In 2012, I started running (as in trail and road running) for the first time in my life. After a lifetime of thinking I hated running, I took it up as a way of winding down after work, moving my body after sitting for hours on a train, getting outdoors into fresh air and spending some time alone in nature.
I didn’t have a plan at first; I just started running after work, along one of the bike routes that connect Kenzingen and Herbolzheim.
Then I started experimenting with the small winding, hilly roads in the vineyards around Bombach, Nordweil and Hecklingen. That’s where my interest in trail running began.
Back then I had no idea how far I was running; it never entered my mind to track the distances I was running. I had to run - to switch off, to centre myself, to feel balanced. That was all that was important.
It was only in late 2013 that I discovered web sites such as WalkJogRun and MapMyRun. That’s when I started logging my runs, and finding out how far I had run on those first few outings.
I didn’t really know much about running back then either. I did what I thought was right. Sometimes I ran in the morning before work, other times late in the afternoon. On occasion I ran both in the morning and evening. On weekends, I ran longer.
Along the way, I started reading books about marathons, triathlons, barefoot running, the history of running, as well as the physics, biomechanics and physiology of running, all of which have helped me become more ‘serious’ about my training.
After two months of running, which was around the beginning of April 2012, I was able to run approximately 9 km without too much trouble.
The majority of running took place on trails, through forests and on soft natural ground. I ran at my own pace, adjusting speed, and slowing down when I needed to economise. I didn’t care how slow I was, or how much better someone else was, I kept to my rhythm.
For me - someone who can easily get excited by new things - running helped me understand the concept of time, as well as being in the moment and following through on what I had tasked myself to do. It helped me get back on track after going through an emotionally challenging period in my life. I focused my mind, built a good foundation of discipline, and kept a certain consistency going. Running has been a great teacher in taking literally one step at a time.
In 2012, I met a German guy who had been running and competing in marathons for many years. He was in his early 50’s and gave me a lot of tips on how to start, what to do, and also what not to do. While biking together one day, we came across the Freiburg marathon and a large running convention at the Freiburg Messe. My friend introduced me to trail and ultra running, and race concepts such as the Jungfrau Marathon.
This is when my interest in running expanded into triathlons and ultramarathons. I read books by Christopher Mcdougall, Scott Jurek, Rich Roll, Tim Noakes and others. I became particularly interested in how a raw food or plant-based (vegan) diet influenced running strength, endurance and recovery.
When I moved to Norway in late 2013 I started swimming, biking and running. I used to ride to Tananger to visit my partner for lunch, as well as to my first Norwegian tutor outside Sandnes.
Stavanger was unique in the sense that it had the beach and the mountains all within running distance. The city of Sandnes was also not that far away and was the gateway to many trail and hill runs, some of which I experimented in barefeet or with minimalist shoes.
Norwegian weather forced me to toughen up and go outside no matter what it was like. The cold was not a problem though; it didn’t really get that cold in Stavanger – minus 5 would have been the worst in winter. My problem was the constant wind and rain that Stavanger is famous for. Although, this kind of weather obviously didn’t bother the (iron) men and women who biked to and from work everyday.
Later, I started looking into races such as the Stavanger Marathon, Dalsnuten 323 Motbakkeløp and the 3-Sjøersløpet. The transition from running alone and running in a race was a big one. I had originally started running for myself and to get to know myself again. To this day, it’s still what I like the most, but I have started to enjoy running with others on crazy trail races.