a trail run journey
From leaving the house, getting on the plane and arriving at the destination… The anticipation for what’s to come, the sight of new surroundings, and the excitement of race day, it’s all part of the adventure.
I find that life is often predictable. I go to work, train, eat, sleep and have some social things in between. Holidays, weekend escapes, and these races help change things up. It creates unexpected moments that are different and fun. It changes perspective, opens the mind and allows me to evolve.
Some people think it’s weird I go on these adventures alone. I get asked if I know people at the destination, whether there’s a group waiting for me. I have plenty of friends, friends that like to run, but sometimes our schedules don't align or I spontaneously decide to sign up for a run and not everyone has the freedom to just pack up and go.
To me traveling alone doesn’t feel strange at all. It might be to do with the fact that I travelled a lot for work. Staying in hotels on my own, having dinners for one in a restaurant. I am used to it. As a runner, you are often on your own too. Even though we find ourselves in crowds on race day, we always run on our own two feet, with our own thoughts and struggles. In training we push ourselves. We are used to being in the company of ourselves. And I guess I like me.
The running community, as I experience it, is very respectful and social... surprisingly so, for a bunch of soloist. On trail events I have never felt lonely. If I’m alone it’s usually my own choice. But if I want to, I’ll be running, talking, laughing with a bunch of strangers that after a few hours, or even shorter, feel like lifetime friends… And even if it's just for those moments, they are friends, nothing more, nothing less.
The race, the adventure
For the TCS Amsterdam Marathon October last year, I knew, as far as possible, what to expect. I had visualised the course, knew where it would start to hurt and where the course would get tough and I would have to push through.
A trail is very different than a road marathon. The trails are about adventure. Even having done the same course twice, you still never know what to expect, as weather conditions can really dictate the toughness, difficulty and speed of the race.
I have been to the Swedish High Coast before. In 2018 I went there for the winter hike, a three day camping trip in February and the 43k trailrun in September. Although having done those events did not help making me feel more prepared for the Höga Kusten Winter Trail I had signed up for.
I signed up planning to run the 50k. Feeling ready having done three marathons and a few ultra’s in the months before. But when December came and my planned two day 100k run, finished after the first day at 56k, due to ankle problems and overall fatigue, I wasn’t that sure anymore. After that, I spend December mostly running some easy five kilometre runs and sleeping a lot. January I picked up my training again. Only one month out from race day.
Ben, my trainer from GewoonLekkerRennen advised me to to keep my training sessions easy (Rate of Perceived Exertion 2/3). As that made me feel a bit nervous with the Winter Trail in February coming up, Ben added one or two interval session a week. Still with a maximum intensity of RPE 7, and not the 8/9 I was used to. With my longest training sessions being ninety minutes, I wasn’t sure if I’d be fit enough for my race, but that’s the way it was. It was a good lesson in ‘trusting the process’.
I stuck to the program and slowly started to feel much better. Two weeks before heading off to the High Coast I started to believe I would even be able to do the 50k. Although, in the back of my mind I knew it would probably be smarter to run the 25 or 35k. Anyway, this was something I could still decide on the day itself.
Continue to read: Höga Kusten Winter Trail - getting ready
photo credit: Martin Edholm
digital learning designer, presenter, commercial model van Amstelveen
Club: AV Startbaan