1 year in Switzerland…What an adventure!

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One year ago on exactly this day, we got the key to our new home and so began our Swiss adventure.

Leaving Denmark behind was hard, but it has been a journey with so many fantastic experiences and learnings all summing up to a year we will never forget!! We are not flying around on pink clouds every day, but close to, and that underlines that we made a right choice. You can read about why we moved here.

New job-New School-New Languages-New Home-New Triathlon Club-New Friends-New (fantastic!!) Running Trails-Founding 5 Ways West-70 Days of Visits from back home-Exploring Switzerland-Travels to Italy, France, Spain, Denmark-Many days of Hiking, Skiing and Climbing…Living in the middle of Europe is an adventure.

Pictures say more than words, so here is a gallery of what our first year has been all about….

December: Turning an empty loft in to a home….Christmas, New Years and our first visitors from Denmark.

 

In January, real life began – and so did our Skiing season. For a Dane it’s simply fantastic to have so easy access to the mountains….

Winter turned in to Spring….. and almost every weekend was used to explore Switzerland or a neighboring country….You can read a little more about that here

The summer came later than we had expected …. but we kick-started it with a weekend at Ibiza celebrating our dear friends magical wedding, had several visits from friends and family, traveled to our favorit place in Denmark (Skagen) and France (Duniere-sur-Eyrieux), enjoyed the summer-liveliness of our own town (Solothurn – where one of us got a new haircut:-)) and rounded everything off by participating in our first up-hill mountain race. You can read about that here:

After a September with Indian Summer, Fall came….. and together with this, the most beautiful change of scenery on our hiking trips. You can see it here. Before we knew it, a year had passed and winter came back:

New adventures are waiting around the corner. First Christmas and New Year here in Switzerland, then a long weekend in Sainte-Foy-Tarenstaise (France) in January and La Santa (Lanzarote, Spain) in February.

Anna og Elli_We travel because

Thank you so much for following our adventure.

Lots of love

#5wayswest

 

From the flat landscape of Denmark to the most beautiful Swiss nature… The contrast of our lives….

 

 

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Oeschinensee – The breathtaking view you are rewarded with when you climb the mountain…

Last week our family was scattered over three locations as most of us went back to Denmark for a visit. It was so nice to see family and  friends, so nice to bike around in “our” Copenhagen, but at the same time so funny to realise how much you miss the mountains, when you are not surrounded by them. So… naturally our weekend should be spend in them….. The luxery you have when you live in Switzerland:-)

Early yesterday morning we drove to Oeshinensee, which is about 1 h from where we live. We went to the lake for the first time back in early July…. So we looked very much forward to see the scenery with all the Autumn colors. Even the drive going there, is breathtaking.

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Oeschinensee is a lake in the Bernese Oberland, Switzerland, 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) east of Kandersteg in the Oeschinen valley. At an elevation of 1,578 metres (5,177 ft), it has a surface area of 1.1147 square kilometres (0.4304 sq mi). Its maximum depth is 56 metres (184 ft). Since 2007 the lake is part of the JungfrauAletschBietschhorn UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The lake is popular…. Which is not hard to understand. It is easy to access via the cable car, but if you, like us, like to hike (and avoid the crowds!! of tourists) there is the most beautiful trail from valley to the top. We sat off at 10:00 AM in minus -1 C, with clear blue sky….

The climb takes you through the most fantastic nature….

…..and after 2h, 5 km and an elevation of 500m we reached the lake… in perfect time to make a fire and lunch. We were completely alone on the trail up and down…and if you turn left upon arrival to the lake (away from the two restaurants) it is almost as if you were alone on the planet………..

 

Besides offering perfect hiking trails, the lake also has a Mountain Coaster placed with a view over a crazy scenery of mountain peaks. So much fun for the kids… and Jim:-)….and for the one who was looking after the bags while the others were playing:-)

We are totally in love with the Kandersteg area and at some point we have to spend more days here…. There are so many great trails to try – both for hiking and running and Oeschinensee also offers a smaller skiing area during wintertime….Looks great for a one-day trip…So we are absolutely coming back……

A perfcet day wellspent including 12 km of hiking up and down….

Summer (Check!) – Autumn (Check!) – Winter (to come….)….

Check out Oeschinensee’s website for more info: http://www.oeschinensee.ch/english/

 

 

Why in the World would you run 14.1 km uphill on a hot summer day?!

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When we moved to Switzerland from Denmark 8 months ago we decided that a part of our new life and adventure should include “mountain running”.

We live in the middle of the beautiful city of Solothurn and every day we look at the Jura mountains. As regular long distance runners and lovers of the outdoors, we have wanted to have a go at trail running and mountain ultras for some time…..and now have the perfect conditions in our “back yard” to actually do it. Just take a look at this scenery… The picture was taken on an early morning run.

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A few month back one of us received a ticket for the “Weissensteinlauf”: 14.1 km with an elevation gain of approximately 1000 m.

Not everyday running for a Dane!! Long distance is fine, but we come from a country were the highest point is 170 m a.s.l.  – so just thinking about running up a mountain is a challenge:-). The Weissensteinlauf has been held for 26 years and the event is a beautiful mountain race that leads you through the mysterious scenery in the St. Verena ravine over the vista point at the top of the race, the “Röti”, to the finishing line at the Hotel Weissenstein. Climbing the Röti was tough, but the view was absolutely worth almost throwing up your lungs.

As one of us was participating, why not make it a family event?! Sounds so straight forward, but with our family structure it requires a bit planning in advance. So…. The World’s best Gradma flew in from Denmark to cheer and look after our youngest children. Theo, who is our oldest age 12, had expressed that he also wanted to run, but we were, honestly, a bit unsure if it would be too big of a challenge for him. On the other hand, it would be an experience for life to do it together and not the least a learning session in mountain running. Theo is a good runner and recently started to practice triathlon….but we really believe that sport and the desire to compete has to come from your children, not from the parents(!). He was very insisting and motivated and we decided to try…underlying that it was more than ok to step out of the race at any time.

Yesterday we stood at the start line with the youngest participant in the race:-).

Theo på startlinjen

We had agreed that we would run all the way together, but our little man had so much energy in his legs, so after 7 km we decided that he was the boss. Leaving his slightly slower mom behind, he climbed the rest of mountain with his dad.

Theo og far på vej op

He truly has the willpower of an ox… and the biggest heart, so even after he crossed the finish line, he had the energy to run back to meet his mom so that we, as initially planned, could finish as a team.

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We did it!!! Ran our first real uphill mountain race….. We did it because it challenged us, because it was different from what we have tried before…. and it was such a great experience! We got epic views, outstanding scenery, mountainous terrain over a soft surface, and the great reward of completing a major challenge together…. This is why you run uphill on a varm summer Sunday:-)

If you want to learn more about the race, go visit the official website: http://www.weissensteinlauf.ch/

 

 

 

What can the World’s most Intelligent Virtual Running Coach do for you?

Emagine having your personal running coach with you on every run – no matter where you are in the World? A coach that follows every step you take, and along the way makes you both run faster, more efficiently and with a reduced risk of injuries?!

Sounds like a system that fits our lifestyle! We have tested SHFT.

Fakta om SHFT

The Virtual Running Coach is the first product in the World of its kind developed by leading Professors, Doctors, PhD’s, Professional Running Coaches, Elite Runners, Sports Scientists, Mathematicians, Data Scientists, and Developers to ensure the best approach to improve your running technique…… This is not just any kind of product. It’s a product based on years of research…. and validity is in our world a prerequisite to make a wearable interesting.

SHFT will not only inform you of basic running data like distance, pace, time, etc. (like regular apps and running watches) but will give you never before seen running data, like your impact, movement, efficiency and will coach you in real time while running, how to use these data, to improve yourself as a runner.

Especially the Watt measurement is one of the elements that helps to separate the SHFT from other existing products in the market. The team behind SHFT have deliberately chosen not to measure and monitor the runners’ heart rate. Pulse measurement is replaced by Watt measurement, which is supposed to be much more accurate and useful for runners who want to run more efficiently. In the cycling sport Watt has long been the cyclists most used metric as it very accurately puts numbers on their training efficiency

Take your running to the next level and run faster, stronger and longer….

How SHFT works

The SHFT Virtual Running Coach is a brand new way to learn more about your run…. and it sounds so easy! Until now SHFT has mainly been branded through their SHFT Ambassadors (semi pro or pro runners)….We are not professionals (at all) but see running as an “add on” to our active lifestyle and believed that we, every day runners, could benefit a lot from the insight that the SHFT provides. Who doesn’t want to learn to run faster while using less energy and hereby prevent injuries?!

But we were, due to more reasons, a little skeptical when we initially started our testing:

  • Practical perspective: Neither of us ever run with headphones (we like to listen to the nature:-)) or bring our phone
  • Ego perspective: Running is for us a “free space”. We run because running brings joy and energy, but what happens when you suddenly change this space into a learning session? Instead of clearing your head, you now need to relate to a lot of data – will this effect the free space negatively?!

So…the SHFT was up for a challenge!

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Testing…. while travelling!

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The pod that is strapped into a chest strap, simultaneously with the pod on the right foot, measures how much you brake your run, how much you bounce your bodyangle and how much you lean forward, and not least, measures how many watts you use during your run.

We deliberately chose to initiate our test midst of a travel period as travelling plays a big role in our life and found that it was important to record how SHFT fitted this lifestyle. Further, it allowed us to try SHFT in different environments: hot, cold, rainy, hilly, mountains, flat etc.

It is very easy to get started. Big plus! And the interface of the app works brilliantly. It is easy to access data and you quickly get a feeling about what and how you need to improve and proceed.

The first time you use SHFT, the coach will do a test as “she” subsequently uses to determine where you need help to improve. This test is then repeated after 10 training sessions. Each session lasts for 3 x 6 minuts. At the end of each session you get a very constructive report. Here is an example:

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From a run in the Jura Mountains in Switzerland (hilly)

 

Further there is a cool detail that is worth highlighting about SHFT:

  • Graphic animation of your foot (steps): After each run you can see a graphic 3D animation of where you land on your foot, how you set off and further get exercises on how you for instance can reduce ground contact time. 

What did we learn?!

We learned a lot…for instance:

  • How to hold a constant pace, increase our numbers of steps per minute  and hereby lower ground contact time and reduce the peak mechanical stress on our body – and so reduce the risk for developing impact related overuse injuries.
  • Found a joy in having the same coach with us, no matter where we travelled. A coach who was there for you, motivated etc. despite being virtuel. A funny addition was also, that the presence of the coach made me (Anna) feel safe, no matter where I ran…. Normally I am not so fond of running alone in new places!
  • That SHFT makes a strong mark by not just giving us objective numbers, but also to give us a subjective assessment of how good our running style is (called SHFT-score). It makes SHFT very easy and really fun to work with.
  • That it’s important to leave your SHFT at home for some of your runs…. Like a baby that learns to walk… It’s good to get a helping hand, but also important to let go, so you learn to integrate the new techniques in your system.

Honestly, we still do not like to run with our phones, but it is fully compensated by the very usable instructions you get from the coach…. and probably a hassle that will be erased with time and development.

SHFT has a lot of interesting perspectives…..and is definitely not just a tool for the professional runner. Emagine if SHFT could be used to help people recover after surgery?!

SHFT allows you and me to have access to our own private running coach on a daily basis. That being said, we absolutely believe that it is very important to maintain the social perspective that running also can provide! So SHFT is not going to kill running clubs or destroy business for personal coaches, but add value as these are not always available to you.

We will continue our journey with SHFT – we have a mountain run coming up in August – and plan to let our oldest son (age 12), who is also a runner, be the next ginny pig…. everyone should learn to run right and in all fairness it would be much easier if we got it right from the start – so why not try it on children?!

Note: This blog post is not sponsored!

 

 

Why move to Switzerland when you already live among the happiest people in the World?

The question is totally fair and has been posed to us in various ways since we startet the journey with our blog 5 Ways West only a few weeks back. We are truly grateful for those of you who are following along and your curiosity is humbly appreciated….. Thank you so much for the questions.

We had a good life in Denmark…. a very good life indeed!

Villa Anna…. Our home in Denmark is an old lady from the 1920’s. We bought a wreck and restored it carefully… “She” is something special. 

A house by the sea near Copenhagen, two very good jobs, friends and family relatively close by…. and now you would expect a “but”…. Fact is, there is not but! Fact is that we could have stayed…. Fact is also, that our life had one very significant challenge that our new life in Switzerland has allowed us to battle: Lack of time! Time to be impulsive, to go more on adventure, time to do nothing…… time to just be and be together! Time to do what we want… not what everyone wants us to do.

We managed so many things in our Danish lives… and like a hamster running in a wheel, you just keep on running once you are in there… if not… you fall! And before that became a reality…. we decided to dig deep and find out where we, being a family of 5 with a great variety of ages, interest etc., could lead a life that was more in sync with our values and the dreams that we have in our current life fase. We always kept coming back to Switzerland……

And then… Last summer during a vacation in Lucerne, the initial plan for our Swiss Adventure was grounded. Being the active family we are, Switzerland has always attracted us….and in the middle of our “existential search” Jim was offered a very interesting job that has allowed us to turn everything upside down….. We relocated in late december 2015 and in April 2016 5 Ways West was grounded.

We were very fortunate! And we are fully aware that that is what we are….

Making a choice like we have done, is not something you just do…. and it is especially not something you just do when 3 children are a part of the equation…. (and here comes the “but”)…but we believe that this adventure will contribute to their development and add valuable learning, that will benefit them through out life. Here is their reaction, when they were told about the relocation….It is in Danish, but the look in their faces say more than words….

So why didn’t we just sell our house… quit our jobs….move in to something smaller in the outskirts of Denmark? We could have.. and we though about it many times…but our aim has always been to dream big, work hard and to expand our horizon. Not to sit in the middle of nowhere….a let life pass by…. #neverstopexploring

You can learn more about us by following our account on Instagram. Under the tag #5wayswestportrait you can see who we are.

Thank you for taking part in our adventure!!!

PS: In 2016 Denmark ranked no. 1 in The World Happiness Report.

 

 

 

Some women get flowers…other women get race numbers!

…. and then there are those who are fortunate to get both:-).

A couple of weeks back I got a very nice and very challenging present: a race number for the “Weissensteinlauf” here in Switzerland. The race literally takes place more or less in front of our door by the end of August 2016.

It’s a beautiful mountain race that leads you through the mysterious scenery in the St. Verena ravine over the vista point at the top of the race, the “Röti”, to the finishing line at the Hotel Weissenstein. Sounds nice, right?

But then you looked at the course route…. and realized that it is not just a “walk in the park”. Maybe if you are Swiss with mountain blood in your veins… I am Danish… from a land flat as a pancake.

But that is no excuse! So challenge taken… and yesterday my very own supporters agreed to go on a hike with me, to check out the route.

We had the most fantastic trip! But let me put it this way: I will need a liiiiittle time to prepare, I am truly humble and quit satisfied with the fact, that August is not to morrow:-)

Feel free to come and join us… Switzerland is fantastic, there are plenty of spaces left in the race and the city of Solothurn is so beautiful:-)