Swimrun Training Camp 2017 Part 1 (by Hanna)

Sun, wonderful sun! What a difference a little vitamin D can make. We have been at Wolff-Wear Swimrun camp for just 3 days, but have managed many more kilometers already than in a typical week. It is amazing how much the body is able to recover between sessions when you don’t have the stresses of everyday life on top of the training.

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Erik Froode and Hanna running along the beach in swimrun gear.

 

It has been such a joy to watch Johan doing a great job leading running sessions and providing swimrun guidance to all of the excited beginners. The other coaches at the camp are the incredibly strong mixed-team Helen Maalinn and Andrew Maclean, who fought side-by-side with us at the end of ÖtillÖ last year. A lot of the focus of the camp is helping the participants find comfort in their swimrun gear and in open water. The beautiful weather and calm waters have certainly helped to make it a pleasurable start for everyone.

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The participants of Wolff-Wear swimrun camp 2017 enjoying working on open-water swimming drills.

As I have written before, the winter has been pretty tough. I had symptoms of over-training during the late fall and took all of January off to let my body recover. Trying to get back in the flow of training in February and March was much more difficult than I had anticipated. Even if my body had rested, I was still feeling far from positive towards training. As a result, my form has improved at a snail’s pace despite support from a great coach and lots of others around me (especially Johan). I was nervous and almost a little sad about coming to the training camp again this year knowing that my physical form was so much better when I arrived here last year. I wasn’t even sure if I should join in on any training or if I should just take a week on the beach to work on my tan, but it has thus far been what I needed to find some joy in training again.

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Wonderful to swim in outdoor 50 m pool.

 

On the first day, the two-hour pool session felt like the most fun thing I had done all year. For the first time I ran intervals and forgot about how fast I used to be able to run and instead just enjoyed running. I woke up on day two expecting to feel exhausted, but instead felt strong and was able to do it all over again. Today is day 3 and despite that I feel good I have taken a rest day to make sure that I don’t over-do things. Plus, my feet are quite sore after lots of running in the sand! I know from experience that this heals quickly if I let it and becomes a painful inflammation if I don’t.

 

I am nervously looking forward to what the next few days of training will hold. After so many months of negative feelings surrounding my training I am still not ready to trust that my body is ”back”, but am very happy to see a glimmer of strength and joy in training again. I also know that it is much better for me to go to a new place with my training rather than to go back to where I have been for so many years; pushing through session after session without adequate rest. Time to see what my body can do if I focus on recovery and put my training goals in perspective with other priorities in life!

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Johan looking so handsome and so happy is his Orca swimrun outfit 🙂

The Season and the Sun are Near! (by Hanna)

It’s been a challenging winter season with lots of colds, focus on work, and a move, but in just two weeks we will be in Mallorca as trainers at Wolff-Wear Swimrun Camp enjoying the sun and outdoor pool!

 

Compared to this time last year, I have had drastically fewer training hours and have instead focused on recovery and reflection. I am hoping that I am learning to make smarter decisions about my training that will allow me to balance life and racing for many more years to come. I am not expecting 2017 to be a particularly fast year, but I am curious to see how it progresses and how my body will respond to the increased amount of recovery time.

Regardless of how fast the season will be, it is increasingly near and there are lots of exciting things on the agenda. We are already signed up for a number of great races including Morocco Swimrun, Kustjagaren, Åstol Runt, and ÖtillÖ. We will also continue our collaboration with Orca and are excited to test the new RS1 swimrun suits.

Last, but certainly not least; join me, Eva Nyström, and Katarina Åström for a swimrun training weekend in Lysekil May 13-14! It will be a great way to start off the outdoor season on the West Coast and get top-class coaching. More info on facebook 🙂

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Join me, Eva Nyström, and Katarina Åström in Lysekil May 13-14 for training weekend to kick-off the 2017 season!

 

Reflections for ÖtillÖ 2017 (by Hanna)

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We were very happy to wake up this morning to the news that we are one of the teams who earned a merit spot to ÖtillÖ 2017! Open water swimming and some sun seem like a dream after many months of cold and dark. The fall has been filled with a lot of great changes for us (new job for me and a house purchase) so swimrun has been further away from our minds. I also made the mistake of not resting enough after the race season so my body has forced me to do it now with several long-lasting colds. For me the focus for the upcoming year will not be as much on giving it my all, but rather to learn to give only so much that I can continue to race as part of an otherwise balanced life for many years to come. I want to work on finding the joy in every workout (or at least most ;)) and learn to let go of the workouts that are planned, but become less beneficial because other things in life take priority.

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I have always run my life in a straight line: I have set ambitious goals, created ambitious strategies to reach the goals, and then forced myself to have the discipline to follow through regardless of what has stood in the way. This has been an incredibly efficient way to achieve.  The price has been that I have created habits that make it difficult to slow down and to forgive myself and my body when I need a break. Breaking deeply ingrained habits is a much scarier goal to set than to run an ultramarathon in a specific time. But that is my goal this year; to create new habits regarding the thought patterns that I have about my training and my racing.   

I am so thankful for the journey that we have made to be here, soon starting our third season together as Team Happy Swimrun! I am excited for a new season with new adventures, but as long as it involves swimming and running with Johan and meeting the great people of the swimrun community it will be enough! One thing in particular that I look forward to is meeting friends by the lake to swim around the islands after work. In fact, it was by the lake that Johan and I met for the very first time, appropriately dressed in our wetsuits 🙂 And now we have bought a new house as close as possible to this lake to make it even easier to spend more time there in the years to come 🙂

ÖtillÖ 2016 Race Report (by Hanna)

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This was the big one! The one we had been excited about for a whole year; to transport ourselves the classic 75 km distance from Sandhamn to Utö. And the weekend certainly lived up to the expectations! What could be more fun than spending 48 hours together with 120 of the world’s best swimrun teams!?! Great video summary of the race can be found here. We can be seen at 0:13 and 1:05 🙂

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As far as the actual race, we are very satisfied with a sub 10 hour finish (9:49) and 7th place mix, 29th total. We are even more happy to have felt strong throughout the race and to have been able to finish without problems. But there is definitely room for improvement!

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The race is divided into 26 swims and 27 runs. In total 10 km swimming, most of which is in the first 2/3rds of the race with the longest swim at the very beginning. The longest run section is 20 km and towards the end of the race.

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Our strategy was to take it easy at the start and not get stressed by other teams around us. Since it was our first time racing this course and this distance we wanted to err on the side of too slow. We had also written down the split times of Team Orca from last year, who then finished in a time of 9:42. We used their splits as a guide to help us know where we were doing with our goal of finishing under 10 hours. I am happy to say that we stayed with this strategy and it had the result that we wanted, we were strong all the way through and were able to rise in the standings throughout the second half of the race. Looking back now, we think that we could’ve pushed quite a bit harder during the first half and still have been able to finish strong. Next year 😉

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The first part of the race was problem free. About 25 km in I had a little stomach problems, but that was quickly fixed with a 2 minute trip in the bushes. However, after the famous 1400 m ”pig swim” Johan had a bit of a dip. The water was nice this year, not too many waves and currents, but the temperatures were pretty chilly and Johan started having problems with the cold. He was mentally completely out of it and was confused about where we were. It got worse during the 1000 m swim that came up just a short while later, and he was too confused to swim straight and we were almost 400 m away from the buoy despite that I stopped him several times and tried to get him to go straight. Since he had finns and I didn’t, he pulled almost all of the swims during the first half of the race. Usually we take turns or I pull most of the swims, so the fact that he had to do so much pulling this time may have been a contributing factor to that he had a dip and I didn’t.

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Luckily, even with the dip, he was able to keep a 5 min/km pace during the 20 km run. During that run we were able to pass many teams and at the end of it we came up on the two mixed teams ahead of us. We battled with them back and forth for the last 5 swim sections. All in all, we rose from 51st total to 29th total, and from 12th mix to 7th mix. During the very last 3 km run of the race Johan came back in full force and I had to fight to keep up with him.

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Right away we felt surprised by how well we felt when we finished! And have continued to be amazed this week at how well and quickly we are recovering! OtillO was all-around a great experience for us and an event that we hope to be able to be a part of again in the future!

10 Island Swimrun 2016 Race Report (by Hanna)

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Over and over before the race I told Johan and myself, ”we are going to focus on having fun.” We’ve had several races now that haven’t been ”fun” and we have had to go back and remind ourselves that we are in this sport because it makes us happy. If we win, that’s a bonus, but it can’t be the primary goal.

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Unfortunately, Johan didn’t feel 100% since he’s still got the end of a cold, but since we focused more on enjoying the race it felt fine to slow down a little bit. I enjoyed this race much more than I have the last few races because I took the pressure off and just worked on the things I needed to work on without worrying about the teams around us.

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Even so, we managed to win the mix and finish 4th overall team with a time 12 minutes faster than last year which felt very nice. Complete results here. This course features quite a bit of technical running and lots of short swims making it a challenging one for us, especially me. Since I was feeling strong I could keep a quicker pace than Johan on the flat sections, but as soon as we got to cliffs, and especially rocks he caught up to me. He says he can keep up with me when he walks on the rocks and I am running as fast as I can! :p Really need to work on that! The swims were very nice, it was a calm day, comfortable water temperature, and not too many jellyfish (although Johan managed to get stung once). Because of the technical running and short calm swims we decided to not use a dragline which I think worked very well. It saves quite a bit of time when going in and out of the water if you don’t have to worry about timing it perfectly with your partner. At this point, we are also so used to swimming together that it was no problem for Johan to stay right on my feet the entire time even without the line.

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Foto: Eva Fridman

We are happy that we managed to end this last race before ÖtillÖ on a good note and are now trying our best to have a successful taper period. Thanks to a quite bit of work travel I will have an extra challenge to make sure that I eat, sleep, and train properly.  Two week count down begins today! We are very excited!

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Foto: Emma Belforth

GBG Swimrun August 2016 Race Report (by Hanna)

Last night I raced GBG swimrun for the 6th time and it was the first time that I didn’t improve my time from the previous race. However, after what has felt like a never ending cold, I am happy to finally feel like my body is healthy again. My time was just 10 seconds slower than last time, 42:17, and I was able to defend my title. Yesterday I even got to race with start number 1 which added some additional nerves to my usual state of jitters and nausea before the race! 

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Johan has also been struggling with a cold and he certainly felt it during the race yesterday, but he managed to finish with a PB by 1 second (40:57) anyway. Perhaps in part because he raced with the Olander Swimrunfin which gives him some amazing speed in the water!

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The first swim yesterday felt tougher than usual and I had trouble breaking free from the chase group. Johan and I were both in a group of 5 out of the first swim and had another group of 4 swimmers ahead of us. Johan then used the fins on the other three swims and swam past me with ease! On the second swim I broke away a little bit, but the lead group was further than usual. To my delight, Eva Nyström raced yesterday and she got out of the water right after me on the second swim so after that I felt chased the entire race despite that I didn’t see or hear her anymore after that point. In general, I think that my swims were worse than usual yesterday while my runs were perhaps slightly faster despite that they felt very heavy. Full results are here. Johan finished 5th and I finished 7th.

The last GBG swimrun of the season will be just 3 days after ÖtillÖ so I am not sure I will be able to go for 4/4 wins, but if my body seems like it’s up for it I will give it a try! We are very excited about the “twist” to the last race of the year when the course will be run backward! Will be very interesting to see how that changes the feeling of the race and the times.


Thank you to the wonderful swimrun community and the GBG swimrun pros for another great night of racing!  

Öloppet 2016 DNF (by Hanna)

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Tough to know where to start with this report, but it’s important to share the set-backs along with the successes. Tuesday before the race, the usual interval run practice didn’t feel nearly as good as it should have. I hoped that it was just tiredness from the previous week, but something wasn’t quite right. The rest of the week showed additional signs that my body was fighting something and by Friday it was evident that it was a cold. I did all I could to rest and let my body fight it off and by race morning I was feeling better so we decided to start the race and see what happened. In hindsight, of course it would have been better not to start at all, but knowing myself, it would have been very tough to follow the race from the couch and feel that maybe my body could’ve held up.

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Foto: Jakob Edholm

We started the race with the plan to go out hard as usual and hope that both of our bodies would be up for the challenge. But the plan fell already the first swim when I realized that I wasn’t strong enough to push up and switch off with Johan to pull the second half of the first swim which was over 1000 m long. Usually I have no problems increasing the effort enough to pull ahead of Johan, but this time there was no amount of effort that would allow me to push up. The runs were even worse, on the flats where we are usually able to hold sub 4:30 min/km pace, I struggled to hold 5:30 min/km with a heart rate way too high for a 4+ hour race. On the many cliff and rock sections where I normally struggle, it was even more difficult with a heavy head and wavering self-confidence that came with feeling sick.

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Foto: Jakob Edholm

Two hours into the race, I was really not having a good time and the thoughts of quitting had been playing in my head for about a half hour already when Johan asked how I was doing. I suggested that maybe we should quit. I think Johan was very surprised to hear this from me, but he already knew from my heavy breathing and the slow pace that I was struggling. We ran in silence for a bit, both debating what would be best. At this point we had already fallen back to 4th place and with the pace we were holding it felt hopeless to get back to top 3. Around that point I very suddenly and unexpectedly leaned over to the side of the road and threw up a little bit. I felt better and kept running, but it gave Johan enough evidence to know that we should quit. He told me that it was my decision if we should quit or not when we came to the next check-point, but when he saw that I struggled to make the decision he thankfully made it for me.

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Foto: simcoachen.se

Of course, we could have slowed down the pace and finished the race, but considering that our A-race, ÖtillÖ, is just a month away we didn’t want to risk any further illness by pushing through unnecessarily. A couple days later the disappointment is still there, but we are sure we made the right decision and are focusing on the rest of the season. After two races in a row that were hampered by injury and illness, our nerves for ÖtillÖ are getting bigger. The focus will be to make sure we get to the starting line as healthy and happy as possible and then we will have to make the best of the race and enjoy the experience. This sport truly requires going along with the forces of nature and while you can prepare yourself to handle the course, you can’t go one way when a force bigger than you has decided that you’re going another!