Serious Sisu: Emelie Forsberg

Emelie Forsberg is a devoted lover of the mountains.  She burst on to the trail running scene in 2012 and in just four years has cemented herself as one of the world's greatest mountain runners. She is also no stranger to sisu and the determination, bravery and resilience required to pursue her passion amongst the world's most beautiful peaks.  This month we introduce our global SisuGirls to this Swedish sisu superstar!

Emelie Forberg in her element © Oriol Batista

Emelie Forberg in her element © Oriol Batista

Emelie Forsberg © Jordi Vila

Emelie Forsberg © Jordi Vila

Please give us an introduction.   

My name is Emelie Forsberg and I am a Swedish athlete specialising in trail running and ski mountaineering.  Growing up, just as I started to walk or play outside, I remember I never cried as long as I was running. And I’ve always been like that. At school, the canteen was located a couple of hundred metres away from the classroom and I remember I always used to run there. My friends would ask me why and I didn’t have a good answer – it was just the way I transported myself. I liked to move fast. I was very active as a child and a teenager. I played football, handball, basketball.  I skied and I climbed.  I always ran to stay strong for my sports. When I was 15, however, I stopped all team sports and focused instead on climbing, and to keep fit for climbing I ran and skied more. So running has always been there, but always in the background. Then I remember the day I realised I was a runner; the day I realised that I couldn’t live without running. It was something that had always been there for me, I just hadn’t seen it this way before. That was cool!

What do you say to yourself to keep motivated on your long and hard adventures, be it running, climbing or skiing? 

I don’t have many of those moments, but when it feels very hard I just think that I’m so lucky to be able to do what I´m doing. Then it’s easier again! Things can always be worse.

What and who inspires you to train day after day? 

© Jordi Saragossa

© Jordi Saragossa

Goals! I love the hard work and the struggle because I know it will make me stronger and take me closer to my goals. For sure, it’s easy sometimes to lose the inspiration, sometimes for a week or two. When I lose motivation and inspiration, sometimes I stop and I ask myself, Why am I doing this? But in the end, I figure it out and always come back to the same answer... I do this because I love it, and I am so lucky to be able to do what I love. I get inspiration from many things: from seeing the last person cross the finish line, their momentum and their happiness. And I get inspired by very devoted people too – doesn’t really matter what they’re devoted to – but seeing people´s fire and devotion is magical! Right now in my wintertime, I am also inspired by the strong skimo women. They make me want to train harder!

How have your experiences in the mountains changed you as a person? 

They have definitely changed me. Mountains and wild nature have made me more humble. There is always something bigger and always another side to everything that you cannot control. The mountains also make me calm and happy. It’s certainly my happy place.

You are a world champion. How do you deal with the pressure of competing? 

For sure sometimes I can feel it, but then I tell myself that people need to understand that I can´t win every time, especially not when I do both long and short races. But I can’t choose, so I still do both because every distance has their own charm, and I don’t want to miss that.

Emelie winning the Mont Blanc 80k © Jordi Saragossa

Emelie winning the Mont Blanc 80k © Jordi Saragossa

What ‘ingredients’ have made up your success: How much do you contribute to natural talent and how much do you attribute to hard work? 

I think my passion for sport and endurance sport has for sure given me a good base. I didn’t run any running races until I was 23, but I was
moving/running/scrambling/climbing in the mountains already because I loved it. All my spare time was devoted to being out there. So I think that my good base and passion was a very important ingredient to me becoming a good trail runner / ultra runner.  Also the continuity: I have always taken care not to push myself too hard because I didn’t want to risk getting injured, I wanted to be healthy to be able to go out every day in one way or another.

Talk me through a regular training week for Emelie.

It’s very different in winter and summer and if I am in a competing season or not. Here is one example for winter

  • Monday: Two skimo sessions. 2000 m in the morning and 600 meters in the afternoon. Stretch and core. Total training time of 4 hours.
  • Tuesday: Two skimo sessions. 1600 meters in the morning 500 meters in the afternoon. Total training time of 3.5 hours. 
  • Wednesday: Intervals in the morning. In the afternoon I do a very slow run, followed by yoga and stretching.  Around 3.5 hours.
  • Thursday: Long mountain day! 11 hours of skiing and mixed climbing. 
  • Friday: Easy day of yoga in the morning; 1-hour skiing in the afternoon 600 meters.
  • Saturday: Skimo 2.5 hours 1600 meters; free afternoon.
  • Sunday: intervals skimo total 2.5 h; Afternoon skimo: 1 h. 

Total hours end up being around 30 hours per week, although that is a big week.  I typically train between 23 and 29 hours.

© ISMF Press Office

© ISMF Press Office

What are your sporting goals?

I want to become as good as I can possibly be! In many distances and in both summer and winter sports.

You are an all-round mountain athlete.  How do you deal with fear and self-doubt? 

I know that almost everything is possible and sometimes the road there can be hard or painful or boring, but I know that if I feel too much self-doubt and fear about what I am doing I know that I can always change it. Somehow. I think it´s good to every now and then feel a little self-doubt and fear. It makes us think and re value our situations and life. But it´s a fine line!

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? 

We are living in paradise, we just need to realise it.

Finally, who do you think has serious "sisu"? 

So many! Do I only need to name one? ! I can´t only name one! 

You can follow Emelie on her Instagram, Facebook or Website.  

All our registered SisuGirls will receive a story about Emelie later this month. 

Rachel Jacqueline