Tips & Tricks from the Top: Jasmina Glad-Schreven & Thomas Schreven
Ages: 39 and 44
Team name: Say No To Doping
Why the name? “We have to stop doping in swimrunning at an early stage for our sport not to lose its integrity.”
Home base: Finland
What they have to say: swimrunning.com
Swimrun slang: “Super compensators”™ … our tailormade shin floatation devices
SLM: You trained together for the Ironman World Championship in 2011. How is training together different from training as a team?
Jasmina: For Hawaii 2011, we lived in Rio de Janeiro so training together was for safety reasons, but I don’t think there’s a difference for us, we are a team no matter what we do.
During sessions, Thomas is always nagging that I should run/swim faster and I keep yelling, “Stop pushing me or I’ll go home!” We always fight during training so there’s no need to argue at home, it’s all left on the course.
Thomas: Funny enough, since we met we’ve always trained together, so the transition to racing together felt like a natural step to me. We continuously share responsibilities in our daily lives so we already act like a team. Swimrun training is merely an extension of that.
SLM: Is there an advantage as a Mixed Team couple over two friends or equally fit partners?
Jasmina: Hard to say as we’ve never raced with anybody else. For us, this is so much more than just racing. Getting on the podium is the icing on the cake because the real thing is the journey to the race and through it. It’s not enough to have a Mixed Team consisting of one very good swimmer and one very good runner. The challenge is to even out the physical differences between two trained individuals of opposite genders and to make two people with often very different logical thinking capacities work together smoothly and effortlessly.
Now, if you add a relationship into this, it’s a make or break scenario. On a good day, we don’t say anything for hours during the race as we don’t need words to understand each other and it doesn’t cost us any energy to be together. It’s also cheap marriage counselling!
Thomas: For us, training together has become a fully integrated part of our lives and the people we are close with. I think it would be difficult to reach that kind of in-depth level of understanding with a person you don’t live with 24/7.
SLM: Jasmina, you broke your foot in August 2015 and then gave birth to your second child in June 2016. Three months later, you and Thomas won the Solvalla Swimrun in Finland, not just for the Mixed Team category but overall, and then, in October, you finished second overall in the ÖTILLÖ 1000 Lakes. How did you maintain your level of fitness?
Jasmina: Pregnancy is not a disease and it should not be treated as such, and a broken foot is just a foot but you still have the rest your body to work with. I broke five bones and fractured two in my foot just two weeks after our win in Engadin. I spent a day in the hospital, took one painkiller, no sick leave and went back to training two days after the accident.
I wore a full-leg silicon cover over the cast and did open water swimming in the sea while Thomas followed on a small boat carrying my crutches. I did lots of gym and as soon as I got the cast off, I started biking on a home trainer. The challenging part was to start running six months after the accident when I was three months pregnant. Not optimal but I knew that if I just kept ploughing through, I would come back faster after the pregnancy.
Pregnancy is not a disease and it should not be treated as such, and a broken foot is just a foot but you still have the rest your body to work with
For me both pregnancies were business as usual with a few extra kilos around the belly. Nothing would stop me from doing what I’ve been doing my all life. I ran, did uphills, swam in the pool and in the lake, and did gym workouts until was time to leave for the hospital. Of course, the volume was lower (a max of 7 km running and 1500 km swimming at the very end) and the pace slower, but I still managed to pass some people on the runs, which kept me mentally positive and confident about the return.
I never use a heart rate monitor or even a watch when I train and I didn’t use any of them during pregnancy.
If you know your body and your pace, you don’t need them.
SLM: Thomas was it difficult training solo over the last year?
Thomas: The fact that Jasmina was pregnant and that we were going to have a child gave me so much energy that training alone was hardly a sacrifice. Having said that, Jasmina swam with me all the way until the end and only in the last three months did she have to slow down on the running, so I’d normally run with her and then continue adding my own kilometres. She was still kicking my ass in the pool until the last month or so.
SLM: How did you guys mentally push through the cold conditions of ÖTILLÖ 1000 Lakes, when some 30 percent of the participants dropped out?
Jasmina: We’d had three months of training after my daughter Viivi was born in June so we knew that physically I was in no way anywhere near being ready, but our willpower was so strong and we just ran and swam. We didn’t talk, we didn’t think, we didn’t look back. We had to keep going cause if you stopped, you wouldn’t get back in the race again. We knew this.
There was a point during the last hour of the race where I was so cold that I didn’t want to get in the water anymore. My body just told me to stop but as I was attached to Thomas and he jumped into the lake, I had no other option than to follow. I was singing in my head during the swims to take my mind off my cramping body.
We had done some “attitude training” as we call the workouts where it’s not about quality but just getting through the session in bad conditions, but it was pure willpower and Finnish sisu. It was not pretty but luckily you don’t get points for the style.
Thomas: I think we were well-prepared mentally and physically. We swam in 9-10° C water a week before in Finland so we knew what to expect. We made sure that our head, chest and hands, in particular, were warm by adding some additional layers of neoprene. One of our strong points is mental strength and race tactics. We may not be the fastest but we have a lot of race experience … good and bad, I should add.
SLM: What would you say is the more important part of your training?
Jasmina: Do something everyday. With our hectic schedule including two small kids, more than a full-time job, travel, the house, we do what we can and as much as we can. The training plan is “living” and changes as we go along but we cannot afford to do any “waste-of-time” sessions. Whatever it is, it has to be squeezed into our daily mess and has to be efficient.
The sport can be intimidating at first but once you have done a race, chances are you will be hooked.
Thomas: For me, it’s the journey together to get to each race as fit as possible. We share the same training philosophy in the sense that we train by feeling. We simply enjoy being out there, running on the forest trails and swimming in front of our house in the lakes. At the same time, we are both competitive so when we train it’s fun and quality stuff. There is always a reason why we do things at a certain time and place.
SLM: What would be a To-Do and Not To-Do for anyone considering a swimrun?
Jasmina: Be focused and careful when entering the water or you may end up with a broken foot! Remember that swimrunning is not just teaming up a swimmer and a runner. Also, get your transitions worked out!
Thomas: If you have never done a swimrun I would recommend starting with a sprint distance event preferably with somebody you know well. The sport can be intimidating at first but once you have done a race, chances are you will be hooked. Not just because it’s fun but the swimrun community is small and genuine. I can proudly say that I’ve met so many inspiring and interesting people, some of whom have grown into great friends. That’s worth a lot to me.
Don’t consider doing a swimrun if you cannot handle unpredictable conditions. Trust me, it’s not a triathlon without the bike … it’s all about challenging yourself and your partner to move through nature’s elements and make it to the finish line. It’s tough, it’s fun and it’s super rewarding!
Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue # 1 (Feb/Mar 2017)