LONG SLOW DISTANCE
IN CONVERSATION WITH PETTER LUNDGREN
Can you give us a short bio?
Born and raised close to nature in a small town called Vilhelmina in Lappland in Northen Sweden. 29-years old. Worked as a cement mason. Got tired. Moved to Stockholm and started to work in fashion. Started as a Fashion Assistant at a Swedish womenswear magazine, then as a Fashion Editor at a Swedish menswear magazine. Continued as a freelance stylist. In 2016, I transitioned into working in marketing at a Swedish fashion brand and did that until May of this year.
How was it that you transitioned from a background of competitive skiing into long distance running?
It was never an active choice to change from one to the other. I was competing in Alpine skiing until I was 16, but I always had more fun doing backcountry or shredding in the park. When I was 18, I had the realization that in hitting big jumps—soaring 3 meters above the ground—every kilo would generate a lot of force before I hit the ground, especially if I slammed. Thus, I wanted to lose some kilos to protect my body and become a better skier. I haven’t stopped running since then.
But I’ve moved away from the mountains and the snow. Prior to that, I had at least 100 skiable days a year, now I get around 10.
Is there anything that you picked up from skiing that you've incorporated into your running?
Not really. Perhaps just trying to enjoy every step, just as I enjoyed every turn. Believe in the possible, be thankful over the fact I live in a free country, am healthy, and that I have the ability to do the things I love.
The cornerstone of the Satisfy ethos is The High, that feeling we chase during a long run wherein the repetitive movements of the body are operating so seamlessly that our physical awareness melts away and allows us to reach a higher state of consciousness—a kind of mechanical intoxication. What comes together for you during a run that allows you to achieve this state?
I find that it’s easy to put away my brain while running, to enter an almost meditative state where I feel more connected with my surroundings than myself. But I wouldn’t describe that as The High. I’m an adrenaline junkie and I’ve been searching for kicks everywhere in life since I was a teenager. I think I have a high threshold.
For me, The High in running is when all your emotions suddenly feel a thousand times stronger and come crashing over you like a tsunami. You oscillate between crying, laughing, feeling anger and gratitude. It's a state I can only reach when I’ve run really, really far and am really, really tired.
In the campaign video, you said, "Long Slow Distance (LSD): it's a way of getting to know yourself." What is it about LSD that allows you to connect with yourself?
In the question before I said I more easily feel connected with the surroundings than myself, but it’s when I’m connected with my environment that I somehow feel the most connected with myself. Does that make sense? Perhaps it sounds contradictory.
When I’m in nature, I'm with my body. I listen, I feel, I hear and I keep focusing step after step. I feel significantly insignficant. I am in tune with myself, with nature. We are one.
Today, everything is so fast. Everyone is always reachable and connected. You have notices on your phone. Mail and messages are pouring over you. All this contact in the digital world makes me feel numb.
When I run, no one can reach me.
Long slow distance allows me to more intimately know myself, in all states. My best and worst self.
Running for me is a way of recharging, affording my brain and body some repose from the numbing effects of that aforementioned digital world. It gives me the ability to come back and give more. And through the opportunities that I've been able to share that experience with people in my work world—in fashion—I’ve been able to forge meaningful friendships that I deeply value.
What are your thoughts on where the fashion industry is headed, given the impact 2020 has had on many industries?
It stands for a big change. A lot of companies will disappear. But that might be good. Until today, a lot of brands have existed without a real reason to. That will not work any longer.
I’m asking myself questions like: Is fashion still relevant in today's society? Are physical fashion shows and trade shows necessary? When I’m buying clothes, what do I want to contribute to? I hope that craftsmanship will be more valued and that people will spend more on less. Consumers have all the power.
Besides affecting it economically, do you think there will be a creative shift?
Yes, but I'm not quite sure in what way. During the first half of 2020, the digitalization of the industry developed more than it has within the last 5 years. That opens up creative potential and new ways of doing things. As long as you aren’t afraid and willing to be innovative.
From our conversation, it sounds like 2020 has allowed you a lot of time and space for some really productive self-reflection. What has it been like finding this space amidst an otherwise chaotic time?
When I was 13 years old, I started to work in the forest during the summer. Since then, I've been working without rest. For me it’s been fantastic to press pause and have some time to myself. Spending time with my girlfriend, running, and reflecting. Of course, I feel affected by the chaos around the world. I mean 2020 sucks, almost everything sucks. But I’ve still had a good time and I’m stoked to try to make something good out of it.
Running has been a big part of this, bringing that same mentality into everything I do—try to make the best of things, enjoying every moment, and being thankful.
Long slow distance isn’t dangerous. You may exhaust yourself but it’s a gift to be able to run and get tired.
Music seems to be really important to you. Can you explain the role it plays in your life?
Music touches us and directly affects our feelings and emotions, whether it be in a good or bad way. Music is a friend, a shrink, a drug. It’s water and air. You need it. I mean, I love art, art can really make me feel and touch me—but it will never elicit the same amount of emotions as music.
I remember being 6 years old, holding concerts with my friends while dressed up like Gene Simmons with a fake bass made out of plywood. Later on I started to play drums. I remember my dad listened to Pink Floyd, Tom Waits, The Clash, Linton Kwesi Johnson. I think it’s the one thing from my childhood that molded me the most.
Music is education.
What's next for you?
I don’t know and I have no stress about it. I just want to be in a creative environment where I feel challenged and am surrounded with people who understand me and I look up to. Have fun and keep on developing and exploring.
Any departing words for the people?
Be kind, have fun, stay curious!