Juuso Simpanen was a professional football player who ended his career early due to health issues. He found his new passion while backpacking across Asia and now he’s aiming for the top in trail running.
“Since I was little, I always wanted to be a professional athlete. I started playing football when I was little and in the end played for several years as a pro in the premier division in Finland.
At 22, I decided to quit playing. I’d had health problems, gut issues and overtraining injuries for a while and wasn’t into playing and training anymore.
I had no idea what I’d do next. I decided to take a little break and went backpacking in Asia for six months. I wanted time to think about what I wanted to do with my life.
In the mountains of Northern Thailand, I ran into some Brits who were into ultrarunning. They told me about the sport and I was intrigued right away. When I got home to Finland, I decided to take part in Masokistin unelma, a hundred-kilometre race.
My first race taught me a lesson, even though overall it went quite well. I started out too fast and bonked at 60K when I ran out of energy. Right away after the first race I knew this is what I wanted to do. I ran another ultra during the same autumn and started doing trail races the following year.
Now when I think back, I may have overdone the beginning of my running career, even though my body and legs could handle it. If I were to do it all again now, I’d first build speed in shorter distances.
I like ultra trail races the best because you get to run in awesome places. The pace is often a little slower, too, so you get to take in the view as you run. On the other hand, I’m also into road racing, I want to see how fast I can go.
A few years ago, I set a goal for myself: in ten years, I will win the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc and place in the top three in the trail running World Championships. I believe I can achieve this, I just need some more speed. Mentally I’m strong, I’m able to increase my pace towards the end. I’m also pretty good going downhill.
At the moment I’m living the life of an athlete again. Besides training, I coach runners ranging from beginners to those who run multi-day races. As a coach I always encourage my clients to listen to their body. It’s important to go by the feeling even if the program says otherwise.
You don’t always have to train with gritted teeth. It’s important to take it easy, too. This is something I try to incorporate into my own training nowadays: easy days are easy, and when I go hard, I go hard.”
You can follow Juuso's adventures on Instagram @juusosimpanen
Meet the Noshter:
Name: Juuso Simpanen
Location: Helsinki, Finland
My kind of adventure: I drive to awesome places in my van called Päällikkö (The Chief) and head out for a run without a plan
Dream: To live surrounded by mountains
Motto: Less talk, more action.
Favourite Nosht product: Bilberry & Eucalyptus Energy Chew