Ida Nilsson is making her 100-mile debut at the 2023 Western States 100. In the following interview, she talks about her time in the U.S. preparing and how her training has differed as she approaches this bigger distance.
Ida Nilsson Pre-2023 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Sarah Brady of iRunFar. I’m here before the 2023 Western States 100, and I’m with Ida Nilsson. Ida, how are you?
Ida Nilsson: I’m good, thank you.
iRunFar: Great. So yeah, you’ve been in the U.S. for a while. You’ve been here since you finished the Canyons 100k by UTMB. So, how’s your trip been?
Nilsson: I’ve been really nice. I went to Flagstaff after [the Canyons by UTMB 100k], and I’ve mostly been staying there. A short trip to the Memorial [Day] Weekend training camp. So I saw part of the course and then back to Flagstaff again. I just arrived here a few days ago.
iRunFar: Okay, great. And how was your recovery after that 100k? Did you take much downtime before you got into this training block?
Nilsson: No, not very. So I had one easier week when I ran I think 50 miles or something, and was biking some hours, but then I jumped back into training. It was, I felt a bit tired in the beginning, but it’s been going well. I think the amount of running… that I feel like no workout had gone very good. Now it feels most important that I feel healthy and I’ve been able to run quite a lot.
iRunFar: Okay, great. And yeah, it’s interesting that you have so much experience with this is your first 100 miles. So, I can see you’ve really ramped up the training volume. But is there anything like, apart from volume that you’ve been doing differently to prepare for this distance?
Nilsson: Yeah, I’ve been like, more kilometers, and it’s less verts and less training time, I think, than compared to like training in Norway. Especially in the winter where I trained a lot of hours and a lot of it on skis. And also training in Norway takes longer time because everything is so technical. And now I feel it doesn’t take that long [of a] time to get in 100 miles a week around Flagstaff, and you do. So I think it’s been perfect to get the running legs back and focus on that, instead of doing a bunch of slow, vertical meters.
iRunFar: Okay, great. And then nutrition wise, because I think I’ve heard you say before, that for your 50 mile or so races that you have mostly like liquid calories. For something like this, do you need more real food, or how is it different?
Nilsson: No, I think I will go for that. Like when I have the crew I will pick up gels and have sports drink. But then maybe if I’m tired, I will pick up some solid and chew on in the aid stations. But I’m not preparing to have any like, I’m going to eat some rice or soup or something. I think I will go for the quick and easy.
iRunFar: Okay, so similar to what you’ve been working with before.
Nilsson: Yes. I think when it’s warm. I think it would be different if I did a longer 100 miler, that went through the night, I would probably eat something. But now I know when it’s going to be warm, it’s good with just having easy calories.
iRunFar: Okay, great. And so you went to the Memorial Day weekend training camp. That looks like a lot of fun. Can you tell us what that was like? Who did you get to run with?
Nilsson: That was a lot of fun, because I think that’s quite unique for a race, that you actually get to know everyone and run with them on the course. Because sometimes maybe it’s a little bit relaxed in the beginning of longer races that you can chat with someone, but usually people are so into the race. So this was super nice that we could just enjoy the course, and enjoy the aid stations. Like I said, I never stopped at an aid station in my entire life before. And this was like, Oh, wow. Is this what people actually do? They stop for five minutes and eat something nice and then keep going. So that was really nice. And also, it was a lot of us who it was the first time running the race. And a few of the old people have been doing it, but a lot of the women qualified this year for first time. So that was nice to get to know all of them better.
iRunFar: And is there any tips in particular that you’ve had from people who’ve done this race before that you’re keeping in the back of your mind?
Nilsson: No, I think if it’s getting really warm, it’s to cool yourself down, jump in the river. Take that extra minutes to do it. And I heard that, I think that’s a nice strategy to not just get out of the canyon before doing that. And yes, I need to, I guess I need to just try out to see how it is. And I feel like I have at least been thinking of it. A little bit better now than, usually when I do warm races, I haven’t really thought about anything. But, now, I will hide my ice set again and maybe some sleeves where I can put ice as well.
iRunFar: Okay. Great. It’s good that you’ve been here, I suppose, to get properly acclimatized to conditions and prepared. So having seen a good bit of the course then, is there any part that you’re particularly excited about seeing on race day?
Nilsson: No, I think it’s a nice, varied course. Like it’s cool with those three canyons in the middle. And then it’s the last part from Foresthill is super easy and runnable. A lot of downhill, and a lot of fast running. So hopefully I will have some legs left when we get there. But also it’s a lot of downhill. I felt like when I was doing the training camp, it feels like you’re almost just running downhill the whole time.
iRunFar: And is there anything specific you’ve been doing in your training just to prepare for all that downhill?
Nilsson: I’ve just done a few workouts when I tried to run a little bit faster down a dirt road. But no, nothing major. Because I think if you overdo that they say injury risk, and I have a bit of a knee problem. So I didn’t want to do too much, but I did a few times. Hopefully, it will be good enough.
iRunFar: Yeah, I’m sure. So looking forward past this race, I know you’re hoping to do CCC again?
Nilsson: Yes, I entered that. So I hope I can recover, but this is the big goal for the year, and then I will see a little bit how I feel after. But if I don’t feel too bad, I’ll hopefully do CCC later on.
iRunFar: Okay, yeah. And they’re really different races. So obviously this one is much flatter and faster, and CCC has got loads of climbing. So which do you think would be more your strong point? Which course do you think would suit you more?
Nilsson: I think this for a 100 miler suits me, definitely better than UTMB. But then I think CCC is actually quite fast, runnable as well, compared to UTMB, who gets longer. I mean, it’s a lot the same course, but it’s so just much longer then. So I think when you have a good day… I mean of course there is climb in CCC, but it’s also actually a pretty easy, runnable, good course for me, if I’m in shape.
iRunFar: Okay, yeah, so they’re not massively different, I guess.
iRunFar: Okay. And so after the race, do you plan to hang out here for another little while or are you heading back to Europe?
Nilsson: No, then I’m finally going back. Monday evening, I fly back to Europe.
iRunFar: Okay, you got plenty out of your visit anyway.
Nilsson: Yeah, yeah. It’s always difficult when you’re preparing for a race. Because of course, it’s a lot in this area that would have been nice to see and go to, Yosemite and some other places. But you don’t have time and now I’ve already spent two months, so it’s time to get back to Norway. [laughs]
iRunFar: Okay, great. Well, the best of luck. I hope you have a fantastic race anyway. And yeah, we look forward to seeing you out there.
Nilsson: Oh, thanks.