• BLOG
  • Good Running Flow in St. Gallen

    Tiina Kivelä

    As some might have guessed already, I’ve found my new swiss home in St. Gallen this spring. And in here I’ve also found myself more than enough on the running trails and roads. Back to basics, so to speak.

    While living in Interlaken, my original swiss basecamp, the choices for running were mainly flat to the lake / around the lake, or flat to Lauterbrunnen and up the almost 2000m to Kleine Scheideggen, like on the Jungfrau Marathon. Or then there was the killer steep uphill to Harder Kulm or likes (any HC uphill runner familiar with Strava should check and try the Harder Kulm segments and top times). And in dear Lapland, it was all slippery, snowy and icy the past half a year,  although beautiful, and the xc skiing was more tempting activity when it wasn’t too cold for any high-intensity outdoor activity whatsoever (more of the Lapland trails coming soon in a separate post).

    In St. Gallen on the other hand, it’s nicely rolling, downhill to the Lake Constance / Bodensee or up the mellow (well mellow in Swiss standards) hills on both sides of the town, which has made me run a lot again. In here and well, in this weather, it’s easy to gain km’s and even though not the easiest place in Switzerland to gain elevation, it’s not too big of a problem either. And with the elevation in here, you get kinda good views as well, to the lake and/or to he Alpstein massive and Appenzellerland. And without extra elevation, this time of the year, you get these pretty blossoming trees. Yes, those are the reason for the strange split times, hard to resist taking pics of the prettiest ones.

    Tiina Kivelä

    Basics of running in Switzerland

    As always in Switzerland, I run mainly on the wanderwege aka on the yellow signposted hiking trails (pic above), along which (and in the villages) you also find water posts for drinking, which is just so great. And if not with own snacks, carry some money for the restaurants and kiosks if and when on a long run; those aren’t too far from the trails either.

    You may find the trails on a map in here, ticking the box “hiking trails”, and as you see in the pic the signs also show the direction (and time!) to the nearest public transport station and train or bus. Sometimes I even do the Swiss train run; run a long way to one direction and then take the train back, as on Friday when I run 15km+ to Lake Constance from St. Gallen, a few km’s by the shore and then took the train back from Rorschach, which btw offers for less active sweaty visitors interesting Würth Haus Rorschach with some art and stuff.

    For tracking and inspiration (hopefully to others too) I’ve been tracking my running on Strava (links on the menu on side), though it’s been annoyingly buggy lately and therefore I’m now testing other apps and looking for suggestions on the best multi/mountain sports tracking app and compatible watch (iOS preferably) there is – please leave your comments and advice below or email me directly – any suggestions will be highly appreciated.

    And to not just ask but also give, I would be more than happy to help you if you are interested in running in Switzerland, so please just ask directly by email or leave your comments below. Or it would be also cool if you happen to come to Switzerland / St. Gallen / around and looking for a running mate and would let me know about it, so I could volunteer for running and after run drinks company (and no worries, the non-running readers and friends, the same trails and company works for hiking too, as always).

    If and when we don’t have the change to run or drink together the next weeks, I wish you all have as flowy spring as I have, running or whatever way and wherever you prefer. These weeks, as I finally have the time, I’ll come here with a lot of stories, way more than the past months, from Switzerland and Lapland. But before that, it’s time to give the running legs well deserved rest and work on the tan, as it’s promising amazingly beautiful and warm spring weekend in here.

    Take care, stay strong and talk to you soon!

  • BLOG
  • Running Girl

    Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

    Last week I promised you more training and prep. stories, and apparently that also means more intentional training for me. In the aftermath of the post on Saturday, I decided to create a new habit for this winter prep. season – long run & audiobook, at least once a week.

    The idea really came up just like that, after realizing I missed the better outdoor options for the weekend, like nordic skiing. Also, I don’t have enough time to read all the books I’d like, and since I also can’t read or use my time any other wise way in the long buss commute I have few days per week, I’ve though that running, while “reading” = listening audiobooks, would be an excellent solution.

    Tiina Kivelä

    I had previously signed in Strava for the November half-marathon challenge, as well as the 10k (maybe one day I should also write how much I like combining technology and sports). Then on Saturday, true to my habits, I started my run with the intention of running at least the 10k. I knew that most likely I’d run more, but setting up that minimum goal helped me to win myself with every step after the 10k.

    First I did the 10k, and yes I almost finished there already, but then I realized that if I just kept going the 12k more, I wouldn’t need to stress about the challenge for rest of the month. And now the November half-marathon is done. Well done me.

    Legs really didn’t like the last 10k in semi-slippery asphalt, but the mind could have kept going hours more. The book I picked for company, Option B by Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant, is so good (for a person who’s had her share of adversity the past years) that because of it I even had to choose active rest day for Sunday, to listen one more chapter while walking in more snowy and pretty setting (the snow comes and goes these weeks).

    The best outcome of the run and the book so far is btw the same: it could always be worse. This autumn and early winter has been an option B for me in many ways, and it helps to think in how many ways think could be worse, to get through this.

    When it comes to my running philosophy or training schedule, the recipe only says this: Don’t take things too seriously. I don’t have a schedule, nor training plan, and I don’t measure my heart rate with a Suunto watch  (though I’d really need one of those sport watches for many other purposes).  I just run because I know sitting all day is lethal and the exercise is good for me. It’s also not too of an expensive sport and it can be done quite freely whenever and whatever time I feel like it.

    I’ve also realized that running is one of those personal projects I do just for myself, to feel accomplished and capable. Therefore, I have to end this with a quote from climber Sasha Digiulian. Because even though I do things like running purely for personal reasons, which sounds selfish, they make me a better person and help me grow. And that, in the end, is good for others too.

    But what I have learned is that the challenges that fire me up don’t need to have significance to anyone but myself.

    Oh and if you want to have more badass inspiration, see this. Afghan girls and women running in mixed-gender Bamiyan Marathon. It could definitely be worse.

    Tiina Kivelä


    Where: Lapland

    Resources & data: Strava


    ps. featured pic doesn’t have nothing to do with the story – stock photo from unplash 

  • Bern
  • Jungfrau Marathon 2017 – I Did It And Here Is How

    Tiina Kivelä

    It’s now two weeks since my biggest achievement so far – Jungfrau Marathon 2017, in time 5:15:06. And I thought it would be good time for my first ever marathon rep, so read on if you are interested why and how I did it.

    Die Schönste Marathonstrecke Der Welt (The Most Beautiful Marathon Course In The World) didn’t give the best views this time, but it was an amazing experience still. Other runners might have different views but I didn’t really mind that the 42.195 km and 1’829 meters altitude difference went in rain and clouds (no sight of Jungfrau mountain itself) since I knew by then the hoods like my own pockets. With the help of fog I also got lost in the runners high and could focus more on the running itself. And so I did it and finished my first ever marathon (funnily enough the Virgin Marathon) in time: 5:15:06. Though the time didn’t really matter – all I wanted to do was to finish that bastard and do something I’ve never done before. And enjoy it.

    week before I went surfing in Morocco

    True to my adventurer self, I never really did any specific marathon training for this. A week before the marathon I went surfing in Morocco and even drank a beer the night before (better not to do any dramatical changes, I thought). Last year, I walked the uphill from Lauterbrunnen and Wengen to Kleine Scheidegg, and I’ve done a 11h hike this year. Basically, I knew what was ahead of me. And I’ve been running and training, one way or another, almost all my life. I don’t know if I’m average or not, most likely not, but I do know I have good physics, active lifestyle, and I’ve ran few half’s and Lidingöloppet 30k. Theoretically, running that far (and walking the uphill) shouldn’t be a problem for someone like me. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t suggest the same method to anyone else. Expect the mental part; that even when you’re afraid and feel the challenge is a bit too big (I was damn scared and doubting myself a lot pre-race), you should do it, or at least try.

    I had and still have nasty wound (from Morocco) in my foot and it did hurt before the start. And I did doubt almost everything. However, I decided to show up and try. And look how far it got me! After the 30k mark I just kept thinking how I’ve never ran that far at once, and every step and meter after that was a little achievement. Finally, I went and finished that bastard and got that cool finisher shirt and free beer. And an important life lesson.

    Tiina Kivelä

     

    I’ve heard one should have a marathon soundtrack, but I chose to run without music, and just get lost in my thoughts and experience the runners high fully. And it was a good decision – I had nice 5h+ to reflect, on the experience itself and everything around me. In the beginning, I ran past my old home. And then past the houses and streets where I’ve been both incredibly happy and dramatically sad. I run past the beautiful villages of Lauterbrunnen and Wengen with cheering crowds, and up to Kleine Scheideggen, where I experienced the most fun and magical ski season last winter. Some parts of the track I’ve even skied down, or went sliding on our way to the office Christmas dinner (first and last for me).  Simply, there were many memories, good and bad, along the way to keep me occupied besides the running itself, and all the time I had the feeling I was home. And enjoying it.

    It was also fun to be back racing; pick up my number from the race centre and feel the familiar atmosphere of a big sporting event. A dose of excitement, a bit of fear and a lot of joy and admiration for the ones who do it faster or who do it despite whatever difficulties they have. I might never get back to regular racing, but I do enjoy going back to the old familiar things from time to time. It feels good to know what you are doing and be a bit nostalgic for the previous events and past experiences. Some do rock’n roll, I do sports. Or well, I do both…

    sauna would have been nice

     

    In the end of the race, the last 10k in the clouds and cold rain, my hands were freezing and it was difficult to hold the beer I was handed in the finish. On the other hand, the weather must have been good for me especially – I’m used to perform well enough in cold, though I have to admit I missed sauna a bit a lot at the finish.

    Later thinking, I do regret I didn’t have extra hands nor any support taking a good after the race pic of me (and hold my beer); but that doesn’t really matter as long as I managed to do the marathon itself. All by myself. The greatest and very important achievement of my life so far. And you know, when you do something like this, you pretty much feel you can do almost anything and the new ideas skip few levels when getting crazier than the marathon. I’m not sure if the next big idea will be another marathon, ultra mountain marathon, or maybe climbing up the Jungfrau mountain. But whatever it will be, it will be amazing. And challenging.

    In the end I also want to say that in addition to the experience itself, Jungfrau Marathon really was worth the money (second hand entry from my friend 100CHF); it was well organized and service and add ons were good quality. Swiss quality. Especially with the SBB partnership the entry really pays off, if the marathon itself doesn’t. It’s one of the toughest and most beautiful marathon courses in the world (with good weather it really provides with amazing views) and the organization is marvelous, though there were little hick-ups with the services after race (fyi, critique has been communicated directly to the organization and hopefully next year this part works well too). I can really recommend the race for anyone fit enough; it’s a nice event for spectators too, but I’d recommend you to consider first the running and only then the spectator / support act part. And two weeks after, I have to say that the best part of this kind of thing must be the superhuman feeling you get after finishing it without bigger problems. You sure you don’t want to experience that?

    Even though I may sound vain, it doesn’t really harm that others are so amazed of my wonder woman skills and endurance after something like this. It was really fun to walk almost normally to the local bar in Interlaken after the race and meet my friends who didn’t run the race. Yes, I had done the craziest thing that day, though I have to give them the credit to be overall awesome people and excelling in other things. They you might not run marathons, but you do better in managing and organizing and climbing mountains and raising kids and just being overall badass people. Long distance running might be my thing, but there are many other cool things you can do too. And everyone has their own struggle(s). Remember that and just do what makes you happy. And enjoy your achievements; I sure do enjoy mine now.


    Ps. If you have some amazing marathon/mountain running/nordic skiing marathon/whatever similar event to suggest, feel free to comment and help me maybe invent a new goal for next winter/year.

    PPS. My running data can be found in Strava in here.


    Tiina Kivelä