Growing up in Sweden I had a pretty clear picture of what I associated with UK as a country. In fact, during our English lessons we were taught not only the language, but also a little bit about the culture and the general lifestyle. So before I moved to Manchester I had a few expectations of what I was going to experience.
First of all, rain! I would consider it a well known fact how much it rains over here. That was probably one of the most common comments I got when I told friends and family that I was going to move here. ”Don’t forget to pack your rain jacket and umbrella”.
The second thing I thought about was tea. Earl grey, English breakfast, green tea, red tea, tea in every colour and taste and of course most likely eaten together with biscuits or scones.
From watching British TV-shows I had a pretty clear picture of what I thought the landscape would look like. Green hills and small villages with brick houses. Another thing the British TV-shows taught me was the British humour.
I’ve now been part of the team and lived here for a little over a month. From what I’ve experienced so far, I think it’s safe to say that my English teacher and old English books did have some very vaild points! I arrived here at the beginning of September, so technically still the summer (sort of!), however, during my first two weeks here, we definitely didn’t have summer weather! It poured down every day and I think the whole team was worried that I might pack my bags and leave if it kept on like that! They assured me that they do get better weather and that it was unusual to have such cold and wet weather in September. But after two and a half  weeks without seeing the sun once I started to think that they were all lying……! Since we mainly run on trails in the countryside we usually come back to the house covered in mud. The washing machine is constantly working and I’ve come to realise the importance of using more than one pair of shoes at the same time just to be able to dry the shoes in between runs!
The rain could have also contributed to the increased intake of my new favorite drink, tea! Being from Sweden, a coffee-loving country, I would never have thought that I would drink more tea than coffee, but it seems I have been converted to a big tea drinker (along with the odd cup of coffee of course!).  This weekend a major crisis occurred in the house when we realized that the kettle, (which is pretty much in constant use) suddenly stopped working. There was a moment of panic but fortunately we found a spare one and the kettle crisis was resolved!
Our house is located in the countryside about 20 minute by train from Manchester city centre. The landscape we train in is surrounded by hills, fields, rivers and canals. It is absolutely gorgeous to look at but not always as pretty to run in. I didn’t think I would survive here after the first week of hilly runs! Beforehand, I had heard the expression of  “hills pay the bills” but had never really put any further thought into what it meant. However, after being here for just 4 weeks I definitely understand what it means! Hills make you strong! Both physically and mentally. My teammates have all proven to be beasts and it is so inspiring to train with them.
In terms of training, even though I’ve only been coached by Steve for 5 weeks, I would say that there are some significant differences from my training before. I am now in a period of base training, so most of my workouts are more strength based as opposed to speed based 800m sessions. Even though workouts at this time of year are a bit longer and slower,  Steve does try to keep an element of 800m speed into training just so that it’s not too much of a shock when I start doing speed sessions again! A new element of training for me is hills sprints. They have become one of my favourite workouts! Since I am usually getting my butt kicked by the rest of the team on the longer workouts and runs, I have to admit that it is nice to do something a little bit quicker and hopefully be able to help them for once. Regular weight sessions is something else that has been added to my training since joining the team. Before coming over to Manchester I had barely even touched any heavy weights, so my first time in the gym was definitely a challenge, especially the walk downstairs for my coffee the morning after….!
anna 4
My teammates have also proved that the British humour is a very important thing in their culture and in the team. There has not been a day here when I haven’t laughed, and thanks to that it’s been very easy to become part of the team. Humour is a big part of the team and they really love what they’re doing. It makes me proud to be an athlete and to be part of Team New Balance Manchester.
Despite having a sore body, it has been a lot of fun getting stuck into training and I am excited to see what this will do for my running as I’m already feeling stronger and more confident! I know this autumn is going be tough and challenging, but I am so excited to do the work and become a better runner than ever before!
//Anna