Physical activity, whether it is inside or outdoors, has rarely been as important as it is right now. Icelanders are lucky to have access to wide-open spaces all over the country, in turn being able to use the outdoors while still following the local regulations regarding the current situation.
We met with Icelandic ultra-runner Elísabet Margeirs to find out about her favorite running routes in Iceland and to get general tips for those looking to use the coming weeks for more running. She also shared two of her running programs, tailored to beginners and to those with more experience.
We urge everyone to be safe and to follow the local laws in your area as all countries are approaching the COVID-19 health crisis in different ways.
"Running in nature is excellent for your health, both physically and mentally. Whilst it can be healthy to push yourself when exercising, it’s essential to listen to your body to prevent injury, illness, and keep your mind in good spirits."
"I like to run for many reasons, such as my peace of mind and well-being, but also to improve my results as much as I can with every training season.
It’s important to start slow and enjoy each stage of progress in running. The biggest mistake that people make is to go too fast from the beginning. People go running too often, too far, and all too fast. The first goal should be to start going out regularly and maintain a stable program. Run at a slower speed for longer distances rather than pushing to reach a distance goal in the shortest time. Almost 80% of my running works just like this, allowing me to be fresher during those harder sessions.
When I start to run again after a resting period, I run at a slow and steady pace for many weeks to build up my physical endurance, so that my body can handle more challenging conditions."
"It‘s good to find out what can get you motivated in those times when you simply just don‘t feel like going out for a run. It could be that you find a running partner, a certain type of music or podcast, or perhaps a new running outfit. Training to be a runner also allows you to train your mind and be more in the present moment.
What inspires me the most to go out running is finding new trails, preferably out in nature. This way I am always seeing something new and it‘s easy to zone out amidst the surrounds of beautiful nature. Running in nature is also especially beneficial for the body because the terrain is often softer and uneven. It is however very important to go slower when running on uneven ground because it requires more energy, though it can be way more interesting."
"There are endless possibilities out there for running trails. My favorite areas to run in nature are Heiðmörk and Úlfarsfell. It can also make for an easy trip to head out on the soft nature trails in Öskjuhlíð, Laugadalur and Elliðaárdalur. For beginners especially, there are some great trails around Vífilstaðavatn and Hvaleyrarvatn."
Elísabet recommends the following trails around the captial region. Click on the links beneath the maps to download .gpx trail files that can imported into your GPS watch or device.
Vífilsstaðavatn route - 9.3 km
Hólmahringur route- 2.57 km.
Heiðmörk route - 7.6 km.
Elliðárdalur route - 12.6 km
"It‘s integral to dress appropriately for the weather when you‘re out running in Iceland. It works best to wear as many thin layers as possible and avoid cotton materials. A good hat, gloves and neck gaiter are extremely important for trips in the current winter conditions."
"On behalf of all trainers in nature running groups around Iceland, we remind everyone to keep their wellbeing and health in mind. At the current time, stress is increasing in workplaces and at home, so please watch out that added physical stress of running doesn‘t become too high. We encourage everyone to put emphasis on seizing the moment and simply just enjoying the experience outdoors."