insoles that you get to run without problems? I think mine are broken, because my knee doesn't get any relief when I run in them. When I take my shoes off, on the other hand, it loves it. That's not news, of course. It has felt like that ever since I started making my comeback to running, one step at a time.

The news, the revelation, the profound epiphany of today's 4,3 km was that you can, in fact, run barefoot even on trails. Actually, it is so much softer than running on gravel or on tarmac. It's like your feet are being massaged with kittens. And the advantage of running on a trail versus running on kittens? The trail doesn't mind that you're running on it. The trail wants you to run on it. Our bare feet and trail? True love. We're talking Romeo and Juliet here, people.

The girl with the dog wasn't the only one giving me looks, although the rest of the people I met on my run only glanced discreetly. I couldn't help thinking about how something that has been so natural for the vast majority of humankind's time on this planet is now something that is frowned upon by some.

They're starting to look lonely

Of course the weather was perfect for a swim, because I didn't have my bathing suit with me

As I washed off the mud in the lukewarm lake afterwards, I even remembered a comment an old couple made, when they saw me running, holding my VFF in my hands, last year:
”But you have shoes!”

Monday, 16 July 2012

Road trip to Falkenberg

I did a quick 40-minute session of abs and leg strengthening exercises this morning and then got ready to go. We were going to drive down to Falkenberg, picking smaller roads to get there and stopping along the way when we felt like it. My camera overheated from all the photos I took. We saw such great places, strange landscapes that were incredibly photogenic. A selection:


Morups tånge

Morups tånge

Falkenberg, Skrea beach

Falkenberg, Skrea beach

Sunday, 15 July 2012


Last time I ran 4 km, I paid for it with a sore tendon on the back side of my knee. The physiotherapist told me then to stop switching shoes like Imelda Marcos, and just run in my brick shoes until my runner's knee gets better. He said barefoot running would be strenuous for that specific tendon and to avoid doing it for the time being.

I listened. Sort of.

You see, as I've written here before, barefoot running does wonders for my runner's knee. Although I can occasionally feel some stiffness in the knee while I run in my shoes, it completely disappears as soon as I take them off. I thought I was imagining things, but, after going barefoot running a few more times, I was convinced. So, what to do, what to do?

Photo by dad
I start my runs nowadays by putting on my orthopaedic insoles and running on the flat parts of my local forest path (to spare the irritated tendon). Then, after the majority of my allotted time for the day has passed, I take them off and run the rest barefoot (to spare my runner's knee). That way, I believe that I'm giving both injuries the opportunity to heal at the same time as I increase the training load gradually. It's worked fine, so far.

But, superstitious as I am when it comes to running, and having covered 4 km again today, I'm waiting for the setback to come and whack me on the head like a boomerang while I'm busy celebrating my latest victory on the road to recovery. There is no way I'm getting close to running any respectable distance without a setback. Years of injury have taught me that. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Cynical? Me? Nah. Just cautious.

Pre-swim. Nice, warm and muddy after my run

True to character, I cautiously entered the lake after my run. The air was chilly. Despite the fact that the sun was at least partly visible behind the clouds, a brisk wind kept the temperature low. The lake felt surprisingly warm by comparison, and the whole process of submerging myself in it took a whole hour less than it usually does. I splashed around a bit, enjoying the sensation of floating in the water and of the few stray sun-rays making me sleepy (not a combination I'd recommend), when I saw my parents (who'd been walking around the lake) approaching. I swam to the shore to greet them and suddenly realised I was still wearing my heart rate monitor. Frantic attempts to open the cover to take the battery out in order to dry it proved futile. It would take J's strong arms and a five-crown coin to open it later.

After a stream of swear words describing my soooo not being Mensa material left my mouth and drifted up towards the stratosphere and to space, where no one can hear you scream, I started feeling cold. I went back into the water, but it was too late. My body temperature was dropping fast, my lips were turning blue and soon enough I would be able to get a walk-on part in a movie about penguins narrated by Morgan Freeman. As an icicle. I dried myself with shaky hands. The idyllic swim in the lake was quickly turning into a nightmare. I sat on a rock that offered some protection from the wind and waited for the sun to warm me up. Then I waited some more. Nothing happened.

I couldn't take it any more. This was my second near-death experience in two days! (Well, third if you count the really spicy food we ate at the Thai place last night. The menu said three chilli peppers. I should have heeded their warning and chosen something from their "for wimps" collection). This wouldn't do. I put on every single item of clothing I had with me and headed home, walking so quickly that, had I gone any faster, you'd have called it running - which would have been great under the circumstances, if it weren't for the fact that I'd already used up all my running minutes earlier. Once I got home, I took a shower so hot that my skin went from white to blue to red to purple to black within 10 seconds.

I am now sitting here trying to convince myself that my throat doesn't really hurt and that I really love Swedish summers.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Death by cows in Sandsjöbacka

The only exercise that will be logged at the end of this day is the short walk my parents, J and I took this morning and the kind our jaws will be doing tonight at an Asian restaurant of our choice. The walk this morning meant adventure, peril and muddy shoes. So now we're hungry.

Sandsjöbacka is a nature reserve south of Gothenburg. I've run parts of it a couple of times before (once on the day I got runner's knee) and I really love the moorlands that are covered in heather and cow dung. If it weren't for the traffic noise from the nearby E6, you'd think you're on another planet.

We climbed up the hill, crossing puddles of mud from the recent rain and avoiding the fresh patties from the brown beasts. I was as excited as a little kid on Christmas morning; I like cows and the idea of photographing them on such an alien-looking landscape. Our first encounter with one was a bit frightening, though. She walked past us moaning like a ghost, away from the herd and toward an unknown destination. Mad cow disease?

I happily snapped some pictures, loving the yellow-brown backdrop of dried grass against the earthy colours of the cows. Some calves seemed curious and approached me carefully. Oh how I longed to pet one and take it home with me to love forever. I crouched down to make myself look less threatening and to ensnare them to come closer so that I could lock my arms around them in an affectionate hug only boa constrictors can administer, but they didn't dare. Every time I turned my camera around to take a photo, they ran away. 

Finally, as I was completely focused trying to take a picture of a brown calf, a big motherf-, I mean a big mother cow apparently thought -for some strange reason, I don't know why, I mean it's completely incomprehensible, mad cow?- that I was going to steal her calf and charged me. I was blissfully unaware of the fact, while my parents and J, about a hundred metres ahead of me, watched in terror as this scene unfolded before their eyes. They shouted out to me and I got up, just in time to see 500 kg worth of cow rolling down the hill towards me. I bull-headedly (ha ha) stayed put and turned my camera towards it to scare it off, but -as I realised almost too late to my horror- that this little trick had no effect on the more experienced grown-ups of the species.

Peaceful creatures my arse.

I turned tail and fled. Getting run over by half a ton of cattle is not the most honourable way to die and, besides, as I tried to tell the cow, I am a vegetarian! I'm your friend! Let's settle our differences like adults! While I was busy fleeing, I almost collided with another cow that had sneaked up behind me (I was getting surrounded by the friendly little brutes, slowly but surely, I know I was) but which was thankfully not as murderous as its cousin. It just looked at me threateningly with its big brown bovine eyes and watched me as I quickly made my exit. I'm pretty sure I heard it snicker as I almost tripped over myself trying to get out of there.

The rest of the walk was carried out in a respectful distance from the creatures, taking large detours (and often bushwacking) to avoid them. Who would have thought cows are so territorial?

The things I do for my art.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Barefoot hell

I finished the one-month, 5-days-a-week plank challenge this morning by going all out: a total of 15 minutes and 20 seconds doing the basic plank, the side one, the one with your elbows on the balance board, the one with your feet on the balance board, tabata intervals, you name it. My stomach muscles did get stronger (as the before and after photos I took show), but I still feel that my shoulders are doing all the work and my stomach is getting off easy.

No, I will not publish the before and after photos.

Stop begging me.

No, seriously. I wouldn't want to make everyone jealous with my rock hard abs.

Ok, maybe there isn't that much to see. The difference is very subtle (although both J and my parents could guess which was the ”before” and which one was the ”after” photo). I am planning on continuing with the plank, only now my good friend S (who's studied this kind of stuff and is very knowledgeable) is currently planning a sequel to the plank challenge. I am waiting for it with weary anticipation. Mixed with a healthy dose of fear. What will she come up with?!

After I was done with my plank marathon, my parents and I took a long walk by the sea. I ran 12 minutes in my insoles (split up in 2 minute-intervals, with walking breaks), before I took off my shoes to try running barefoot once again. I had never tried running barefoot on tarmac before. The experience left me longing for the gravel-covered forest paths. The grains in the tarmac felt like nails, making the aforementioned gravel feel like cotton candy by comparison (I would later notice I had gotten a blood blister under my big toe). There was no deliciously soft, cool mud to give relief, nor pine-needle carpet to absorb the shock of the impact. Just hard ground. Never again.

Behind the camera: my dad. In front of the camera: bad running technique

To add insult to injury, I had left my shoes with my mom, who is an avid walker and a fast one at that. Some miscalculation on my part left me finishing my run half a kilometre behind her. I then joined forces with my dad (who was taking it easy, snapping photos of the sea and of me) and together we tried to catch up with mom. She was, quite obviously, going for the women's Olympic record in race walking. I was going as fast as I could, but I was barefoot and my progress was slow. We could see her in the distance, but she couldn't see us. She stopped at times, looked back at us waving our hands at her to stop and wait, but she thought we were just saying hello and powerwalked on.

Finally, we came close enough to make our signals clearer. She gave me my shoes and jacket once we reached her and I breathed a sigh of relief. My feet were sore and happy to reunite with my shoes. I had run 3,8 km, 1,5 of which barefoot. Knee happy. Shaman misses gravel.

Thursday, 12 July 2012


I just found out I got accepted in two of the three courses I applied for: Digital photo-processing (yay!) and Sports psychology (double yay!). I got in as a reserve in the third one (Photography and communication), which is luckily the one I was least interested in. So this coming semester I will be a part-time student. Maybe the rest of the time will be spent running? One can only hope.

My parents and I went for a walk this morning, and this time I remembered to bring my camera. Among other things, we saw a deer, just as I was telling my parents how I hadn't seen any this year.

You can hardly see it, but it's right there, in the middle of the picture
Just imagine what I could do with these when I've learned a few tricks.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Skatås love

I'm making my comeback to ultra running. Any day now. Slowly. A half-kilometre at a time. I reckon I should be ready around 2030. Positive thinking. That's the spirit!

Photo by my dad.
I skipped barefoot running today in favour of my orthopaedic insoles, just to see how my tendon would react. Tendon happy. Knee happy. Shaman happy. And I was happy partly because it didn't hurt at all during the 3,5 km that I ran, partly because I was running on the 8-km path in Skatås. It was like reuniting with an old friend, one that I hadn't seen in years. Skatås, the Mecca of exercise-minded Gothenburgians, a smorgasbord of forest-laced paths from 2,5 km to 18 km long, has been the background for many a fun long run with my running buddies. Coincidentally, the first kilometre or so of the 8-km path was also the stage for the Ultra Intervals last November, where I and 6 friends from the group braved the darkness, cold and boredom to run 10 km once every three hours until we reached 80 km.

Ah, bitter-sweet memories. To be at a place where so many wonderful kilometres were logged and precious friendships were forged, in sun and in rain, in mud and in snow. A place that almost seduced me, like the mythical Sirens, to abandon my scheduled 18 minutes of running and keep going, round and round the Delsjö lake until my legs fell off. The place I could pitch a tent and spend the rest of my days exercising in, if I didn't have such inconsequential little needs like money and a roof over my head.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

You know you're a runner when...

...as a big Tolkien fan, you see the poster below and all you can think about is how cool it would be to run in the Shire.


I'm not sure if it's the bad weather stealing my energy or the fact that I've been exercising for 14 (!) days in a row without a day's rest (I hadn't noticed that little factoid), but today's strength training went...not so well. The plank challenge, which I've been slavishly following for the past 3 weeks and which -as the name suggests- was a challenge but one that has suited me so far, almost knocked me out both yesterday and today. 

My weakest body parts have had to do some work in yesterday's plank: intervals of 10 seconds on your elbows, then 10 on straight arms repeated over 2 minutes. Repeated times three (although I could only do two rounds and then switched to the basic plank). The change from one position to the other made my pathetic excuse for arms ache and my sensitive wrist play up. Today's challenge was tabata intervals on the balance board, while bringing each knee to the opposite elbow. Needless to say, I didn't manage to engage the stomach muscles as much as I should. I'm not sure I engaged them at all.

In other my-body-hates-me news, the back of my knee, where the tendon of the thigh muscle meets the tibial bone, thinks I've been overdoing it with barefoot running and is sore to the touch. And I've been touching it a lot. Just to make sure that it still hurts. I'm suspecting that pressing it all the time might actually be making it hurt. The plan is to cut back a little on barefoot running, maybe by two minutes, and replace it with brick-shoe running. The conundrum is that barefoot running is really good for my runner's knee (which is doing so well by the way that I almost forgot I had it); but it seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the tendon. A lose-lose situation?

Monday, 9 July 2012

Pretty happy with life just now

A running total of 3 km and 18 minutes, 10 of which completely barefoot, brought me to the lake shore and to my parents, who had walked around the lake while I ran. I took of my t-shirt and shorts and jumped in the lake. Well. It was more like I slowly lowered myself into the cold water. 

Photo courtesy of my dad
Sunshine warmed my body once I came out of the lake during the short periods of time when clouds parted to let it through. My feet, which ached before I went into the water thanks to the gravel-covered forest paths "massaging" them, found relief in the cold water and were buzzing with energy. Once I was dry enough, we walked home leisurely, stopping for my dad to take photos and to admire the explosion of colours in other people's gardens.

Knee is doing fine. The tendon on the back of my leg is a bit sore but nothing that I can't stretch away. I hope. Despite the threat of summer rain in the air, my mood is definitely sunny right now.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

26 hours

One day left till I go on my month-long leave. My parents are coming tonight to stay with us for a couple of weeks, so updates on this blog might be sporadic while they're here. We're bound to spend our days doing fun stuff that involve little to no blogging. I'm suspecting most of you will be out enjoying the sunshine anyway (well, provided we get any, that is).

Brännö, Midsummer's eve 2005. Good times.

My knee is very happy today and hasn't complained at all. I was expecting tantrums. Declarations of war. But no. I've gone through my day without thinking about it. Not even once. Must be a good sign.