Step by step
The abnormal becomes normal and more and more people want to do more and more extreme challenges.
This is a trend that we have seen in our society for a while now, and it is not very uncommon that people in their 40: ties start with extreme challenges such as Mountain marathons, Thriatlons and Ironmans etc …
This is of course great that people like to do more sports, but it could also be dangerous. If you are not very well prepared for a race like that with a strong and competitive mind, it could be very bad for your body, and in worst case lead to serious injuries or collapse on the race.
“Therefore, I like to share with you my training journey and all the great help and support that I got with the preparations from my Skyrunning Coach Fernando.”
Blog by Katinka Nyberg, Arduua Founder and a and a continuation of the story…
How Skyrunning became my lifestyle
I wanted to become good at it
I fell in love in mountain running in 2017 when I did my first mountain marathon in Åre, Sweden. Before, I was more or less training like most people do, some jogging once and a while and sometimes gym.
But this. This was something totally different, and a challenge that I before couldn’t even dream of possible. But in some way these mountain marathons appealed to me and I decided to take on the challenge.
My first mountain marathon was “Kia Fjällmaraton” 43 km, 2100 vertical meters, and I just about managed to pass when they pulled the rope, and I scored as one of the last participants. I can’t really explain it, but this was really something. During the race I got this feeling of happiness, and even though it was extremely hard I was running with a big smile on my face. To be able to master a challenge like this strengthened me, and it also gave me energy to master other types of challenges in life, which I did. As we say. I reached Arduua.
Since that day I’ve been training very hard and goal focused. I wanted to become a Skyrunner and I wanted this lifestyle.
The last 12 months I’ve been improoving a lot, and from beeing in the last third, I will probably tbe in the first third in these type of races this season.
This year I will also do some international Skyraces together with team Arduua in Serbia, Spain, Scottland and Sweden. In Sweden I will run the same race “Kia Fjällmaraton” for the fourth year in a row, and my goal this year is to finish below 6 hours, which is a very good time.
Some people might think it’s all over when they turned 40, but it is not. I started with mountain running in the age of 43 and today in the writing moment I’m turning 46, and I’m still doing a lot of progress.
So how do I do it?
I started to train with a coach
About one year ago I started to train with Fernando. A Personal Trainer from Spain specialised in Skyrunning and Trail.
I met Fernando online via the SkyRunner Community when I was interviewing him for my blog. Then I learned that Spain is so much ahead of us in Sweden when it comes to Skyrunning and Trail, and I realised that the training that I had been doing was not optimal.
So, I decided to try Fernando’s Online Training…
So much to learn
The Online Training is extremely individual if you compare to any type of local group training. That means that the training plan is specifically made for you, for your goals, your current fitness status, your weaknesses and your personal life conditions, and the intensity of all trainings are controlled by your own heartbeat.
As tools we use a training watch, a chest strap, the Trainingpeaks app and some video meetings. Let’s get started…
Training methodologies, initial questionnaire and goals, race planning, periodization, running-tests, strength tests, mobility tests, stability tests, establish pulse zones, pulse training, TSS, fatique, fitness, training plan, polarised trainings, pace changes, easy runs, fartleck, blocks, hillwork, long-runs, specific strength trainings, eccentric force, mobility, stretchings, work on weaknesses, … What is all this, and why should I do it?
Training methodology? What is that? Why can’t I just go out running my usually circuit of 9 km in the same pace each week?
Within the work of cardiovascular capacity:
The great challenge of a long-distance athlete is to be able to run in a controlled and low pulse area for a very long time. That is called the runners endurance capacity. To reach a good endurance capacity we have been working with a method called polarized training. That means that 80 % of the trainings are is in the low pulse zones (easy), and about 15-20 % of the training volume in a very high intensity, working on the anaerobic threshold and the maximum oxygen consumption.
Within the work of strength:
Base strength of the runner as fundamental content to ensure optimal levels of performance and the necessary capacity to be able to take all the training load, and also to be able to stay injure free.
Race strength and eccentric force is fundamental for any Skyrunner.
Within the work of mobility and flexibility:
In order to get a good performance in running, and also stay injure free, it’s very important to be in the safe ranges of mobility.
Let’s get started
The first thing that I needed to do was to fill in an initial questionnaire of my goals and physical status. I did a running test to establish my pulse zones, and some other tests to establish mobility, strength and balance. After that Fernando started to plan all my trainings, and I started off with 5 trainings a week as described below…
When it was time for running, I just downloaded my training to my training watch and the training watch kept control of the whole session by tracking my heart rate.
My first training was Pace changes:
Pace changes training: This means you work with changes in speed and intensity during the training. For example, the watch says start running 15 min warm-up in zone 1 (easy). When I went to fast, the watch told me to slow down, and when I went to slow the watch told me to speed up (based on heart rate). Then the watch says run hard 1 minute (zone 5), run easy 1 minute (zone 1), repeat 7 times. Then cool down 15 min (zone 1).
My total number of km didn’t look that good, but that was not important. I managed the goal to run the whole training in the planed pulse zones, which was the goal with the training. I felt good because I achieved the goal with the training even if it on the total wasn’t my fastest run.
Before when I was running, I did the traditional mistake that many runners do. I always tried to run my very best and beat the time before, which was also very stressful. Now I have learned that all trainings shall not be hard. Some of them shall be very hard, some of them easy, some of them long and a great variation in running is very important. Now I only do my hardest for a long period of time on the races!
My second training a week was Easy run:
Easy run: Easy run means that you run in your pulse zone 1 (very easy). In this pace you should be able to run for a very long time, without producing to much fatigue. It sounds easy, but it was almost impossible in the beginning. Even if I was running very slow the pulse tended to go up more than zone 1 and the watch told me to slow down. Now a year after it is no problem for me to do an easy trail-run in the woods in zone 1, which is great! And the reason why my body has learned this is because I’ve also been doing the Pace changes training in my higher pulse zones.
My third training was Functional training:
Functional training: Working on important functions for running and also in my weaknesses. For example, I prone, which is a huge problem. In the gym I have exercises to prevent pronation. I also had problems with leaning forward shoulders, scapula, inactive glutes and weak hips. So, I had a lot of exercises to prevent that.
My fourth training was Long trail-run.
Long trail-run: This one has of course been one of my favourites. Here I could just run in a pace that I feel comfortable with, and the runs used to be about 1.5 hour in the beginning (now they have of course become longer).
Hill-work: Doing the slalom slope for like 1.5 hours.
My fifth training was Basic strength training
Basic strength training: Being strong is very important in Skyrunning, and in this session I have been working in traditional strength training like squats, deadlift, pull-ups, push-ups, and of course eccentric force.
And of course, stretch 2 – 3 times a week.
Many runners do too much too soon
The trick is to increase training successive, and that is how you stay away from injuries and stay in good health.
One of the great things about having a trainer is that he plans all this for you. Each week Fernando controls my fatique level (I will explain later), and if I seem okay the training load increases just a little bit next week. For example, the Easy runs increases with 10 minutes, and I don’t even notice that I’m progressing.
My training program is not constant, and each week Fernando analyse and programs all my trainings for the next week. This means that the training load is very individual and changes over time. Some runners progress very fast, and others take more time. Like me
Now after 12 months, when I have become more used to the training, I do 4 times a week of running, instead of 3, and the sessions have become longer.
Periodization and control of training load
Fernando work with a method called TSS to control the individual training load, making sure I’m not training to little or too much.
Each session I do I will get X TSS points.
Then Fernando uses the Performance Management Chart in Trainingpeaks to balance Fitness, Fatigue, and Form, in order to make sure I will be in my very best shape in race day.
Fitness basically means in how good shape you are and how much training load you can take. For example, I started on 20 fitness points last year, and I needed to have 50 points to be able to make it my goal, Buff 50k, 2900 D+. I peaked last year at 45 points and I managed to complete the race in a good time also.
Fatigue basically means how tired you are. For example, a race produces a lot of fatique, and you will need your time to recover.
Form basically means how ready to race you are. And when we talk about periodization, we mean the timing in being in your absolute best shape at race day.
It’s the Coach job to keep track of all this and control your training load, so it’s very nice that the only thing that I need to think about is to follow the training plan, and that I don’t do too little and don’t do too much. And of cource, don’t cheat and give good feedback back to Fernando.
And believe me, the periodization works! Last season I was in my very best shape ever on my most important race Buff 50k, and I did very good!
The best parts of having a coach
Before I was spending more time on thinking about my trainings than actually do them. Now, I don’t spend any energy at all in thinking about my trainings. I just do them.
In the same way as I brush my teeth every day, I do my trainings. It has become a habit.
Summa sum arum the training worked so good so that I decided to start a whole new Skyrunning business together with Fernando and export the Spanish knowledge in trail-running to the rest of Europe.
And here we are with Arduua.
Let us help you with your training and become one of us! If you are interested or if there is anything you like to ask me please send me an e-mail to Katinka Nyberg, firstname.lastname@example.org.
/Katinka Nyberg, Arduua Founder