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The Eighteen, The Swedish Mile And A Little Loop

I was back in lovely Göteborg again last weekend, surprising dad with a round of golf at Torreby and an overnight stay at the spa Vann together with mom and Martin. For all of you people out there who don’t consider golf to be a proper sport, I invite anyone to join us as a caddy during our next round, carrying our golf bags for the 10 km or so that we walk during a round. Not only do you need strength carrying your bag and swinging the clubs, but stamina is also big part of the equation. If you’re not reasonably fit, you’ll start hitting your balls all over the place after the 12th hole. Depending on the people you’re playing with and how fast or slow the group in front of you is playing, a game can typically take around four to four-and-a-half hours. What I like most about golf, though, is walking around through meticulously and often beautifully designed landscapes, enjoying the view while chatting with my friends, all the while blissfully disconnected from everything instagram, facebook and mail accounts. And the more I play, the more I realize that golf is very much a tactical game. All in all it provides a nice counterpoint to my running.

Saturday morning dawned bright and early and a few minutes past seven, I climbed out of my car at Skatås, shrugged into my backpack, started my Suunto watch and set off down the gravel road. It was the first time I was attempting to run here without the company of Jakob, and I was initially a bit worried how I would find the right trail since the last time we were here, we started out with our head lamps illuminating pitch black woods during a chilly and early December morning. Skatås has a 2,5 km track, a 5 km track, a 10 km track (called Milen, since a Swedish mile is 10 km) and an 18 km trail, each of which is marked by a differently coloured diamond painted on the tree trunks lining that particular track or trail. As you can see in the photo, the 10 km is marked by green diamonds whereas the 18 km is marked with black-and-white diamonds. The plan for today was running 30 km, combining the 18 with the Mile and then some. I hadn’t run that far since I injured my heel, and I had definitely not run that far on trails and gravel roads for quite a while, apart from my disastrous 20 km run in Nordmarka by Sognsvann a couple of weeks ago. But my heel had felt pretty good and with exactly four weeks left until our date with the Dolomites, I had to give it an honest try. Last week marked the start of the three toughest weeks in our training programme topping out with a four hour run this week and a five hour run next week.

The coloured diamonds signify different distances.

The coloured diamonds signify different distances.

The Salomon shoes I ordered from wiggle have unfortunately not been very good for my heel, and I had been forced to return to my old, trusted INOV8’s of Sahara fame, and I was amazed at how at home my feet felt in them. They really have an unparalleled grip and the traction is superb. All the tracks at Skatås start out together, with the 2,5 km veering off back towards the start pretty quickly. The 18 km in fact – I was a bit surprised to finally realize – runs along the Mile track for a bit more than 5 km, then finally turns into a proper trail where the path disappears in among the birches and then goes on for about 8 km before it rejoins the Mile gravel track at the exact same spot it left off, finishing up with the final 5 km of the Mile. Even though the 8 km of trails are beautiful and the Mile is pretty challenging with loads of up-and-down-hill-running, it’s feels a bit sloppy and lazy having them run together for so long. Couldn’t the designers have fitted in a bit more trails for the 18 km? It’s not as if there’s a shortage of forest around the area.

Following the black-and-white rabbit.

Following the black-and-white rabbit.

In order to imitate the conditions during which we would be running in the Alps, i.e. walking during impressive climbs and trying to run during flats and descents, I tried an approach of pausing every 5 km for water and a chocolate bar and walking up the steepest hills, which worked out pretty well. My heel didn’t give me any trouble whatsoever, but after about 15 km I started to feel an ache in my right hip. I tried to figure out what I was doing wrong, but unfortunately couldn’t understand why it was starting to hurt. I tried to rectify my gait, but to no avail. And when these troubles start, it’s kind of hard for them to disappear. I don’t know if I was running in a crooked way, if I was unaccustomed to the terrain, the weight of the backpack or simply not having run in my INOV8’s for a long time. The weather was perfect with a light breeze, overcast skies and a temperature of about 15 degrees. I was even cooled down by some drops of rain for twenty minutes. I love running in the rain. All in all it was a pretty tough run and I didn’t run as quickly as I had hoped, also in some small part due to two unplanned toiletbreaks, but as I was finishing up a final little loop in order to reach 30 km, I felt pretty good. My hip hurt a bit and I was sore and tired, but very happy that I had managed the distance without my heel troubles flaring up all over again. Martin helped me with my aching hip later in the afternoon and yesterday evening it felt as good as new. So keep your fingers crossed.

On the theme of trynig to accumulate as many vertical metres as possible before our race, I’ve decided to turn my long runs into long climbs. This week’s planned 40 km and next week’s planned 50 km will be turned into slope training sessions with four and five hours respectively being spent in the slalom slope of Wyllerløypa (the place of the famous race Oslo’s Bratteste), trying to walk briskly up and down the slope once an hour. Hopefully, it will lead to 1600 and 2000 vertical metres for the two sessions. If anybody would like to join me for part of or the whole of this week’s climb, I’m planning it for Thursday after work.

A pretty piece of trail in Skatås.

A pretty piece of trail in Skatås.

Today it’s only 25 days left to the North Face Lavaredo Ultra Trail and Cortina Trail in Italy. If you haven’t visited our charity site at Reece’s Rainbow yet, please do and donate as much as you can spare. And for all of you fantastic people who have already given $ 1.105 to our charity: a huge thank you and God bless!

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