2022 Running season recap and lessons

At the beginning of the year I was thinking about a season that included a range of events with some new races, some familiar old races, and also something completely new in swimrun races. I believe that the most important thing for an athlete to enjoy and to be successful at both their training and races is to choose races that motivate and excite them. Following this principle helped guide me towards an interesting and diverse set of races.

I've also learned some lessons over previous seasons that I know are important to keep in mind if I want to be successful. I like to know the race route well so I can plan and visualize it leading into the race. I like to reduce the stress of travel and staying somewhere new by giving myself time at the race destination prior to the race and choosing races close to home. And I like to have a balance between big goal races and smaller shorter races where I can test myself without much pressure.

After going through the process above, I set up a calendar of events that I felt motivated to train for and that I was looking forward to racing.

Short trail races

In the past I've had success in multi-stage races and ultra-marathons and I've thought of myself primarily as a long-distance racer. However, in the last few years I've had a lot of fun and I've become better at racing shorter events. I love the intensity and the sense of racing fast the whole way. It's convenient to start in the morning and finish by lunch, and it's much easier to recover and do more races in the season.

This year I did five shorter races. One of my goals for the year was to run a strong race at Pierre a Voir and I managed to do that. The other races served the purposes of starting up the season, as tests along the way, and to close down the season. Altogether I ran a well-rounded set of shorter races this year.

  • 10km of Payerne - the first road race I've done in a while and a chance to test my speed work over the winter. I was happy with a time of <35'.
  • Saillonintze - my first uphill race of the season and a shock to the system. I was not quite ready for the steepness and intensity. A reminder of work to do in the coming months.
  • Torgon Trail - after missing one of my first goal races due to illness I added this at the last minute to test my fitness. It was a good outing and good to be back racing.
  • Pierre a Voir - one of my main goals of the year. In the last three years I've progressed from 8th (2h12) to 5th (2h04) to 2nd (2h00). I'll be going back next year!
  • ChaChaCha - I wanted to test my fitness to see how I could finish the season and as I raced the 84km last year I was looking forward to going back. A good result, but I knew I was tired and that it was time to end 2022 here.
Starting the climb at the beginning of Pierre a Voir.
Almost at the finish and running along the lake in ChaChaCha 21km.

Long trail races

I had two main goals for longer races this season in Gran Trail Courmayeur and Swiss Alps 100. I had a great race at Gran Trail Courmayeur in 2019 and a terrible race at Swiss Alps 100 in 2021 so I had different reasons for going back to each of these races. I also chose the Jura Swiss Trail as an ultra-marathon early in the year to help prepare me for those two goals and to put into practice one of my lessons from 2021.

The long races didn't go quite as well as I had hoped. Swiss Alps 100 was a great success, but I didn't start Jura Swiss Trail as I was very sick and I had issues at Gran Trail Courmayeur that led to a DNF. Ultra-marathon racing is tough and to perform consistently throughout a season and from season to season is something I need to keep working at.

  • Jura Swiss Trail 55km - DNS due to sickness.
  • Gran Trail Courmayeur - DNF due to stomach issues.
  • Swiss Alps 100km - I changed from the 100mi to the 100km after my DNF at GTC and this was the right decision. I had a good race and nailed my race plan for the first three quarters of the race, then struggled and fought through the last part of the race. A great experience and a podium finish I'm proud of.
Running along the Aletsch Glacier in Swiss Alps 100.

Swimrun races

In the winter of 2021 I started to swim as cross training. I loved it and quickly thought about events that I could do that would include swimming. Swimrun was the obvious answer as it combined trail running and swimming, the events were completely new for me, and they took place in different locations to where I have been racing. I was particularly excited about doing something new and testing myself in a different way.

At the beginning of the year I chose to do the Gorges du Verdon Classic race as my first race and to use it to assess if I wanted to do any more races after that. In short, the race was amazing! I was immediately hooked and that led to three more races over the year including a race with Vanessa in Cannes. I'm going to be doing even more races next year including longer races, races in a team, and maybe a few other surprise events, too.

  • Gorges du Verdon Classic - my first swimrun race and it was amazing. I was a little sick (and ended up missing Jura Swiss Trail the next weekend) so I was surprised to perform so well. I had a lot of fun and this set the rest of the swimrun season in motion.
  • île de Vassivière Classic - a fast course on a gloomy day. I raced consistently and made some improvements from Gorges du Verdon. I was still on a steep learning curve.
  • Lacs de Laffrey Sprint - a last-minute decision to complete the SwimRunMan series and I decided to change to the shorter distance as this was one week after Swiss Alps 100km. I had a super time and was extremely happy to win.
  • ÖTILLÖ Cannes Experience - Vanessa and I did the experience race together for her first swimrun race and my first race in a team. We had such a fun time and loved the whole experience. Both of us will be doing more races in the future.
Early in the SwimRunMan race at Lac de Vassiviere.
Working on my technique in Lacs de Laffrey.
Finishing with Vanessa at ÖTILLÖ Cannes


Overall it was an excellent season and I was very happy with my results. As always, there are a few things to work on and improve which are already motivating me for my winter training. I also learned more about myself and will use that to set up up 2023's calendar.

Thanks to HRV4Training

This year I represented HRV4Training again. I'm grateful for all the support and encouragement Marco and Ale give me and I love being part of their team. I have been measuring my HRV every morning for years now and it's a daily routine that I never miss. I find the data and advice from the app to be a reassuring and useful tool that can help me make good decisions in my training. I will be representing HRV4Training in 2023 and I hope to be able to stand on some podiums again in my HRV4Training gear.


Annette said...

Hopefully, one day a race will bring you and Vanessa to California. I hear there’s some good mountains and blue waters near Santa Cruz ;)

Daniel Rowland said...

Thanks Annette. I think I've seen a swimrun race in that area so we'll add it to the list. I hope you and the family are well. All the best.