My Sports Year 2022 and 8 Trail Running Goals for 2023

My Sports Year 2022 and 8 Trail Running Goals for 2023

If a year could be a low rated movie, it would probably look like 2022. At the end of January, my mother unexpectedly passed away, and in the middle of February I got corona. Difficult symptoms lasted a long time.

In May, I was diagnosed with a serious iron deficiency. It's hard to say which of the symptoms were just long covid, and which were due to iron deficiency. Stress and sorrow must have played their part, too.

Right after surviving the corona, I went cross-country skiing in Pyhä, Lapland. My resting heart rate was still hovering over 100 (normal around 60). I moved slowly so that my body wouldn't be strained one bit. Weird heart palpitations continued through the spring and effectively kept proper sports at bay.

Not recovering from exercise and having loads of post-exercise malaise symptoms (PEM) was one of the biggest health problems I encountered in 2022. The PEM symptoms are horrible, but so is the stress that comes out of thinking if there’s some more serious illness and not knowing how long the symptoms will last. My sports year didn’t really start before the end of July.

I list trail running as well as athletic hikes, backpacking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in my annual sports review. Trail running usually covers major part of my year and it's the only sport with goals. In the past year, none of my trail running goals were fulfilled. I probably hiked more than I run.

Trail running in Finland and Norway

According to Garmin Connect, I trail ran normally for the first three weeks of January. At the beginning of February, there were a couple of runs, and at the end of February, a few kilometers of cross-country skiing in Pyhä. From March, every second entry is a walk. I spent the spring entirely in the local forests in Southern Finland, the daily exercise in nature was perhaps more therapy than sport.

Even though trail running kilometers were recorded in the sports watch during spring, the performances cannot really be called running. My legs felt like tree trunks that neither carry my weight nor bend. I remember walking most of the runs. The day after the runs, I felt completely exhausted. And then, a serious iron deficiency was also found in the blood test.

In May, I started taking the maximum dose of iron supplements and iron-rich foods. Already in June, my legs started to feel lighter. Since running increases iron losses, I only did short and light small runs, and at most every two or three days. As I didn’t know if it was going to be a good day or a not so good day, I didn’t bother to travel to national parks for trail running.

At the end of July, I went hiking and trail running in the mountains in Northern Norway. On Senja, I trail ran Sukkertoppen and Barden, and power hiked Grytetippen.

I had also planned to climb the highest mountain, Breidtinden and Senjahopen. I knew that road 862 was closed due to tunnel repair work, but I didn't know that it was closed for a long way before the tunnel. Breidtinden and Senjahopen were not accessible. On the other hand, there were heavy winds, and it was pouring rain, so I would have missed the mountains anyway.

In Lyngen, I trail run in Hengen waterfalls and even visited the waterfalls twice after forgetting my sunglasses up to the viewpoint. I also went for a trail run to Raikebakti, but due to the risk of a landslide, I turned back early.

At this point in the year, my strength finally started to return, and so did the joy of exercise.

After my backpacking trips in August and September, my trail running fitness had really improved. After my legs recovered from the hiking, a 10K trail run was easy like a Sunday morning. I ran the longest run of the year, an easy half marathon, in early October. I had come through a difficult year and was full of energy and ultra running plans.

A few days after the 21K, I got a persistent flu and after that also a sinus infection, which lasted almost the entire autumn running season. After being sick for several weeks, my great condition was gone, the weather had got colder and the days shorter.

The mentally and physically heavy year started to feel all over my body. I mostly went for walks in the nearby woods without a sports watch. A few wonderful winter trail runs in a sunny and snowy forest at the end of the year made me smile.

Hiking and backpacking in Finland, Norway and Sweden

Apart from the cross-country skiing trip at the end of February, I didn't visit any national parks or recreational areas in the spring. I took walks in the local nature and tried to avoid stress. Any sports caused a shocking brain fog.

In June, I did a one-night lightweight hiking trip at Evo Hiking Area. On the first day I hiked 22 kilometers. At night I slept around ten hours and the next day I was completely exhausted, I barely managed to walk the four kilometers to the car. I still had loads of PEM symptoms in June.

In July, on my way to Norway, I went hiking in Kilpisjärvi. I went to the beautiful Malla Nature Reserve to see the Kitsiputous waterfall and Pikku-Malla fell, and I also visited Saana fell. On the way back from Norway, I admired the scenery at Keimiötunturi fell in Lapland.

In Norway's Senja Island, I hiked a couple of mountains, Hesten and Husfjellet, which I didn't run or power hike. It's a bit ridiculous to try to categorize different styles of climbing mountains and fells as trail running, power hiking or hiking, but I do it anyway. The sun was shining at Hesten, but it was raining, windy and foggy at Husfjellet.

In the Norway’s Lyngen area, I hiked to Blåisvatnet, Lyngstuva, Stussnesfjellet and Dalberget. From Dalberget, I had planned to trail run or power hike to Storhaugen, but the mountain was covered with clouds. I also hiked a few kilometers to Lulledalen valley in the hope of seeing an orchid, but the flowering had probably already ended.

In the middle of August, I went to northern Sweden for two weeks and more than 200 kilometers of lightweight backpacking. I hiked in the area of Tarfala and Cievrraláhku, along Kungsleden (King’s Trail) from Kebnekaise to Vakkotavare and further to Suorva dam and from Aktse to Saltoluokta, and I did a nine-night hike in Sarek National Park. Due to the bad and very bad weather, I missed almost all the summits, but I still got plenty of ascent meters during the trip.

In September, I did a fall backpacking trip of over 200 kilometers in Finnish Lapland. First, I hiked around Lake Luirojärvi in UKK National Park, and after that I continued to Hammastunturi Wilderness and hiked from Kultala Gold Village of River Ivalojoki through Lake Rautujärvi to the foot of Persattamovaara fell. Six of the eight hiking days were rainy and foggy. I missed almost all the summits of the fells and the landscapes. And didn’t have any luck with fishing either.

There was so much snow in southern Finland in December that I didn't travel on my traditional snowshoe trip. I went just snowshoeing in Sipoonkorpi National Park for a day.

An exceptional year requires exceptional actions. This year, I'm not going to list any statistics from my sports watch. Compared to the previous year, there were fewer trail running kilometers and fewer ascent meters, and I didn't run any trail ultras.

8 trail running goals for 2023

Since I didn’t reach any of the goals for 2022, it is easiest to copy-paste last year's goals for 2023. However, I went through the goals and made some fine-tuning.

  1. Staying in the comfort zone is good! The eight-and-a-half-kilometer run that I have found in the local nature is everything that a fitness runner needs as a daily routine. It saves a lot of time, money and the environment when you set out on the running trail directly from your front door. The run can be easily adjusted to ten kilometers by going around a big cliff, which comfortably adds more uphill and downhill to the basic distance. If, for some reason, I need excitement for the day and don't want to immerse myself in my thoughts, I can go around the trail in the opposite direction.
  2. Adding a long run to the weekly program, depending on how I feel. Going around my favorite trail (or any other same trail) twice is not my idea of a happy time, so I should come up with a new trail stretch of about five kilometers to add to the standard run.
  3. More uphill workouts. Power hiking is great in the mountains and fells, but on the low cliffs of Southern Finland you need to gather motivation for a while, and even then, you prefer to run a normal run. However, since uphill training does wonders for trail running, I'm going to include it in my training every other week. In the winter season, adding snowshoes spices up the exercise.
  4. Improving pace. In order to be able to run longer ultra distances, you can't go exactly at a snail's pace. I will add faster runs and interval training to my training as soon as the winter turns to spring.
  5. Regular muscle maintenance. I won’t get a membership to the gym, because I own body pump equipment with a step board. I just have to figure out where to place the junk for the pleasure of the eye and for decorating the home.
  6. Stretching and Ashtanga yoga. If I would remember to stretch even after every run, that might be enough. At least, I have made it a routine to stretch my calves after trail running during the past year. Ashtanga yoga would take care of both muscle and stretching. I'm trying to get myself into intermediate beginner’s class in the spring.
  7. Fastpacking adventure of at least one night. I can compromise on the scenery, if my calendar doesn’t adjust for a great fell or mountain sceneries. In other words: hello Southern Finland and Nuuksio. (My adventure calendar 2023 looks pretty neat already!)
  8. Focusing on ultra running and 100K (kilometers). Missing all the ultra runs was perhaps the biggest disappointment of the whole miserable year of 2022. I've noticed that the more challenges I face, the more passionately I try to move forward. I'm aiming for the first ultra distance of the year or at least a marathon before the summer. My next milestone in trail running is still the magical 100K. I hope the coming year will be a good year!

I wish you a wonderful and happy new year!

Trail running Ultrarunning Hiking


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