Happy Henrik’s Day!

campus footbridge on gery snowy day
Bridge to Westminster Hall, Western University

I’m doing a 5 km clinic at the our local Running Room store. Great group of people and when I can’t make it out for a group run, I’m able to get out on my own in the early morning. (See Rough times, tough choices for why that’s needed these days.)

Sundays are our long, slow, run day but since it’s a 5 km clinic “long” is a relative term. Today we did 3 km and a bit, in two sets of “run 10 minutes, walk one minute.”

In the absence of technology, and I haven’t been running with my heart rate monitor (see Take it easy: Why train with a heart rate monitor, part 1 for advice on doing just that), one good way to tell if a run is “slow” enough for you, is the talk test.

The so-called “talk test” is one of the most widely used, not to mention most convenient, methods of determining whether a person is exercising too hard. The idea is that if you can still carry on a conversation while training, then you’re not overly taxing your cardiovascular system. Running above this intensity level pushes you out of your aerobic-conditioning zone (the aerobic exercise level that produces maximum training effects), and it becomes hard to sustain exercise for any length of time. Speak Easy, Runner’s World

I’m an introvert and I like to do more listening than talking on these runs and that means I get to find out lots of interesting stuff about my running companions.

I’m often amused by the tendency to shy away from controversial topics. I used to run with a man, again as part of a Running Room group, who ran at exactly my pace but who I suspected held conservative political views. He was a great run buddy. I didn’t want to argue with him or get into a disagreement that would make him think he should run with someone else so I deliberately kept him chatting about food, movies, even car choices. It felt like that episode of Seinfeld in which Elaine meets a guy she really likes but who she thinks might be anti-choice on abortion. It’s a deal breaker for her so she tries to make sure the subject doesn’t come up so they can keep dating.


But I’m digressing. I wanted to tell you about something I learned about on today’s run, St. Henrik’s Day. Apparently, January 19th is Henrik’s Day. It’s celebrated in Finland as the official halfway through winter mark, the day that winter’s back is broken. From here on, we’re on the home stretch to spring. What an exciting thought! I’ve been enjoying the extra daylight lately too and I’m looking forward to getting my bike out again. (See Welcome Winter Solstice.)

Who was St. Henrik?  Wikipedia has this to say:

Saint Henry (pyhä Henrik or piispa Henrik in Finnish, Biskop Henrik or Sankt Henrik in Swedish, Henricus in Latin; died allegedly 20 January circa 1156[1]) was a medieval Englishclergyman. He came to Sweden with cardinal Nicholas Breakspeare in 1153 and was probably designated to the new Archbishop of Uppsala, but the independent church province of Sweden could be established only in 1164 after the civil war was over, and Henry would have been sent to organize the Church in Finland, where Christians had existed already at least two centuries. According to legends, he entered Finland together with King Eric the Saint of Sweden and died as a martyr, becoming a central figure in the local Roman Catholic Church. However, the authenticity of the accounts of his life, ministry, and death are widely disputed.

Together with his alleged murderer Lalli, Henry remains one of the most recognized people from the early history of Finland. His feast is celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church of Finland, and he is commemorated in several Protestantliturgical calendars.

An encyclopedia of saints says this,

To call St. Henrik obscure is only possible to an English speaking Catholic. For us, he is so obscure that he does not even have an entry in the voluminous 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia. But, to Finnish Catholics, he is the nation’s patron and one of the most popular saints of the Middle Ages, and of today. Henrik was born Henry, an Englishman, sometime in the early 12th century. It is unknown where he began his ecclesiastical career, but in 1152 he appears as a companion of papal legate and fellow Englishman Nicholas Breakspear (later Pope Adrian IV), who spent two years in Scandinavia trying to organize the Church in that region. Henrik appears to have remained behind, where he was later appointed Bishop of Uppsala, primatial See of Sweden, in 1156. This was around one year after Eric IX Jedvardsson, also known as King Eric the Saint, took the throne of Sweden. Henrik, who had a heart for missionary work, found a friend and supporter in the zealous King Eric, who was anxious to spread the Faith into neighboring Finland as a means of not only winning souls, but stabilizing his own borders.

See more here.

Anyway, there you go. Obscure things you learn on long runs. All new to me. But I like the idea of a halfway through winter feast day.

St Henrik