Yesterday I ran Trailvarvet for the second time. Like all events too big for their own good, Göteborgsvarvet has spun off a number of smaller races. Trailvarvet is, I think, the latest spinoff, and it is a race on the trails in Änggårdsbergen. It was first held last year, I ran it and had a great time doing so. So of course I was back for more this year, somewhat extra enticed by knowing the track was completely changed at the request of participants to be more challenging and more like "proper" trail running. (I have little concept of what constitutes "proper" trail running, so I just repeat what I have been told here.) Oh, and it was a kilometer longer too, measuring at 11,6 kilometers this time.

Eyes to the ground

They had really listened to the participants! The track got to the trails much quicker, and the course was much more winding, uneven, narrow, hilly … challenging and fun. I used to run regularly in Änggårdsbergen a couple of years back, so I knew which kind of terrain to expect, but this track went on a lot of paths I had never tried before. I had to keep my eyes very focused on the ground, to the point that I sometimes wished the very frequent track markers had more color. I just had so little time to look up and look for them that they could have stood out even more.

I have not ran such a hilly course in a long time, and I felt it clearly in my breathing. Being short of breath often felt like the most limiting factor for my pace, and that actually felt all good. For one thing, I would probably have ran a much greater risk of stumbling had I ran faster.

But for another, much more important, being short of breath is a familiar feeling I know what to do with. It means my entire body is keeping up great, and all I need to do is keep going the same way more often. In that way, it is a fantastic sign I am doing the right thing in the right way. There was not a single protest from my foot, knees, hips or anything else. I found some kind of flow (wheezing and panting such as it sometimes was) up and down hills, over rocks and roots. Sometimes it almost feels like dancing, picking a path step by step, obstacle by obstacle.

I did actually fall once, and of course it was on a relatively flat and wide section of trail. I guess it made me relax just a little too much. Almost the second I hit the ground and bounced up again, a fellow runner behind me was asking if I was okay. I was already up and moving, responded that I was and we kept going. A little exchange like that does a lot to lift the experience too. I scraped my knee, so I have a little mark to show for my effort too.

I was also very happy with the pace I managed to keep, and when we left the trails for the final kilometer or so to the goal I even managed to pick up some extra speed. Once I reached the goal I was surprised to find myself tired in a whole different way than usual. It was clear how different this kind of intense, focused running is to the long-distance mindset I usually run in. I felt as if my body was out of balance, as if I had used energy sources I normally do not touch and my body was trying to figure out how to react to that. After finishing a long run I can feel depleted in a certain way, but this was so relatively short and intense that I felt … mentally and physically out of breath? A much more short-term kind of tiredness, but very deep and intense in itself.

Trail running and Änggårdsbergen. I have clearly missed it. Thumbs up for Trailvarvet.