Why I run

Let me start by telling a little of my history in sports.

When growing up I sported a lot. It was all kinds of ballsports, but the sport I held dearest was the soccer, which I played from when I was 6 years old till I was 17 years old. Then I moved from home (the countryside) to Gothenburg and suddenly the access to grassfields wasn’t something all teams had. At least not in the league where I wanted to play ūüôā

That, in combination with living by myself and getting a taste for partying with friends, led to me getting further and further away from excercise. I’m not sure I have to mention in which direction my evil spiral of health went for the years to come.

So why did I start running?

In 2006, when I was 24 years old, a lot of things changed. I became a father, which made me want to improve myself as a role-model. Most of all that meant me making an end to all my addictions to tobacco (smoking and the Swedish “snus”). I also tried to stop cursing, which is a very bad habit I still have trouble controlling ūüôā

The somehow better behaviour continued on for a couple of years, during which I also became father for a second time.

Then in July 2009, when I was 27 years old,¬† I came to another checkpoint. I felt that all my years of consuming much too richly of the not-so-healthy products had had quite an impact on my body. Well, in fact it hadn’t changed much since I was 21. I weighted around 77 kg and were 175 cm tall. Most people laughed and shook their head when I told them I was overweight. Only now I saw it from a diffrent point of view – The I-will-look-and-feel-like-this-or-even-worse-for-the-rest-of-my-life view.

Many times I had said “one day I will run the Gothenburg half-marathon” (G√∂teborgsvarvet). I had been running one specific 10k race held in the town where I grew up. But that was when I was an active sportsman in my youth. I never liked it though – only did it for competition. First time I was 8 years old and last time I was 13.

So I felt like this was the time to prove myself. I knew the only way to do that was to pin out a goal for my running and force myself into it. I applied for the Gothenburg half-marathon in 2010 and set a goal of running under 1:30. And that was the start of it.

Since then I’ve been running.

My way to the Gothenburg half-marathon (Göteborgsvarvet)

Everyone who knows me would probably describe me as somehow over-excentric when it comes to things I get my target on. Of course I try to push away all those “rumours” as good as I can, only – They’re telling the truth.

Running training is not an exception. When I was in the Swedish military training I tried to start running training. It ended up in with a fracture in my right foot because I set as a goal to run 10k three times a week from the start.

I didn’t want that to happen this time. So I started out slowly. Began running only a couple of k’s a couple of times a week and increasing slowly both in distance and days of running per week . After a couple of months I ran between 30 and 40k per week.

I had read about the different pulse-zones and also had got a pulse-watch in birthday-present from my wife. So I started running one time a week in the anaerobic zone and the rest in the aerobic zone. I continued training in that fashion until March 2010 when I had run the seeding race for the Gothenburg half-marathon. My goal there was to get a start-number in the half-marathon among group 3. To achieve that I needed to run 10.5k under 46 minutes. Fortunately I finished at 45:14.

The need for more improvement

However, I wasn’t at all pleased with my performance. It was too weak. To run the half-marathon at under 1:30 I needed to improve a lot. I thought maybe that meant changing my way of training. A guy I know told me to run at pace instead of heartrate, so I started to run paced runs.
Most of my paced run’s were at work during lunch-time and in the beginning at a distance of around 5k. I increased that later. I also changed my program to 2 paced runs a week and one long run. In between that I ran recovery runs. My week-program looked something like this:

Monday: Floorball-training (Innebandy)
Tuesday: Paced run, 6.5k, target pace 3:30/km
Wednesday: Recovery run, 8k, target pace 4:45-4:55/km
Thursday: Recovery run, 8k, target pace 4:45-4:55/km
Friday: Paced run, 6.5k, target pace 3:50/km
Saturday: Day off
Sunday: Long run, 10.5k, target pace 4:30-4:55/km

Over time there were some small adjustments to this program, but overall I did it something like that.

Four weeks before the Gothenburg half-marathon I wanted to test myself. Then I ran 19.17 km on 1:26. That would mean 21k at around 1:35. I had quite good confidence by then, hoping on at least running the race itself at 1:35.

The Gothenburg half-marathon 2010 (Göteborgsvarvet)

Until this day weather had been pretty mild. Of course Mr. Murphy had to shake us all around. It was the hottest day of the year. The temperature was around 30 degrees Celsius and the race-doctors said running may lead to 2-3 litres of lost bodyfluids per hour. Because of that they urged people to drink lots of water before, during and after the race.

I drank at almost every waterstation, but I never stopped to drink. It was like the Race to hell. Many thoughts of breaking crossed my mind, but coming back telling people I didn’t fulfil was too much against my pride. So I kept my legs going. I realised quite early that I wouldn’t make it under 1:30 which then made it feel as a complete failure.

After going through the goal I collapsed and some people took care of me and sat me down for a while. Some time after the dizziness had decreased and I had thoughts about going looking for my wife. When I stood up it hit me again and they had to take me to the medical-care-tent where they walked me around for half an hour or so. I remember it all – not being able to walk by myself, the confusion (I couldn’t tell the age of myself or the name of my children, for example). But after a while it felt better and I went on.

Unfortunately I wasn’t alone about this. Several hundred collapsed and over 60 runners had to be brought to hospital. During the time in the care-tent I remember telling the nurses that I was alright compared to others there. Some had gone mad and fought the nurses and screamed.

My performance, then?

Time: 1:40:51

I was a little disappointed on this time, even if I should feel satisfied going through the finishline at all without having to be brought to hospital. However, when I looked at the rank I changed my mind.
I was 2 701 of over 58 000, which I found a little comforting.

Last day of running?

When I started I had only set as a goal to run the Gothenburg half-marathon. But when I had gotten this far I didn’t actually feel like throwing it all away.
So I set up new goals and new races throughout the rest of the year.

Improvements of the first year

The first effect of the running came immediately in weightloss. I lost around 10 kg during the first two months. From 77 kg to 67 kg. As reference I have used a track of around 11k I sometimes run in Alings√•s. Most of the time it’s a forest-trail, but it’s not so very hilly.

2009-07-09
Time: 1:23:55
Avg HR: 152

2010-05-16
Time: 56:01
Avg HR:153

Future Goals

I will set up some milestones to get there, but in the end I want to reach a 10k-time under 33 minutes. I hope to fulfill that goal before the end of 2013.

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