Runner of the Month – Morten Lidegaard
A lot of runners have their must-have gear – their favourite pair of running shoes, their FitBit, maybe a visibility vest for safety, or even their essential energy supplements. But for Morten Lidegaard, there’s one thing he really just can’t live without.
“I normally bring my camera on my runs – if I decide not to bring it, I usually regret it within the first 5 minutes,” he laughs.
Stunning Ottawa vistas. Sunsets. The canal captured at the perfect moment, immortalized in an almost other-wordly stillness. When you browse through the photographs that catalogue Morten’s scenic treks around the National Capital Region you might believe he’s a professional photographer…but he’ll just smile and tell you he’s “not a pro”.
Combining his love of photography with his love of running has not only been a personally fulfilling endeavour. As a Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend Team Awesome ambassador, Nuun Hydration Ambassador and Run Ottawa member, seeing a run through Morten’s eyes has inspired others who follow him online to get out there and explore new running routes, too.
“I guess it’s all part of my master plan to motivate people by sharing what the city and its nearby surroundings have to offer,” he explains.
Physical sports have always been at the core of Morten’s preferred leisure activities, starting at a young age when rollerblading, BMXing, skateboarding and cycling were his focus.
“Then, in my early twenties, I started running, and relatively quickly I was dreaming of doing longer distances like a half-marathon, or even a marathon one day,” he says.” “It wasn’t until I moved to Oxford, UK, that I found the courage to sign up for a half-marathon in 2013 (which he completed in 1:36:19!), followed by my first marathon in 2014 (coming in at 3:50:31).”
He ran his first ultra in 2016, a 55K, followed by a 100K later that year. “I was super lucky to get a place at the London Marathon in 2017 as a part of a Reebok product launch. Last year I ran the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon and a 6-hour-loop race, which I won-tied with another runner.”
Despite his intense commitment to distance running, Morten has been fortunate never to have sustained any serious injuries. His advice is fairly straight-forward: Listen to your body, and take rest days.
“Will a run today actually contribute to my overall fitness or am I better off with a day’s rest? I guess having been injury-free this far, I hope I am doing something right,” he says.
Morten concedes that when you love running as much as he does, it’s really easy to tell yourself to go for a run, even though it might not be the best for your body. “You simply have to convince yourself that recovery and rest are a natural part of the game. It’s okay to take a day off and have a beer instead. Even if you’re aiming for a World Record time, rest and recovery is still a necessity! I’d rather voluntarily rest one day once in a while than to risk being injured and forced to recover for multiple weeks.”
So what feeds Morten’s love and dedication to running? “What I like about running is that it’s so simple. Obviously, this is all relative, and with increasing distances, and it can get fairly complex with regards to hydration and nutrition.” That’s where his role as a Nuun Hydration Ambassador comes in. Not only did becoming a Nuun Ambassador teach him the best way to hydrate his own runs, but it also gave him a wealth of knowledge to share with other runners who may be unsure of the right way to fuel their own bodies and goals. Nuun products are now amongst his must-have running tools.
“Obviously, I sweat when I run just like everyone else. When we sweat we lose vital minerals and electrolytes that our body needs for optimal performance and recovery. Over time we need to replace what we have lost and Nuun products come in handy for me especially since they are in tablets.”
Morten keeps a bottle for electrolytes and a big “bladder” in his running rucksack for clean water. In the bottle he adds one Nuun tablet for each 10K he’s running (so 30K would be three tablets) and then he alternates between sipping both clean water and the electrolytes during his run.
Some new runners may be wondering why he wouldn’t just ingest electrolytes in all of his liquids. “I like to have clean water to be able to wash the salts off my face on long runs on those hot summer days, doing that with electrolytes is just less than fun…” he explains. “Plus, for me it’s nice to be able to switch to clean water to drink, too. Having both helps me stay hydrated.”
His favourite Nuun flavour? Lemon + Lime, because it’s fresh, and not too sweet.
So what if you want to run and capture some magical moments on camera like Morten does? First of all, he loves to run along the Ottawa River both upstream and downstream.
“Downstream is mostly limited to summer/fall, because ice forms on the path and it becomes difficult to run there. Upstream is where I venture for most of the winter,” he says. “However, my favourite route is probably an unofficial trail I created last year in Gatineau Park, patched together from official tracks and trails, which I named #DragonTrail – a 21.2K loop from Asticou Center parking lot with approximately 500m elevation gain.”
It can be difficult to follow #DragonTrail, as there is no official route signage, so you will need to be comfortable and experienced relying on a GPS watch. It takes you around Pink Lake and offers a special view for runners up to the challenge.
And to get those amazing, envy-worthy shots? Morten has some tips on that, too.
“Bring a camera! I’m actually using a “real” camera and not a phone. It’s an Olympus Stylus Tough TG-2: a compact waterproof camera that is made to be used in rough conditions,” he says, acknowledging that many runners are usually opposed to bringing non-essential gear on their run.
“Actually stop to take each photo,” he advises, with a hint of hesitation. “Yes, stopping to take a photo does mean breaking whatever running rhythm you had going, and will affect your overall pace stats for your whole run if you don’t stop your watch,” he explains, “But, I can’t be bothered to stop my watch, because I’d forget to start it again, and the photo is totally worth it.”
Still need more convincing? “I guess you simply have to open your eyes, enjoy your surroundings and be creative,” he says. Sounds like great advice to us!