Swedish Classic – The Beginnings

ESK_banner1I have decided together with a good friend of mine to complete one of the toughest series of endurance races available in Sweden, called A Swedish Classic (webpage in Swedish). It consists of four separate races that you have to complete within a 12 month span, in order for you to be able to say that you have completed a Swedish Classic. So far the Swedish Classic diploma has been awarded to 23’486 men and 4’959 women since it started in 1972.

Update: As we were too late to book ours slots for Vasaloppet 2014, we will start the Swedish Classic with the Vätternrundan race and complete Vasaloppet in 2015 instead. A positive thing about this is that we will get more time to prepare for the various different races, but it is too bad that we won’t be able to complete the whole thing during 2014.

Update 2: We were lucky enough to get tickets for an earlier race called Engelbrektsloppet, which also is a part of the Swedish Classic race, which means that we will be able to complete the Swedish Classic in 2014! This is so exciting! On another note, I have needed to buy new gear for almost all of these races, such as new skis and a racing bike for the 300 km long Vätternrundan!

The Swedish Classic races are:

Vasaloppet

logotype.vasaloppetThe race that we will be starting with is the ‘Vasaloppet’ cross country ski race, which is 90 km long. It is the oldest, the longest, and the biggest (in terms of participants, normally with over 15’000 people in the main race and an additional 60’000 in related races the same week) cross-country ski race in the world and has been a Swedish traditional race since 1922. The race is held in memory of the Swedish king Gustav Vasa, who fled towards Norway in 1521 on skis. Read more about Gustav Vasa here. The race annually has millions of people in Sweden as well as around the world hooked to the TV or radio and is one of the biggest sporting events of the year in Sweden. Read more about Vasaloppet on Wikipedia. Vasaloppet is held annually on the first Sunday of Mars.

Vätternrundan

VätternrundanVätternrundan is the world’s longest recreational bicycle race, 300 km or 186.4 miles long, circling the second largest lake in Sweden. The race isn’t officially a competition, but instead everybody receives an RF transponder so that they can find out their own race time. In 2011, 27’973 cyclists passed the finish line in the 30 hours that the race is going on for. During the race you can stop at any of the nine stop locations to receive water, food and a free massage and once you have completed the race you are awarded a medal, a diploma and a warm meal.  Read more about Vätternrundan on Wikipedia. Vätternrundan is held during the weekend before midsummer, ever since 1966.

Vansbrosimningen

VansbrosimningenThe Vansbrosimningen is a 3 km long race has been going on since 1950, with participants swimming with the current for around 2000 meters and then up against the current in an adjoining river. For the race in 2014, there are already 3643 people who have signed up as of the time that I’m writing this article. Read more about Vansbrosimningen on the official website (in Swedish).

Lidingöloppet

LidingoloppetIn 2014 Lidingöloppet celebrates it’s 50th anniversary, which makes it an even more special event. The race is a 30 km long cross country running event. During 2013 there were 43’500 participants in the race, making it the largest cross country running event in the world. Read more about Lidingöloppet on Wikipedia. Lidingöloppet is held annually on the last Saturday in September.

Preparation

As these races are all endurance races, we have both been training conditioning a lot, in addition to strength training during the summer. The summer’s training culminated in a short 5 km race on the 14th of September, where I due to stomach issues only was able to complete the race with a time of 29:56. Still, for my first ever race, it felt good to have finished in under 30 minutes.

I’m really excited to having committed to this project, so now I can’t wait for the snow to come so that I can start training skiing in anticipation of Vasaloppet. Of course I will keep you all update on the progress and the results of the races. Wish me luck!

5 Ways Martial Arts Improves Your Life

There are many ways that you can benefit from different forms of exercise, and for me Martial Arts of any kind really sums up a good workout. I have been doing different Martial Arts for many years, off and on, and I have been helped greatly in many areas. Martial Arts was the first “sport” that actually stood out to me, and that I enjoyed doing so much that I was looking forward to going back again and again. Below I have listed a few of the things that I have noticed that Martial Arts have helped me the most with.

For me, what really stands out about Martial Arts is how many aspects there are to it. I have always focused on the physical side of the workout, the expression of the human body. I have since I got into Martial Arts, kind of wandered between different schools, such as Karate, Bujinkan, Iaido, Jiu-Jutsu and Tae Kwon Do, and all of them are great in their own ways and all bring their own specific benefits. But there are a few things that most Martial Arts incorporate, which make them very beneficial, no matter who you are.

1. Coordination

In any kind of Martial Art, you have to be able to control your body, to be able to avoid attacks, whether you are doing the Martial Art for self-defence purposes, as a sport or as a workout. There are many techniques that you will learn that will push you to recognize how you can move in a better way, how to position yourself and coordinate your movements with your opponent. You will learn to use both sides of your body, how to coordinate strikes, kicks and other movements, and retain your balance at the same time.

2. Strength and Endurance

If you have never been doing Martial Arts before, you might not think that you need to be strong to start with Martial Arts. This is completely wrong. Actually, once you get past a certain point, the more muscle mass you have, the slower and more sluggish you get. So in Martial Arts, having lean strength is more valued than huge muscles. Another thing that you will improve is your endurance. You will be asked to do the same things over and over and over and over ad nauseum, until you are so tired you want to curl up into a ball and cry, but you will be doing it, and that in turn will build up your endurance and skill. Repetition is key to anything you want to become good at or improve.

3. Improved Reflexes

When faced with new situations, we adapt. When faced with punches and kicks and locks that hurt, you adapt by learning how to counter them, or how to avoid them, but most importantly, you learn to react quickly, assess the situation and act accordingly. You basically teach your reflexes to become faster, by putting yourself in the line of fire. This improvement of reflexes and reaction doesn’t only apply to Martial Arts, but also computer games, when driving, cycling and any other kind of situation where you need to react quickly.

4. Relaxation

Paradoxically you can become a more peaceful person by practicing Martial Arts. It is a great source of stress relief for many people to be able to kick, scream and get their frustrations out through Martial Arts practice, and in turn that leaves you more relaxed and focused than when you started your workout. And the more peaceful you get inside, the easier it is to cope with stress

5. Self-confidence

Through learning self-defence and being able to be confident in yourself even in pressured situations you gain enormous self-confidence. Being able to trust yourself that you will be able to handle any situation that you will come to face is another thing that Martial Arts can bring. Knowing how to defend yourself is an enormously comforting feeling to have, even if you never end up needing to use your skills. Your goal should never be to get into a fight, but to be able to get out of one, and feel secure with yourself no matter what situation you are in. That is the goal with Martial Arts.

Now that I have listed a few of the things that I find the most beneficial with Martial Arts, it is your turn! Tell me what you think about Martial Arts in general, what you benefit from the most and anything else you want to discuss in the comments. Looking forward to hearing from you!

I have stopped doing martial arts!

I have stopped, only to improve

Yes, I really have stopped doing martial arts! I actually started doing Tae Kwon Do in January and went for a few classes, but I quickly noticed that my strength, flexibility and stamina is not where I want them, not even close, and instead of focusing on learning techniques and slowly building up my strength while doing martial arts, I have decided that I will take a break from doing martial arts, for now. Instead I will be going to the gym three times a week, mostly doing body weight exercises, to build up a good core strength. I have actually noticed already that my leg strength has increased significantly.

I love martial arts. I think that it’s good exercise and it’s a lot of fun to practice as well. It doesn’t really matter what martial art it is, the basic principles are the same. There are only a few things that all martial arts are built up around, and they are; Striking, Kicking, Throwing (things, opponents), Grips, Avoiding / Moving and Groundwork / Wrestling. All techniques fall within one of these groups. And if you don’t have a good understanding of the basics of these groups, then even if you try to learn a technique within one of the groups, it will still not be proficient. And if you’re not flexible or strong enough to execute a technique correctly, it doesn’t matter how well you know the technique.

So I have decided to focus on building core strength by working out at the gym, stretching every day and building up a better stamina than I have ever had before. This will also help me achieve what I’ve been struggling with for a long time, and that is to gain weight. I haven’t quit martial arts for good. I am just taking a break from them so that when I get back, I can go in with more strength than ever before, being more flexible and having a much greater stamina. I’m looking forward to seeing the results, once I get started again after the summer.

Anyway, that’s all for now!

New Year Vows Update

In January this year, I made a few New Year vows. This post is to account for what I have been able to keep and what I haven’t. And for you who are too lazy to read the whole blog post, at the end I have listed all the goals in categories; success, partial success and failure.

New Year Vows for 2011:

  • Renew Wardrobe – Buy Suits
  • Learn to speak Hindi as well as I understand it
  • Learn the basics of Russian
  • Start with, and succeed with my projects
  • Get >1000 sek revenue from my webpage projects
  • Buff up and get more flexible
  • Get an apartment of my own
  • Buy a new cell phone and build a new desktop computer
  • Simplify my life and remove useless clutter

Now I will do a rundown of each of these vows to see what I have been able to do and what I have failed to do this year.

Renew Wardrobe – Buy Suits

This summer when I went to India together with Mehek, I did buy a lot of clothes. I actually thought that I had packed too much, but we actually didn’t cross the weight limit. I also bought three tailor made suits that I am extremely happy about. I still have a lot of clothes in my wardrobe that I don’t use any more, so I should go through it and remove what I don’t need any more. But I consider this a success.

Learn to speak Hindi as well as I understand it

I can’t say that I am able to speak Hindi as well as I understand it, but then again, I might speak Hindi almost as well as I understood it by last year. I have learned a lot and I do understand much more now than I did before. Passive understanding of a language is always bigger than active knowledge of a language. I consider this a partial success.

 Learn the basics of Russian

It was not until about a month ago that I actually started learning Russian seriously, and since then I have been skipping days and missing out a lot, but I have gotten started. I am very proud that I have taken the first steps, even though I don’t know what I would consider being the basics of Russian quite yet, so I will consider this a partial success.

Start with and succeed with my projects

I have started way too many projects, so a lot of them have been terminated and a few others put on hold. But I guess that I’ve been able to do what matters. Success.

Get >1000 sek revenue from my webpage projects

I haven’t started any projects that would generate any revenue yet. Failure.

Buff up and get more flexible

In the beginning of the year, I went to the gym almost 3 times per week, every week. I am very proud of this. But then the summer came, I got lazy and never really got back into the habit of going to the gym. I guess that going to the gym for about 6 months at least counts for something, so I’ll give this a partial success.

Get an apartment of my own

After much searching during the spring, Mehek and I finally found an apartment that we are renting. Success.

Buy a new cell phone and build a new desktop computer

In May this year I bought the Samsung Galaxy SII, which I really really love. It’s the best phone that I have tried and I’m super happy with it. I didn’t build a desktop computer however, but instead I bought a new really amazing laptop. I would call this a success.

Simplify my life and remove useless clutter

Now this is a big one. I have way too much stuff and I like a lot of it way too much. I know that I shouldn’t keep a lot of it, but it has sentimental value or something of the sort, so I haven’t been able to throw everything out yet. I have however gotten rid of a lot of things, and a lot of new things have taken their place. I guess this is a partial success.

So let’s break it down.

Success:

  • Renew Wardrobe – Buy Suits
  • Start with, and succeed with my projects
  • Get an apartment of my own
  • Buy a new cell phone and build a new desktop computer

Partial success:

  • Learn to speak Hindi as well as I understand it
  • Learn the basics of Russian
  • Buff up and get more flexible
  • Simplify my life and remove useless clutter

Failure:

  • Get >1000 sek revenue from my webpage projects

So it would seem that I have been able to do at least most of the things that I set out to do this year. Some things partially, some things fully and I only failed to do one thing that I set out to do. I guess I should be proud of myself.

How have you fared with your own New Year vows? Let me know in the comments below, or on Facebook.

Results of Training: Progress Report 22:nd March 2011

So far my workout has produced mostly strength gains. I have increased the weight on most machines at the gym with about 60%, which is pretty good for having been gymming for about one and a half month now. I first started gymming on the 8th of February, and have since been recording all weights of all machines that I work out with. I am really happy with my progress, but I also want to bulk up a bit. For the sake of measuring this, I have been using a tape measure and checking how much my muscles grow, once in a while. I haven’t been able to do this as consistently as I have wanted, but I’m sure that I’ll get into a pattern of doing it regurarly soon. So far the progress is slow, but I have seen some increase in size of both thighs, arms and shoulders.

When it comes to my six-pack, that I’m also striving for, I haven’t seen much progress since the first two squares. They are pretty clear now, and the next two have started to surface too, but because of having not worked out for about a year prior to beginning now again (and at that time no cardio or strenght training), I have a small belt of fat around the lower part of my stommach. I guess noone is immune to fat gain while eating crisps for over a year without any workout at all. So, it’s time to get rid of this and uncovering the last squares for good!

So, workout is going good, but I was thinking earlier today that I really haven’t had a workout since the initial two or three sessions that I have gotten any kind of burn in my muscles the day after workout. Kind of weird. Is it because I haven’t been working out hard enough, been using too low weights (I have increased the weights almost every single workout since I started), or have I been stretching so well that I have been able to avoid pain in my muscles?

When it comes to future progress, there are a lot of things that I need to work on. I need to get more flexible and to be able to see more muscular growth as well as increase the size of those muscles I need to eat more and at more regular intervals.

If you have any thoughts you want to share about what I have been writing, please feel free to comment!

Update

This time it hasn’t been so long since I wrote, but I still have thought about writing a new blog post a couple of times since last time. I guess I’m getting more and more used to writing often, but it might be too early to say that actually. Anyway, I feel good whenever I do sit down to write.

Last time I wrote that I was going to take measurements every Monday, but I missed to take them, but I have been working out as scheduled. I am really proud of myself when it comes to that. On Tuesdays I have something called Box 1, which basically is an aerobics workout session with some boxing/martial arts mixed in, but it’s nice. It is following the same programme every time, as far as I’ve understood it, but so far I have only gone there twise, so I guess I’ll be more sure of this next week.

Last week at Box 1 it was pretty though, or so I thought. By the end of it I was completely exhausted and I didn’t want to do anything at all, which is awesome. This week however it wasn’t as tough, and I noted that during the workout itself, and my muscles were not sore at all after the workout, which they were last week. So I guess I’m getting stronger pretty fast. My apetite is growing fast too. Before I used to eat very little very slowly, now I eat a whole lot more a whole lot faster. I guess it would be good if I could get those measurements every week, even though it’s pretty often. But then again, what can you do when you love data.

It has been an awesome week so far. I’ve got plenty of work to do at work, finding solutions to fun problems and then seeing them through. There is always a lot of data to go through, but I like that.Today I’m going to have instruction at the gym, so that I get a personal schedule of what things I should work out on and what machines to use etc. That’s going to be so much fun! I am extremely excited for that. I want to work out my whole body though, not only my abs and upper body. I don’t care all too much about having big swelling muscles, but I want to look a bit more muscular than I do right now. So, let’s hope that everything goes well at the gym today.

Now I have to go back to work, but I’ll be sure to write about how it went at the gym!

Have an awesome day!

Back at it!

After having been lazy for quite some time and not having written anything, but thought about it almost every day, I’m finally back to writing again. Feels pretty good, and if I had not told myself that I could do something else all the time, I probably would have done it sooner.

I have been working out every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for the last two weeks, and I’m feeling awesome. I have a competition with my friend Daniel about who’s going to get 6-pack abs first. I have seen signs of the two first squares on my stommach, but he is much more well trained than me, so I’m not sure who is in the lead really, but that doesn’t matter. I am getting stronger by every passing day and I’m feeling awesome. I have a few goals for my workout, which is to get more flexible, straighten out my back (I hunch from having sat at the computer too much), get washboard abs, gain about 10kg and just get generally fit.

It’s a lot more fun to have someone to work out with. Every other time that I’ve started going to the gym, I’ve done it myself, and that is seriously boring. I am less motivated and I don’t push myself as hard if I’m alone. And I’m also much more prone to just skip it “once” which becomes more and more often and then after a while I quit. So I am really happy that I have someone to work out with.

To keep track of how I’m progressing I have taken a bunch of photographs and measurements, and plan to continue doing so every Monday. This way, I’ll be able to track muscle growth very closely, as well as my weight. I don’t think that I’m going to share everything in detail at least right now, but I’m going to when I reach my goal weight show a form of progress chart. If I’m not too lazy to, that is.

Right now I’m looking forward to another awesome week. A lot has happened in the past two weeks that I’ve been away from the blog, but I’m sure that much more is about to happen. And this time I’ll be trying even harder to be online to write about it.

Post workout thoughts

I am finally home again after my first workout in ages. Especially my arms feel like they’re filled with cement or something, I can’t raise them properly over my head even. It’s really a great feeling. Last time I couldn’t raise my hands over my head my back was hurting so much that I couldn’t do it because of the pain. This is just the sweet feeling of victory. I’m finally getting started with working out! I guess I started out a bit soft though, but that all doesn’t matter. At least I have gotten started at all!
I guess I’ll go to bed early today. I didn’t take any measurements yet, and it’s not like it’s too late for that. I guess that’s something that I’ll have to do tomorrow instead. I’m feeling exhausted, but happy.
The only things left to do today are to pack lunch for tomorrow, take a quick shower and then nosedive into my bed.
Ah, and an update about the blog. I rather like this theme after all, I will of course modify it after my own liking and all, so it might crash or stop working, but it will improve in appearance at least. Anyway, that’s it for today!