Mimmi, you’ve had a great year, with wins at the TDS and Mont Blanc 80k and a 5th place at Les Templiers a couple of weeks ago. What have your favourite races been this year and why?
Mont Blanc 80K was great because the course is so beautiful and technical. But I felt the strongest and had my best race at TDS. And the scenery was spectacular there too.
I understand that you only started running seriously a few years ago. How did you discover that running was ‘your thing’?
I have always been an outdoor person, skiing, free diving and hiking. As I was approaching 30 I decided to challenge myself and do a popular 30K race in Sweden called Lidingöloppet, I was not a runner but figured it would be a great challenge. In Sweden it’s popular among active people to do a “Swedish Classic” where you run 30K, ski 90K, swim 2K in open water and bike 300K in one year. These are the most famous races in their respective sport and finishing the Classic is considered an achievement. I had my eyes set on the Classic but in my training for the 30K race I fell so much in love with trail running that I never got any further than that. It became all about trail running. I think I have always been searching for my thing and in trail running I found it. I also had decent results in races from the get go, finishing second at the second race I ran (a 50K race). So I figured it was “my thing”.
Mimmi winning the CCC in 2016 (image by Pete Aylward)
How has your training developed over the last few years? Do you have a coach or do you work out what works for you?
I started running in 2010 and got really in to it. In 2012 and 2013 we had a lot on our plate with work, renovating a house and other things so running was put on the backburner. But at Christmas 2013 my husband and me were just fed up with it all and decided to change lifestyle. To simplify. Sell everything we didn’t want or need and live a life with more passion. So I started to run more, you can say that in January 2014 I became a runner. And from this point my running has had purpose, to get better. I have not had a coach yet but think this would be a good idea for the future. There is so much knowledge out there about training that I don’t have. Hopefully the insights from TrainAsOne will be of great value!
What does an average week of training look like for you?
I don’t have average weeks. My training ranges from 5 hours of running to 25. From flat to steep mountains. And sometimes I just ski and/or bike and do yoga. Mixing it up over the year has been a great recipe for me, for someone else it might be different.
You did the Endurancelife Dorset ultra in the UK back in 2014. Did you enjoy racing in the UK and would you like to do any other races there?
It was stunning running along the Jurassic Coast and we had a great weekend running, eating pub food and driving on the wrong side of the road… I would love to return to UK for racing! The Lake district and Scotland seem spectacular and similar to the Swedish mountains, i.e. muddy, rainy and rolling hills.
You’re a nutritionist. Do you think this has helped your own running?
Yes. I have a Master’s in molecular nutrition and food and healthy eating is a great interest of mine. Lets just call me a nerd when it comes to these things… If there’s a new study showing a berry boosting performance you can be sure I’m eating it… for a while… then it’s back to basics. I avoid strange exclusion diets but in training and everyday life I use food as a tool for recovery, keeping inflammation down and to some extent also to avoid illness and injuries (same thing). In racing it’s no help at all though, it’s just about how much sugar you can take in and what ever works for you.
In working with nutrition you get a broader perspective on diet and food. I understand the importance of eating well but I also understand that a diet does not need to be perfect all the time. In fact, the stress of having a “perfect diet” (whatever that is…) is far greater than that little theoretical performance gain you might get out of it. And perfect will almost always be too perfect and you end up with an energy deficit affecting your performance negatively in the long run. To balance on the right side of energy- and nutrition status while never “cheating” with your diet requires a lot of integrity, no shortcuts. This is hard since our vanity often gets in the way too.
I hope you don’t mind me saying this but you have amazing legs. Do you do lots of strength work or is it just lots of going uphill in various sports that’s helped you develop such strong legs? Would you consider doing a Mimmi Kotka leg workout video?
Thanks! As a teen I dreamed of fitting in to a pair of skinny jeans but the chicken drumsticks never seemed to agree with my fashion dreams…. They are useful when going up mountains though! It’s all the hiking, skiing and uphill running that’s given me strong legs. I do some dynamic strength work but it is only to avoid injury and not to build actual power or muscle. That what’s nature is there for! If there is a market for leg workout videos I’m in!
You’ve won some big races and you are currently 2nd in the ITRA rankings for ultra trails over 100k. How well known are you in Sweden now? Are you more well known than any of the following Swedes: Dolph Lundgren, Stefan Edberg, Alexander Skarsgard, Ulrika Johnson, ABBA?
Not well known at all… so, no, no, no and no. But who is Ulrika Johnson? 🙂
After such an incredible last couple of years it’s going to be really exciting to see where you go from here. Have you got any 2018 plans that you can share with us?
I set my race calendar in December but I want to become faster uphill and race longer. UTMB is on my list so I have plans to build up to 100 miles during 2018. The longest I have raced so far is 120K.