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The frosty-faced runner

OK, so it’s been a pretty busy week. Only one night on call (tonight), but full workdays and last-minute-christmas shopping has taken it’s toll. Christmas eve at mom’s and dad’s will be a sorely welcome respite. So, what have we been up to? Well, planning next year, of course, and trying to get some running done in between work and sleep. Our Danish coach Christian has generously been piling up the kilometres for us in our training programme, but despite our best efforts we sometimes miss some scheduled runs due to, simply, life intervening. This week has seen me lace up my shoes only thrice, and today’s long run had to be scratched in order to take a breather after a full workweek and prior to a whole night of work at the neonatal intensive care unit. Even though my job is the best in the world, it leaves a lot to be wished for in terms of comfortable hours spent resting a heavy head on a feathery pillow. I’ve been working as a doctor for a bit more than five years, and even though I’ve gotten accustomed to only a few hours (read: minutes) of sleep when I’m on call, I’ve never before felt the need to sleep fully clothed (i.e. pants and socks) on the on call-room before. But when you’re suddenly awoken by the nasty beep-beep-beep in the middle of the night (assuming you’ve had time to place said head on said pillow) and a frantic midwife yells at you on the phone that you’d better park your ass IMMEDIATELY at the O.R. because of an ill newborn, you know you’d better run. Now. No time for straightening out your curlies or rubbing the sleep from your eyes or massage the waffle-shaped imprint of the pillow off your face. But it’s fun! Almost all the time. Now, where was I? I was actually meaning to write about something else, now that I note today’s heading of frost and running. I’d better get to it, shant I?

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Not very fast, granted…

A is the hospital and B is home. Nope, didn't run the fastest route.

A is the hospital and B is home. And nope, didn’t run the fastest route.

Jakob and I have many times discussed, often at length, what separates an athlete from a runner. Or a professional from a hobbyist. We reach a different conclusion every single time, and even though the wine consumed during these disscussions could have something to do with this, we rarely remember what kind of conclusions we’ve reached. But I believe this was one of them: winter and summer breaks. Serious professional athletes don’t take time off for several weeks at a time during the holidays or their summer vacation, but continue to work out and keep in shape throughout. Maintenance of form is paramount during these dull periods when you would much rather have another slice of mom’s delicious christmas cake or a second ice cream at the beach than pull on those socks, shoes and (ahem…) tights to go out running. When there are no competitions or events looming on the immediate horizon, it’s tough with motivation, but you have to keep it up. You’ll reap the rewards later during the season. Which is why I reluctantly strapped my backpack on after work on Thursday and went for a run up to Sognsvann (check out the map above). The ladies and gentlemen responsible for the sanding and salting of Oslo’s sidewalks bravely try to keep up with the snowfalls, but sometimes they fall short of their goals. Which spelled for a pretty slippery run up to (and especially down from) Sognsvann.

Slippery lake path

Slippery lake path

The best part, though, was running around the lake in complete pitch darkness. Except for it never being completely pitch black in a Norwegian winter. The moonlight was mirrored on the packed snow of the path, and running along both sides was a semi-high snow heap stopping me from running straight onto the frozen lake. Awesome. And challenging for the little muscles and nerve receptors in my ankles, working hard to balance and counter-balance the rest of my body running along the road. The trick is not to make your strides too long. If your weight-bearing foot lands too far in front of your body, you risk a slip on a glossy, icy patch, but if you shorten your strides a bit and land with your foot below your body, you’re often the safer for it. Alternative? You can go and buy IceBugs! Or, as miss H smugly keeps suggesting, why not buy the cheaper (and OH, so much uncooler!!!) attachable “icegrips”?

Cool winter equipment

Cool winter equipment

Uncool winter equipment

So what’s in store for next year? We have some news for you, but will keep you waiting for a while until we have everything finalized. What we CAN tell you, though, is that we are working hard to secure sponsors for Marathon des Sables in April. Especially equipment sponsors who can sponsor us with gear for our events, such as shoes, backpacks, clothes, nutrition and such. We are also discussing what type of charity to raise money for when we run the MdeS, and have made contact with a doctor who has worked at St Francis’ Hospital in Katete, Zambia. The hospital has a children’s ward and our goal will hopefully be to raise money for this department in particular, as the hospital relies a lot on fund-raising and donations from abroad. But as always, stay tuned for more news right here!

St Francis' Hospital in Zambia

St Francis’ Hospital in Zambia

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