If you are interested in my story and how I became a runner and what I have been going through up until the point I started this blog, then please get a coffee and read on.
How I started running
I started to run short routes of 4-7 km back in 2014 during spring as an attempt to find an easy way to increase my metabolism. As a guy working with IT, you don’t get to move that much during the working hours. This was apparently a problem if you like to enjoy putting tasteful stuff in your mouth too.
But for several years I struggled to keep the running as a good habit in life. I tried to run twice per week and with no plan, which basically meant the same route every time.
I could compare my time and see some progress but if you only train two times per week you will not get those amazing results and if the route is always the same you don’t get to enjoy that as well. So I quit running during the summer and then I started again the next year when I realized that I, unlike bears didn’t stop to eat during the winter.
I would define myself a seasonal exerciser with a focus on running back then. It wasn’t until 2016 when I got inspired to train for a half marathon that I started to make a plan for my training that also later opened up and showed me what running could be all about.
2016 was the year I started to define myself as a runner.
A good first year
So I’m a new runner and when I started to train for the half marathon in February 2016 I could maybe after a few weeks training barely make it below the 60 minute on a 10 kilometer route.
I had a lot to improve so I decided to spice up the training even more to avoid falling off as I had done the years before. I forced myself to go out of my comfort zone and be part of training sessions that was organized my a local running group here in Lund. In that way I would surround myself with other runners and get inspired by them. And it worked out better than I would have thought.
The second thing was to open an Instagram account (@fredrik.eri) dedicated to running where I could take a photo and share my thoughts of a training session. For me it was a way to be able to look back on my journey with photos. A quick way to be reminded of where I have been but also giving me the option to follow other runners and be inspired by them.
Today I hope I can give back by being able to inspire others in the same way as others did to me.
My training the first 7-8 months was very simple. It was more or less based on repeating this every week:
- One long run during the weekend where I try to push and extend my distance by a little bit every time. To go from being able to run 10 kilometers to 21.1 kilometers in a half marathon felt very doable but I still wanted to get used to the the longer distances.
- One intervall session to improve my VO2max. Interval training is part of most elite runners training every week (there are exceptions) but also confirmed as one of the best way for beginners to improve.
- An alternative running session with possibility to be flexible. I used this training session to test myself and see my progress as well. Like running a 5k, 7k och 10k route as fast as I could. It’s a fun way but I think I did it too often and it’s not part of a perfect training program. Still you will get a positive effect from it and for me it was motivating.
This training resulted in me running a local 10 k race on 47:17 in May and later the same month the half marathon in 1h 52 minutes. Running a big race with 45 000 other runners requires you to start with people on your same level. I did not seed, had no previous time and was registered in the last minute so I started last in group 25 that forced me to pass hundreds of runners along the way so my goal for sub 110 minutes was not really met when I hit a wall after 16-17 kilometers.
I felt happy about that race anyway and it was really fun to be part of such a big event. Short after I registered for a new race in the end of August and made new goals to run the 10 k race in sub 44 minutes.
This summer was pretty amazing with good training by myself but mostly I enjoyed training with the local running group where many of the people have started to be running pals by now. The long weekend runs for 20k was something to look forward to now.
In early August I started to have some personal problems in life that really threw me off the game. Running was tough so when the race day came I did not expect much. But unexpected family members showing up might have given me the boost to refill my energy or rather go in to a better mental state. The race was almost perfect (with my novice experience) and I crossed the finish line with the time of 42:33, meaning I almost improved 5 minutes in 3 months and something that made me feel proud about my achievements.
During that summer I set goals to be able to run sub 40 minutes on 10k before the summer 2017 and to be able to run sub 90 minutes on half marathon about the same time. And at this point it felt very possible to do so.
But winds had changed and I didn’t realize it until it was too late…
“Nothing ever stays the same”
A good quote from a good book (Peaceful Warrior) and something I got to feel first hand. My personal problems was not over and it was mainly associated with a break up that made me feel really sad and it caused all my mental energy to go into that so when the time came to run in the evening, there was no energy left for it. When I tried to, it was like hitting a wall after a few kilometers even if I were keeping a pace that was much slower than intended.
When things got a little better I quickly tried to get back and I joined a long distance run i November that turned out badly with a torn calf muscle. Maybe I wasn’t ready for that after a period with a lot less running, stress and bad emotions or maybe it was a combination of other things too. But it was my first running injury none the less.
Rehab started and in the beginning of the new year (2017) I was able to start running short training sessions outdoor for 4-5 kilometers. In February I had passed 10 kilometers and I came back pretty quickly. To be honest I came back too fast but it’s a also mental struggle to keep motivation rolling and progress is the fuel for my motivation.
Around this time I got a lot of new energy since I was selected to be an ASICS Frontrunner for the Swedish team. I will go into more about how this have helped me in a blog post later but for now let’s just say I was pumped with good feelings and it felt like running on clouds again.
I started to push myself a bit too much and did a few nice long runs for 20-25 kilometers in April and I was very stupid here advancing way faster than anyone should. As I still had my injury so recently I should have adjusted to that too.
Suddenly my calf started to complain again during a long run. Turned out my body said “STOP!” and the result was some sort of over training. Both my calves, and both Achilles tendon started to complain.
At this point my goals where thrown into the toilet and I had to start doing rehab for the second time. At this point it started to feel emotionally and it was though to get back from.
But this time I did it the right way. I did not overextend (at least not in the beginning) my training and I did exactly as planned and tried to adjust that to how my body responded. It went okay and in July I was getting close to be able to enjoy long runs again.
But during a planed 15 kilometer trail run I got my next set back. I was motivated by a tough hill and decided to push myself and reach the top as fast as I could. But it was so steep that my feet had problem to get a good grip so I ran looking downwards to avoid hurting myself. It was going great until it suddenly said BANG! I hit my head in a thick branch.
No more running that day since my forehead was filled with blood. But the real setback came 2 days later when I felt really “sea sick” and then it was easy to diagnose me with a concussion.
Four weeks complete rest and it was time to start running again. I had to take a few steps back but I was quickly up and running more than 10 kilometers and it felt really good. I liked to think that the concussion avoided me from another setback for my over-training syndroms where the neural pathways from my legs sent weird signals.
Finding a way to think positive makes it a lot easier. Usually it’s easy to blame yourself, others or fate when something goes bad. But when you really think about it, you can probably find a more tragic outcome. Maybe I would have gotten a worse set back by my training if I continued to push myself based on frustration that I can not yet run longer distances.
The summer was coming to an end and I felt pretty sad that I had not been able to enjoy running in a way I wanted to. One of the reasons that kept me going after the over training was the possibility to still enjoy long runs with friends later in the summer. The concussion stopped me there and set me back about 7 weeks because I needed 4 weeks of complete rest and 3 weeks to catch up what I lost.
At this point I felt like I have had a really bad year. A tough break up that still affected me to some point, three running injuries and my business that was not going as good as I wanted to.
So I decided in a spontaneous way to rent out my apartment and go away. Vietnam became my goal and a chance to get away from everything for almost 11 weeks. Just focus on myself, my company and my running.
But before I took off I had to get a fourth injury. I was out having a great run along the beach at my mothers summer house but when I came back I had no good shot to use for Instagram (laugh with me here please). I had just passed a bunker and thought that it would be a good picture to jump off it into the sand.
The bunker is not that high and sand should be soft to land in and I have done a lot higher jumps before landing in grass too. This was a combination of stupidity and being unlucky I guess. I landed wrong so my knee could not bend properly and gave up with a cracking sound. There I was laying on the ground with an intense pain and a lot of thoughts going through my head. The result was a torn ligament.
Physiotherapist delivers doomsday
A few days later when my knee was less swollen I visited a physiotherapist back home in Lund. It didn’t look that good and she basically said that I had a 50 percent chance of being able to start doing rehab with running soon. The other 50 percent would require a longer rehab and maybe even operation due to a possible damaged meniscus. But it was too early to say anything for certain.
I had enough time to get back there for a second visit a week later but then I was heading off to Vietnam. I was very confused after my second visit because I didn’t leave with a better knowledge of my injury. After a few exercises that showed great improvement on my range of motion (ROM) we did more exercises to test my current state and my goals to run a marathon/50k distances became the subject without me really understanding that.
I got some very basic exercises to do while I was away for my trip. While I tried to figure out if I could start running the answer was more or less like I should avoid it for now and maybe start controlled rehab when I came back instead.
This was a big blow to my motivation. If you ever end up in a situation like this, try to get second opinions without telling them about the first ones.
I turned to a trusted friend and a person that works with this too and while the injury is a fact you can’t ignore, the way to respond to it was completely different.
After less than two months since the last injury I was already running distances of 10 kilometers with no problem. But I would lie if my body felt like before. I could feel that both my knees were affected by me trying to improve my ROM and I could sometimes get a hint of my over training from before.
The good thing is that I have been able to enjoy running during my travel in Vietnam in a way that was not possible according to the physiotherapist. To her defense she had a short time to come up with working plan for me that wouldn’t make it worse. But running like this was not even part of her reality.
My running in Vietnam took a bad turn when I fell with a motorbike. Nothing serious but a few minor wounds but the one on the foot was annoying as it got infected, required longer healing and was in the way of walking. So running was out of the picture for 3 weeks here.
Because I had trouble with motivation before that accident it was tough to pick up the running the last two weeks of my travels. I did 2 running sessions on treadmills but nothing more than that.
What’s coming next?
I don’t really know where I’m going, I just know that I’m going somewhere.
My goal is to have fun and if that is out of the picture so will probably I. I will try to work my way back and run in slower paces and focus on getting more volume and distance instead of speed. At the same time I will build strength to improve my running and get a good foundation for future training.
I arrived back home to Sweden on December 18th and my motivation continued to grow. I did some training between Christmas and New Years Eve. When the new year came I decided to enter Runner’s Worlds “30 day Running Streak”. Running every day is out of the picture for me but the goal is to train for at least 30 minutes every day. I will try to run every second day and the days in between go the gym for strength training.
If all training goes well during the winter months I will start setting up some goals for 2018 in March maybe. At this point I’m not sure what that could be but I do know that I will not set any goals if I don’t feel ready for them both mentally and physically.