The running challenge

The best recipe for becoming a better runner is to compete!

Jarle Wermskog, 33, has a busy schedule. Commuting one hour between his wife and two kids and his hectic work schedule at DÆHLIE, doesn’t leave much spare time.
Yet, he is constantly ranked near at the top of the results, whether ski racing, running, cycling, duathlon or triathlon. He logs 40 to 45 kilometers of running and between seven and nine hours of training a week. Far less than most of his competitors.

“My limited time forces me to be effective, which means I have to do a fair amount of interval training,” Wermskog says, adding that this training form means he has to listen closely to what his body tells him. “I am careful not to overdo it, and adjust the training to my level of energy and minor body aches,” he says.

As a kid, Wermskog was into soccer, cross-country skiing, ski jumping and athletics. From age 16, he was an active competition bicyclist. However, when he completed his degree as a physical therapist, he dropped the cycling. He continued training, though, and did the occasional amateur competition on the ski tracks or road racing. In 2015, he started doing triathlon.

“It is a fantastic way to do diverse training. You take full advantage of the seasons and your environment. At the same time, your body gets a varied workload. The feeling of mastering three disciplines in one competition is very rewarding,” he says.

“The challenge is the Holy Grail, but doing the job it takes to get there is the fun part,” he says. 

Last year he did his first Ironman 70.3.; 1.9 kilometers of swimming in open ocean, 90 kilometers of bicycling, followed by a half marathon. Backbreaking toil, just the way Wermskog likes it. “In a way, you start a new race at each stage of the competition,” he says. He admits that his arms feel really tired after the swim, but then the calves and thighs take over, working the pedals. It’s really all about keeping the intensity low, saving energy to last for the last four hours, he explains. Wermskog found his own way of keeping up his morale.

“You need to be patient and focus on small objectives all the way, such as eating, technique and muscle pressure. I try to think less about what awaits further down the line. I’d rather divide the race into small manageable parts.”

His coming races for this season have already been scheduled, a half marathon and three Ironman competitions both here and abroad. “Knowing that you are going to face a challenge six months down the road makes it easier to achieve an even progression. Time ensures a good base training, prevents strains and gives you a much better experience.”

Wermskog is definitely driven by the number on his chest. However, he also stresses the value of everyday training sessions. He often organizes his own workout dates, especially for the long weekend runs.

“The challenge is the Holy Grail, but doing the job it takes to get there is the fun part,” he says. 


Set a goal.

The best motivation is to know that you are going to run a race. Sign up in due time, at least six months in advance.

Make play dates.

Knowing others are expecting you makes it easier to get out of the house. It motivates you to be well prepared, and ignites a bit of friendly competition.

Avoid burst training.

Steady, regular training is better than binges a few weeks before a competition.

Be eFFective.

A short session is better than nothing. Half an hour is enough to do a good interval session. No time for a dedicated strength session? Do 15 minutes core training after running.

Vary the surface.

To avoid injuries, it’s a good idea to run on different terrains. Do your intervals on even roads, tracks or treadmill. Long runs are best enjoyed in the woods.

Imitate your challenge.

If you are doing uphill race, do some sessions on steep hills. If aiming for a marathon, put in some kilometers on hard tarmac. Those entering shorter road races may bene t from track running.

  1. Notice body signals.

  2. A lot of people are obsessed with their heart rate monitors, but don’t forget to listen to your body and how you feel on a particular day.
  3. Find your challenge.

  4. Choose the race that triggers you the most, and one that feels like a lot of fun. There are lots of alternatives, like terrain, uphill and mountain races. Start out with the shorter distances, though. Many events have sprint triathlons that suit children and beginners.
  5. Preparation is king.

  6. Not just when it comes to training, also nutrition. Test yourself: How much food and drink do you need? How much can you stomach handle.
  7. Plan ahead

  8. Organize your training schedule, covering as much as 4 weeks in advance. It is easier to accomplish sessions that are planned in due time.