Meet the athletes - Steinar Kristoffersen
Next in our series of "Meet the athletes" is Steinar Kristoffersen. A 43 year old Norwegian with an interesting research project attached to Norseman!
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from and what do you do.
I am a 43 year old Norwegian with a wife and two kids. I am from Molde originally, but I have lived in Oslo for more than 20 years now. My occupation is in academia, and currently I am a Professor of Information Technology in at the University College in Halden.
What is your background in sports.
I used to be a swimmer when I was a kid, mainly doing the shorter distances. Butterfly and breast stroke were my best disciplines. Apart from that, nothing serious, although I have tried a lot of different things. Since becoming a student, I really did no training at all, until I started jogging a little during what I have now discovered was just a preliminary indication of what mid-life crisis would really be like.
Why did you choose to race Norseman and what is your race goal?
It actually goes back a bit, to the Ironman UK in 2006, where I met Tim Stone. He turned out to be a fantastic guy, always ready to do something crazy. I guess I challenged him a bit to come over an to do Norseman afterwards. We did that together in 2007, and afterwards he said “never again”. Well, I thought I was safe, and told him he was getting soft and that I was definitely doing it. Alas, the next year he called me to say that he’d signed up anyway. I had no choice. Of course, in 2009 it was the other way around. Tim is doing the Sahara Marathons this year, which means that I have stopped answering phone calls.
After my Ironman debut in 2006, I’ve not really trained all that systematically, and volume has had to be modest, due to other priorities. Norseman is perfect for that, for at least two reasons. The level of ambition does not have to be incredibly high for the event to be fun, and the run can really be attacked as a half marathon, plus a hard hike. But since I have done it that way three times, I decided it was time to actually race it now My objective going below 14 hours, but that is just a number. In the end of the day, what counts for me is having a good time. Or to go faster than some other people that I know.
Asides from Norseman, what is your other plans for the 2010 season?
In terms of triathlon, it is the Ironman Nice in June. It could be a little too much too close before Norseman, but I won’t be doing this much training every year, so I wanted to get as much out of the season as possible. Perhaps I am also compensating my wife for supporting me a second time at Norseman, with a weekend on the Riviera? I am also going to be doing the Birkebeiner races, and a few other more on the bike in between if I can.
Do you do any special training for Norseman?
In earlier years I have been doing mostly intensive sessions, because it has felt like it was efficient, and fun. The problem is of course that it has been easy to do too much, ending up just getting tired. Increasing volume and reducing intensity is a way to deal with getting older as well, I guess, so that is what I try to do now. I don’t know if it works this way, but at least I also make sure to get rest and recovery time into the schedule, which was too ad-hoc for me before I think.
I don’t do anything Norseman specific training, at least not yet. It goes without saying, really. Looking out the window from where I live, the skiing conditions are perfect. Cycling is near impossible still, although I put a little time in on a trainer. Consequently I try to do a little bit of running in the morning or lunch break when I can, but most of my training is cross-country skiing at least until April, I guess. Cycling will just have to wait.
Everything that I do now is meant to be around the aerobic threshold. On the other hand, I don’t want my training to be getting too planned and restricted. It takes too much of the fun out of it, for me. Therefore I don’t use the heart rate monitor much anymore, so I guess sometimes my training ends up harder than it should be. I have three brothers, which means that long, “easy” cross-country skiing or cycling sessions usually end up in “survival mode”… That is probably why I like hard training better, when it comes to it, since then there will actually be some rest between the intervals.
I think Norseman has a specific mental side, which it is useful to be prepared for, and riding hills can help a lot, I guess. later in the season I will do more hills and intervals, but right now I have enough on my plate just getting the volume in. For me that means a little more than 10 hours per week in average, which isn’t a lot, I know, but it means that the heavy weeks are well over 15 and I just cannot fit any more into my schedule. Even if I could, I would probably not do it. I have other interest as well, and let’s face it, this is just for fun.
What other races would you like to compete in the future?
I thought triathlon was a Hawaiian word for “trying to qualify”?
What are your favorite places to train?
Nordmarka outside Oslo has got everything, except spectacular views, which you can get in Molde.
And your favourite workout?
Skiing cross-country alone at night in Nordmarka is superb. I enjoy all my training though, but training with friends or my brother is always nice, and I use my mountain bike a lot. It is about getting out as well, I think and running or cycling in traffic is less fascinating. Hill work is fun, I think, and it seems efficient. I did a fabulous mountain bike climb from Riva del Garda up the the Tremalzo road to the Paso de Notta this summer, and it is an experience that should not be missed. I probably don’t sound much like a triathlete at all, do I?
We also did notice that you are a part of a research project during the race! Please tell us a little bit about this project!
It is a small project, still, run by a master’s student, but we have also secured funding to be able to employ a PhD student now. We are trying to figure out ways of using mobile technology to support the team work of Norseman, not necessarily because technology would enhance the experience, but because it is such a demanding case. The technology has to be lightweight, modest battery needs and be able to function outside the cellular network. It needs to combine positioning, with an efficient command set, so that the participants can easily use it while driving, cycling and running. I hope that my student will be able to get a prototype ready for me to trial in this race, with some simple functionality to plan the aid stops, and then we’ll build more on top of that in the future. Interactive navigation is a key concept. People don’t usually get lost in Austbygd, I suppose, but perhaps in the Sahara?