...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Swifter, higher, stronger (or so we hope)

To be able to run comfortably in vår ruset's 5 km, I've been running with Marcus in his thrice-a-week rounds for some weeks now. But a common desire to improve stamina and – to put it simply, run better and more efficiently – has evolved into another goal for the both of us. By the end of 20 weeks' training, he and I will run a half-marathon between Norrköping and Söderköping. Or, actually, 800 meters short of a half-marathon: it's 20.2 kilometers from the Söderköping bus station to our doorstep, and half-marathons are 21 km long. But this doesn't matter too much. The point is, aside from the short term goal of running the vår ruset for my part, every running round of ours is now also aimed towards the fulfillment of this new, bigger goal. But the fact is, we actually enjoy what we're doing!

Our exercise program, which we got from marathon.se, involves both interval training and distance training, fartlek, and some uphill rushes. Right now, at the early stage of training (now at week 4), we do a 5 km round twice a week and a longer 10 km stretch at the end of the week. And if we're successful with following the rest of the program, we should be able to run the 20 kilometers without needing to stop – in good time.

But as I said, we remind ourselves that running is something we do for fun. So, as well as challenging ourselves by planning longer and longer distances, we constantly dream of fun, out-of-the-ordinary routes on which to run. Yesterday, we asked to be driven far out into the countryside so that we could run the way back to where we came from. Armed with a laminated map, a water bottle and a cell phone, we got dropped in Bjärka Säby, 11.6 kilometers south of where Marcus' godparents live, and started the run / jog / trudge towards their house.

Here is a map of our run (in this scale, 2 squares represent 1 kilometer). Starting point was Bjärka-Säby (bottom right), and destination was Eriksholm (top left). We followed the pink path, which marks the Östgötaleden.

Östgötaleden, the path which we took, is a scenic hiking route that runs 140 kilometers all around Östergötland county. The whole hiking path is marked with orange-colored poles, arrows and "prickar" (dots painted on trees), so that it's possible for tourists to hike the trail even without a map. It runs through farms, forests, open landscapes, as well as roads and cities.

This 11.6 km stretch which we were on belongs to "stage six" of the complete Linköping hiking path and runs through Europe's biggest oak landscape (In reality, the run must have been longer because of the uphills and curvy roads that couldn't be measured in the map program we used). We also passed through terribly rooty and hilly forest paths as well as muddy farms where you had to walk with your legs wide apart to avoid falling into the mud pits (which explains the "jog / trudge" part of this tour). In the worst part of the path – in a forest where forest tractors etched deep mud-filled trenches into the ground – it was impossible not to get our running shoes wet. Still, we managed, in the parts where there were roads or smooth hiking trails, to pick up speed and made the last 8.7 kilometers (including the long trudge in the mud and parts of the forest where we had to walk to avoid tripping on protruding roots) in under an hour. We forgot to take the time in the first kilometers.

Running in rooty forests is hard, so much harder than running on roads or grass, or "flattened" (often used) forest paths. It slows you down too, just trying to avoid tripping into something or the other. On the whole, this trip was so much tiring than a usual run. Coming back "home", we just gobbled down chocolate, apples, bananas, juice, milk, beer and sandwiches as if there were no tomorrow, then had a sauna, ate lunch (yes, eating again!) and had a nap. I was really knocked out; my left knee kind of hurts from half-tripping on rocks and roots.

So next time, when we plan to run to Marcus' godparents house from the hospital south of Linköping -- a 12+ kilometer route that also passes through an oak landscape – we plan to use mostly roads. I'm e-x-c-i-t-e-d! :-D

P.S. Measuring kilometer distances isn't the norm in Metro Manila, where distances are usually measured by the time it takes you through thick traffic to get from point A to point B. This usually makes distances seem longer than they really are. So, here's something for comparison: España Boulevard stretches for 2 kilometers; together with Quezon Avenue (up to the QC circle), they measure about 10.4 kilometers (This was the most recognizable Metro Manila distance that measures nearest to our 11.6 km run). The whole MRT blue line, from North Edsa to Taft, runs 16.9 kilometers; all of EDSA is 23 kilometers long, which makes it a little longer than a half-marathon track.


Anonymous pj said...

Wow, Joy, you're fitter than ever. A half marathon! Although, looking back on our college days, I'm not so surprised. (I remember your fun run victory in freshman year!)
I never got the hang of running--I never found it enjoyable, even after that sem with you in Orienteering. (which I enjoyed because of the intellectual stuff. what a nerd!)
Sorry I don't read your blog more often, but I really love reading it and getting a glimpse of what your Svensk life is like.
I'm getting a bit sentimental, but anyway: I miss you, and take care. My best to Marcus. :)
Good luck in the var ruset!
PS. I'm thinking of returning to blogging about my actual personal life. Haha. Wish me luck with reviving my old blog!

6:53 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Yeah, PJ, I would love to hear more from you in your blog! It's good to be up to date with my friends' whereabouts when I'm living so far away from you guys. :-)

Guess what, I overworked my knee running :-( It hurts when I go down the stairs. One week rest and a lot of massage-gel for me...

4:38 PM


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