Phone it in

Jakob Åberg

Why are there so many professional runners coming out of Scandinavia? Satisfy pro athlete Jakob Åberg is from Scandinavia—specifically Sweden—and Satisfy pro Stian Dahl Sommerseth lives next door in Norway, which is just a quick swim from Paavo Nurmi’s crib in Finland (RIP, King). I could go on listing other Scandinavian runners, but I won’t because I’ve got a quiche I need to check on. You have to wonder, though, what’s making these guys so fast. Is it the altitude? The Viking blood? Is it the graceful simplicity of their design and architecture? Who can say? One thing is for sure, though: those Nordic sumamabitches can run.

Speaking of Jakob Åberg, we’re featuring him in this issue’s Phone It In. Jakob grew up in a mid-sized Swedish town called Sundsvall, where he discovered a passion for running as a child. ‘I’ve been running for as long as I can remember,’ he says. ‘We used to go out running—the whole family—in the forest close to where we lived.’ In his early twenties, he began entering races and discovered he was quick. After a handful of trail races and marathons, he launched into ultras and began making a name for himself. Jakob has won four ultra-marathons in the last twelve months, including this year’s High Coast Ultra, a grueling 130-kilometer race through the enchantingly gnarly Swedish wilderness. We asked Jakob to show us some photos on his phone.

Most Recent Photo On Your Phone

This is a photo from yesterday evening's trail long-run. I am currently preparing for my 100-mile debut, which will mostly be run during the nighttime. As you can see, darkness is upon us in Scandinavia, which means running in the cold, but also the darkest of dark. I really enjoy running in the dark. It is pretty scary to know that you are completely alone in the forest, but it's also cool to get control over those feelings. The time flies by quickly, and you see trails you've run many times in a new way. Routes that are obvious from before aren't quite as prominent anymore, and trails that you usually don't see are all of a sudden visible to you.

The Most Swedish Thing In The World

I won a 75km race in Stockholm in early spring. Really tough course on icy and dark trails (most of the race ran in the evening). My first prize? Two pieces of 'Semla,' which is a Swedish / Scandinavian pastry that Swedes obsess over in February and March. I really like them, but it was quite a Swedish first prize.

Your Favorite Swede

My partner in crime, Felicia. She hates running but understands my obsession with it and supports me no matter what. So thankful that I get to spend each day with her!

Where You Are When You're Not Running

When I am not at the office working as a product designer, I am probably at a museum, a concert, or other cultural venue. I also enjoy cooking, and this photo actually managed to capture both: Me making orange juice at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki.  

A Swedish Cat (Or Dog)

Thelma is my girlfriend's parent's dog. She is shy, introverted, and likes running around in the forest, just like me. I really like Thelma.

The Inside of Your Fridge

Very basic fridge. Lots of veggies, butter, cheese, some wine, and Motörhead alcohol-free beer that was on sale. I drink tons of alcohol-free beer during heavy training blocks. It tastes great and has good carbs!

The Place You Keep All Your Running Gear

My running gear is spread out a bit in the apartment, and I also have to hide it a little so my partner doesn't get too frustrated about all the stuff. But this is the place where I hide most of my running shoes and some nutrition. I've recently got some structure here; it was just a big pile of stuff previously.

The Best Place in Sweden to Get Into Trouble

For runners, I would definitely say it is doing threshold workouts at Norr Mälarstrand in Stockholm. It is an approximately 2 km long and 5 meters wide bike road, perfect for doing some threshold sessions. Unfortunately, the people on bicycles disagree and apparently don't want to share this space with us runners. Usually, the people on bikes who hate it the most are middle-aged men dressed in Lycra and reflective clothes. The frustration here is real. I've actually seen fistfights here. For real!

A Tattoo & The Story Behind It

I don't have a lot of tattoos with stories behind them. They are more contextual to me and how I felt when I got them. But the faceless person is a tattoo I made in South Korea when I was living there, and the crown next to it was made by a friend who wanted to train his tattooing skills on someone many years ago.

Something You Found Down the Back of Your Couch

I have an embarrassing and pretty gross confession to make: I am not only obsessed with running but also with picking my teeth, and I tend to forget where I leave my 'tools.' These can be found basically everywhere in our home: In bed, behind the couch, and in the pockets of pants I haven't used for a while. I need to get a grip, I know. Sorry!!!

Something You Need to Throw Out

Obviously, all the plackers that I keep everywhere. But this plant isn't feeling too well either and should've probably been buried a few months ago. 💚

Your Proudest Moment

I don't know about proudest, but I made this pretty goddamn tasty apple pie last week. Damn, it was good. I felt proud.