World class runner Mustafa “Musse” Mohamed chooses to run in YMR Track Club. We took a chat with the new ambassador about running, prejudice and targets for next season.
You have accomplished so much. As for example, you became Swedish Champion for the first time 16 years ago. Which is your best memory from your career?
It was amazing to win both Göteborgsvarvet and Lidingöloppet, but my best memory is from when I set the Swedish record in the 3000-meter steeplechase at a race in Belgium. The former record was set by famous Anders Gärderud. It was a great feeling to know that I just had entered the small group of the best in the world.
How come you started running?
I used to play soccer, which I thought was much more fun than running. Unfortunately, my coach quit and he was a big part of why I loved soccer. Suddenly it was not so much fun anymore. I also had discovered that running was easy for me, and I was among the best runners in my school. At the same time, the World Championships in athletics was held in Gothenburg. The games fascinated me and was a huge inspiration. My older brother was running and that was also inspiring. Later, we did not only run at practice but also at home. He was faster than me, so that was good.
When did you realise that you would be a successful runner?
That feeling grew stronger and stronger each year. I started quite late – when I was 16 years old. I felt that I had the endurance, but I was not so fast. Only a year after I started running with coach Ulf Friberg in my club Hälle IF, I was the fastest in Sweden in my age group. But I would never have imagined that I would become one of the best runners in the world.
You have had an amazing career – what´s left for you to accomplish?
I still love running and I have the motivation to run fast. I´m not done yet, and I still can perform at a high level. Now, my focus is set on the next couple of years. After that I will see what will happen. If I feel like I do now, I will keep running. Running must be fun and at a high level for me to keep going.
Which distance do you like the most and will be your focus?
I like the half marathon the most but I need to run the 10 k for speed and the marathon for endurance. I also love the challenge with running the marathon.
Some years ago, you switched to marathon and immediately ran fast – what happened then?
I was a bit naive in how hard it actually was to go from the 3000 meters steeplechase to marathon. Training and execution mentally, was very different. I did it pretty good in 2012, but after that I got a lot of injuries. My body did not respond well as I added a lot of extra miles to my training. But I love the challenge of the marathon but it´s very different from running track. You train for three months for a race and when it´s race day, everything must be perfect. Your body must to be on top, a slight cold is a disaster and if you are unlucky, you can´t run that day. You also need 4-5 weeks of recovery after a marathon race before you are back in full training. This means that you can only run a few races each year. I love to race, so for me it´s better to run shorter and more often.
I´ve followed your career – first in the national team as a team mate and after that as an expert for Swedish Television. My strongest memory is your amazing race in Osaka at the World Championships in 2007 where you were 4th. How was it to perform so well, without reaching that medal?
It was a completely new position for me coming into the championship. I was in the very top group of runners in the world and was one of the favourites for a medal. That was also my target for the final. Of course, I was a little bit disappointed afterwards, but after a while I was happy. I don´t have that kick at the end of the race to outrun three Kenyans. I don´t agree with the ones who say that the worst position is 4th. I rather be 4th than 5th or 7th.
You are known as ”Musse” here in Sweden. Do you believe that you would have been given the same chances in life here in Sweden considering your name and background if you would not have been a famous athlete?
No, I don´t think so. Many see me as that happy runner. Running has given me such much as how I have grown as a person and in how people look at me. That makes me happy, but at the same time it´s a little bit sad that you need to be good at something to be treated a certain way. Sports have opened doors for me. I have gained self-confidence and grown as a person, I´ve have seen the world and learned so much. As I have grown older, I feel much more calm. I know what I can do and don´t grumble that much and know that you can only do your very best. These things have changed since I was in my 20s.
Do you ever feel that you are treated differently?
Yes. If i present my-self as Mustafa Mohamed and they don´t know how I am, people can be cautious and a little bit suspicious. As they realise that I am “Musse, the runner” I am treated better. “Mustafa Mohamed” is for many people just a black immigrant. That´s not he view on “Musse, the runner”. Unfortunately, people can be prejudice. People might not do it on purpose, but it´s still there.
What will happen during 2019 for you?
One big thing of course is to start running for YMR Track Club and help out with events and sales to businesses and clubs. At the moment I run a lot. In the beginning of 2019, I´m leaving for Ethiopia to go on training camp with running legend Mo Farah and his team. The idea is to build a platform for 2019. My body will decide what races I will run, but the plan is to run the half marathon in the United Arab Emirates or in Barcelona. After that hopefully the half marathon Göteborgsvarvet, Stockholm Marathon and different 10k races during the summer. I also would like to run Lidingöloppet in Stockholm this fall and the half marathon in Helsingborg, Copenhagen or Stockholm. I will end the year with the peak; The New York Marathon!
Do you have any advice to people who want to start running?
Start with setting some kind of target. Why do you want to run? Then set a long term plan. Start slowly to avoid injuries.
Now you start running in YMR Track Club – what´s your favourite garment in our collection?
Yes, I´ve already started running in YMR Track Club. First of all, I think that the sportswear look great and I love that you focus on sustainability. Norr Mälarstrand Singlet is a favourite that I´m looking forward to race in. I also love to run in Norr Mälarstrand Long Sleeve. During my training camp, I will test the clothes even more.
Thanks a lot Musse! Good look at the training camp and welcome to YMR Track Club!
Name: Mustafa ”Musse” Mohamed
Age: 39 år
Born: Mogadishu, Somalia
Lives: Partille, (outside Gothenburg, Sweden)
Family: Married to former runner Hanna Karlsson, two kids (age 4 and 7)
- 4th at 3000 m steeplechase in the World Championships in Osaka in 2007.
- Swedish record holder (8.05,75)
- Olympic Games finalist
- 3 medals at the European Championships in cross country
- PB:s of 1.02.40 at the half marathon and 2:12.28 at marathon