Finding trails – Trail running in the dark

In Finland even in the South we live part of the year in pretty much darkness. The longest day of the year is around Midsummer June 21st. After that the days start to get shorter and by Christmas it’s the shortest day of the year 22st of December when Helsinki gets only about 5 hours of daylight.

As the sun rises only just barely above the horizon and sets pretty quickly after that you don’t really get to see it that often if there are clouds or buildings in the way. This can be a bit daunting at first but you get used to it in time and find good in every season which is truly amazing phenomenon here. You can experience the whole entire life cycle of nature in those four seasons during the year.

As BAU needs to continue, we need equipment to manage the changes in this environment and a headlight and proper clothing is a must for running in autumn/winter even if you stay on the marked and well lit paths as parts in between may be completely without light.

What the darkness feels like depends on the amount of snow and this is the reason why we Finns are always excited and happy about the first snow. A whole entire new world emerges and there suddenly light again! Running in winter/snow is completely it’s own thing again and I will definitely post about that too when the time comes.

Trail running equipment

So what do you need to head out there in the darkness? What to wear when it’s getting closer to 0 outside? What routes to choose?

Invest to a good headlight

If you intend to go into the forest and not run on any lit paths (usually gravel paths are well lit here) headlight is a must. The better brightness, the faster you can run. It is also a good idea to get one of those models where you can just turn a wheel at the back to adjust the brightness because the thicker the forest, the more light you need.

The other thing I have found really useful is adjustable angle of the headlight. This is really helpful when going up and down and at different speed as you can easily adjust the beam to head further of closer.


Around September we might still get some really nice and sunny days, but equally we might get first frost on the ground. By October we are well closer to 0 than +15 with the average high around +10 degrees. We will start to get cold rain which every now and then turns into wet (and cold) sleet. Add wind to that and the weather can be quite nasty at times.

Good weather proof clothing is recommended so thin windproof, water repellent and breathable jacket and pants is a good idea. Sounds like an impossible combination but there are several good Finnish outdoor clothing brands that offer these kind of clothes so you do not need to be wet or cold if you dress right.

Shoes with spikes on the soles can be used for both trails and winter running. Extremely good for running on ice too!

With different layers underneath you will be fine with the jacket and pants until it gets closer to -10 degrees. Then latest you need to change the pants and jacket to warmer ones if you wish to run outside. At least for me -5 to -10 seem to be the breaking point when I need warmer clothes and more layers again.

You also need to have a hat and gloves with you. First thinner then thicker and I always also have scarf because I like to keep my neck warm. Hats and gloves should also be the kind that are windproof and rain repellent.

You are ok with normal trail running shoes until it starts to get really wet and cold then I usually swap to my ice bug shoes which have small spikes on the soles. They are a good investment since one proper slip and hitting your head might be all it takes. Very cheap life insurance!

Running in the dark forest do’s and don’ts

Needless to say look in front of you. Adjust the beam to head a bit in front of you maybe two/three meters all the time. This way you can predict what is coming and your legs will follow and dodge the obstacles by the time they get there. If you point the light too close you won’t be able to advance as fast and here the adjustable angle of the headlight becomes handy.


Start with the routes that you know from summer time when there was light as paths and trails get all mixed up when your view is limited and you can easily get lost. Use your sports watch navigation and breadcrumb functions if unsure. These help especially if you get lost to find your way back the to trail.

When you are more familiar with running in the dark just head out to new paths as you would normally, but keep in mind the tips below.

Watch out for…

Watch out for branches, rocks and especially wet darker spots. They are generally slippery and hazardous. Clean rock or gravel surface is perfect for doing a bit of spurts but branch covered paths are the most difficult ones to manage with just a small vignette like view with the beam of light.

These images are from my first run this Autumn with the headlight and I must say I was again surprised how ”awkward” it felt. Every year you look forward to the ”dark running season” to begin. It is its own thing completely, but when ”season” does start the first time you feel strangely jumpy in the forest.

It takes time to get used to the pitch dark again, and especially running there again. You start hearing things like the ”swish, swish” sound which ends up being your own jacket or pants and seeing thing in the forest which turn out to be a stump and not an animal standing.

The head light changes your view and when you cannot see as much as you have your other senses take place. Soon you will learn that there is nothing to be afraid of and the branches of trees are not animals attacking you. Still sometimes after months ”into the dark running season” I get a complete jump scare as a dog appears with their owner or another trail runner in the dark.

I highly recommend to try trail running in the dark. It’s not only darker, but also more exciting and brings a good variety to your trail running routine.

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Training W38 – Injuries again and rest days

You know how it goes… what goes up must come down. Well W37 was the highlight and made my day for months to come so it was bound to change. Went to gym the next day after those two days’ of 10 k’s and did my normal workout but did notice that it felt pretty hard and exhausting.

My body was clearly tired of the running the previous week (35,2 kilometers instead of about 20…) so I had a few rest days. On Thursday went running to the forest again and did a short run.

On Friday decided to go for another trail run as I felt like I lacked trail running practice after all this basic running and record breaking so headed to another close by forest about 1,2 kilometers away.

Running there I noticed there were check points tied to trees so started looking at local orienteering schedule and noticed they have one event the next day in that area. Found 7 check points on my trail run and decided I have to do the orienteering the next day as it’s so close and besides I had found most of the check points anyway already!

It turned out not to be that easy after all although I had found them the day before as you come from different direction towards them. All went though fairly well, no major ”getting lost” events. My time was 1 hour 27 minutes for the 5 km route with actual 8,1 kilometers. BUT 20 meters before the finish line I tripped on a branch and fell down so that another branch sticking from the ground hit my right thigh pretty bad.

I bit my tongue and cycled home almost crying as my thigh was hurting so bad. Could not walk properly and the bruise was massive. So again a few days off exercise and time to lick my wounds at home.

As long as this heals by the time we go to the Lake district challenge (three peaks) in 1,5 weeks I am happy, but I have to admit it sucks. I am mad at myself for being so reckless that I did not notice the branch and only because I was trying to beat to finish line this one girl I had passed by earlier once!

Me competitive?… No… 😉


  • Trail running 9,6 kilometers
  • Orienteering 8,1 kilometers
  • Cycling 5 kilometers
  • 1 Gym training
  • 1 nasty fall and a bruised thigh


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Training W37 – Week of record breaking

The week was amazing energy freak week. Such a great feeling and running was so easy. My goal has been to do one over 10 k run every week and week 37 I did three over 10 k runs! I have been insanely busy at work and also have had choir practices and a flash mob at the city center so have not had time to update my blog.

First 14 k run was a slow steady run intention do get more kilometers this week. It felt great and I managed to run a second best time on a similar distance. Then after a few days break I did an 11 kilometers run and broke my best time for 10 kilometers. Then the next day me and hubby went for a run and my ”best time runs” are his ”slow/stretching” runs. The flow was so good that I just kept going.

At 8 kilometers mark he asked if I wanted to try my again my best 10 k time as it seemed to be going pretty well and I said yes, so full on to the end and broke the record I had made the day before by 5 minutes 15 seconds. I have not done this many runs in a week for ages and I surely felt like a superwoman!

Hard to beat this week but it goes to show that progress does happen and going outside your comfort zone is the only way to get there so go ahead push yourself and seems like you may surprise even yourself.


  • Running 35,2 kilometers so three over 10 k runs!
  • Trail running 2,8 kilometers only, usually I do more trail running
  • No HIIT training, maybe next week…
  • No Gym, definitely next week!!
  • Hiking 3,7 kilometers ( with my 6 year old <3)


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Training W36 – Overseas ventures

I was trying to get back on track with training this week, but time simply has not been on my side lately. I have been struggling with trying to find time even for a short run and it seem like time is flying so fast I can’t keep up with it. Normally my amount should be around 20 kilometers of some sort of running, but now I am struggling to get there. This week my long run was at Frankfurt, Kronberg up Alt König, but as my HR monitor was being repaired and my mobile ran out of battery around 2’ks before the end I did not get the full training recorded. Calculating that missing 2 k’s I did reach pretty close to the 20 kilometers after all.

The run at the top of Alt König was really good training and I felt like had for once done something strenuous but not too strenuous to wear me completely out. I have a tendency to run too fast when I get too excited and then few hours after exercise my ”battery” runs out like from an old winding clock. When that does not happen after a long run I know the pace was not too bad and the exercise was good and this is what happened in Germany on the route up and down the peak.

I also cycled more than normal. Neighborhood trails are getting boring so cycled to another forest close by with lots of trails. It had very good hills up and down so need to remember that for future uphill training.

Week, by week I feel like I am finally progressing all the time. Mornings do not feel so tiring anymore and on the runs high hills are easier than before. Generally I feel like I have so much more energy and at the gym I feel like a super woman! So people (read women) check your iron storage values, you never know as iron deficiency seems to sneak up on you in time.

I am also planning on adding some meditation/mindfulness/yoga or similar to my training plan to help on those long nights in the tent and controlling breathing. Now I know I breathe too superficially, not deep enough and it would also help with singing (and running and climbing in high altitudes). The more hectic life is the more you tend to just take quick breaths and not breathe deep enough.

All this of course is just a waste of your lung capacity so I have decided to see if I can improve it. Got this app designed for meditation on my phone which I intend to use in the evenings so let’s see!


  • 3 times Trail running altogether 14 kilometers
  • 1 time Basic running 3.5 kilometers, this was my HIIT training for the week
  • 2 times Cycling altogether 14 kilometers
  • 1 gym session


Would you like to support my cause?

You can do that through my JustGiving page. Or by clicking the Sponsor me button below. Every euro helps me to achieve my target of 2000 EUR which will go directly to help children through Unicef UK. Thank you in advance <3

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What challenge, why Kilimanjaro and why me?

In short this is my company’s challenge to raise money for Unicef UK through teams of employees climbing to Kilimanjaro. There are three different groups; one, two and three so far, and I am part of group three going up February 2020. Teams one and two have already been there which is great advice to others and story sharing!

Why Unicef

The reason why Autovista Group (where I work) chose Unicef is because we employees ourselves were asked of our opinion on what we would like to see the company support. We mentioned that supporting children, education and reducing the impact of climate change are important causes for us, hence Unicef was chosen because they work with all these causes.

Unicef has on their website this one simple sentence which summarizes their target and quite well what I want to achieve by raising money for them also.

”For every child the chance to grow up healthy, happy and safe”

I have four children myself and they are lucky to live in a house, go to school and get food every day. They don’t always remember to appreciate it and complain about food or homework. I try to remind them that not everyone has the chance to study and not everyone can sleep in a comfy bed with only big brother in the same room. Some children might have to sleep in a room with many more than just big bro, they may not have warm meal every day and they will not be able to go to school at all, but are forced to work every day.

My daughters on a hike at Sipoonkorpi National forest <3

I know they are children and it takes time to understand, appreciate and not take all of this for granted. We all complain sometimes although all is well, me being no exception. My children are though surprisingly aware of the climate issues and strong advocates for nature and preserving it, so very proud of them for this.

I want every child to have a happy, content and trusting smile when they go to bed at night knowing all is well and sleep without fear. I want every child to be able to give a hug to their parents and go to the park with their grandparents. They are the future, we must teach them well and give everyone an opportunity to thrive and flourish. That is why this cause is so important to me because without children we have no future.

I also love nature in all it’s fierceness and beauty, Australian outback and Finnish Lapland. I want to make sure we are not doing anything to make things worse, but rather hope that we have now finally taken the turn for better in the fight against the climate change. The choices we make now have longstanding impact so let’s hope we make the right ones! I also believe that everyone’s contribution counts, small streams make a big river and big rivers flow to the sea.

This challenge is my small bit to support these causes and you can help me achieve my goal by sponsoring me through my Just Giving page or clicking the ”Sponsor me” button below.

Both lead to the same page where you can sponsor me with any amount you choose. Every euro counts so thank you for your support <3 I also want to thank everyone who has already sponsored me at Autovista and my friends!

Why I chose to apply

Me hiking in Lapland, Finland

After being between pregnancies, nursing and school runs for many years it is finally a bit more quiet in the house. I can hear myself think better and realized I had a selfish thought of wanting to do something for me.

I want to challenge myself somehow and sports + nature have always been the way to reduce stress for me in addition to music. I love wandering in the nature, hiking and trail running. My runs though often are not very results-oriented as I stop admiring animals, plants and scenery taking pictures forgetting I was running to try and beat my last time.

So now as the little one is big enough (preschool) I thought why not? I actually already applied first time two years ago, but cancelled it realizing I cannot commit to fundraising or training yet, as the kids were still younger and there was a lot of changes happening in our lives.

Now when it was announced that applications for team three were open I thought now is my time. I will apply, maybe I could actually do this! Luckily I was chosen and here I am now writing this blog post and I’m so excited writing this. I am excited to be a part of this, I am excited at what our team can achieve and I am excited that I can do something good while doing all this.

Individual and team goal

We all have individual goals and we also have a team goal. My goal is to raise 2000 EUR and our team goal is to raise 21 000 £. There is 12 of us on this journey and intention is to get to the top together and of course raise at least the goal amount but hopefully even more!

Three Peak Challenge

Before we head out to Africa and mount Kilimanjaro we will have three peak challenge in North West England lake district to test climb three different peaks Helvellyn, Skiddaw and CatBells. This is both to get to know each other and to try out physically what it is like to keep going day after day.

If we survive this and the doctor still thinks it’s ok to continue to Kilimanjaro then we will head out for the real challenge in February 2020 which is 5800 meters high and in Africa!

More information

… about my preparation for both of the climbs here on my blog

…about my progress, training and high lights during the journey + videos posted to my Twitter account.

…about Autovista Kilimanjaro Challenge and why we are doing this + about the other teams before us you can find on the Autovista Kilimanjaro Challenge website.

Last but least, please help me achieve my target. It would be great to hit the midpoint mark!

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Finding high places – Alt König, Kronberg/Frankfurt, Germany

Traveled to Frankfurt for work this week and already when I knew I was going there I started looking around the trails and high places around the city thinking I will go for a run. Found this peak called Alt König where you can find remains of Celtic ring wall and it was reachable by public transport on the west side of the city around 832 meters above sea level.

A Finn who is practicing for Kilimanjaro must take every chance she gets to climb anything higher than 100 meters so I decided to go for it. I had a really early flight so headed straight towards Oberursel/Hohemark from hotel with tram and two different trains, underground U and commuter train line S. I did not have to wait for the next one for two long so public transport worked perfectly.

There were so many paths going across the slope that it was actually hard to choose which one to take so I just chose random trails going up taking short cuts here and there. There were different kind of paths up either gravel, grass or clay/rocky path.

Once you get to the top it has soft and nice surface and birds which made quite a lot of noise. Saw one falcon flying so not sure if it was them or some other species as I am not that familiar with birds. Anyway the top seemed to have it’s own little world and the vegetation was a bit different.

Terrain was very soft bark and it smelled like it is about to catch fire any minute.

Throne ”Alt König”

Found the top easily as there was this ”throne” bench and chair and above it read on a plaque ”Alt König”. Assumed this was the highest point so sat for a while, had a drink of water and took a few pictures.

There was a lot of vegetation and trees on the slopes so I could not really find a spot to get a shot towards the city but managed to get a few pictures with nice view.

View with a little bit less trees

Because my HR monitor wrist band broke and it is being repaired, I have had to use my mobile and just HR belt to track my sports for a few days. It seemed that using tracking app, gps or something else drained my battery completely and had only 20% left at the top.

Celtic ring walls at the top

Decided not to take the same route, but ”shortest” so pretty much straight down. Managed to get really good speed here and there. Very good descent practice for Kilimanjaro! Then noticed my mobile battery had only about 5% left so quickly checked approximate location where I should be heading and then it died. I did not get the last 2 kilometers recorded, but kept my course and found my way back to the U train, S train and to the right tram and hotel. Who needs a mobile phone or a map anyway!

My stop at the mountain was very short up and down around 1 hour and 50 minutes and distance around 8,7 kilometers hence did not have time to enjoy the nature more. This was intended to be a clear mountain running exercise more than recreational visit anyway. From Hohemark U train station it was about 1 kilometer to the forest border where I put the tracking on so It would have been 10 kilometers altogether if you start from the station.

Altitude was around 383 meters where I started recording and top was 836 meters. Max speed was 5:08/km so I really sprinted down at and was afraid with all the rocks and fairly steep decline that I would trip on my own legs but managed to concentrate, core strong and concentrate even a bit more! Toes did hurt a bit as I should have tightened my laces so that my trail running shoes would not have slid down all the time…

Afterwards I could definitely feel the fast decline on my knees and hips, but the exercise itself was really good and I only felt it for the next day or so which is normal.

The paths up are really good in the beginning and you can choose one that is not so steep, but generally there is quite a lot of steady incline and at the end it is a bit rocky. I would recommend this to anyone wanting to challenge themselves a bit, but cannot do very steep inclines.

The forest is also filled with mountain bike tracks so if that is your thing this is your place!

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Training W35 – It certainly was more good news

After my ”injury” on Saturday I had to take it easier for a few days. Sunday I felt a bit like being hit with something and in this case it was quite accurate as I had been hit by a rock, literally.

My neck and right shoulder blade was hurting so gym was out of the question. Ended up having an easy day off sports and lick my wounds.

Monday was already better but still no sudden movements so a bike ride with kids was a good, easy option.

By the end of the week I was back at the gym and even increased the weights a bit. I feel like pumping iron in the form of pills and liquid is helping already. Mornings are not that fuzzy and I feel like I have more energy on my runs and don’t get exhausted so easily.

So all in all a good week although training was a bit on halt.


  • 1 gym training with increased weights
  • 1 biker ride 5 km
  • 1 trail run 5,5 km
  • 1 basic run 3,6 km with 2nd best time on the route!
  • + Pumping a lot of iron internally


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