Ulf is born on September 20th 1952 in Solna. Son of Erik and May Niskanen, nephew of Onni.

Onni's training methods - Stockholm Marathon 1981

On New Year 1981, my colleague David and I made a resolution: to run Stockholm marathon. What madness! We tried to encourage each other, but after a few jogging rounds, David gave up and there I was, alone in the Uppsala slush in wet trainers. I was probably also very close to giving up, but one day when I visited my parents, Onni was there.

Naturally, we started talking about my training problems and, of course, Onni wanted to help me with a training program. The next day, we sat down and he wrote down a complete program that should help me run a marathon race.

When I left with the papers under my arm, I already felt like a winner! His words still ringing in my ears: "anyone can run thirty kilometres (km), but forty" … You should know that, at that time, I was a heavy smoker and could not run three km without stopping to catch my breath.

Onni's advice was to alternatively walk and jog a track of three km, three times per week, for eight weeks. After that, I measured up three different distances: an easy one of 2 km, a medium one of 4 km, and a hard one of 6 km. When I felt comfortable running the 6 km, I extended the rounds to 4, 6 and 8 km, and so on.

Good grief! In a few months, I was up to 20 km and I will never forget the evening when I discovered that I was 10 km outside of Uppsala and that I got there by my own feet. Once a month, I was to do a long distance and really tire myself out, otherwise I would never run at more than 80% of my capacity.

Another important thing that Onni emphasized was that I should increase speed going uphill. "It is psychological," he said. "That way you will conquer the feeling that it is hard, and you will outrun your competitors".

The last weeks, there was a lot of interval training to increase my speed. Sprint for 50 metres, jog for 50 metres, and so on. Whew! It was hard work!

In eight months, I trained myself with the help of Onni, so that I ran Stockholm Marathon in three hours and thirty-seven minutes. My goal had been to make the three-hour limit, but after half the race, I hooked up with a man, Stig Hermansson (to the right in the picture) from Nornäs in Dalecarlia, a firefighter who was running his 12th marathon race, and we started talking. He thought that I should ignore the time, just run and see that I completed the race and felt fit when I crossed the finish line. He was right! I finished and was very happy and proud.

The fun part is that I met Stig again, by coincidence, 25 years later. My girlfriend lived in Nornäs during the 80s, and a couple of years ago, we went there to visit some of her old neighbours … that's right: Stig! It is a small world.

My thanks go to Onni and Stig!