How Skyrunning became my lifestyle
I turned my professional career upside down and my hobby became my lifestyle. From entrepreneur in IT to new exciting adventures with SkyRunner.
This year I have done and experienced things that I before didn’t thought were possible. I’ve done my first Skyrace, seen the most beautiful places and met the most amazing faces.
I love the mountains, I love the challenge, and I love this lifestyle and everything about it. Actually, everything has been so good, so I decided to take the step fully and start a whole new business in Skyrunning.
I’m Katinka, a 45-years old Skyrunner, entrepreneur, mountain lover, twin mother and the founder of this startup company. I have many stories to tell you, but this time I will tell you about my new passion. My passion for Skyrunning and my new journey with SkyRunner.
This is my Skyrunner story…
How did I get into Skyrunning?
By the end of 2016, when I’ve just finished a *Swedish classic, I by a coincident saw a video of Skyrunning at Facebook. And I taught to myself. Wow. This looks so awesome; I have to do this. And the week after I was signed up for the next Mountain Marathon in Åre, Sweden (43k, 2100D+).
Ten months later I finished the race as planned together with my brother, and we scored as the last participants. Our time was not very good, and my body has never been in worse shape. A couple of hours later when we were going to have dinner together with our friends, they couldn’t help laughing at my funny way of walking. I looked like a misery and could not even walk straight up.
Nevertheless, it was a fantastic experience. Just the feeling of coping with such a big challenge, climbing the mountains and being involved in such an adventure was something totally new to me.
So, I taught to myself. I have to do this again.
A week later I was signed up for the 2018 race. This time I knew what it was all about, and I was so much more prepared. The race went quite well, and I accomplished my goal (which was one hour better than the year before). The race was a pleasure all the way through. The feeling of running downhill very fast with full focus and control, was like living in the moment for real.
All the work I put into this was absolutely 100% worth it, and for sure it was one of the best days in my life.
Then I knew it. This is what I want to do. I want to do more of this. I want to do international Skyrunning races, climb in higher mountains, and visit all types of countries and environments. In this I also like to involve my family and bring them around the world, keep them active and climb, hike and run in all those fantastic environments.
But I taught to myself. Is this possible? I’m 44 years old, work full time and have 2 active 7 year old twins that do all kinds of different sports.
That’s what we’ll see, and for sure I will try 110%.
I decided to go for it
In the end of 2018 (about 6 months after we sold our IT-company) I decided to make Skyrunning my lifestyle, and that it was time for a change. I decided to leave the IT-industry and I started my new company SkyRunner.
In the beginning I didn’t really have a business plan. But what I do had was a true passion for Skyrunning and an idea of what I wanted to do with the company. So, the plan for the first year was only to live my life fully, have fun, and to do all the races and visit all these places that I had been dreaming of for a very long time.
In parallel I was working on my blog skyrunner.nu and tried to learn, and to get to know the industry on a deeper level.
My goals for 2019 were to:
- run my first international Skyrace.
- beat my time in SkyRunning Marathon in Åre, Sweden with one hour
- Buff – Bydalens Mountain Marathon, 50k, 2900D+ (goal just to make it)
- grow my blog and get to know the industry
- make a decision what to do with SkyRunner and set a new direction in life.
I wanted to explore my limits and see how good I could possible could get if I really really put my mind into it.
So, I started to train. A lot.
My training journey
In the beginning of 2019, I started to really focus on my training, and the training became my absolute top priority. Although, I didn’t really know how to maximize my training and do it the very best possible way.
I started with the most important. I registered for all the races, and now all the goals were for real. My first Skyrace for the season would be Santana Skyrace at Madeira in June.
At the same time, I started to interview other Skyrunners for my blog, and one of them was Fernando Armisen (a trainer specialised in Skyrunning and Trail). I really liked Fernando, and he seemed very nice and competent. So, I decided to try out his online training.
Fernando’s training methodology was really the opposite to the way I used to train. I had never before been training with a training-watch, and I didn’t know so much about pulse-training.
Before I had been running about 2-3 times a week, around 7-9 km per session in medium pulse zone (pulse zone 3). On top of that I had been adding a couple of long walks and a couple of gym sessions. I couldn’t run more than that because I struggled with some weakness in my body (hips problem and leaning forward shoulder problem etc…). Each week looked pretty much the same, and I didn’t move forward in the way I wanted to. Race-planning was not even on the map.
Now my training looks very different.
Fernando is now taking fully responsibility for my training and he helps me to get in my very best shape at race days according to my own personal conditions. He helps me to reach my goals, and race planning is a part of the package. The training started with a small start-up project. I filled out a formula and answered some questions about my physical condition, my goals and did some tests.
As tools I use my training watch, a pulse band and the Trainingpeak app. Fernando analyses and plans my training once a week, and next week trainings is always based on the performance and my physical condition and feelings from the week before.
The training methodology has been based on pulse training and a great variety in pulse zones. For example, 3 months before a race I have been doing a lot of training in pulse zone 1 and in pulse zone 5 and working extra on my weaknesses in the gym.
This change was very hard in the beginning and I suffered all kinds of muscle soreness in my legs and body, that is unfortunately not flawless. I have for many years now been struggling with all kinds of problems and I have had problems with everything from feet, hips, pain in right shoulder, upper back and I’m still struggling. Although I’m moving in the right direction now and I believe that I have found the main cause of all the problems.
It turned out that I prone with only the right foot. So, now I have a special training program to prevent pronation and strengthen my feet and I also wear custom made soles, which has been very good for me. I also do a lot of work with scapula stabilization, glutes activation, and strength training for my back.
This methodology was something totally new to me, but it has turned out working really well for me. I’ve had a quite a good season and one of the best parts is that I managed to stay away from illness and injuries. You can follow my training more in detail in this blog.
My Mountain Marathon Training Online Program – Week 1.
My first Skyrunning event
In June this year (2019) it was time for my first big Skyrunning event of the year, Madeira Skyrace. I went there to enjoy, to run, and also to do some work blogging
I was travelling alone ready to meet a whole new world, and I felt quite nervous. This trip was really important to me and I really wanted to take this opportunity to get to know the industry and to meet and interview some runners.
So, on the way there I contacted the sponsors of the event “Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series” for an interview. I got an interview with their marketing manager Seana, and she was also very nice and helped me to get some interviews with some of the top runners of the event.
Personally, I was going to run Santana Skyrace, which was my first Skyrunning adventure and goal for the year. On the race day it was very hot (30 – 35 degrees), and the race started off with an extremely steep and long climb. I got dehydrated quite quickly, and I was struggling to get back in track. But quitting is of course not an option so I finally I pulled it trough. Totally exhausted, very happy and very proud. You can read more about my race experience here Santana Skyrace 2019 race experience.
After the race I took a deep breath. No time for rest or taking a shower. It was show time
I was just in time to grab some runners that had been running the big race, Madeira Skyrace (55k, 4121D+). To my great surprise I managed to get the hold of some Swedish runners for some short interviews. It was also nice to see that there were more people than me from Sweden that do international Skyrunning races.
Learning by doing, I did some more interviews and at the end of the day I managed to get an interview with the female winner Maria Koller, which I taught were super cool.
After the race weekend I had decided to stay another one more week at the Madeira island, just to enjoy and do some trail-running together with Trail Run Adventures (Anna Frosts travel-agency). You can read more about these adventures here Madeira Skyrunning Adventures.
My first setback
Life doesn’t always turn out the way you planned it, or the way you once thought it would be. But the trick is to try to adapt, make some changes and don’t use it as an excuse for not training.
In the middle of June my husband Fredrik suffered a serious scoter accident in San Diego. So, I had to fly there and help him out. I changed my plans, packed my things and brought all my running gears and flew to San Diego.
The situation was quite bad. He had a broken neck with a fracture on the C6-section, a broken nose, several fractures in the face, he had damaged his mouth and lost a few teeth.
Mentally this week was very tough for both of us with all the worry and all that. But the doctors said that he would ok and that under the circumstances he was very lucky.
Although I wasn’t in the best mood for training this week the training must go on.
I did all the planned training sessions with a few modifications and it wasn’t that hard that I taught it would be.
Sometimes in bad situations the running becomes your best friend and actually it was very good for me to do all the running and to be able to think of something else for a couple of hours a day.
Now, in the writing moment Fredrik is ok, and he has recovered well. Next challenge for him will be to get started with the training and he will also try to do a smaller Skyrace 2020, which is great!
This accident really taught us a lesson the hard way, that life is vulnerable, and that it is really important to live it here and now. This experience for sure was one of the reasons why we decided to take the step fully with SkyRunner and follow our hearts, and throw ourselves out in the unknown (some business developers call it the Blue Ocean).
The Facebook page reached 10 000 followers
The interest and a need for a Skyrunner community was even bigger than I taught. In just 6 months the SkyRunner Facebook-page had reached 10 000 followers and the private SkyRunner Adventures group, that I started up for “Skyrunners only” just reach 1000 Skyrunners which was great.
I’m not so sure why the blog and my social media channels became so popular, but I think it has been the Skyrunner Stories. Here I have been interviewing all sorts of Skyrunners of all levels from different social backgrounds all around the world.
Here I also found out that most of these Skyrunners have the same value base, and they love the same thing that I do. The mountains, the nature and the challenge, which for me is like magic.
In my best shape ever
The plan for the rest of the summer was to go to the Swedish mountains on our yearly family vacation. But Fredrik couldn’t come at first because he had to go to all those doctors’ appointments, checking up his neck.
Anyway, we decided that me and the kids should go by ourselves, and that Fredrik would join us later.
Under the circumstances the vacation was very good. I used to do my mountain training before lunch while the kids went to the Kids Lab club at Holliday club. In the afternoon we use to do all kinds of fun outdoor activities together.
The Swedish mountain environment is so beautiful and actually I like it even more than Madeira. I also use to take out my kids to the mountains and especially my daughter Matilda loves it, she likes to be like her mother. A Skyrunner
These fantastic weeks in Åre were rounded up with Kia Mountain Marathon 43k, 2100 followed by Buff, Bydalens Mountain Marathon Ultra, 50k, 2900D+. I did very good in both races. Kia Mountain Marathon in 6:48 which is 2 hours better than the first year 2017, and Buff in 8:53, which is one hour better than I expected. I love both these races and I would definitely recommend them any international runner who likes to come here and run.
Mountain marathon week in Åre has grown into a real running festival with lots of races and activities for both runners, friends and family. The event took place in Åre, Sweden, July 27 – August 3, 2019. Read more about it in this blog Mountain marathon week in Åre, Sweden 2019.
Feeling low and out of energy
I had done everything that I only before had been dreaming about, and I had reached the goals for the year. Wasn’t it now that I was supposed to feel happy? Unfortunately, not. Instead I felt totally empty and I had no energy. After about 2 months I still felt very low and something has to be wrong.
Now, I know that it is not the goal itself that its important, it’s the journey. And now the journey was over, and I didn’t have a new journey planned yet.
But it was also something else. People around me started to say that I should eat more. I don’t know, maybe I looked more skinny than normal. So, I decided to go and do a body mass test. I was only 17.5% which is way too low for a female in my age. The test centre said that this was probably one of the main reasons why I felt like I did, and that I needed to add around 500 kcal a day. PUUHHH.
I followed their advice and things started to feel better after a couple of weeks and some new ideas started to grow…
The new business plan was taking shape
I had learned so much in this first year of Skyrunning and some new business ideas started to grow. After that I had met all these ambitious runners that really really wanted to do all these challenging, spectacular and hard mountain races, and in the same time where struggling with all kinds of problems and injuries. Then I knew exactly what we were going to do.
We were going to offer these runners personal training specialised in Skyrunning & Trail in combination with race trips to higher mountains and even harder races all around Europe. And around this we were going to build up a whole new community and a new brand focused in Skyrunning.
Me and my husband Fredrik started to do the first draft of a business plan in our kitchen at Värmdö, Sweden.
Very simple but also very unique.
When we were finished, we decided to call Fernando my trainer and ask if he wanted to be in the project. Fernando where very excited about it, and he said YES!
We partnered up with Fernando Armisén
In November 2019 we went to Spain to see Fernando. The purpose with the trip was to get to know each other, to see the mountains and to do some business together.
We did some nice mountaineering trips in the deep snow followed by a business meeting in Fernando’s family’s weekend house, which was very charming.
(By the way. In our new company there will be no need for a fancy office. We just try to keep it simple focusing in the core.)
Everything was good, and the new team got along very well!
We decided to really do this together and the first draft of the business plan for 2020 were set.
Now Fernando is a co-owner in SkyRunner AB, and as Head Coach he is responsible for the area Training of the company.
Our plans for 2020
We will start to sell personal training online specialised in Skyrunning on an international level in the beginning of 2020. For our team and our customers, we are also planning following training camps and race trips:
- 28 April – 3 May, Training camp, Spain/Pyrenees.
- 5 – 7 June, Ultra Trail Stara Planina, Serbien, (Snezanas favourite place)
- 12 – 14 June, Gran Maraton Montañas de Benasque, (High altitude mountain race, Spain),
- 20 July – 3 Aug, Swedish Mountain Marathon week (My favourite place)
- 28 Aug – 30 Aug, Trail Valle de Tena, Spain, (Fernandos favourite race. High altitude mountain race in Spain),
- 18 – 20 Sep, Ring of Steal (Maybe)
To our team we will also connect top Skyrunner Athletes as coaches and role models from all over the world. Our first athlete in the team is Snezana from Serbia, and she will come with us on most of the camps and races and take part in activities online. Snezana is a super woman and this year (2019) she won the Serbian Skyrunning series. She is our hero and a true inspiration for Skyrunners all over the world.
Snezana Djuric, Top Skyrunner, SerbiaOne thing that will differentiate our team from other teams is that we will run and compete with a mixed team with runners of all different levels, countries and backgrounds.
We believe that Skyrunning is not just for the elites and that anyone can do it!
We are looking forward to new existing adventures 2020 and you are all very welcome to join our team. If you like to join us, take part in our training or any of our trips please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you like to read more in detail about my training journey last year check out My mountain marathon training, a series of 17 blog posts https://arduua.com/2019/05/07/my-mountain-marathon-training-online-program-week-1/.
Happy skyrunning year 2020!
* The Swedish classic is a sports challange where you in a year do 4 races in different disciplines. One race of running (30 km), swimming in open water (3 km), skiing (90 km), cycling 300 km. (This sport is often exercised by Swedish middle-aged men with a 40 years old crisis).