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How to enjoy the outdoors with your partner: a chat with Emelie and Kilian

SuuntoRun — 14 February 2017

Kilian Jornet  and  Emelie Forsberg , two of the best skimo racers and trail runners in the world, have experienced a lot in the mountains together. This Valentine’s Day we turn to them to hear their thoughts and tips about enjoying the outdoors and training together with your partner. Read on.

Who would have thought: a relationship interview with Kilian? Strange things happen on Valentine’s Day! But don’t worry, both Emelie and Kilian were ready to chat about the topic without hesitation. We caught up with them in Andorra, after the first ski mountaineering world cup races of the season where they both finished on the podium. 


Emelie and Kilian, do you train a lot with each other?

Kilian: Maybe once a week we do a full training session together. The other days we often start and end at the same place and make loops.

Emelie: Yes, we often start together but he will do more. Sometimes, if I want to do intervals, I ask him to go before, so he can make the tracks. But I often catch him so the intervals often aren’t super good. If he goes with me, he goes easy.

Kilian: And if there’s a nice, more technical summit, we do it together and take a nice tour out.

How has training together changed during the five years you have been together?

K: I don’t think it has changed that much. We know each other a bit better now. We feel more comfortable if we see the other one wants to go faster or slower and we don’t always need to talk or say things.

And when we go to more technical places, we know how the other is doing and reacting. I think that is mostly what has changed.

E: Maybe now I ask you to do more intervals with me? Kilian can help me do well in the intervals.

"Kilian can help me do well in the intervals."

Are skiing and running together different?

K: Skiing is always a bit more tricky.

E: When you go running you don’t need to worry about avalanches.

K: If we go to a summit with some climbing or some steep slopes with Emelie, my brain is working much more. It is not the same feeling when I am with my friends. With her I think more. I mean, when I am with my friends, I take good care, but am less stressed.

E: Not me! I know that you will be fine!

K: It’s not that I don’t care [when being out with friends] but the pressure is not the same!

E: But you don’t need to feel that!

K: I think it is just natural.

What’s the difference in being out with your partner or your friends?

E: When I go out with Kilian he’s always very comfortable. He takes the rope and everything. But when I go out with my friends, it’s often the opposite: I’m the one who is more comfortable.

Talking about confidence, are there some activities you do together where Emelie is the one feeling more comfortable?

K: Yea, one time we were swimming in a lake and I almost died. Then she was definitely more comfortable!

E: We wanted to go to a mountain, but there was no trail, so we decided to swim.

K: And it was a big, big lake. I don’t know how long, maybe four kilometres? Emelie needed to put some of our stuff, like the phone, on her head, like a turban not to get them wet. I was just looking for some wood or something to grab!

E: And maybe when we go cross-country skiing, I am also more comfortable. But you never want to do that! You don’t want to feel uncomfortable!

K: Oh, I like to feel uncomfortable – if I am in the mountains. If I am cross-country skiing I am only looking up to the mountains, but don’t go to the summits.

E: But you go so much faster, just enjoy the speed and the surroundings!

"Just enjoy the speed and the surroundings!"

Emelie, do you carry a Clifbar with you so you can give it to Kilian when he starts to get grumpy?

E: He doesn’t like to eat when he is out! I take some food with me when I am out longer, like eight hours. And sometimes I wish that Kilian had some. I have been telling him that why can’t he have some chocolate in his backpack for me. Just in case. But it has not happened so far. So, I often take my own.

K: But some days in the mountains I take food – and water.

Is finding a schedule that works for both of you hard?

E: I think we are spending much more time with each other than many other couples since we don’t go to work from nine to five every day.  

K: There can be like a month when I go on an expedition or you go to a race in the US but… It would be hard if the other one wouldn’t do this. We don’t stay at home all that long. But we are both travelling – and doing it also together.

Are there some things you don’t do together?

K: She really wants to do base jumping, but I have told her she really shouldn’t do that.

E: No! I hate base jumping. It’s playing with your precious life.

K: (Seriously). I think we both have the confidence to say when we feel uncomfortable. She’s very good at that, I am worse. If I see the summit close but the conditions are so-so, I can be pushing more, but Emelie can still say, no, it does matter, we go down.

E: And Kilian is very good, when he needs help with the rope. (general laughter) No, it was not a joke!

K: You do yoga at home and I am really bad at that. I may do it for five minutes but then start doing something else.

E: But you should really try it.

K: I think it is really important for the body, but it is hard when I am at home.

E: Yea, but you won’t follow me to the gym either where they have a really nice yoga studio. I've even asked you because I need practice. (Ed. note: Emelie is a certified yoga teacher.) I should have given you ten yoga lessons as a Christmas present!

"I should have given you ten yoga lessons as a Christmas present!"

Any tips or learnings you wish to share with other outdoor couples?

E: I’ve heard that many couples don’t like to be out with each other because they’ll get angry. I think in that case they push themselves to where they don’t want to be. But if you really know the other one’s limits and your own limits – and are able to talk about them – then it’ll be better.

K: Maybe you plan one day that you don’t have any expectations. You just go out together and enjoy the company. Not like “I want to run 10K or do this or that”.

E: It is important to make it nice when you are out together. It is such a nice way to spend time. Try to make it nice and comfortable. It can be good for your partner to know what are the reasons for you to go out together.



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