Professional skyrunner at age 48

It is never to late to be great. At age 48, I take my running to the next level and join Team Arduua as one of their professional frontrunners. When it comes to ultra trailrunning and skyrunning, grit, willpower and endurance is more important than capacity and topspeed.

So how did I end up where I am now? Here is the story behind, and the answer to why I joined Team Arduua when I got the question from the founder Katinka Nyberg in december 2020.

In 2019 I completed 12 ultra races, 5 of them in mountains with a lot of elevation gain. In 2020, all the races where canceled, and I had to rely on FKT and virtual races. I won the Trailrunning Sweden climbing competition where I did 7182 m+ in 16 hours on my backyard hill, climbing it 101 times, and I belive that this put my name on the list of swedish skyrunners, since I got an invitation to join Skyrunner Adventures on facebook.

During the summer, they had the skyrunner vertical challenge, where you should get as much positive and negative elevation in 1, 2 or 4 hours. And since we don’t have any big mountains here, I gave it a go in my backyard hill. I took the 4 hour challange, and managed to go up and down my hill with 70m+ 42 times. The Altimeter didn’t register all the elevation, since I turned to quickly at the top and bottom of the hill, but i managed 2807 m+ and 2763 m- in four hours, and won the competition.

The first prize was 1 year of coaching with a professional skyrunning coach. Being a running coach myself, I wondered how much use I would have of the prize, but I still decided to give it a go.

I started the coaching plan with measuring of my mobility and strength and an videocall with my coach Fernando Aramisen, an experienced skyrunning coach from Spain. He put my workouts in trainingpeaks, and we had follow up metings every month over e-mail. Everything I logged was synced from Garmin to TP, and I added a comment to each workout. I have followed a training plan before, but not with this much follow-up and coach interaction. I am not the most flexible person I know, and I could certainly use a lot more mobility…

The basics of the training follows what I am used to, a 80/20 setup with 80% Z1 low intensitey, and 20% Z4-5 high intensity. What was different was that the training was specific for skyrunning, where elevation gain was more important than distance. And specific parts of trail and mountain running, such as where to push on the up and downhills. This was new for me, and it suited me perfectly. The last 2 years I have done most of my high intensity training on the bike, since the fast speed needed for the higher pulse zones more often than not leads to stress injuries. And belive me, I have had them all.

I also find it much easier to get higher pulse on the uphills, so I do all my VO2max training on the slopes. The threshold paces I do on more even terrain, mainly on the trails.

Another thing that was new to me was the amount of strength and mobility excercises that was scheduled. At first, mostly with bodyweight, but now, with increasing weight on the bar. The plan has been based on my personal metrics, and been made to prepare my body for the added stress of lifting weights. I have certainly done my shere of lifting weights at the gym, but more for a general strength purpuse, and not specifically for skyrunning and ultrarunning focus.

And I see the results now. After only 4 months on the programme, I beat my personal best times on Strava more often than not, even putting in KOM:s on shorter sprint intervals.

So why did I join Team Arduua when Katinka asked me a month ago? It is of course a great chance and a big honour to be considered as a professional athlete, but I would not have joined unless I felt that they shared the passion and the knowledge for the sport that I have. To bring the competence of the spanish skyrunners to the rest of the world is a great idea, and something that I would like to be a part of, and something that I can promote.

So I’m really looking forward to 2021 as a part of the Arduua Team!

Read more about Arduua here : https://arduua.com

And my story on Arduuas blog: https://arduua.com/skyrunner-story/tomas-amneskog/

Pilgrimsleden FKT

I have had my eyes on Pilgrimsleden for some time. I ran the second half backwards a couple of years ago. They have now restored and re-routed parts of the old pilgrim route, and the new stretch looked interesting. And it should be doable during the daytime of the long swedish summer days.

The route is 137,66km long wit 2350m of altitude gain. The mainpart of the route is trail, but also big portions of gravel, and asphalt. I set out to do a unsupported attempt on the route. This means that I can not ave any support of any kind, and I need to carry all my energy and other things from the start. I can fill up wit water from publicly available waters sources, and all churches and cemetaries have water available. And almost every stage passes a church.

So I packed 8×60 g of Umara sportsdrink, 6x50g Umara bars, 8 breadrolls, eletrolytes, charger, first aid, emergency headlamp, water filter, extra socks, underwear, buff, merinotee and windbreaker. I also had 2 500ml softflasks with sportsdrink pre-prepared. I ordered a taxi at 03.00, and arrived at masthuggskyrkan 03:25. The weather was perfect now, +20 and clear skies.

Stage 1. Masthuggskyrkan – Nylöse kyrka 9,8 km

I started running through central Göteborg. A lot of churches needs to be passed on the way , and also skansen kronan. I ran nice and slow, and reached Nylöse Church after 1:03

Stage 2. Nylöse kyrka – Storås 10,7 km

After the first easy part, the route heads into the hilly singeltrack trails along Lärjeån. Here you can find water on the cemetary that you pass at km 11, and I filled one of my softflasks here. I reached Storås after 2:15 and 20,5 km.

Stage 3. Storås – Jennylund 11 km

From Storås, following Lärjeån comes the real nature part. A new stretch of the trail had been cleared, and this was pure joy running here. Still early morninghours, so the heat was bearable. I skipped the filling of water at Jennylund, and continued on. I reached Jennylund after 3:34 and 31,5 km

Stage 4. Jennylund – Starrkärr kyrka 17 km

After 6 km I stopped at Dammekärr to refill my softflasks. I knew that I had a long stretch before I could fill up again, so I filled both bottles with Sportsdrink. The new stretch from Dammekärr to Starrkärr was really nice. A lot of small trails, but also some areas where there were no trails. Only trailmarkers and veggies. At Starrkärr church I filled 1 bottle with only fresh water, refilled the second bottled with sportsdrink and electrolytes. I reached Starrkärr Church after 5:35 and 48,7 km

Stage 5. Starrkärr kyrka – Skepplanda kyrka 11.3 km

At this time of day it was getting quite hot. In the shade of the trees in the forrest, it was managable, but getting out on the asphalt stretch approaching Skepplanda, it was really warm. Just before Skepplanda, at forsvallen, the route made a detour around the waterfall and the old rockcarvings. I lived here as a child, so it was really emotional running in thoose surroundings.  I refilled both bottles, one with sportsdrink and extra electrolytes, and one with just water. On the way out I stopped and had a chat with a fellow Ultrarunner. I reached Skepplanda Church after 6:55, and 60 km. Keeping the average pace at 6:54 min/km, and the pace in motion at 6:30 min/km.

Stage 6. Skepplanda kyrka – Lödöse kyrka 9,8 km

The route from Skepplanda passes over Alvhems golfcourse. At this point I was starting to get really overheated, and was looking for a place to take a swim. Not a lake in sight, and I did not want to swim in the water obstacles on the golf course, so I ran on.  At Lödöse kyrka I refilled both bottles, one of them with carbs and electrolytes, and one with water. I drank a good 1 liter extra as well. I reached Lödöse Kyrka after 8:29 and 69,8 km.

Stage 7. Lödöse kyrka – Lilla Edet 15,7 km

After a technical and hilly section after lödöse museum, the route came out on a long stretch on asphalt alongside the Göta älv river. At this time the temperature reading was 39 degrees, so when I saw a opening by the river side, I took a small detour, took of my backpack, shoes and socks, and went for a swim to cool down. I noticed a loot of blisters on my toes due to the moist, so I changed socks and added shea butter to my feet before I went on.

At km 77 I got to Tunge Church, where I filled up with water. The water was a bit murky here, so I don’t recommend this church for filling up water. So my stomach felt a bit shaky, and I burped a lot. I only drank the sportsdrink, to be able to refill te water at the next stop in Lilla Edet. I reached Lilla Edet  and Fuxerna Church after 10:46 and 85,5 km.

Stage 8. Lilla Edet – Utby 15,8 km

Passing over the river and over to the west side of Göta Älv, the route went up and down two mountains, where the trails were quite difficult from time to time. I did a lot of walking here, all the uphills, and also some parts where it was hard to navigate. At 96 km I stopped at the church in Hjärtum for a good refill of water and sportsdrink, knowing that it could be a long stretch without a chance to refill. I reached Utby  after 13:24 and 101,3 km.

Stage 9. Utby – Trollhättan 18,9 km

When I left Utby, the skies started to darken, and the heat wasn’t as pressing. I even got a few splashes of rain. I heard a distant thunder, but there was no real danger. The route was technical from time to time, and after 111 km I started to get a bit low on water. But I saw a waterhose on a building, and could get a refill here. It is always nice not to ration the water.

I reached te magnificent views of Göta Älv, and ran alongside the river, up and down, until I got to the power-station. There the route crossed over, and went 4km back down to the locks. At this stage I started to feel tired, and running was not fun any more. I refilled my bottles at the public toilet at km 119, and continued to the Church of Trollhättan, which I reached after 16:40 and 120,8 km.

Stage 10. Trollhättan-Vänersborg 17 km

At this point a saw the finishline aproaching. I also knew that I had to keep moving to get there before dark. Fortunately, the route leading to Vänersborg was really easy, and I managed to run long stretches at the time now. I got to Vänersborg before the sun got down, and I could reach the end of the route in daylight. The total time was 18:41:10, and the distance 137,66 km.

I walked back the last km to Vänersborg, and got a large cold beer when I was waiting for the train. Jocce came and joined me for a quick drink, and I got on the 23:09 train back to Bohus, where Linda came and picked me up.

The run is now published and approved as a new Fastest Known Time!
https://fastestknowntime.com/fkt/tomas-amneskog-pilgrimsleden-gota-alv-sweden-2020-06-26

Route on Garmin connect: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5149667135

Route on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/3675520479

Midnight run Gothenburg 2015

So it was time for midnattsloppet again, for the 4th time in order. It has become a bit of a tradition to go out in the night and run the 10 kilometres around majorna with start and finish in Slottsskogen. This year the weather was with us as well, around 20 degrees, no wind and very clear.

For the first time in a long time I ignored completely in to make any race-preparations. I'm in the middle of a racing weight quickstart, i.e. building training with calorie deficit. Less carbs, more protein. Easy running, strength training and a lot of that on an empty stomach and water. Despite this I have gained 3 kg in the past week. The body has become accustomed to the deficit, and gone into sleep mode again. I will reduce the calorie plan from 2000 to 1500 cal/day, and see if it goes in the right direction again.

Anyways, my legs felt like logs when it was time to start, but I know it will fix itself after a while despite how it feels at the start. So when the starting gun went off 21:30 I put away in the regular racefart. It felt as if it was not especially fast, but the first kilometer was completed at 3:37, and when I checked the final results, I was in place 52.

Then it became a little more uphill, but I was able to keep the momentum over the first 3 kilometres. It was not until around the 5k marking I was beginning to feel really tired. I lay and pushed myself 5 beats over the lactate threshold on the uphill slopes, and not very much lower on descents. My pulse was just around the 160 mark, but I was passed by runners at all times.

And then it was time for the ascent up to masthuggskyrkan. To have any chance and not go straight into the wall, I checked the pulse all the time. But I lost time, and this kilometers was the slowest of the entire race, 4:31.

But when you come up on top, you know that you reach the finish very soon, and just dash downhill. Last mile to slottsskogen was cruel, with climbs almost as hard as up against masthuggskyrkan. It didn't go fast here, and when I arrived at the finish line I saw that the clock had just passed 40 minutes. I thought I had an eye on the time, but it turned out as usual to the track was almost 200 metres further than my watch told me, and there went my sub40 time.

Nevertheless, I am still right happy with being able to press so hard in the middle of a heavy training period. And even if I didn't better the time from last year, the position was some snaps up. The end time was 40:8, and 90:th place.

But this was the last time I ran a 10k race in over 40 minutes. It is time to raise the minimum level a notch in the autumn, with harder intervals.IMG_3261

Öloppet swim-run 2015

Rest weeks. So, that was the idea after Ironman Zurich. But then I got a question by Magnus Carlsson if I wanted to run Öloppet with him. The sprint that was, 20 kilometres of running, and 2.6 km of swimming. I was up for it, but had to consider and reconcile with the wife. We were, after all, going away the day before. But we wouldn’t sleep over, and I accepted.

But swim-run, I was aware of the concept, but not how it went into more detail. So I sat one evening in front of the computer and studied. In particular, there was a very good post on Icebugs page, http://icebug.com/se/swimrun/. It turned out later that it was Magnus who wrote this.

I did not want to cut off my wetsuit, and I knew I would not be ready to run in my full suit , so I did a quick order of a shorty outfit online. There are not so many models of swim-run outfits, and those are pretty expensive, so I settled on this model: http://www.seapro.se/sv/artiklar/vatdrakt-shorty-limax-herr-3.html. Fast delivery, I received it on Wednesday after being ordered on Tuesday, and on Thursday I thought to test the equipment. Had decided to run without paddles and car body repair, then it went slower when I tested in pool.

And what a feeling! just being able to throw himself into the water, swim a little, running up on the other side and continue run! Sure, it was a little cumbersome at run in wet suit, but it was still ok. Ran a short pass in the surtsjön.

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So it was time to start! Me and Magnus had decided that we would see this as a fun thing, and not press too hard on the run. I hadrest week, and did little or none training before. Only a few small workout to keep running the body a bit.

10:00 and the race was on. We placed ourselves somewhere in the middle of the field, among the other 250 teams in the Sprint. But it was hard to hold back as much on the initial races down to the water like the other teams, so we ran up some places before it was time for the first swim. 620 metres from Styrsö to St. Mosskullen.

And at swimming, we are about as good, or bad, on. I put myself first, and then came Magnus on my feet with paddles and floater. I put myself a little to the left of the rest of the field to get some free water, and the swim went quite well, although it did not go particularly fast, so 12:30 later, we were able to step up and run. Or so we thought … Crowded on the cliffs above, and no ability to pass made us walk more than run. It wasn’t until we got to Köpstadsö that we could run on a bit, and then we took a wrong turn ….

I had written down all the distances we would run/swim on my arm, in order to keep track of whether it was worth taking off our swimming caps or not, and it wasn’t until we came to Brännö as it really was worth removing the caps. 6 km running with only two short water passages as we waded through.

 

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Swimming had gone well so far. Small, short and, in some cases, muddy banks distances in calm water. No jellyfish or waves to speak of. But after krokholmen we would take us 570 metres to the Känsö, and here it was more high seas. Bigger waves and deeper water.

I found it difficult to stay the course, and when I checked back, Magnus had left my feet. I was waiting for him a few times, but with 50 meters left I swam on. 16 minutes took the route, and even though it was 50 metres shorter than the initial swimming, we were over 4 minutes slower. Magnus had trouble in the waves, and now the jellyfish had also begun to show itself.

But the team that had past us in swimming we outrun on the Islands in between. Magnus kept up the speed on trails and gravel roads, and I on the stones and rocks.

Two swims in the same hard conditions and then we were arriving on Styrsö again. Now waited over 6 kilometres of running before the finish. Magnus had a lot of energy, but my legs didn’t want to really keep up before I got the heat up. But after a couple of kilometers in 4:30 speed, I started getting the heat up, and the last few kilometers we could press the speed closer to 4 minutes per kilometer. We could pass som more teams, and as the finish line approached, we put on a final sprint.

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We had no idea what place we finished in, but were very happy with the race overall. Under 3 hours in total time was good for a swim-run debut, and we placed in 12th place in the men’s class and 19th in total by all teams, which is perfectly ok.

It was, after all, the experience which was the main focus, time and the placings were completely secondary this time. But it left me wanting more! Although I am lousy at swimming, it’s a fantastic feeling to be able to throw myself into the sea and get to where you want. The body becomes the vessel so to speak.

So this am I going to do again, thanks Magnus for taking me with you on this adventure!

Here are the official results:
http://oeloppet.r.mikatiming.de/2015/?pid=list

And here is the link to activity at garmin connect:
https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/853309884