Have you ever dreamed of giving up the hectic life in the city? And moving to the countryside to slow down and get more time for hobbies like running and gardening? This is exactly what Sophia and Michael did two years ago and they couldn't be more happy with the decision. In this interview, you will learn why they decided to move to the countryside and what is Michael's favorite ice cream flavor and so much more. Stay tuned also for the next parts of the interview.
Who are Sophia & Mike?
We are a married Swedish-American couple, 32 and 34 years old respectively, who decided to give up the big city life in New York City and move to the Swedish countryside. It’s been 2 years since we packed up our bags and relocated, and we couldn’t be happier - turns out we love living far away from it all, with nature right around the corner and with quietness aplenty :) Here, we have created a quite large vegetable garden and also taken it upon ourselves to pursue trail running for real. We keep costs low and can thereby maximize the fun department - which really just means doing various things outside for us. And having time to ponder what to cook for dinner. Stress takes away so much joy in our world, and the life we live now minimizes rushing from one place to another, meeting deadlines and not getting nearly enough sleep. We’re much happier people now, surrounded by tall trees and endless fresh air.
Mike is originally a mechanical engineer who used to work for a big engineering consultancy back in the big apple, and Sophia sits on the quite odd combo of having a BA in English literature and being a trained sports massage therapist. Throw in studies in nutritional science and you quickly understand who has had the clearest academic path of the two of us! Now though, we work together from home, doing various forms of consulting work (at a very relaxed pace) and trying to grow our own platform. Most of our time, however, is spent outside. Whether in running shoes or yard work attire, outside is where we like life the best. During the winter, skiing is our biggest passion and we daydream of having a little ski hut up in the mountains one day.
Many people call us crazy and can’t possibly understand how we could choose to live on an island without a proper grocery store and with only a few hundred year-round residents. To us though, this is where it’s at. We love the solitude, the peacefulness, the feeling of having all this prettiness to ourselves. The joy lies in having time to live. To do the things you actually love. It seems made up or something that just sounds good to say, but life feels meaningful to us now. It’s not just a race, not just about getting things done as fast as possible. It’s about everything in between, too. About making that chocolate chip mint ice cream that Mike loves more than anything, about savoring that müsli breakfast bowl I could die for. About seeing the tomatoes turn color and actually feeling a massive jolt of happiness thanks to it. Us humans search for grander, bigger and better all the time, at the expense of this planet in many cases. It seems to us that it’s all in the small things. Letting our lawn turn into a flower field instead of mowing it this year is an excellent example. We got all jittery inside, from seeing all the bees and butterflies come make it their home. And that’s not just because it sounds great to say it.
How did Live Slow Run Far blog and Instagram get started?
Well, the more things we started doing, the more our friends and family kept telling us that we should share some of it through social media. First, we “only” had the move itself as a fun little story, but we quickly added vegetable growing, house renovations, ultrarunning, downshifting and all sorts of other endeavors to our lives. It was primarily Mike’s mom, Debbie, who encouraged us to open up a little and invite others to see some of our daily ongoings. We’ve never been into social media, really, and our personal Instagram accounts typically see one post a year or something like that. We figured that maybe if we do it together, it’ll feel easier - so we gave it a try. It was really just meant for those around us to be able to follow along, but we quickly picked up followers and all of a sudden, it turned into a wonderful creative outlet for us both. Mike is a great photographer and quickly became the one responsible for the pictures, and as the writer of the family, the captions turned into mine. The division of tasks has stayed the same, and we love it. It’s been so great, learning how many likeminded people there are out there.
Our blog was a product of the Instagram account. It seemed fitting to have a platform where we could share more of what we do, beyond the limitations of Instagram’s character count. We decided to publish a few blog posts telling everyone about who we were and our “journey” to this red little house on the island of Yxlan, and those became very popular. Soon after the website was up, we started posting recipes - and the rest is history. We would love for our platform to grow, but we want it to happen organically.
When did you start running and do you have some goals for your running?
I, Sophia, have been running since almost forever and Mike joined in about 5 years ago. Together, we’ve definitely kicked it up a notch, and nowadays we live with running as our closest companion. We’re very even in our physical fitness, which of course benefits us both in our training - we can run all of our sessions together and push each other equally. With regards to where we see it going, we tend to go back and forth a little bit. Let’s say we could choose to go professional and turn it into a career, then would we want that? Probably not. First off, we wouldn’t want to do all the traveling. We love being home way too much! And secondly, the stress and pressure of having to perform and deliver results wouldn’t suit us.
We (mostly I, Sophia) struggle with race nerves a lot, which would make a life full of competition an emotionally challenging such. We wouldn’t want our running - which we love endlessly - to lose its magic because of that. We’re slowly finding our balance between wanting to push ourselves to our maximum and “do well” and just enjoying the ride, and we’re sure this balance will look differently depending on our current life situation.
For now, we’re very excited about pushing our boundaries, adding more training for each season and seeing improvements along the way - but the focus is just as much on the joy of lacing up our shoes and going for a run someplace pretty as it is on doing well at races. The most concrete goal that we have for now is probably that eventually, we want to run a 100-miler. Not yet, but sometime. The longer and more beautiful the course, the more excited we get.
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