FINLAND: LAND OF A THOUSAND TRACKS

Written by Ossi Peltoniemi (translated from Finnish)

I am a track runner. No matter how much I want to be just a road runner or a marathoner, I always end up back on the track. I have been “trying” for several years to quit the track, but in the end, I have not been able to do so. After some bad races, I have often decided to stop circling the eternal ring and shift my focus to the roads. Still, year after year, I find myself crouching on the waterfall starting line.

Running
karhu FR

SUCCESS 

Every now and again there are successes feeding my enthusiasm and fervor. Usually, only one successful race a year is all it takes to keep me motivated. One success carries far and the hope for an even better result is too enthralling. It attracts and eventually always breaks me. So why is track running so fascinating and addictive?

FINNISH PHENOMENON

The track is honest. Track is an equalizer and the clock is ruthless. When the clock stops, you know your level and excuses don’t help. You can’t blame anyone or anything for your results. There are no hills, rocks, steep bends, or other decelerators on the track. You are on the track alone with your fitness. Maybe that’s why success on the track feels especially good. The desire to reach one’s own boundaries is addictive but contradictory. Many runners rejoice in their performance, but are already eyeing their next race during the cool down. I don’t know if this is just a Finnish phenomenon, but it feels like a Finnish runner is never happy! 

I DON’T KNOW IF THIS IS JUST A FINNISH PHENOMENON, BUT IT FEELS LIKE A FINNISH RUNNER IS NEVER HAPPY!

INSPIRED 

The track is universal. With the exception of weather conditions, you can measure your level anywhere in the world and the results are comparable. Sure, over the course of history, track surfaces and shoes have evolved, but one lap is still 400 meters. During the Olympics, it was inspiring to follow the pace of the world’s best track athletes. Sport fans often have thoughts about their own abilities. How fast could I run the 1500 meters? How long could I hold world record pace? Or, if we look back in history, how well would I have done 50 years ago?

ACCESSIBILITY

In Finland, getting answers to these questions is easy. There are 309 municipalities in Finland. There are 259 pavement fields in Finland. Therefore, you have a really good chance to test your abilities on a track. Most of Finland's fields are owned by municipalities or cities, so access to the fields is free. Comparing your own pace to the best in the world can be eye-opening, but comparing to your own results is the most rewarding. I think it’s the most addictive. You should always test your development as a runner from time to time. On the track it is made very easy. When was the last time you visited your home track? 

karhu FR

BLOG CREDITS 

Ossi Peltoniemi / @ossipeltoniemi.  A history teacher and long-distance runner from Rovaniemi, Lapland (Finland). Currently Ossi is training hard to run sub 2:30 at the Berlin marathon.