SPACE TO BREATHE AND A HAPPINESS PILL
Fredrik Larsson and Daniel Theander both participate in ultra-running. A sport that requires grit and good fitness, but also acts as a way of getting away from things in stressful everyday life.
An ultramarathon should be longer than a marathon (42.2 km). Common distances are 50 km, 100 km, 50 miles (81 km) and 100 miles (162 km). The longer distances are usually not 100% measured, which means that 50 miles can easily be 90 km.
The amount of time a race takes is obviously individual, but it also depends on the terrain. Elevation is also a factor. It is not uncommon to follow the route using a digital map on your GPS watch or GPS unit.
Some ultramarathons are self-sufficient, which means that you have to carry energy, but water is usually available and marked on the map.
“I haven’t yet run an ultramarathon that requires sleeping, but that will come…” says Fredrik.
Daniel and Fredrik run 80–100 kilometers each week, distributed over every day of the week. It is important to fit in workouts whenever possible. Before or after work, at lunch, early over the weekend and transport running, which means running to and from work, or to a dinner party.
How do you ramp up for a race?
“The week before an ultramarathon, I try to get in enough sleep,” says Fredrik. In terms of nourishment, I make no changes and eat as usual. No “pasta loading” in other words. I go over my equipment, energy plan and think through the race and set up the sub-goal plan you need to have. You can’t start a 100-mile race and the first thing you think is – ‘wow, so many miles left …’. You have to divide it into segments and goals. Sub-goals can be the first checkpoint, the first time you get a piece of candy. When you get to change to a fresh undershirt that you have in your drop-bag, and so on.”
“I usually focus on my sleep and cut back on exercise,” says Daniel. “I run every day (runstreak), all year round, outdoors. In the final days before an ultramarathon, it might only be a few kilometers a day.”
For Fredrik and Daniel, running is as way of getting away from everyday demands and work as a happiness pill. They often start their runs with heads full of thoughts and everyday distractions, but get back with solutions for problems and feeling relaxed.
“Choosing ultramarathons has to do with the challenge,” says Fredrik. “What I can achieve by pushing myself, physically but also mentally. And getting out into the fresh air with my workouts is a big bonus.”
“I’ve always loved being out in nature, so when I started running it became quite natural that I wanted to be out longer and longer,” says Daniel. “Not so much for the distance, more that I wanted to be outside for longer periods. Because I started training so late in life (2014), I realized quite early that I cannot be ‘fast’. However, I’ve seen that I never give up and I have the ability to steel myself and expose myself to levels of stress I’d never dreamed of before. That’s why I started increasing the distance more and more.”
Daniel and Fredrik agree that ultra-running is a friendly sport. Everyone cheers for you and your fellow runners and participant help each other out. There is often a requirement for carrying first-aid kits and you have to stop and help if someone has problems or gets injured.
”I like to meet new people,” says Daniel. “I simply want others to experience what is so great about running. I’ve also created Facebook and Messenger groups for ‘community runs’. Last year, I was involved in arranging a relay race along the Halland coast.”
“Ultra-running gives me a lot back,” says Fredrik. “Nothing is really a hassle any more, now that I know what I can manage and that I know that I can managed to turn the negative thoughts and get back in the race.”
Cope with the psychological stress
Daniel and Fredrik say that in many cases, the prerequisite for reaching the finish line is the ability to cope with the psychological stress. It is therefore important to train for this and there are many different ways of going about this. The Ultra Interval Challenge is an example where for 24 hours, you run 80 kilometers starting a 10 kilometer loop every three hours. Among other things, you have to get up in the middle of the night to ‘run your 10k’. This is an easy way to practice running while sleepy and possibly a little unmotivated.
What’s the best thing about ultra-running?
“That every race is different,” says Fredrik. “There’s also the nice comradeship that has given me many new friends.”
“Being outdoors for longer periods,” says Daniel.
Best ultramarathon you’ve run?
“I don’t have much experience from those high-profile marathons; I try to train and compete in my immediate area so as not to take too much time from family and work,” says Daniel. So the Sandsjöbacka Trail would have to be my answer.
“Scenic Trail, K113 Ultra on the border between Switzerland and Italy,” says Fredrik. “You run on the ridges that surround the valleys of the Lugano district. Fantastic views,” says Fredrik.
Next scheduled marathon and common challenge for Fredrik and Daniel is the HUB200 (322 km) from Gothenburg to Båstad.The route is along the coast and, among other things, runs on 120 beaches.HUB200 is completely self-sufficient and you have the possibility to place a number of “drop-bags” with supplies, clothes, shoes, etc. along the route.
“The maximum time is 72 hours – now we may have the opportunity to sleep a little during aa ultramarathon for the first time…,” says Fredrik.
“Yes, the race goes past my house, so we can sleep there. It’s also one reason I signed up, an ultramarathon on ‘my’ trails – I can’t miss that,” Daniel concludes.
|TITLE||Application Specialist, Stena Group IT, Core Business Solutions|
|YEARS AT STENA||3|
|FAMILY||Partner Martina, two children, Lukas (17) and Tilda (15). Lives in Stenungsund, north of Gothenburg.|
|SPORTS BACKGROUND||Football and alpine skiing during high school. Thereafter sporadic exercise; began running on a regular basis after military service. Ran 10 km as regular exercise round for about 15 years and participated each year in Göteborgsvarvet. Participated in bicycle road races during the same period, including the Swedish Classic Circuit. Started with swim-run events about 8 years ago and thereafter with triathlon. Since cycling and swimming takes so much time, the focus now is on running.|
|TITLE||Digital Communication Manager, Stena Rederi|
|YEARS AT STENA||1.5|
|FAMILY||Wife Erika, two children, Arwid (14) and Sixten (12). Lives in Vallda Sandö, south of Gothenburg.|
|SPORTS BACKGROUND||Had not really exercised that much until he started running six years ago. Likes alpine skiing, has participated in one Swedish Classic Circuit, has skied Vasaloppet twice without training. Does not see ultramarathons as a form of competition but rather as a challenge to get to the finish line. Runs often with family dog Leon, 45 kilos of muscle, Rhodesian Ridgeback/Dobermann, which is a fantastic company.|
FREDRIK AND DANIEL’S ADVICE FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO BEGIN WITH ULTRA-RUNNING:
Everyone can run long distances! Start with shorter distances to gradually build up physical endurance. Try to run a little every day once you’ve started running. Practice eating and drinking while running.
GEAR THAT’S GOOD TO CARRY:
- Backpack (for water, provisions, extra clothing)
- Headlamp (important, we often run in the dark)
- GPS watch
- Large shoes (your feet will swell)
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