Interview with an athlete: why Stockholm is a place for runners

Midnattsloppet starting line people running

You are invited to come and enjoy the heart pounding spirit of Stockholm’s incredible races but we urge you to take a step further and sign up. Make a real memory of the city.

The Swedish capital certainly has a fitness feel about it, with people running on the streets, skiing the outer slopes and biking like it’s nobody’s business. If you are visiting at the right time, you will have the chance to join in as a spectator or get your blood pumping and be part of the chase. With three huge marathons spread throughout the year, you may get lucky and get to experience a race. Before pulling on your training shoes prep like a pro and see what our choice athlete, Ulrica Winberg, has to say about competing.

Interview with an athlete

When training for an event like a marathon, it doesn’t hurt to have a bit of advice from someone who has done it before, so we took a competitor and posed the top three questions you want to know:

Stockholm Marathon runner, Ulrica Winberg© Ulrica Winberg

Ulrica Winberg is a CFO in the fashion industry, and coach for the marathon training group in Stockholm, TSM Running, (link in Swedish) who loves to run. Having competed in several half marathons and five full marathons over the past six years, Ulrica knows all about the hard work needed to cross the finish line.

1. Why do you do it?

‘Because I think a full marathon is the ultimate challenge. It also makes me feel good about myself; with the pre-race training it takes, I am being kind to my heart, my body and my soul. It is such a great feeling to finally cross the finish line - true happiness! The first time I finished a longer race, Lidingöloppet - a 30 km trail run, I cried when I finished. It was such a feeling of release. To have reached your goal.’

2. How do you prepare?

‘We, TSM, start our training in October (Stockholm Marathon is in May so that provides for seven months of quality training). Every Sunday morning at 10 am we start our long distance runs. We then increase the distance every week until May, when have our longest run of 33km. I try to run four times a week (40-60km depending on where in my training process I am): one long distance, one with more ”quality” like on our Thursday nights with intervals, and two sessions only distance. It can be a morning run, and I try to get out on my lunch hour. I also do weight lifting once a week.

[When it comes to food] I don’t really think about what I eat - I love food and cook a lot. Just running as much as I do helps me to keep my weight. It also comes somewhat natural to not eat too much junk food or too much fat or sugar when you want to run fast and/or long distances.’

3. What do you think about when running so far?

‘Everything and nothing… I just let my brain relax and try to get into a flow of positive thinking. It is all about me versus the kilometers. I mentally divide the race into five-kilometer stages, since that is a distance that is very manageable. This kind of tricks me into feeling that I am not ‘climbing Mount Everest’ – I am just out running an easy 5K… I have a mantra that I repeat to myself: ‘light and strong, light and strong, light and strong’. It goes on and on in my head.

I also concentrate on my technique a lot. I focus on holding my body up properly, running with a proud body, lifting my knees, moving my arms, holding up my hips. There is a lot to think about.’

Want to join in?

Climb your own Mount Everest and get training for a race to remember when staying in Stockholm. Here are the big three events to aim for:

The ASICS Stockholm Marathon is #1

The Stockholm Marathon was first run in 1978 and was a huge success. It has since taken place each year in May and has thousands of runners from all over the world participate in it. Athletes race through the central districts of Stockholm as the crowds cheer them on. Whether you are a great sports lover or sports spectator, you will love the atmosphere in the center of the city during the marathon.

If joining to try and beat the professionals, your friends or your previous personal record, or even just get your heart beating, you will feel like a celebrity as the crowds applaud you along. Only 22,000 runners will be accepted to participate in the 2015 race, so if you are planning on joining be sure to register early.

The Midnattsloppet is made to excite

Stockholm-Midnattsloppet-starting-line

© Midnattsloppet

Try a different type of night out on the town and take part in the midnight run through the center of the city known as Midnattsloppet. This 6.2 miles (10 km) track run in August will have you dancing your way from street to street through crowds of spectators, bands and perhaps a pirate, minion or banana as you meet up with other costumed runners. There is music and samba, and hundreds of thousands of people creating this incredible ambiance built around the event. In 2015, 38,000 people signed up for the event meaning the competition is hot!

The Stockholm Half Marathon

Stockholm Halvmarthon 2013© Stockholm Halvmarathon

The last major race of the year is the Stockholm Half Marathon held in September. The runners will cover 13.1 miles (21.1 km) through the heart of the capital. If you are on the lookout for a way to mix your love of running with some sightseeing than this is the race for you. Give up the hop-on hop-off bus and run your way through the city instead. The course will take you past the Royal Opera House, Karlberg’s Castle, the City Hall, the Swedish Parliament and starts and finishes at the Royal Palace.

With around 80 different countries taking part in the race in 2014, you can race against yourself or your country and check out how you are placed using your special timing bracelet. Make sure your shoe laces are tied and ready for the race because no matter where you come you will get a medal as a trophy for finishing the race. There are even assigned pacing groups to push you along and help you finish in that time you want.

Make this trip a memorable one and become part of the excitement of visiting the city. You will never regret taking part, but will certainly be sad if you don’t. Plus Radisson Blu Royal Viking Hotel, Stockholm has a comfy bed for you right in the city after your big day, so there are no excuses!

Top image:© Midnattsloppet

What others think

  1. Kurt Sørensen

    Very fine decription.
    I feel just the same and the true happines `Ulrica Winberg` 🙂 picture express the so much the finnisher feeling .
    . Unfortunable i right now have a wounded knee, so no maraton this spring

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