Finding the Balance

Do you also have troubles balancing between work 🧛‍♂️, personal life 🤷🏻‍♂️, and running 🏃🏻‍♂️. Training for runners can be very time consuming and many of us struggle to find that perfect middle between keeping up with our training schedules and being functional members of society. I was often met with bizarre looks 😱 after explaining to my non runner friends that I have to go on a 5 hour training run on Sunday morning in the same time when everyone else is sleeping in 😴. If you feel the same way, here are several runner tips that can help you keep up with your training and still appear to be a normal human being on the surface 🙋🏻‍♂️:

– Schedule your trainings first thing in the morning 🧟‍♂️.Now that the most important part of your day is over you can afford some flexibility in your daily schedule and you can say “yes” to that spontaneous dinner invitation 🍝👍.

– Combine training and commuting 🏃🏻‍♂️🚲. This one is obvious, but often hard to implement in practice. Nevertheless, even if you are not running to work you can still do some cross training by hopping on the old bicycle and brag to your colleagues how environmentally responsible you are 🌎.

– Racing vacations 🌴. Races are places where we can meet with fellow runners 🕺and hopefully harvest the fruits of those early morning workouts. However, canceling the family vacation and bringing your spouse to cheer you up on a race might seem a bit selfish sometimes. So why not compromise and find a race in a desirable holiday location. It’s a win win for both of you 💏. Pro tip: Just remember to schedule your race in the end of the vacation and avoid locations with a lot of stairs. You can thank me later 😉.

Mozart 100

Sometimes when I go for a run it isn’t always fantastic and sometimes races are not all smiles. In my posts I always try to bring you the truth and show you the real face of running. The truth this time is that Mozart 100 didn’t go great for me. I could blame it on the very moody weather (check out the race video in the end of this post), but in reality I made some serious mistakes in my race strategy. I went into the race well prepared and did a really good progress in the first 40 km, however this gave me a fake sense of confidence and I paid the price later on. Nevertheless, I did manage to finish trying to enjoy the beautiful mountains as much as I could under the circumstances. I remembered the words of Sally McRae who said that we don’t know how much time we have left on this earth and that we should live every day as if it was our last. I then realized how privileged I was to be experiencing the stunning beauty of the mountains. This made the pain go away even if it was for a little while.

Lipno Ice Marathon

“You look terrible.” – She said. “I feel terrible.” – I murmured. The day didn’t go as I hoped. Spring decided to remind us that winter was about to leave. The weather warmed up and the snow started to melt. Lipno Ice Marathon is a rather small foot race with a twist: you run on a frozen lake. Here, as you might have guessed the emphasis is on “frozen”. The melting snow and ice made the task of completing the 42 kilometers rather grueling. And while the ice cover of the lake was still strong enough, the mixture of melting snow and water on top was not the running surface that I had hoped for. Slippery and wet, the slurred snow drained the energy of every step. Still, my efforts were not in vane and I managed to take the 3rd place in my age group. Certainly a race to remember. A huge thank you to Vale – I couldn’t have done it without you.

Winter Trail Małopolska: My First 100K

The Organization

Winter Trail Malopolska offered a truly memorable experience for the fans of nature and trail running alike. The organizers did a great job in providing warm and festive atmosphere in the start/finish area and across the aid stations. Personal GPS trackers were handed out to all of the participants in the 65K and 105K distances. The ability to track runners in almost real time was greatly appreciated by the supporting crews. The course was well marked and it was possible to navigate even at night and during snowfall. I felt safe and well taken care of during the whole duration of the race. I can definitely recommend it!

My Motivation

The ultimate goal that I have set for myself as a trail runner is to qualify for UTMB and one day make that full circle around the white mountain. As of the end of 2018 the qualifying criteria for UTMB are a minimum of 15 ITRA points from 3 races. This means that if I want to make it to UTMB, I will have to get comfortable at running the 100K distance. WTM was the best race that fitted in my training schedule. I did a 70K ultra in August and I felt ready to try a harder effort this winter. I also had plenty of time for training, so when I toed the WTM start line I felt well prepared and ready to take on the challenge.

The Race

The biggest challenge for me in this race was not the distance nor the vertical gain, but the weather conditions. The course had a substantial snow cover, which on some parts was almost knee deep. In such conditions having crampons (I used the Snowline Chainsen Light) became a major advantage. I ran without poles, since I thought that they will be more of a hindrance than aid (the longest climb was 630m and the terrain was not that mountainous).

Photo: Robert Zabel

Based on my training and the course profile I anticipated that it will take me somewhere between 17 and 20 hours to cover the 105K. My primary goal was to finish the race and make the distance. If I had a really good day, I could maybe even make the top 10. I started by running relatively easy during the day (the race started at 7:00 am.). The nature in that region of Poland was so beautiful that sometimes I forgot that I was running a race. I was moving quickly and had fun filming (see bellow).

Photo: Oleksander Hordziej

Things changed completely with the fall of night. Around km 55 I started to feel extremely exhausted, both physically and mentally. I knew that this will be the turning point for me in the race. I was cold and miserable walking alone in darkness. At this point my whole world shrunk to the several square meters that were illuminated by my headlamp. Nothing else existed (or so I thought). Suddenly, I was remind that I was not alone in this. A message flashed on my GPS watch. “Stay strong! You are 15th!” flashed on the the display. It was Vale! She was following my every step using the GPS tracking service provided by the organizers. As if she could read my mind – her words of encouragement arrived when they were most needed. It is hard to describe how much a few words like that can mean in a dark moment like this. I took a couple of gels and tried to stay focused on the task at hand (putting one foot in front of the other). At this moment I knew I wasn’t going to fade away. I was going to persevere and give it my best to make it to the finish line. From that point on I ran with determination and purpose.

I crossed the finish line at 1:52 am. and ranked 11th place together with Polish ultra runner Rafal Majchrzak who I met on the last climb. It took me 18 hours and 52 minutes to complete the 105 km.

Header photo: Oleksander Hordziej