För två månader sedan skrev jag här att jag var på väg tillbaka i träningen efter att ha tagit det lite för lugnt efter ÖTILLÖ. Egentligen tog jag det lite för lugnt med löpningen under sommaren också. Ibland berodde det på att det var många tävlingar och ibland pga ett självbedrägeri med att halvåret av 100 km/v skulle sitta i för all evighet utan underhåll.
Hur som helst är jag igång starkt sedan två månader. Vill man vara i 100 km/v-form så gör man bäst i att springa 100 km/v och inte 60. Jag har också större polarisering nu med två fartpass per vecka, vilket jag hoppas ska göra mirakel. Jag springer med maratonhjälten Tobias Lidving och Maskinen på en del av dem, vilket både är roligt och håller kvalitén uppe. Ungefär 100 km/v försöker jag få till.
55 km terräng på NUTS för 2,5 veckor sedan gick sådär. Trevlig dag, visst, men jag sprang nog 5–10 min sämre än förra året, kompenserat för ny tyngre bana. Jag tog iofs inte i lika mycket. Formen nu är helt okej iaf och på uppåtgående. Det blir skitbra! Både jag och Maskinen är mycket taggade inför vår swimrunsäsong nästa år.
Two months ago I revealed a new site I had created to let people analyze swimrun race results. That site is Swimrun Watch and it has grown a bit in both content and features since.
Looking for my next venture I got the idea to do something similar but for a bigger sport. Mind though that it needs to be a sport with a habit to record split times. Marathon running! Such a standardized sport with the same measurements all across the world. So, I siphoned the results data of a few of the world’s biggest marathon races, adapted some of the features from Swimrun Watch and voilà! Marathonsplits.com was born.
To give you an idea, here’s Mo Farah putting the hammer down on Galen Rupp (and the rest of the field) at Chicago Marathon a few weeks ago:
Sörmland ultra går i Stockholm, är nästan 50 km långt och igår var det femte året i rad som jag sprang SUM. Det är en blandning av stig, grusväg och asfalt med en del kupering.
Jag hade stora förhoppningar när jag 2016 sprang på 4:01 och inte tryckte det var så jobbigt. Men sen blev det förkylning och lerig stil året efter, vilket gav 4:06. Det var nog ändå en jämnstarkt med året innan, med tanke på förutsättningarna. I år var det perfekta förhållanden så jag trodde i min naivitet att 4-gränsen skulle falla men det blev bara 4:07! Oförklarligt ändå tills jag tittade i kalkylbladen.
Träning de tre månaderna innan SUM detta år: 11,2 h/v konditionsträning varav 61,8 km/v löpning. 2017: 12,4 h/v konditionsträning varav 100,6 km/v löpning. Med konditionsträningen menas här löpning, simning eller cykel. I år har jag fokuserat mer på simning innan ÖTILLÖ och bytte en del löpning mot cykling efter ÖTILLÖ, då jag också tror att luften lite gick ur mig mot slutet av säsongen. Redan på Solvalla Swimrun kände jag att det fattades lite power i steget mot slutet.
Vi lever och vi lär. Men det är klart, hade jag inte satsat på simningen innan ÖTILLÖ så hade det nog inte gått lika bra. Och vi gjorde bra ifrån oss där. Jag har gjort flera lyckade tävlingar i år och några sämre. Detta var ingen katastof men en varning att ta på allvar angående att hålla volymen uppe. För min del gäller det att ha koll på nyckeltalen. Om jag inte jobbar mot volymmål så är risken stor att jag missar dem.
Hur som helst var det en trevlig tävling som alltid. Tack till Jan-Erik Ramström och de andra som arrangerar och arbetar med tävlingen! Och tack för sällskapet Dennis Inspiro Löfving, som jag sprang nästan hela loppet med.
Energiplanen funkade iaf spotless:
Frukost: havregrynsgröt, en Snickers och en energibar.
Softflask med två Dextrosol och 200 mg koffein med från start. Fyllde på den med vatten vid stationer. Det var ganska varmt.
Runt 20-25 km där det var tunt med stationer åt jag två Dextrosol och stoppade ner en tablett till med 200 mg koffein i softflasken.
Solvalla Swimrun has a course that suits Tomas Granberg and me just perfectly. The trails and nature in Noux are very much like the trails close to home in Tyresta that we enjoy alot. It’s the terrain we enjoy the most and what we train in, both running and swimrun. We are not the fastest on flat runnable, but running over stones and tree roots we can keep a decent pace. That and our second place last year got us psyched to come back in 2018. Since we live in Stockholm it is just a boat trip away and we didn’t even spend a night in Finland since Tomas is always pressed for time.
Last year’s winners, the kumiukots Teemu Toivanen and Teemu Lemmettylä, were nowhere to be seen when we arrived. I suppose they were satisfied with a respectable 08:23 at the recent ÖTILLÖ World Champs and considered the swimrun season to be over after that. We knew that Finish triathletes Tuomas Lampainen and Markus Lampainen were in the start list and might be a cause for concern. Tomas had also scouted the Russian mixed team of Sergey Mikhalev and Irina Borevich who did well at the World Champs and could be contenders. Other than that we didn’t know too much going in.
The plan we made up on the boat from Stockholm was simply to go at our own pace since we had no clue whether the one or two teams possibly ahead of us would offer suitable drafting. As it turned out we were alone after the first kilometer and it stayed that way. After about 90 min of racing we got high fives from the at that point second place team Markko Lehtosalo and Janne Blomqvist when they entered the 700 m swim as we exited (it’s a loop swim around a buoy). However, in the back of my mind I wanted us to beat last year’s winner time.
That proved a bit too hard on the day. My own form on the day wasn’t perfect with a lack of sleep the nights before. Also the wind might or might not have affected the swims. Anyway, we managed to enjoy ourselves through the pristine forest and clear lakes. It’s nice that our ÖTILLÖ Merit Race shares it’s latter part of the course with the shorter Endurance Race distance and that the Endurance participants are ahead. Chasing people adds a nice spice to the race.
We were a few seconds faster this year than last and more importantly, one place up on the podium. I would like to go back in 2019 but that is still a full year away. Regardless, it was a very enjoyable experience and a nicely organized event!
Femma med Tomas Granberg på bra tid i hård konkurrens. Nöjd!
ÖTILLÖ World Championship
20 plats i herr, 27 totalt. 8:57 med Tomas Granberg. Nöjd!
Anmäld med Tomas. Mål: snabbare än förra årets vinnartid.
Anmäld. Mål: sub 4.
November Ultra Trail Södertörn
Mål: sub 5:15. Inte bestämt om jag springer denna.
Planen för hösten
De närmaste månaderna vill jag ha mer polarisering i löpningen och större andel hårt och kort. Mer cykeltransport isf löptransport för att skona fötterna till de hårda passen. Inte lika stor andel mellanmjölkspass men spring sådant som återhämtingspass eller som aktiv vila inför hårda pass. Mängden antagligen inte över 80 km/v den närmaste tiden. Jag vill verkligen bli snabbare.
Simningen oftast utan gear i höst. Inte så mycket simning under hösten. Två pass/v but make them count, kanske. Mer bouldering istället för att det är roligt och underhåller simmuskler. Simma mer i början av 2019 när nästa säsong närmar sig.
Photo: The author giving his teammate Tomas Granberg a well deserved hug at the 2018 World Champs finish line. In front: women’s 1st place Kristin Larsson. Photo by Jakob Edholm / ÖTILLÖ.
If you’ve watched the World Championship live or recap on YouTube that probably got you fired up to sign up for a local swimrun race, an ÖTILLÖ World Series race or even the World Champs. Of all these the only one that is really hard to get entry into is the World Champs, which is quite natural. World Champs are open to non-elite, for sure, just like the Ironman World Championship or the Berlin Marathon is. However, there are only a total of 160 teams allowed.
If you are an elite or sub-elite athlete in something like triathlon, swimming, running, OCR or multisport and you are confident that your ability would place you in the top five or so of an ÖTILLÖ World Series event, your quickest option would be to enter one of those and go for direct qualification. To give you an idea that requires about a 2:50–2:55 marathon (and often good trail-running ability). You should also be able to keep about 1:20–1:25/100 m full equipment through the whole race. This year, each World Series race qualified 3 male teams, 2 female teams and 3 mixed teams. But spots roll down if one of the team members is already qualified. Some races have more competition, some less.
Non-elites with a sub 3:20 marathon, a decently swim and who are ready to travel have a good chance at a ”ranking” spot. Your six best recent World Series or merit races (that’s ÖTILLÖ’s partner races) give you a ranking score which is added to your partner’s score to give a team score for the application. Also, there is the ”7/24 Concept” which are spots for people finishing a whole lot of races, regardless of how they perform at the races.
If you are a famous athlete (or just famous), you could apply for a director’s choice spot. Previously these have been offered to ex-olympians, national elite runners, elite triathletes, music artists, early contributers to the sport, among others.
”Team Selection Ticket” is an option where you rely on sheer luck in a lottery. I personally hope they’ll remove this way of gaining entry in the future to instead favour athletes suitable to finish and do well in this very demanding race. After all, it is the World Championship.
Yes, together with my teammate Tomas Granberg we did just that in yesterday’s perfect conditions! Men’s category 20th place and 27th overall with a time of 8:57.49. But a lengthy post bragging about that wouldn’t be of much use to the world, so lets leave us aside and instead talk a bit about our modus operandi free for you to mimic. Here’s an introduction to executing at your best potential at ÖTILLÖ Worlds, be that sub 8, 9, 10 or whatever. Obviously the most important thing is training, training and some more training, but today I’ll leave that whole thing out and focus on race execution.
Knowing the course
If you are not a repeat participant, scout every section with Google Maps or equivalent.
Some people bring a table with distances of all the legs. We don’t. Instead we focus on the key takeaways such as those following below, which are not too hard to remember.
On which island is there no energy station for a long time but still enough time to eat a bar? (Answer: Vånsholmen)
Where do I need to stock water or sports drink in a soft flash that I’ve carried with me under my wetsuit? (Answer: Ornö church, and more places if very hot conditions)
Where do I keep my swim cap on and goggles readily on forehead at water exit, because the next swim is just around the corner? (Answer: after the pig swim, after the 1 km swim, on Mellankobbarna but not Järnholmen if hot weather, etc)
If the weather is warm, where do you peel your wetsuit down? (Answer: probably only at Ornö)
How long does it take for both teammates to take the wetsuit down and up again? If it takes a long time, would it be better to accept the heat and just drink a bit more?
If your team is strong in the off-trail, where do you want to avoid being stuck behind a pack where there is little room for overtaking? You need to know such things.
I consumed about 400 ml of standard gels mixed with caffeine and additional electrolytes. These I put in a soft flask with no risk of littering and no messing around with packaging. Many people find it hard to take solids at the latter part of a race. You probably want to save some gel for the last two hours.
In addition to that I brought one bar as mentioned and ate mainly bananas from aid stations. Adapt to your preference.
Where do you store these things? In a sports top or bra, your lower underwear or a pocket if your suit has one. Make sure they don’t bounce around too much or fall out while running.
Drink plenty of water at the stations. Swimming is such a treacherous activity. It is difficult to sense dehydration at an early stage. Especially when you are in the cold water.
If your stomach allows, drink from the ocean while swimming. You might want to try that before to see what amount your stomach can handle.
I bring two soft flasks. One containing my gel mix and one for liquid picked up at aid stations. At most stations, ÖTILLÖ no longer provides cups.
You are aiming for beach flags mainly. Sometimes strobes. Sometimes there are intermediate pyramid buoys for direction (you don’t need pass at a certain side or anything).
Draft whenever the opportunity comes along, or even strategically follow a team at suitable speed. You’ll always have your partner draft on you or the other way around, in any case. Side-by-side is wasting your team’s energy total to no use. The men’s front of ÖTILLÖ will usually be a group for a very long time, until a team breaks away on a run. You might realize why.
Swimming about 10 km in a day with long runs in between means energy efficiency is key. You don’t sprint or even change speeds if there is not a very good reason to do so.
If you realize you are gapping your partner swimming and you don’t have a tow line, slow your stroke down as that will help your partner to get back into your stream. When approaching shore, on the other hand, you could swim a few meters ahead allowing for some exit scouting.
Sighting is very important. Even if you are a good swimmer you don’t want to be swimming 740 m when everyone else is swimming 700. Personally I prioritize sighting and swimming straight over pushing it very hard since my ability to swim straight deteriorates at very high effort. Especially so in choppy water.
Most teams use fairly big pull buoys and hand paddles but don’t bring paddles so big that you are no longer able to pull through the whole stroke after 7 km.
ÖTILLÖ WC is in the Baltic Ocean, which has brackish water. Some people will go without goggles and that works. If you use stronger contact lenses, you might want to bring a spare contact if swimming without goggles. This also being a thing to definitely practice before adopting.
You may swim through currents, especially on the swims between Ornö and Utö. Those are the last swim sections of the course when you are the most tired. If the water is moving rapidly, counter already before hitting the current to get some slack. Currents may switch directions from one year to the next.
The course has everything from tarmac to scrambling. ”65 km of running” is more like 35 km of runnable, 25 km of technical trail and 5 km of complete wilderness expedition. ;)
First-timers will likely be surprised by the amount of off-trail and slippery rock. You need good grip. Especially in a wet year when rain is falling on race day or the days before. Non-spike orienteering shoes are popular with ÖTILLÖ Worlds athletes.
If one of you is a considerably stronger runner, that person might be pulling with a tow line at the runnable sections. You might prefer pulling a little throughout the whole race instead of one of you bonking two thirds into and the other then trying to pull very hard. Watch out since pulling hard might trigger cramps in the calves.
What pace would you be able to maintain throughout the whole race? Now take that pace and go just a little faster. You don’t want to underachieve. That should still end up being a bit slower than how most teams pace themselves. This applies in general but not always at the men’s front as there are not many teams to draft on the swims so you might factor that in too. There are a lot of micro decisions like that to be taken during the race.
When I say pacing I mean effort-based and not actual speed since the course is so varied. We just avoid going ”red” or even ”orange” early on. This has the drawback that you might get stuck behind a crowd since a lot of teams can’t seem to pace themselves so think of strategies to mitigate that.
Again, remember to pace yourself. As they say at WS100, if you’re in the lead after the first climb, you are probably not going to win the race. :)
Leave all pride aside. If the pace is too high for you, let it be known. The other way around, ask your partner if they’ve remembered to take a gel lately. His/her success is your success.
Equal swimmers will let the more tired runner draft swims to regain some energy for the next run.
Even if you’ve got equal capacity in all respects, maybe bring a line under the wetsuit in case either of you ends up having a bad day.
If you are competitive both number one and two are done in-flight. Preferably during a swim or just before, to avoid developing rashes. A wetsuit cut short makes number two much easier. I don’t know why I put this under teamwork.
This covers perhaps 10 % of the things that are handy to know. Dissecting this race you will find it is potentially so complex that you can’t expect to perform at your full physical potential the first time entering. Still worth it! I don’t want to scare anyone from entering and it is not only for the very competitive. ÖTILLÖ World Champs is *magical*! The scenery, the spirit among the racers and the staff. All magical, regardless of how serious you are about competing.
This might not apply to shorter races but could be useful for the upcoming World Champs. Last year I heard people had 20 or even 25 gels with them. Imagine the fiddling. I put my energy, caffeine and salts mix in a softflask instead. Bonus: you can fill up the flask with water at Ornö church avoiding running dry at that crucial part of the race where there will be no liquid served for a long while.
The natural follow-up question would be: where do I put the flask? In the pocket of the wetsuit of course! Problem is, most current swimrun suits don’t have pockets. That’s why I wear tight briefs. A bonus there is a softflask is less likely to cause rashes than pointy gels. Another way would be Head’s tank-top-style swimrun tops that feature a large front pocket. I think a tank-top would be a bit too warm for me, personally. For women, there is also a swimrun bra with a front pocket. Looks very handy! I’d try that i XXXXX large or cut the men’s swimrun top.
Hack 2: Shoes
Wear orienteering shoes for those comps which feature slippery rocks and off-trail. Not really a hack, is it? Well, anyway, VJ Sports Sarva Amas will be my footwear come September 3rd. Forget about all other properties in these races and go for grip. This very much applies to World Champs.
Hack 3: Don’t just train swimrun
Some people stress the importance of swimrun specific sessions. Sure, but when you have that dialed, think running, think swimming. All the best swimrunners do laps in the pool just like swimmers.
Learn from the best in swimming, and running. Don’t compare yourself to just the top people at your most high-profile national swimrun race and settle with that. Compare yourself instead to the fastest trail marathon runners of your country and aim for their level. Don’t set the bar too low. With the rapidly increasing level of competition in swimrun, in a few years, the bar will be unreachable if you do.
Also, think of ÖTILLÖ World Championship as an ultra endurance race. That means Ironmans or 10 h ultra foot races make good preparation to harden the body and learn to handle nutrition under such long races.
As I’m writing this we are almost two weeks out to the main event of the sport of swimrun, the ÖTILLÖ World Championships. Without doubt the most competitive race of the sport, ÖTILLÖ WC attracts the best athletes of all categories. Rumour has it that some of the teams that have been close or on podium last year have made Monday September 3 their highest priority for 2018, setting aside everything else.
Many are the teams returning for another shot where the heavy-weights fight it out, to improve on their previous efforts. With two weeks left, gradual tapering would set in for many of you, leaving time for last thoughts on equipment, race-day nutrition and race planning. Wouldn’t it be perfect if there would be a tool to help you with atleast some of that and add extra psych for the big day?
Enter Swimrun Watch — statistics and analytics for fans and athletes of competitive swimrun racing! I started working on this project almost a month ago and now is the time to reveal it and give you guys a chance to try it. Hopefully, it will be fun and maybe even useful for your pacing and race planning! Which teams are strong swimmers? Which die towards the end? The answers are in the data. Go find out!
I’ve written a bunch of race reports in Swedish, making them more or less inaccessible to all those people of other languages interested in this Sweden-borne swimrun sport. So this time, I’ll give you the tour of one of Sweden’s biggest races: Ångaloppet! Although, I’m not sure its just a race — more like a movement. Ångaloppet is for everyone! There’s a family race where an adult and a child swimrun together, short distances for trying the sport and hand paddles and lines for towing are banned. It’s supposed to be easy and fun to get into this sport and I think Ångaloppet is doing a great job in making a wider audience discover and appreciate the magnificent fun that this sport brings.
At the sharp end there is still a lot of fun and companionship, trust me, although heart is pounding and we’re pressing on in tight competition. The main event of Ångaloppet is no more than 22 km, which is short in the context of swimrun racing but still packs 24 swims. Water entries and exists all the time and a lot of trail/off trail makes for a hectic ride and tons of adrenaline! I so enjoy the feeling of being a hunted animal in the wilderness, or out hunting running through technical terrain and trying to outswim someone to the next islet.
Today I was back racing with my primary teammate Tomas Granberg of TG Swimrun notoriety. With no towline allowed, this race favors our very similar capacities in both disciplines of swimming and running. Also, we are both stronger in technical terrain than on runnable, which makes this course suit us. Usually we’ll for sure screw up something in a race but today was a fortunate exception. We executed a close to perfect race, which allowed us to advance as the race unfolded and cross the line as fifth finishers with the tenth best time ever on this course, to the best of our knowledge. Really pleased with our performance!
This bodes well for the big one, arising on the horizon like a fiend out of the Baltic ocean. I’m talking ÖTILLÖ World Championship 2018 — the relentless race of races that brings all the beauty of the salty and harsh archipelago along with massive fatigue. And we are now only three weeks out. That’s one more week of milage and then gradual tapering for Tomas and I. So looking forward to face the strobe of that first swim!
Oh. And the winners of today’s race, brothers Lars and Jonas Ekman of Bröderna bäver, are contenders for the win of the world championship. Last year they did the third fastest time ever in a world championship race and that was a step up from the year before. They are getting better and better, it looks, and I think that this year it will be gold for the brothers. Remember where you read it first.