On Saturday night, my sister and I ran Midnattsloppet, a 10k race that starts late in the evening and goes around Södermalm in Stockholm. Yay us! This was an amazing achievement particularly for my sister who has somehow managed to go from nothing to speedy gonzalez in less than a year. And she’s running another 10k next week! It was such a fun evening – a few nerves, of course, but once we were there we soaked up the atmosphere, threw ourselves into the warm-up ahead of the race, and even enjoyed the run itself. “I want to do it again!” said my sister after crossing the finishing line – this from a girl who, like many, has always said that she’s “not a runner”.
Of course the run itself was just one evening, the culmination of months of training. For me, it started when my sister suggested we go for a run together back at Christmastime. Since then, we’ve both been training off and on between other commitments and various injuries and illnesses, including running a 5k Race for Life with some of her friends back in May. When I’ve gone to visit her during the year, we’ve gone out for a run together; usually we would have gone to the theatre or the cinema and had an ice cream! We’ve still been able to chat – we generally ran at “conversation pace”, an excellent pace I think – but we’ve done it while getting fresh air and exercise. How very virtuous of us.
But this is what I think is so great about training for an event like this together, or simply deciding to do something a bit more active instead of the usual food-related and sedentary meet-ups that are more common. Last night, I went for an evening SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) with some friends around Riddarfjärden and Långholmen in Stockholm. Usually we would have just met for a fika or for a drink after work; instead, there we were out on the water, watching the sun setting over Stockholm Old Town. Magic.
And it’s not just me. On Facebook now, my newsfeed is full of friends going off on microadventures and secret adventures, saying yes more and being awesome together in the mornings before work. Smiling faces all around. Some of it is about escaping the city, escaping work. Some of it is about getting fit and losing the couple of kilos that we’ve put on thanks to all those cinnamon buns and salted caramel ice creams we’ve been having over the summer (no? just me?). But most of all it’s about meeting friends and having a laugh.
So next time you’re agreeing to meet with a friend after work, how about choosing something a bit different? Maybe rent some canoes and paddle down the canal? Or stay on dry land, grab your running shoes and go for a jog together? Book a tennis court and play a few sets? Grab a picnic and go to your local park? Or try some SUP!
If you want to find other like-minded adventurers, here are some of the lovely people you can join – mostly in the UK I’m afraid but I’m sure you can find similar groups of intrepid adventurers around the world! Let me know what you get up to…
Project Awesome – Danny Bent and Anna McNuff are running free fitness sessions in London on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 6.30am. Here’s the Facebook page with details of locations and awesome photos to get you in the mood.
Say Yes More – Dave Cornthwaite has been running a summer series of weekend escapes in the UK. There’s still an opportunity to Join Dave or you can join the tribe on Facebook to find out about future yes-saying activities.
Secret Adventures – My first adventure was with Madoc on a secret island north of the M25 – read about upcoming trips, including the highly recommended night Kayak on the Thames and, further afield, dog sledding in the Arctic, on the spanking new website.
Escapes Retreats – A new one for me, this one is especially good if you’re interested in the wellbeing aspect: Escapes Retreats is run by a nutritionist and personal trainer.
If you happen to be in Stockholm then here are a couple of options to try kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding:
Stockholm SUP – We went out with these guys on Kungsholmen yesterday They offer courses as well if you want a bit of instruction before heading out on your own. English website here. And we didn’t have to wear life jackets, so we looked cool, which is important.
Surfbussen – This one comes highly recommended from a friend who has competed in SUP SM, so it must be good. They have kitesurfing too, for the hardcore enthusiasts among you. No English site as far as I can tell, so practice your Swedish here.
Tanto SUP & Kayak – On Södermalm, you can rent SUP and kayak here, as the name suggests. English site here.