EOC 2014 - Everything bad is good for something?

Organizing EOC is a huge task. 7 elite races in 7 days and spectators races in addition.

I was one of the main organizers of EOC in Sweden in 2012. Despite a lot of energy and time invested and many experienced people involved we did not manage to avoid mistakes. The Portuguese organizers clearly did not have the same human and economical resources as we had two years ago.

Being an athlete this time, I was not only trying to get into shape and prepare myself for the terrain but also for the possible organizational failures.
It still turned out difficult not to let the negative thoughts infect my mind, seeing my dear orienteering being ill-treated so much during the EOC-week.

EOC 2014 Relay Photo: Orievents
EOC2014 Relay (Photo: Orievents)

I know that long lists of organizational mistakes have been compiled by some coaches, to be sent to IOF or elsewhere soon, but I believe we need some structural changes to make sure the development of orienteering and our elite events starts moving forward.

Allocate more IOF resources to ensure event quality
Much more IOF resources should be allocated to help organizers of elite events. Find and employ a person who will be responsible for quality of maps, courses and choice of terrain, the most important parts of an orienteering event. Some kind of technical director with a deep knowledge and experience from elite orienteering, working together with organizers of not only WOC, but also of World Cup races, to make sure we get fair competitions of high quality.
IOF has had a Sports Director employed for many years (with much broader responsibility). He did not find it important to come to EOC 2012, and not to EOC 2014 either.
Improving the quality of our elite events needs to have a lot higher priority than "the Olympic dream". The money and resources used to get orienteering into the Olympics would be better spent on improving event quality - and that is also the only way to get into the Olympics.

System with IOF advisers
The system with having an IOF event adviser is good, but it does not work as intended today. A number of high level events have been saved by an excellent IOF adviser pinpointing problems and ensuring good working routines - doing a lot more than the minimum requirement by the book. Other events only receive a minimum of help from the IOF adviser. An inexperienced organizer needs luck to avoid mistakes and unfortunate situations without an IOF adviser with proper knowledge of the competition rules, a good understanding of elite orienteering and organizational experience.
Do we need to improve the system of recruiting, educating, appointing and managing IOF advisers? Would it help to pay them some salary, not just covering their costs? 

Selection of World Cup/EOC/WOC organizers and efficient use of money
There are few nations interested in organizing high level events at the moment. The task is difficult and risk of economical loss big. The IOF sanction fee for one World Cup race is 9000 euro, for WOC it is 60000 euro. The ability of an organizer to pay these fees is what decides where and when our elite events are held - and not the experience and quality of the organizers and the race concept.
That is why I think federations should start asking questions how the money collected by IOF via sanction fees is used. How much did it cost to organize and participate in the World Games in Columbia last year? And the participation of a few IOF representatives in the Sport Accord Convention in Turkey last week? At the same time when the Portuguese organizers were on their knees and when many team members and spectators had to step in to save the EOC races.

Exchange of know-how and IOF responsibilities
I think much more can be done in spreading knowledge of how an elite event should be organized. There are high level event seminars organized by IOF every now and then (which is good) but I do not understand why presentations from these seminars are not published at IOF's website. IOF has compiled some guidelines, but there is much more information to be spread and exchanged.
We have many highly-skilled people within orienteering. Seek them out, bring them together, gather the knowledge.
In other sports, like cross-country skiing or biathlon, many of the organizing services are provided and overlooked by the international federations. IT-heavy services like timing, live broadcasting and other TV-coverage related services are much more standardized. In orienteering organizers are left to themselves to create own systems. It is no wonder we see so many failures when new people have to learn and invent these things again and again.

Team leaders, get united
I appeal to team leaders and coaches. You have the best knowledge of elite orienteering. You have seen many events being organized in various ways. The EOC in Portugal hit you hard and you probably need more time to recover from the week than your athletes. But when you gain your energy again, invest it into thinking about possible solutions, discuss with your national federations, your athletes and also with your colleagues from other nations.

I will not stop going to Portugal for orienteering. I know there are some very enthusiastic and skilled event organizers. The experience from EOC 2014 was frustrating but it will not make me stop to love this sport and to try contribute to its development.

My maps from EOC2014

 

Different WOC preparation

Less than 3 weeks until WOC - it is time to wake my blog up again.

So far preparation for my 11th WOC has been a bit different compared to previous years. My move to Norway and job in Halden had brought new responsibilities, some workload and divided motivation but at the same time I got new training environment, training mates and supporting people around me and also refreshed hunger for big relays. I have not organized any international event this year, only many training sessions in which I was able to participate myself. My training diary shows more hours of orienteering training than ever before, hopefully without compromising quality of it.

I have dropped the traditional training camp in Sälen and decided to go to Dolomites for an altitude camp instead. I spent 2 weeks training in mountains between 1200 and 2500m, staying in Passo Pordoi 2239m, coming back on Tuesday before Jukola.

Dolomites, Passo Pordoi 2239m

The timing of the camp is not optimal for peaking for WOC (too early), but hope to gain some extra red blood cells was not the only reason for the camp. Mountains, and Dolomites in particular, are great training environment. The difficult part was to avoid training too much/too hard. To optimize the training effect it would be probably better to do most of the sessions in lower altitude in the valley, and on flat terrain, but the possibility to run uphill and explore new trails and mountains every day was too big temptation for me. Most of my training was running from a bottom of some valley at 1300-1600 up to about 2000-2300m (where the snow appeared), and then down again. I did also some longer MTB-cycling on asphalt and forest roads. I can hardly run for more than 2,5hours without starting to feel pain around my left knee or somewhere but biking for 4 hours with a lot of climbing is not a problem. And biking in mountains, with some famous climbs included is a great fun.

Dolomites, Arabba

There were some high level cyclists staying at the hotel (Hotel Savoia) and I think both the staff and the other guests were a bit surprised to see me there on a running camp, especially as it was still winter up there when I arrived.

I am fully aware that going for an altitude camp, especially before WOC, is risky. I have some experience with training and staying in altitude but not for so long time and not as a part of a preparation for WOC. I know Swiss team (research study done on Swiss orienteers: Live high-train low for 24 days), Thierry, Olav, Carl, Jarkko and some other orienteers have been using altitude in their WOC preparation. I was curious how my body would react. At Jukola, 4 days after coming back, I was lacking top speed and now I do not feel in any special way. I will do some physiological tests next week. At the end of the stay in Dolomites I had two nights in a row with very bad sleep (fell asleep after 2 a.m.) and I was starting to think that my body had got too much, but after a rest day I was feeling OK again, and went home with a good feeling from the last training.

Dolomites, Canazei

The decision to go to altitude was a bit of "gamble" but I love mountains and the energy and happiness I get from being there hopefully outweigh possible negative effects.

Photos from Dolomites

My training diary with description & routes from my runs and rides

Right now, I am in Finland. First Venla/Jukola and second place with coolchicks in Halden SK and now camp with the national team in Vuokatti.

Halden SK, 2nd place Venla 2013

I understand the terrain and mapping style for both long and middle/relay much better than I did before WOC in France but I am not sure if I can say that I am "ready" for WOC. It would be nice to receive some more positive signals from my body in the coming days.

I have uploaded maps to my map archive.

 

 

La Palma - obsession with hills

Mountains almost make it possible to forget about orienteering. Exploring La Palma, one of the less known Canary islands, during the Christmas week, filled my mind with joy. I previously had similar type of vacation on Tenerife and also Gran Canaria but I found La Palma more likable. The nature is wilder and the number of tourists smaller. The island has an extensive network of marked hiking trails. Prior to the arrival I bought two books with descriptions of the trails and one map.

La Palma GR131

The cumulative elevation gain throughout the week was about 11000m (7000m running/hiking & 4000m on bike). Going uphill has become a bit of an obsession. The highest point of the island, Roque de los Muchachos, is 2426m above sea level. The island is sometimes called world’s steepest island… an attractive destination for me. For some of the sessions Patrik drove me to a start of a trail in a low altitude and parked the car much higher up so that I did not have to do a one way& return trip and run downhill a lot, but on the last day I eventually killed my legs by running downhill from 1800m to 400m in about 45minutes, being in a hurry for the flight back to Sweden.

The most exciting trip was running/hiking on one of the trails in the national park Caldera de Taburiente. I recorded a few headcam videos:
video 1, video 2 & video 3.

I wish my bike handling skills were more advanced. Then I could enjoy the island even more, there are some superb downhill MTB-trails. This time I did most of the biking on a road. I rented the bike from www.icarobike.com

Photos from the whole week

Detailed description of the running/hiking/biking sessions I did in my training log

More about La Palma for runners from Ian Corless

Map of hiking trails

 

 

Indoor-O in Falun

This morning I have been organizing indoor orienteering competition in Falun. I had quite a big area available (about 65*45m - 3 handball fields) and a lot of stuff to build the terrain with. The main terrain features were segments of floorball rinks, acting as fences forbidden to jump over.

Indoor-O Lugnet 3B

Before I started to draw the map in OCAD I googled the dimensions of the objects to make the sizes right. I printed the map in 1:250 scale. In order to be accurate when putting the controls I prepared a special map with extra lines (the handball fields and roof beams) for this purpose. I am not completely happy with the map/terrain. I should have done the pattern of forbidden fences more chaotic to make the orienteering more demanding.

I set 6 courses (1A, 2A, 3A, 1B, 2B, 3B). Or actually 3 only; 1A and 1B were the same courses but, the B course was set in the opposite direction. In this way it was possible to make duels - two runners starting at the same time, running a course marked with the same number but one takes letter A and the other one letter B.

Indoor-O Falun

Each course took about 2-3 minutes to complete. I did not use any control definitions but asked runners to check if their punching was correct, after each course (using SI-printer and a list with order of codes for each course). Instead of disqualification, they got 1min penalty for wrong (missing) control. There were no control flags, only SI units stuck with duct tape to the floor.

Headcam video featuring Tove Alexandersson on course 3B

OCAD file competition map

OCAD file map for putting controls

OCAD file courses

Competition information in Swedish (PM) as pdf

I hope this is not how orienteering is going to look like in 10 years time but in many ways it is a good training, especially when there is a lot of snow and low temperatures outdoor.

Now I will set a course for training in Halden. I am moving on Monday.

 

 

Portugal project before start in Halden

I am just about to start my new job in Halden - as a club coach with main focus on technical training. In the beginning of December I am moving to Norway. New job, new country and new club - not an easy decision to leave what I have in Borlänge but I believe making such a change is an important step in my personal development. I feel ready to face the challenge of coaching runners in one of the best orienteering clubs in the world. At the same time WOC2013 remains a big goal and I intend to combine the work with my own training and competing. Halden has been keen to make the combination possible. I will work part time, cooperating with a few other coaches and club members. I am looking forward to share the work and exchange ideas.

Before I turn my attention to Halden I want to write about a project I have been working on recently. I have just come back from Portugal. Already last year I helped Fernando Costa and his company Orievents to set a few courses (together with Olex Kratov) for the winter training camps in Alto Alentejo (about 2,5h drive from Lisbon). This year my involvement has grown bigger. I have prepared 12 different orienteering exercises (9 forest trainings and 3 town sprints). For the forest trainings I put almost all the controls in the terrain, checked the map and in some cases also made a map revision. I also tested the town sprint courses to make sure the map is correct, again doing some adjustments and map revision here and there.

Aldeia da Mata putting controls

Fernando, together with his club GD4C, organizes various orienteering events, both in Alto Alentejo and in his home town of Porto. I tried to provide advice on what elite orienteers might be interested in and how he could develop his services further. I am convinced that this training camp has a great potential. Not only because of the available orienteering exercises in the technical, detailed terrain of Alto Alentejo but also because of the possibility to do some other kind of training. In Castelo de Vide, there is a 400m athletics track, gym, indoor swimming pool, and for biking various roads with little traffic. Also there is a newly opened high-tech spa facility Termas da Fadagosa de Nisa, located in the middle of one of the training maps. I have got opportunity to test a massage, jacuzzi, and a kind of pool with cold water and current. In Termas they offer many other procedures, which might help to speed up the recovery process and prevent injuries.

Fernando has a deal with the best hotel in Castelo de Vide and also with a rental car company to offer reasonable prices. And he is active in promoting orienteering in the region so that the local authorities and land owners keep a positive attitude.  The area is abundant with culture and history so if you have time over, there are old castles and other historical sites worth visiting, as well as some cosy restaurants serving traditional local food.

Castelo de Vide

I have made a big effort to prepare orienteering exercises of high quality. Sometimes I feel I am perhaps a bit too meticulous about control placements and some map details. No wonder I have spent quite a lot of time in the terrains.

Here is a list of exercises which I prepared (with map samples showing some part of the course). For each exercise I suggest some targeted focus areas.

Forest trainings

Herdade de Entre-Ribeiras 1:10000
Long distance 12,4km
Focus: head up, route choices

Aldeia da Mata North 1:7500
4 forked intervals mass-start or chasing start 6,8km (1,5+1,7+1,6+1,1 + warmup 0,9)
Focus: relay behaviour - might simulate special tasks for different relay legs (safe orienteering, stay in the pack “at every price”, attack, first to finish)

Aldeia da Mata South (Lameira) 1:7500
MultiTech course: corridor, black only, contours 7,3km (3,6+1,0+1,8+warmup 0,9)
Focus: direction, self-talk

Termas da Fadagosa 1:7500
Middle 6,2km
Focus: speed adaptation, direction

Lage do Meio Dia West 1:7500
5 intervals with start from the same point 6,2km (0,8+1,2+1,5+1,4+1,3)
Focus: start behaviour, get into “the zone” directly

Lage do Meio Dia East 1:7500
3 MultiTech loops: memory - white map with course only, black only, jumpin 6,3km (2,0+2,6+1,7)
Focus: direction, plan for upcoming leg ready at control exit

Herdade do Pereiro 1:5000
5 forest sprint intervals 5,3km
Focus: control exit, control descriptions

Vale da Silvana 1:7500
Mass-start diamond 5,5km
Focus: relay behaviour (right focus when group splits, getting ready for an attack at the end of the course)

Póvoa e Meadas 1:5000
2 forest sprints 3km (1,5+1,5)
Focus: self-talk, control exit

Town sprints

Portalegre 1:4000
6 sprint intervals 3,8km (0,7+0,6+0,5+0,6+0,7+0,7)
Focus: route choices, knock-out sprint behaviour, turn on and off concentration

Castelo de Vide 1:4000
Sprint duel & chasing start 3,3km (1,8+1,5)
Focus: route choices, fighting tiredness / positive self-talk on a very tough and tricky course

Alter do Chao 1:4000
Normal sprint course 2,6km
Focus: route choices, optimal pacing (not too fast in the beginning, speed up at the end)

In addition there will be following trainings available. Fernando is the course planner.

Vale do Rodao
Middle NAOM 2012 ME course

Marvao
Sprint 1:4000 NAOM 2012 ME course

Tapade do Cabeco 1:5000
Short forest sprint Model event NAOM 2012

Lapa
Middle NAOM 2013 (available after the competition February 2-3) ME and WE courses

Arez
Middle NAOM 2013 (available after the competition February 2-3) ME and WE courses

So alltogether Orievents will provide 13 forest trainings and 5 town sprints. Most of the trainings are already ready so there might be a possibility to come already before Christmas.

Even if there are no reflexes at the controls most of the trainings can be done as night orienteering. I also recommend doing some of the trainings as a pair exercise; there is often something to learn from each other. I hope to have time to upload and calibrate the maps with the training courses in 2/3DRerun so that it is easy to work GPS analysis.

Well, off to Halden now.

 

 

Marvellous autumn & a bit of summary and plans

I feel lucky that I had possibility to participate in so many high quality races during the second part of this season: Swedish champs (sprint, long, middle, relay and ultra-long) and Blodslitet. Apart from competing every weekend I have not done much high intensity training after WOC. Long runs both with and without map were the main components of my training program. Yes, I know it is not the traditional way of peaking for a competition but given the competition program (races every weekend) and my training background (missed endurance base training during the first half of the year) I think the outcome of this training, in terms of my shape, was good, especially at the longest races (ultra-SM and Blodslitet). At least I feel fresh now and I am not in a need of a rest period.

Sälen

Elite sport can be cruel sometimes. The hard work, pressure, pain … often result in zero outcome in terms of results. Compared to some earlier years I am now much better in finding enjoyment in many aspects of my training and competition life. Of course I can still feel disappointed, for a while, if I perform below par or do not do my best in training but I am less dependent on the results to feel happy. I do not set any result goals and try not to pay too much attention what other people might think about my performances. The choices I do every day - for example what I am going to train or which race I am going to run are now more than before influenced by the expected "enjoyment factor". I believe that this approach means that I am more motivated to train and compete and also to expose myself to challenges which I would try to avoid earlier.

My plan for the next season is taking shape. I am excited about WOC (long, middle and relay). In order to be in good shape there I believe I have to train big volumes in the beginning of June so I will probably drop NORT which is not motivating me enough. I would like to do more mountain running next year. This year I had a great time in Sälen, Lofsdalen, Pyrenees and Norway. I competed once - in Skåla opp (8km/1800m elevation gain). So I have been looking at the races in Skyrunning series, perhaps next summer after WOC I will give it a try.

On a short term plan there is a trip to Portugal in November to help Orievents to organize their winter training camp in Alto Alentejo. I am setting courses and I will also be checking the maps and control points so that everything is ready for the winter. In February NAOM is held in the region and POM not too far away so I believe that the Alentejo training camp can be interesting for some clubs and individuals.

And some figures: training of season 2012 compared to 2011 (November-November)
Training hours in total 460 (2012) / 550 (2011)
"Plain" running + orienteering 370 / 350
Orienteering 170 / 150
Strength 40 / 40
More in my training log

 

 

WOC 2013 - 10 months to go & SM long silver

During the previous two years the first WOC training camp of Czech team was held directly after the last world cup races - to save money and days of travel. However this solution, at least for me, resulted in gaining the important experiences from WOC relevant terrain with tired body and mind. I found it hard to get all the positive impressions I wanted. This year, we skipped the world cup final (NORT) and headed to the first training camp ahead of WOC2013 fresh and “hungry”.

Vuokatinvaara

Staying in a luxury cottage at the foot of Vuokatinvaara - the NORT final and WOC middle/relay training area - made the training easy. After 11 o-sessions I left Vuokatti with a very good feeling. I enjoyed the terrain relevant for both the long and middle/relay. Next year’s WOC will be fun.

There are many places around the world with terrain similar to the long area. Look for pine forest with some ridges and depressions. It will be mostly very fast running close to the line. Still, WOC long will not be a road running competition. Ability to stay focused and maintain high speed all the way is necessary. In my opinion the most interesting training area for long was Matinmäki/Joutenlampi where Kainuun Rastiviiko races (check the GPS) were held in July, near Kajaani, about 30km from Vuokatti but I think more relevant are Pöllyvaara and Tipasoja which are only a few kilometres from the long embargo.
4min headcam video + GPS 3DRerun from Pöllyvaara
Old maps on WOC website
Detailed map of Finland showing the part of long embargoed area where there are no old maps

The middle/relay terrain is different - hilly, partly stony, rough ground. I felt like in Norway. Orienteering on the map Vuokatinvaara was a great fun, I visited it 4 times. There are other training areas for middle/relay close to Vuokatti - Tolhonvaara, Persevaara, Sopasenkallio (it is actually one forest divided into 3 maps) but here the terrain is more stony and green and those maps are not made by WOC cartographers. So I think it is best to focus on Vuokatinvaara.
11min headcam video + GPS 3DRerun Vuokatinvaara
GPS from NORT final: men & women

We have not done any sprint training. There will probably not be anything special (mostly urban sprint which can be trained anywhere) apart from the use of “artificial” fences - like it was done in the NORT sprint in Kajaani. I have to say I like the idea of using those fences. It makes sprint orienteering more challenging and the theoretical preparation less important (in some way it is perhaps better not to look too much at the old sprint maps to be able to stay fully flexible during the race - when non-permanent fences, and perhaps also forbidden areas will be used).
GPS from NORT sprint in Kajaani: men & women

Here in Dalarna we have a lot of terrain which is similar to both WOC long and middle/relay (for example Asaklitt-Källan south of Leksand - map from distric champs long). It is understandable as the same geological processes have formed the landscape. I think it might also be a good idea to go to Joensuu (about 200km from Vuokatti, it is Kalevan Rasti’s town) for a training camp, where (as I understood) the maps are made by WOC cartographers.

SM long Domnarvet

Yesterday I won a silver medal at Swedish champs long distance. Before the race I was not thinking about possible results. I only expected that we would be served a tough course in a challenging terrain (stony & detailed) and looked forward to it even if I knew that I would struggle to run fast when the ground is so stony. This is not my favourite terrain. I was not the fastest runner this time either but my orienteering performance was better than most others. Cool to get one more medal from Swedish champs but I am most happy with the improvement I have done in this kind of terrain during the past few weeks. Practice makes the master.
My map from final
AutOanalysis 2DRerun - comparison of the winner Lina Strand and me
Route choice analysis in 2DRerun (split analysis-colour by time-top 10): leg 1-2 & leg 9-10
Article in Dalademokraten: Stark silver-insats av Jurenikova
My map from qualification

 

 

Joys of summer

WOC, O-Ringen and many days in mountains - this is a summary of my activities during this summer.

Pyrenees

At WOC I initially experienced a disappointment (poor sprint performance ending with a disqualification) but I pulled myself together for the long distance, producing my best performance of this season so far - and finishing on the podium (6th). Last year I was crying after ending up 4th. This year there was a big smile in my face after the race. Sometimes I feel all the talking about medals is just too much (especially during the Olympics). I think it is better to judge own performance without too much looking at the results.

Photos from WOC (by Petr Kaderavek)

Directly after WOC I went to Halmstad for O-Ringen. My motivation was OK in the beginning but during the second half both my mind and my body were lacking a bit of the competition edge. All of the women ahead of in the result list participated in WOC too so no excuse for me.

My maps from O-Ringen

WOC “hangover” hit me directly after finishing the last O-Ringen stage. Luckily after few days, the feeling of weakness and emptiness was replaced by an anticipation of my “vacation” in mountains.

Photos:

Lofsdalen (Sweden)

Pyrenees (France/Spain)

Loen with hill race Skåla opp (Norway)

To stand on a top of a mountain is such a great feeling. Addictive. It makes me fantasize about moving to some hilly region in future so that I could run to some mountain top every day.

I am not participating in the NORT, nobody from the Czech team is. We find it not worth the money. Czech team will have a training camp in Vuokatti, at the same time as the last two world cup races are held there (it is not possible to do only the Finnish part of NORT). So what is left from this season for me: Swedish champs (sprint this weekend, and middle, long and relay later in September) and probably Blodslitet in October. I am already thinking about WOC2013, long distance especially.

 

 

Moving in the right direction

Directly after my disappointing performance in the world cup race in Appenzell, Switzerland 2 weeks ago I could not avoid questioning my participation in the WOC this year. I already lost count of how many WOCs I ran in my life so when I go to WOC now I want to be sure that there is a chance to get some good results. How much can I improve in 3 weeks? The recipe has been one more trip to my beloved Sälen (to participate in 3 races: sprint, long and middle), many interval sessions and a lot of rest in sofa. I reviewed my training log and the weeks leading up to the previous WOCs. I am aware that the limited time I have, has created bigger risk for overcooking it in the final days and I am not quite sure if my body will manage to recover in time. The first race, sprint q+f, is already on Saturday. I like to test myself but last week I hesitated a lot before putting me through a test sessions on a track to compare my fitness and speed with previous years. Luckily the result was better than anticipated and also the feeling in my body has improved so I believe I will be able to enjoy the week ahead of me.


I am selected for the sprint, long and relay - the same distances as last year. The WOC program suits me better this year (last year the long final was only one day after the sprint q+f). I should also feel more confident in the terrain around Lausanne which is in many ways (undervegetation, many paths/roads, relief) similar to the terrain around Ostrava, Czech republic, where I started to learn orienteering. Even if was concentrated on improving my fitness in the past weeks, I will now turn my focus to the o-technical part of my performance. The long test race in Grand Jorat 2 weeks ago showed that there was a possibility to do better orienteering on almost every leg. I also expect that the sprint courses at WOC will offer some traps.

Taking it easy before WOC?

WorldofO
WOC 2012
Czech national team

 

Transformation

EOC ended more than 2 weeks ago and it is 6 weeks left until WOC. I am slowly turning into an elite athlete again. My training log is filled in, maps are uploaded to my DOMA, and training is the most important daily activity. In my imagination I can see pictures of me running WOC.

My shape is far from where it should be but I am healthy and motivated to do my best in the remaining weeks. Despite working with orienteering so much during the last months I am not fed up with the core of it. Looking at maps, analysing route choices and setting courses is as much fun as it used to be before I started to work with EOC.

After 2 fairly good performances in our 3 selection races in France & Switzerland a week ago, I have been selected for sprint, long and relay at WOC. I have a simple plan how to prepare for the long and relay but I find it more difficult when it comes to the sprint. I have done almost no sprint training in the past months and I need some sprint sessions to get back into the sprint flow.  

Tomorrow I go to Sälen, my training paradise. It will be probably the most important week of my WOC preparation so I hope that my body will cooperate.

I probably should mention here something about EOC, as it has been the most important thing for me during the last couple of months.

Course setting
The work started more than 2 years ago but most of it was done during 2011 (winter is long in this part of Sweden). I was planning the middle and long qualification and final (20 courses and 170 controls, in 2 areas – Hökberg and Skattungbyn). I spent about 20 days in the forests; test-running the legs and whole courses, checking all control points several times and putting out tapes. I have got a lot of help from Ampe (“arena skogen” boss), LeifG (national controller) and BjörnW (course setter of the public races) and also from some IFK Mora's runners who were test-running the courses and giving me feedback.

It was not easy to predict the winning times. The tough EOC programme, my shape and also directives from the IOF adviser (not to make the courses too long) affected the course lengths. In the middle of October last year I decided to skip the spreading method on the women’s long final course. I probably should have kept it as Simone ran the final course faster than I could imagine and smashed my estimated winning time.  

TV production
Planning for the TV production started last autumn when the TV director Karel Jonak visited Dalarna. We spent a couple of hours in the forest together, visiting some of the control points and discussing the camera placement. I changed location of 2 or 3 controls to make them more camera-friendly (to show both an open area and a dense forest at one split) but the overall idea of the courses has been preserved. Karel expressed an opinion that TV should respect the sport of orienteering, showing the true feeling of the terrain and the challenges the runners face, not creating some kind of an artificial show. It has been very motivating to work with a TV director who believes in orienteering’s potential as a TV sport and who is interested in developing the production.

In February I participated in the orienteering TV workshop in Stockholm. After it, the work with the pre-produced material started (route choice animations, course previews, head cam videos + GPS, maps for tracking etc). Jan Kocbach was leading the group, doing a lot of the work himself and also gently pushing the rest of us to contribute. We were having our meetings via google hangout, email and during EOC also in our living room in Borlänge. I am happy I could be part of it, even if it was difficult to find enough time as I was busy with a lot of other stuff - event office, bulletin 4, EOC website, material for the team officials’ meetings… 

The work with the TV production was probably the most interesting part of the EOC job. Just before the start of the first TV broadcast (middle distance final) I got very much nervous. I cannot remember anything like this from my own competing. A lot of people gave a positive feedback on the TV broadcasts so slowly I have been realizing that I should be pleased with the work done.
The TV broadcasts from EOC are still available at SVT play (not sure it works outside Sweden):   http://www.svtplay.se/video/114170/orientering-em-medeldistans-del-1
Part of the pre-produced material can be seen here: https://vimeo.com/user11619172/videos

EOC website

 

Organizer, coach and elite athlete

If you follow me on twitter you can see that many of my tweets are about something else than training and competing. Since December I have been working as orienteering coach at Dala Sports Center. And I have one more job - working for EOC 2012. I am not sure what my job title is as I am involved in a few different areas. You do not get a chance to organize a big international race and get paid for it every year so I felt that I could not refuse when the job was offered to me. If I did not do it already before, I am definitely dreaming orienteering dreams now, and they are not only about winning world champs. Both the EOC and DSC jobs are interesting, motivating me to do really well. They are part-time, no fixed working hours, so I am able to go to training camps and train when I want. Almost. It is still a big change compared to the last year when I was professional athlete. At the moment I feel I have not the right focus that an elite athlete should have.

The training season started well with no snow in the beginning of winter, great training camp in Le Caylar with Thierry & co in November and “vacation” in Gran Canaria in December.

In January I went to a training camp in Alto Alentejo (near Portalegre). I have always enjoyed orienteering in Portugal, the o-technical challenges, good choice of maps, pleasant weather and kind people. When I heard that Fernado Costa was preparing a training package in this area, I offered my help and set some of the courses. Also Oleksandr Kratov and Kenneth Buch are involved in the course setting of the ORIEVENTS training package in Alto Alentejo. Fernando is one of those people who are very much devoted to orienteering. It was nice to get to know him.

My maps and photos from Portugal

During the last few weeks my training volume has dropped considerably since I first had some problems with my legs and then got sick. Of course it is not any desirable situation but perhaps it was a call for some rest and more balance my body sent me. I hope I will manage to juggle my work and training better in the coming weeks.

 

Off-season, EOC 2012 and WOC in future

Today I finally decided not to go to Norway to compete in Blodslitet (ultra-long distance) on Saturday so 25-manna last weekend was my last race of this season. I do not have any problems with motivation but my body does not seem to cooperate very well now. So I am reasonable and declare the start of the recovery period.

Most of my autumn season was very good, 3 medals from Swedish champs and 5th&6th place from the world cup races in Liberec, Czech republic, so it is easy to forget the world cup final in Switzerland where I finished far behind the medal positions. I did not find the right balance between training and recovery and my shape during that weekend was simply not there anymore. It is not the first time I struggled to be in a good shape during the world cup final. I believe that to improve it I would need a shorter period, at least one week, of high volume training preferably in some mountains in the beginning of September (training twice a day, eating and sleeping and not much else), and less competing and less traveling during the weeks prior to the world cup races.

Skritek in Jeseniky with Emicka
In Skritek, Jeseniky with my brother's daughter

Some comments about the world cup races & my maps:

Map WC-middle Czech republic
Map WC-long with chasing start Czech republic
I am biased but I liked very much the way the races were organized and also the terrain and courses. It was nice to see that it is possible to combine challenging orienteering and good TV production, check the TV from middle distance on Saturday. I only wish we got to run the long distance as interval start and not chasing start.

Middle WC-Switzerland
Sprint WC-Switzerland
On that Sunday morning I was so tired that I considered not starting but luckily I felt better in the afternoon and could still enjoy the urban sprint in La-Chaux-de-Fonds. After the world cup the Czech team stayed in Neuchatel area for 3 days long training camp preparing for WOC 2012. My maps are in my map archive and many photos on the facebook of Czech team (you have to log in to see them). The WOC2012 relevant terrain is nothing new for me. Especially the long&relay area seems to be similar to the forests in Northern Moravia, the part of Czech republic which I come from. It is not the most exciting orienteering terrain, and for sure the physical component of an orienteering performance will get increased importance but at the same time you will have to navigate very precisely and have a right feeling for route choices. How to best prepare for WOC 2012 is a question for which I have not a clear answer yet but I am still motivated to work hard and try to take one more step forward.

But first I am having an off-season when it comes to training but a high season when it comes to organizing EOC 2012 (May 12-20). I am a course setter for the long and middle distance (with qualification and B-finals 20 courses in total). If you want to see what kind of terrain is waiting for you, check the EOC website for map samples, photos, old maps and words from course setter. There will be also 4-days of spectator races in the same terrain. I hope many orienteers, not only from Sweden will come to Dalarna (the region I live in) next year in May.

Another project which I am involved in is the “WOC in future”. Many of us, elite runners, are not happy with the IOF's proposal on a new WOC program. There is a risk that in a few years middle distance with interval start and traditional relay might disappear from the WOC-program. Check the websites below and stay tuned, because more action is to come.
The Orienteering Elite Unite against WOC program
Landslagslöpare hotar bojkotta VM

 

More medals

It did not take long time to win another individual medal from SM, this time in the middle distance. After very bad qualification on Friday, I “woke up” and produced much better performance in the final on Saturday. Even it was not completely error-free run, it was enough to get a bronze medal. It was a bit of surprise for me, a very nice one. My self-confidence was shaken after the qualification and also by how the terrain looked like, but at the start I only tried to see the challenge ahead of me and was relaxed and focused. Maybe it would have been different if I was under pressure to run well in order to be selected for the national team.

My map SM middle qualification (heat C)
My map SM middle final
GPS-analysis from worldofo

I have actually never felt less competition stress than this year but it might have been the opposite. By leaving my job and putting more at stake, it would be easy to let my expectations rise too much and to crave for better results. Thinking about results shortly before competing is seldom good strategy so I try to avoid it. I remind myself that the time is limited and therefore I should enjoy every competition as much as possible, even if I do not feel confident every time.

Yesterday, at SM relay I got opportunity to run the last leg, for the first time this year. I wish I handled it in a better way. I was running probably too fast and I lost contact with the map on the way to the 2nd control. It resulted in quite a big mistake. It did not look very well at that moment but we still finished 3rd. One more medal, so I did not feel too disappointed.

My map SM relay

Next weekend World cup races are going to take place in Liberec, Czech republic. Czech TV has promised 5 hours of live coverage (page 7, big file 6MB). I hope it will be possible to see at least some of it even here in Sweden. Those of you traveling to Czech republic, try to learn a couple of useful phrases.

 

Bronze from Swedish champs long distance

Last Sunday I won my second individual medal from Swedish championship in D21. 11 years have gone since I got the first one (bronze from SM middle in Blekinge).

Long distance SM in Alingsås, in hilly and technical terrain with soft ground after a lot of raining accounted for slow speeds. Helena ran the 8,8km long course in 81 minutes, I was 3,5 min slower. When I came to the arena and map exchange after more than 60 minutes of running, I felt angry with myself for taking a wrong route choice (to c11) and making a few mistakes. But perhaps the anger made me run fast and push myself hard up the hills on the last loop. So on the contrary to WOC, I was able to improve my performance in the final part of the course and I am vary happy for that.

During the last 2 weeks my left hamstring has been giving me some worries. I am not sure if I would have been able to run without the treatment I received from Lalla Dickfors and Nils-Olov Åsman. Thank you!

My maps with comments in Swedish:
SM long final & Route choice comparison c4
SM long qualification (heat 1)

On Monday I was in Skattungbyn recording a promotional video for EOC 2012. A normal camera, a camera attached to a remote control helicopter and head camera was used in the production.
Promotional video Skattungbyn EOC2012

 

My 9th WOC

More than one week has passed since WOC ended so I have had some time for analysis and reflection. This year I ran the same distances as the last three years: sprint, long and relay. However, the WOC 2011 program was different compared to 2010. The combination of sprint Q and F in one day and long F the following day initially made me think I would better go for middle instead of sprint. That was one year ago. During the autumn and winter I changed my mind and decided I would try to prepare for the sprint & long combination, as I both felt more confident and enjoyed training for a town sprint more than a very technical middle in that kind of terrain. My club mate and world champion Karolina A Höjsgaard encouraged me a bit when she told me she won the gold at long distance in 2004 after running the sprint Q + F (and taking silver) the day before.

As I have not been working since January I have had more time for training and resting. I have noticed an improvement in my ability to recover and realized that I am able to train more than what I thought my body was capable of. Quite a nice discovery at the age of 32. On the other hand, throughout most of the season I was not sure whether I got faster and I was into some periods of doubt. The training of the last 2 months before WOC was going according to my plan and a few days before the departure to WOC I produced my best times ever in one of my track test sessions. At the same time I never felt “ready” enough for the technical challenges of the WOC-terrain but knowing I have put more effort into my overall preparation than ever before gave me some confidence.

Below you can find my maps and results, with comments in Swedish.

Long Q 3rd in heat C
Sprint Q 2nd in heat C
Sprint F 10th
Long F 4th
Relay 2nd

Here I write in English only a few thoughts about my performances and results. Both in the sprint and the long distance final I started and ran most of the course well but got too tired both physically and mentally at the end (in sprint the last 3 minutes and in long about the last 15 minutes) and that resulted in some mistakes. I did not have enough speed for a medal in the sprint but six best was possible. In the long distance I finished 4th, about 1 minute behind Helena and even if it was my best WOC result ever, I was sad for some time, feeling I lost the medal at the end.

WOC 2011 relay silver for the Czech team Photo: Peter Kaderavek

Before the relay we were discussing the legs and how the race could evolve. We remembered the world cup relay in Clermont- Ferrand in 2006 and concluded that this year it could be something similar. And it really was. Martina had a great first leg and came to the change-over in the lead. I was very careful during the first 20 minutes but then I suddenly started to think I am on the way to the 10th control (spectator control close to arena) instead of the 9th one. Almost 2 minutes mistake and I lost the lead there. Coming to the change-over about 40s behind and with many teams just ahead of me I was thinking that nothing had been decided yet. Martina and I were watching the drama of the last leg on the big screen. After finishing 5th or 6th in WOC relay so many times before, we were extremely happy to see Dana coming to the finish just one meter behind Minna. My first WOC medal!

Many thanks to the team-leaders: Radek, the head coach, Jan, the assistant coach and Lalla “the Butcher” Dickfors, our Swedish physio who took care of us in the best possible way. A lot of photos from the WOC can be found on Czech orienteering team's Facebook page.

Directly after WOC I had a short vacation in the French Alps, exploring some of the famous climbs from Tour de France: 50 photos.

 

Stable at O-Ringen

6th, 4th, 4th, 5th, 5th at E1-E5 and final result: 4th, about 4,5 minutes behind impressive Tove. Last year I finished 2nd, 10 minutes behind Simone and was extremely happy. I estimate that my overall performance was better this year, and the competition harder, so I should be pleased this year as well, and not focus on what I could have done better.

O-Ringen 2011 Photo: Jonas BirgersonMy maps:
Stage 1 (long)
Stage 2 (sprint)
Stage 3 (long) + GPS analysis leg 13 & comparison with LinneaG
Stage 4 (middle)
Stage 5 (long, chasing start)

The whole event was very well organized. 5 days with interesting terrain, demanding courses and precise maps. Leif Bylars, Stefan Larsson, Göran Winblad (course setters) & Karl-Erik Engblom (map maker), I hope you feel a huge satisfaction now, with the great job you have done. I also appreciate the special care I got as a member of “the world elite group”. Free entry fee, massage every day, meal and VIP parking.

Photo: Jonas Birgerson

The O-Ringen terrain was stony at some parts, I got to run 3 long distances and 1 (mostly urban) sprint so I believe it was a good preparation for WOC. The only dark cloud in my sky is a pain on the underside of my right heel, bothering me from time to time since Jukola.

 

73 minutes, winning time at WOC long final?

I can see that quite a few runners have chosen altitude training as a part of their preparation for WOC. The fact that all the WOC races, except for sprint, will be held at an altitude of 1300m-1500m (the arena in La Feclaz is at 1330m a. s. l.), must have contributed to their choice. I have been also considering altitude training but decided to stick to what has been working for me before.

Sälen

Yesterday I came home from a week in Sälen where O-Ringen + World Cup races were held in 2008. Sälen has great training facilities, in terms of maps, terrain, landscape and accommodation. And it is only 200km from Borlänge. I have been spending some time here almost every summer since 2005. This time I ran a few courses from 3+3, Malungs OK's training and races (for about half of the sessions there were still control-flags left in the forest) and also 2 courses from O-Ringen 2008.

My maps

While I was in Sälen, the Czech team had WOC-training camp in France. It might have been a stupid decision to skip it, but the camp was put on the team plan late and after spending a week in France only some days earlier (WOC selection races and training with the other Czech women June 29 - July 7) I did not want to travel to France again and miss the important week in Sälen.

I am a bit curious about the long distance training the Swedish team did together with the Czech team (and probably some others) last Thursday. I set the course at home a few weeks ago. DavidA posted his map with one of the course alternatives 9,6km. There was also one longer alternative 12,9km, I wonder if anybody ran it. I hope there will be some kind of route choice analysis from this training.

David mentions that the time/km should be faster at WOC long compared to the course I set on Le Revard. Let us have a look at the long distance races I have run in WOC relevant terrain.

World Cup October 2010 (Le Grand Roc): 9,0km 360m climbing 22c (spreading method phi-loop), winning time 71:25 (Simone)

National Savoie May 2011 (Le Revard 2): 8,6km 390m climbing 14c (no spreading method), winning time 69:11 (Annika)

WOC selection race CZE/SUI/GER/LTU July 2011 (Le Grand Roc): 9,1km 410m climbing 18c (no spreading method), winning time 85:17 (I won despite some mistakes. I guess a winning time of about 75minutes if it was WOC.)

And the course parameters for WOC long final from Bulletin 3: 10,0km 500m climbing 21c, estimated winning time 73min.

The number of controls suggests that there will be a spreading method. Still the time/km should be faster than in any of the races mentioned above. As a course setter I know that it is not easy to make an exact prediction. In the past it happened more than once that the estimated winning time at WOC long was exceeded by a few minutes.

Anyway I am happy that the course is that long and with that much climbing. I would even prefer to have the same winning time as men have (about 95min). Physiologically there is no reason for women to have shorter competition time. Some scientific studies conclude that women have better endurance capacity than men. It would be interesting to know the opinion of the other elite women. Would they like to have the same winning time as men?

I suppose at the WOC long there will still be a lot of technical and challenging orienteering but the terrain will be probably a bit faster compared to Le Revard. I expect also a lot of running on paths and forest roads. There is no old orienteering map covering the whole area of WOC long final (only this “randonee” map) so we can only guess how it will be. I like the fact that this year we do not know much.

My maps from the WOC selection races:

Middle Le Revard
Sprint Annecy
Long Le Grand Roc

All Czech women and a few others uploaded their GPS-files from the WOC long selection race to 3DRerun.
To check it out:
# Open 3DRerun
# Browse maps > July 3rd
# Click on WOC selection race long 7/3 - Map without route. In the pop-up window, choose all female names and click on “Open routes in 3DRerun”
# Click mousebutton while holding the ctrl-key on any point on the map to start all runners from one point.
# Click mousebutton while holding alt-key first on one point and then on another point to analyze the leg between these points. Open Analysis tools at the right. I use “Color by split time” and “Chrono analysis” functions, for comparing route choices/running speeds at different parts of a course.

Example of “Color by split time” analysis of the routes to the 3rd control.

 

Venla victory

Only couple of controls are left of the Venla relay and it seems to be a clear 2nd place for our team. Then GPS-tracking is shown again and we can see how Anni-Maija makes a mistake at the second last control and Lena passes her. Emma is fast to react, she starts to shout and leaves immediately to join Lena on the run in but Karro and I are like glued to the ground in front of the big TV-screen. We come to the run in when Tampereen Pyrintö is there, so our team gathers first behind the finish line. Never mind. We have won!!! Lena is very emotional and crying. It is nice to see. To be able to experience this kind of emotions is perhaps the main motivator for the daily training. This is Lena's first victory at Venla. The rest of us were in the team in 2008 when Domnarvets GoIF won for the first time (together with Dana who was supposed to run in the first team also this year but finally decided to stay at home, not to risk aggravating her calf injury).

Video of the decisive moment at the second last control

Venla 2011 victory
Foto: KJELL-ERIK KRISTIANSEN, www.sweski.com

I ran the 3rd leg and found myself in a situation very similar to Tiomila 7 weeks ago. After great performances of Emma and Karro, I started my leg in a lead, alone. Easy to get nervous like this but I knew that I must have only one thing in my head and that is focusing on how to get to the next control as fast possible. I was running well but the group starting about 1min behind me almost caught me. The only runner who appeared next to me was Riina from Tampereen Pyrintö and for a second I was thinking “Oh no, Pyrintö catching me again” but then I pull myself together and ran also the rest of the course without mistakes, not seeing Riina between the control 7 and 9 but coming together again at the end of the course.
My map Venla 3rd leg (and comparison of routes with Tampereen Pyrintö and Stora Tuna OK)
GPS-tracking from all legs
40 minutes from Venla on Finnish TV
Venla 2011 - Decisive GPS-tracking moments
Results of our team

It was difficult to fall asleep that evening after our victory but I wanted to get some sleep to be reasonably fresh for the last leg of Jukola which I planned to run as a fast training. I thought that I would probably go out from the mass-start of the last legs at 9:00 but it turned out that the guys in my team did better than I expected so I eventually started at about 7:45. I had respect for the course so I took off at moderate speed, not overly motivated to push myself too hard. But it was still enough to make myself pretty tired. I did 2 smaller mistakes close to control 17 and 22 and I am not sure about some route choices. My time was about 30 minutes worse compared with the fastest guys.
My map Jukola last leg
Results of our team

 

Norway, my favourite country

I spent about 30 days in Norway last year. It will probably not be that many this year, but I still like to visit this country. High quality orienteering and beautiful mountains are the main attractions. It is less than 3 hours driving from Borlänge to the border, but a lot more to reach the best part of the mountains.

My first trip to Norway was with Czech youth/junior team in 1994 (I think), for a training camp in Modum area (around Vikersund) and a journey to the west coast to see the fjords and one of the glaciers. Probably the most exciting visit so far was in 2006 when I participated in Adventure Racing World Championships. The start and finish was in Hemavan in northern Sweden but the biggest part of the 800km-long course went through Norway (Oxtindan, Seven sisters, Melfjorden, Svartisen). Photos from ARWC2006. I wish to explore this part of Norway again and see those places without being tired and under competition pressure. I would also like to participate in some “motbakkelöp” - uphill races which seem to be pretty popular in Norway, but there is little time to compete in another sport as long as I am elite orienteer. The last three years I took part in the ultra-long orienteering competition Blodslitet, held in Fredrikstad in October. I plan to come again this year, as long as I have enough energy left at the end of the season.

Pinselöpene Elgdilten

To run 3 orienteering races in 3 days was the purpose of my trip to Norway last weekend. Pinselöpene were held near Hamar, only 4,5hours driving from home. Almost all the Norwegian elite women were there during the first 2 days.
My maps:
Lövsprinten - middle Saturday (2nd)
Lövspretten - long Sunday (3rd)
Elgdilten – long Monday (2nd)
Route choice analysis from 3DRerun Sunday, c7 (color by split time)
The terrain of the last race was the best one but I was too tired to fully enjoy it. I would say my performance was a bit over my average during the first two days. There is a lot of work ahead of me to reach a better shape but during those races I could again see a positive trend, after some stagnation in May.

I also participated in a coaching seminar on Sunday afternoon. Kenneth Buch talked about communication between an athlete and a coach and Jan Kocbach about GPS-project of the Norwegian national team and GPS-analysis with 3DRerun.

Now I am starting to turn my attention towards Jukola. Domnarvets first team is selected: Karro-Eva-Dana-Lena.

 

France, Mora, Falun

The camp in France with Czech national team ended in similar way as the previous one in Switzerland - with running in snow. Stones, branches and snow all over it. Running is probably not the right word.

Many thoughts about the WOC terrain have been mixing in my brain since the first visit in the area last year. Well aware of my strengths and weaknesses as an orienteer, it was difficult to think positively all the time.

France, Semnoz

A few examples of some of my most negative thoughts:
“Out of the 30 best female orienteers, I must be the slowest one when it comes to running downhill in a harsh terrain.”
“I have chosen wrong year to be professional. My chances to take a medal at WOC this year are close to zero.”
“I should only run sprint at WOC.”

Of course, this is not a constructive way of thinking so I have been trying hard to change my view of the situation and increase my self-confidence.

The strategy is:

1) To do my best to improve my running technique in this kind of terrain, especially downhill. I keep convincing myself that downhill running is not any innate skill. I know I am good in running uphill. One of my most favorite ways of training is to run up/climb a top of a mountain. I enjoy it, I do it often and I continue to improve. Why cannot I do the same with the downhill part? So since a few months back I have been focusing more on downhill. Almost every time there is a downhill, I remind myself to push, to run aggressively and to think positively. Even if it is an orienteering race, some of my brain activity is devoted to it. It might sound stupid to deliberately think about other things than orienteering during a race, especially in this o-technically demanding terrain, but I find it necessary, since pushing downhill is not yet natural for me. I think the key is to realize that downhill running can be fun. I have already experienced some positive feelings while running downhill and I hope more will come with more practice.

2) Not compare myself too much with others and instead focus on my own improvement. I cannot influence how fast the others are running. I have experienced frustration earlier while comparing my downhill running with others. So now I try to avoid thinking about it, instead I try to compare with myself only.

3) See the terrain as a challenge and a possibility to become a better orienteer. If I manage to improve in this terrain, it will also help me to run faster in future races, after WOC. For me orienteering is about mastering all kinds of terrain and also all distances so giving up trying to do my best this year would be against my conviction.

The Czech team ran the two French races, like many other national teams.
My maps: Middle Saturday and Long Sunday.
Then we did some training, the last session was on Wednesday, when the snow came. All my maps are in my map archive.

Saturday last week was a bit nervous day for me since I was course setter for the elitserien middle in Mora. Everything worked out fine. I was satisfied with the fact that the route choice at the end of the E1-courses was rather decisive.
GPS-tracking: Men and women. It was about 20s faster for men and 30s for women to run around on the path (to the left) compared to running straight, crossing the gully.

On Monday it was time for me to compete again, in Falun, on a new map, in an area I had never been to. I checked the street view on www.hitta.se in the evening before the race and realized we could get some tricky orienteering. My map. I managed to run the whole course concentrated, finding the fighting spirit in the right moment. I often doubt about my ability before a race, for example when my legs are feeling heavy during the warm up, but I seem to know how to get into the racing mood, to forget everything and just concentrate on the way to the next control; especially in sprint races, it has been working well recently.

Elitserien sprint Falun prize giving, Foto: Sven Lundbäck
Photo: Sven Lundbäck

Since I missed 2 out of the 3 recent elitserien races and also decided to skip NORT, I will go to Norway this weekend to participate in 2 long distances and 1 middle distance, all in 3 days. 2 of the races are part of the Craft Cup so there will be a possibility to compete against the best Norwegians. www.pinselopene.no

 

May in Dalarna

I have not been participating in any important races since Tiomila and the plan for the past weeks was to use the terrain close to my home for some WOC-relevant training. I have been healthy and the left knee which had been disturbing me since winter has been rather OK but I was hoping to feel more fresh and that my body would tolerate more training. When the recovery does not work as supposed and I lack energy, iron deficiency might be a possible cause. It is such a common problem for female athletes. A few times in the past I had low iron status so from time to time I try to get a blood test and I even take iron supplements. They usually disturb my stomach but the last one I tried seems to be OK. Otherwise I almost never take any supplements. I do not find it necessary, it is better to eat properly.

My maps from the races I ran after Tiomila:
Avesta middle
Avesta long (H21)
Årsunda long (H21)
Säter middle 1 and middle 2

Usually D21-courses in the local races are rather short compared to what we get at WOC so I entered H21 to get longer time in competition speed. Afterwards I started to doubt it was a good o-technical training for me. I ran more slowly than I would do on a shorter course, having more time to solve the orienteering problems. I should actually train the opposite - to speed up my map reading and decision making. But of course it was a good endurance training.

We have had some "WOC-training" here. There are quite a few runners who try to qualify for WOC, living in Dalarna. Detailed hilly rough terrain resulting in slow km-times was the requirement. I participated in the training in Asaklitt 1 & Asaklitt 2 and Fransberget 1 and Fransberget 2, and organized one in Gimsbärke.

This month I also devoted some time to working with course setting and test running of courses for Elitserien/WRE middle in Mora held on June 4 and also in Skattungbyn where EOC2012 middle and long will be held in May next year. The EOC course setting is a project requiring many hours spent both in the forest and in front of a computer and at some meetings. The old map of the Skattungbyn area is already published on the EOC website. I am very happy to be part of the course setting team and I will do my best to make the EOC-courses as good as possible.

Tomorrow I hope to be able to get to France but I am not sure since some flights from Sweden have been cancelled recently due to the volcanic ash. The Czech team will be participating in the national races this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, together with many other national teams. Then we stay for 3 more days to train in the WOC terrain. Our WOC-selection races will be held on July 1-3 in France, on the WOC training maps. We will have them together with the Swiss, German and perhaps some other teams.

 

Nordic Orienteering Tour - to go, or not to go?

I still have not decided whether I should participate in the NORT June 16-25 or not. Czech national team does not have this race on its program. The reason is “too little fun for too much money”.

NORT consists of 3 competition days:
1) middle Q (25min) + sprint F (12min) in Porvoo, Finland on Thursday June 16
2) knock-out sprint in Göteborg, Sweden on Tuesday June 21
3) middle with chasing start (40 min) in Oslo, Norway on Saturday June 25

Last year the decision was easy. We had EOC in Bulgaria in the beginning of June and WOC-selection races at the same time as NORT. This year there are only few possibilities to compete against the world best runners so I started to consider going to NORT even if I do not like the format of the races, it is a logistical nightmare and it will cost me some money.

The whole event stretches over 11 days (with traveling to Finland on 15th of June). Of course there is Jukola in between but there are also 3 days without races between Tuesday and Saturday (the races in Göteborg and Oslo). Luckily for me, since I live in Sweden, I can use my car to get to the races in Sweden and Norway and perhaps stay at some friends' place to save money but is it really worth all the energy I will put in to it? Shouldn't I stay at home and train properly instead?

To make the NORT more attractive for runners, I believe the program must be changed. Making it more compact, more races closer to each other and most of all competing in all disciplines, not only sprint and middle. I really do not understand why there is not any long distance.

There are many nations missing on the list of entries. Soon I have to decide whether NORT is worth going. Is it?

 

Tiomila x2

I am still disappointed that I lost so much time on the 4th leg at Tiomila. I though I was doing quite OK until I was caught by Saila Kinni from Tampereen Pyrintö. Why did I loose so much time? Not being offensive, stopping and hesitating too much. Perhaps some bad route choices. Running too slowly. Is my shape not good at the moment or I am simply not as fast as I hoped to be after winter? My map Saturday

Yesterday I also participated in the men's race, running the last leg in Sjövalla/Lerum team. A possibility to get some good training. I had especially the WOC-long in my mind when I put my request in the team bank. I did a mistake at the first control but then I was able to catch and overtake quite a few runners so it was a bit of fun. My map Sunday

 

Gotland, a different part of Sweden

Traveling to Gotland, Swedish largest island, can feel like visiting another country. Also the Swedish championships, night and sprint, were held in a non-typical Swedish terrain. The night was pretty fast, with huge amount of paths and roads, and the sprint final was in a medieval town Visby, with street pattern resembling more a south european village than a Swedish one.

The Swedish night-o champs race was probably my first night competition since juniorclass. I am a bit embarrassed that I have not done more night races. Night-o is a perfect training for day-o. I am not afraid of darkness and feel comfortable alone in the forest after sundown but I seldom participate in the night cup held here in Dalarna every second week during winter. The snow, sometimes very low temperatures and the level of o-technical challenges (following somebody who is making a path in the snow) have not made it very attractive for me... or I am just not tough enough. When the snow finally melts, the sun goes down quite late so the sleep must be compromised in order to get in some night-o training. The best training period for night-o here is actually end of september - october.

Anyway, the night race was a great fun. I enjoyed every step even if I was unsure and slowing down too much sometimes. No big mistakes but 8 minutes behind Helena (and 1 minute behind bronze). My map - Swedish champs night.

Visby historical town

The sprint race was more important for me. A controlled performance in qualification (my map Swedish champs sprint qualification) and good legs during warm up... I will enjoy this race was what was going through my head before the start. The first part was downhill with some route choices. I was very careful and sometimes it took too long time to choose my route but I think I made all the decisions right. Physically I want to believe I am on a higher level than one week earlier in Switzerland. I missed the medal with 7 seconds but I am still happy with the whole trip to Gotland. My map - Swedish champs sprint final.

I was expecting a bit more from our sprint course. Technically it was more demanding than an usual sprint in Sweden but I was hoping for even more route choices, when the "terrain" was like this. Today I was trying to set a course with more focus on route choosing. Well, it was not so easy.
Even if some of the route choices are pretty obvious, some decisions must be made and some brain activity used at almost each control. Not so much time to relax. Good sprint course = high speed and many route choices.

April, a high risk month?

Last year April was probably the worst training month for me. First I got sick and then I had a strange muscle cramp in my left thigh so I missed most of the races and my shape after Tiomila was bad. After some training camps and races in February and March and working and traveling back and forth to Mora in between, I was lacking energy at the start of the competition season in Sweden. This year I promised myself to be careful and smart and enter the competition season more fresh. I have to admit it has been difficult to follow this plan. March and April are filled with training camps and races again. What is different this year is that I do not work and that is what I hope will keep me on the right side of the line.

My competition season started in Switzerland last weekend, at Swiss sprint and middle champs. I find it difficult to decide whether I am happy about my performances. During the sprint I could run pretty fast at some parts of the course but I lost the flow at some others, especially at the end, I missed twice about 10s. It was still a better performance than I had at some sprint trainings earlier this year so the trend is positive. Map Sprint.

The middle was technically not demanding but in combination with the high running speed which this terrain requires it was still possible to lose some time. I was telling myself not to underestimate the orienteering. I managed to concentrate well and technically my run was close to maximum. Physically it was not really my day. It is not strange that the shape is going upside down so much during this time of the season. What I am more concerned about is my left leg/knee which sometimes hurts a bit too much. Map middle.

Switzerland

After the races the Czech team (over 30 people) moved to Oberberg near Schwyz in the Alps to get in some training in France-relevant terrain. Our coach remembered Euromeeting 2009 and decided that the map Gibel was worth to visit again. It was stony, green, hilly, bad visibility, dangerous... and I was struggling, again being reminded about how much faster I should be running downhill in broken terrain. Now the snow is almost all gone in Borlänge so there are no excuses not to work hard on improving this ability.

My maps from Switzerland are in my map archive.

In Poland with juniors

17 years passed since my previous visit in Gdynia. In spring 1994, 15-years-old, I got a chance to join the Czech junior&youth team for a training camp in Gdynia/Gdansk area. I still have the maps from this camp at home. What I remember was the tiring car trip across Poland. Even this time the travel was pretty long. Borlänge-Karlskrona with a stop in Alingsås (SM long training) on the way to the south and in Vänersborg (SM relay training) on the way back. And the night ferry to Gdynia.

The camp in Poland was not on my plan from the beginning but the snow situation at home and in Sweden in general made me change it and join Mora & Leksand (mostly) juniors who chose Poland because of the JWOC this year. I was lucky not to have to do any organizational work before the camp but in Poland I got involved in some coaching again which was very nice. After working as a coach for 4 years I now know how to combine my own training and coaching others. Before a training I usually gather the runners for short information about the exercise and talk about what to focus on, I make sure they start in some intervals and first after the last one leaves, I begin my own warm up and "put myself into the training mode."

I did not have any big expectations about the o-technical challenges of this terrain and I saw the camp more as a possibility to get in some tough hill training. Still I have to admit I was experiencing some difficulties, for example slope controls with no details around can be a bit tricky. I was also struggling with the quality of some maps. One of the o-technical abilities which can be trained well in this kind of terrain is route choice. We organized one training for route testing with 4 long legs on which I asked the runners to run as fast as possible, and with some short legs in between to turn the course and to recover by jogging/walking. Runners from Finland, Israel, Poland and Bulgaria joined us for this training which was great. I asked all to draw their routes and write times from each of the legs in WebRoute for analysis. The map Biala Rzeka with the whole course and my route.

Poland april 2011 Mora & Leksand

Thanks to the Finnish club MS Parma for sharing their courses and maps with us and also to the Polish JWOC organizers for helping us. Good luck with the JWOC!

Some weeks ago I made a theoretical o-exercise: 15 legs with route choices on map Zamkowa Gora, where the long and middle final will be held. It can also be found in WebRoute, little bit further down the list.

JWOC has been held in this area already twice. It might be interesting to look at the maps and courses from those races:

1994
Robert Banach, who won, posted his map from long distance with some route choice analysis on his blog.

2004
Maps from Anders Tiltnes long, middle and relay and also all maps from Michal Krajcik.
M. Merz and S. Tarvonen won the long distance and A. B. Nilsen and H. Jansson won the middle.

For more maps, results and also photos from JWOC, WOC and other races check Antti Nieminens great website.

All my maps from Poland are in my map archive.

 

Tomorrow I am leaving my home again for a training camp with Czech national team and races in Switzerland, Swiss championship sprint and middle, with teams from Finland, France and some other countries participating. The sprint on Saturday will be my first race since October. It will be also the first time this year I am meeting the Czech team, I have missed all the short camps they already had during the winter. Of course, I am wondering how good my shape is, there has been little comparison with other elite women during the winter.

 

Clermont-Ferrand

Two times in France during the last month, first Le Caylar and then Clermont-Ferrand. I am happy I could train in those two very interesting areas. Life as an orienteering professional is sweet.

The camp in Clermont-Ferrand was officially IFK Mora's activity but we were also joined by Emma from Sävedalens and Kine from Norway. I am not coach in Mora anymore and I was at the camp mostly as an athlete but still it was nice to meet the runners from the club and also to do a little bit of coaching. We were lucky that the Pole France group from Saint Etienne was at the same place for 2 days and that Thierry stayed even longer. It is always interesting to see how it works in different teams. There is no doubt that the French guys are one of the most hard-working orienteers I have seen. And to train with and talk to Thierry, it gave again a lot of inspiration.

One year ago, we went to Clermont-Ferrand with the Czech national team to train together with the Swedish team. It was my first experience of the vulcanic terrain. I remember I was trying to prepare myself mentally for the stony ground but it was still a bit of shock. I hit my knee during the first training and my self-confidence, at least in the beginning of the camp, was pretty low. This year I was also thinking that it would be tough but my impression this time was that it is definitely manageable both when it comes to running and orienteering technique. I started to enjoy orienteering there directly. The only injury this time happened at the last training, during a sprint in the town center of Clermont-Ferrand. I fell in a middle of a street and did some damage to my long finger but it is nothing serious.

Jegor running in Ayday March 2011

The courses which we ran were partly from some training the French group did earlier and also some from the Norwegian training camp which was held one week before ours (thanks Petter that we could run those ones). I feel I have improved in this kind of terrain but I am not sure how much. I did some mistakes, but only few big ones. I think sometimes I have too big "security margin". I read too many things on the map and stop often when I do not understand something. Spending more time in this kind of terrain, working on compass routines, running more night-o are the ways how to improve further.

Matthieu Puech was the kind person who organized all the training and helped us a lot. Thank you!

99 photos from the camp (taken by me, Emma, Kristian and some others).

Maps from all our training:

16mar
A: Control picking Moulet Marcenat Directly after long drive from Paris. Thunderstorm at the end.

17mar
M: Middle Aydat Routines: plan, ahead in head, compass.
A: Mass-start loops Aydat With Pole France group. 5 short forked courses.

18mar
M: Combi Mazayes slow&fast Part of the course fast on a reduced map (without black).
A: Corridor Montlosier Very slowly but still brain has to work hard.
E: Jegor's map from night-o, his first training in Clermont-Ferrand

19mar
M: Long Vulcania Same course as the Norwegian team did. Steady pace. A bit afraid to get lost.
A: Pair exercise Aydat With Magda, without any controls in the forest.
E: Jegor's map from night training with Thierry, Aydat Jegor was just about to start to eat his dinner when I told him that he should go for night training with Thierry. After some initial protests he changed his mind and went for it. It was his 4th session that day.

20mar
M: 3 loops Montlosier Trying to run as fast as possible, demanding session
A: Curves only Aydat Most tired of the whole week, both legs and brain in slow motion

21mar
M: Mass-start French style Aydat Special way of forking. Short film from the first control
A: Sprint Clermont-Ferrand town center No flow at all and crash on the way to the 3rd control.


The winter is getting too long

Most of the time I enjoy living in Borlänge, Dalarna, Sweden but right now I am dreaming of being somewhere else where no snow and ice covers the ground. I regret not going to POM this year, the maps and courses looked great. In November, in the beginning of the training year I made a decision that I would try to limit my traveling and stay at home more often. At that time I was very tired and also fed up with packing my bags, searching tickets on internet, traveling to the airport...

I still think traveling sucks a lot of energy out of me but now I wish I would plan some more camps in the south during this month. March is probably the least enjoyable training month here. It is much warmer compared to December-February, sometimes couple of degrees above zero in the middle of a day, but nights are still cold so the snow melts slowly and it transforms into ice. The result is that most of the smaller roads and paths start to resemble a skating track. The bigger roads are already clear of snow and ice so running on them is one of the options but I find it boring and the hard surface increases the risk of getting injured. I admire all marathon runners who do so many kilometers on asphalt. I could not be one of them. Running in forest is much more fun.

At home March 2011

Another training option is running on snow scooter tracks. Luckily driving snow scooter is popular in this part of Sweden and there is one nice hilly track, not far from my home. Yesterday we did our club interval training on this track, long hill reps. It was a bit like running in sand. Unfortunately I gave up after 3 reps out of 5, my knee did not like this kind of surface where you do not get a proper grip when you push hard.

Probably the most enjoyable way of running training in March is on the indoor track in Falun. I have avoided the track during a bigger part of this winter because of being afraid of aggravating my leg/knee-injury but it seems to do no harm to it now so I will try to run there more regularly. Track intervals with LenaE is a tough session but I think we both like pushing each other.

Enough complaining, there are many other orienteers who have similar running conditions at home now. I have already been at two training camps abroad this winter and the departure for the next one, in Clermont Ferrand, is scheduled in less than one week.

Since beginning of January I have been a professional athlete, almost not working at all. I have been able to both train and rest more than ever before and so far I have been enjoying this kind of life a lot. At the same time I feel a bit of a pressure to train more and more and it is not easy to allow myself a rest day (or not even a half rest day). As a rule number one I try to be enough fresh for the high intensity running sessions (this month 3 times/week) instead of just pushing the training volume as high as possible. I feel that my ability to recover has improved significantly but I am not sure if/how much faster I am now compared to one year ago. Since December I have been struggling with a knee/leg injury. It is not really an injury. It seems I can run as much as I want, at least on hard/stable surfaces, but for example xc-skating causes a dull pain in my left knee. I have invested a couple of hundreds of euro in physio-treatments and I think it has helped me a lot but the leg is still not 100%.

I hope that it will be possible to find at least some patches of snow-free ground in a few weeks. I have promised myself not to complain if the terrain is very stony or green. It is still better than running on an asphalt road.

Both as a runner and coach in France

A few weeks ago I was asked by Magnus from OK Hällen to join them for a training camp in Aveyron/Le Caylar area in France. The deal was that I would help them to increase the quality of their orienteering training during the camp and at the same time I would be able to train myself. I am glad I decided to go with them, both to be able to experience the interesting terrain there and also to practice my coaching skills. My task was to talk about the terrain, courses and orienteering challenges before each session and also to do some kind of analysis afterwards. I was helped by Peter Öberg who collected our GPS-files for comparison in QuickRoute/GoogleEarth and also by some of the runners who shared their thoughts from the training. A couple of French guys were with us at the camp. Lucas Basset seemed to handle this kind of terrain very well.

One of the topics I talked about was consistency in working with orienteering technique. For most orienteers it is no problem to find motivation to run various orienteering courses but the second part of the training - analysis - is often left out. Too often I see runners leaving and forgetting their maps somewhere, not even drawing their routes. I believe that a lot of can be learned and improved by doing some kind of post-run work.

Here is what I try to do after each o-training and race:
* What was the purpose of this training/race? Did I have any special tasks to work on? How did I succeed?
* I study my GPS-route. I look at my mistakes to figure out why their happened. I try to remember exactly what thoughts I had in my head in decisive moments. I also check my speed in different kinds of terrain. I draw my route on the map.
* I write down at least one positive thing from the training.
* I also write down what I learned/what I should do in different way next time.

I know it can be tough to do this stuff when you are at a training camp but if it is a routine it does not have to take too much time. Even if the analysis is best done soon after, sometimes it might be better to rest/sleep instead and postpone it a bit so that you are able to concentrate properly when you are out and running. It is easy to fill a training camp program with various meetings, presentations etc. in addition to orienteering training twice a day but I have learnt that less is usually better than more.

Nant village

We were lucky to be able to run in this terrain. I was told that the area had been closed for orienteering since French 6-days 2008 (because of problems with land-owners) and not even the French team had been there since then. The map scales used for our training were 1:5000-1:7500 and still some of the maps looked as if the scale was 1:15000. Of course, most of the maps are very detailed and not drawn according to the international mapping standard but as a training it was a perfect way to learn and improve some o-techniques. Probably the most demanding map was Bouzigasses, the map was nominated for "101 orienteering maps you should run on before you die".

Even if it was not the first time I was training in this area (we were here with the Czech national team in spring 2008) I was still struggling to understand how to handle some parts of the terrain. A few times I felt like a beginner and got frustrated. I think I need some more time in this terrain to feel in control. I hope to be able to come back.

Maps & courses:

19feb
M: Map understanding Eulalie Very slowly, looking at all possible objects on the map and in the terrain to understand how they are drawn.
A: Control picking Bouzigasses Probably the most difficult training. Very unsure feeling.

20feb
M: Pair exercise Patus With Linnea, trying to "fool each other" by deviating from the best route and changing in the lead somewhere where it is difficult to relocate
A: Sprint Nant Fast session with startlist and SI-timekeeping.

21feb
M: Route choice/pair exercise Corvertoirade With Linnea, every time I take another route choice so that we can compare different alternatives.
A: Control picking Bouzigasses Easier part of the map. Trying to run fast the last part of the course.

22feb
M: Camp championship Patus Great variation in terrain. Good to remind yourself that thinking "I will run fast now" is usually not the best tactics
A: Corridor/line Bouzigasses The easier version of this kind of an o-exercise (map visible even outside the corridor).

23feb
M: Last training Le Caylar A bit extreme terrain in the last part of the course. Feeling stupid while standing on a top of a rock and not sure how to get to the control only 20 meters away.

35 photos from the camp (some of them taken by Tomas Lundström).

Turkey - best training camp of this year?

This is a report from our training camp in Turkey. Our group DalaSportsAcademy & Domnarvets GoIF spent one week on the southern coast, the first 4 days in the town Antalya and the last 3 days in Side/Manavgat. The DSA's coach Kalle Dalin ordered 12 o-sessions in 6 days. I was a bit skeptical about me being able to run so much during that week, but my legs survived the whole camp and actually I had the best feeling at the very last session.

Here is what we trained (links to the maps):

30jan
M: First session control picking + corridor Kursunlu First time orienteering&running on snow-free ground since November
Sightseeing waterfalls
A: Middle Kursunlu waterfall Fast terrain, running straight most of the time. "Flow feeling" almost the whole course.

31jan
M: Middle Elsazi west In the mountains. First fast session. It looks easy but I managed to get lost
A: Short middle Elsazi east Nice view over the mountains (peaks about 2500m high not so far away)

1feb
M: Sprint Antalya old town A bit exotic place for orienteering. Great fun and some route choices.
Sightseeing in the old town while jogging after the race
A: Line-O & short loops Lara A map close to the coast, sandy ground. Pretty tired.

2feb
M: Gebiz chasing start Great terrain & map. Perhaps the best training of the week.
A: Gebiz control picking One more session in this beautiful terrain.
Moving to Manavgat

3feb
M: Normal course Oymapinar Some route choices. Running together with the best Turkish female orienteer Emine. I like the hilly terrain.
A: Short course TitreyenGöl Very close to the hotel, sand dunes, the map quality is not so good.

4feb
M: Sprint Side old town Another exotic experience. In summer there must be a lot of tourists here.
A: Chasing start Sorgun In natural heritage forest close to the hotel. Very fast terrain and great fun again even if Dana and Elin overtook me at the last control. My legs are working and no pain in the knee.

59 photos from the camp

Many thanks to Veysel Güler and Eon tours for arranging the camp for us. Veysel was with us during the whole week and he we was very helpful and eager to make the whole stay for us as enjoyable as possible. Even if some of the maps were not completely accurate, the courses were pretty good and we experienced a variety of terrains. I am pleased with the orienteering training we did here. We stayed in 2 hotels (with 4 and 5 stars), for me a luxury which I hardly can afford during a camp in Scandinavia. It was also great to visit and see Turkey, a country I have not been to before. I would definitely recommend this camp to other orienteers.

Turkey - orienteering in Side

Soon it is time for another trip abroad. On Friday I am going to France. I will join Swedish club OK Hällen at their training camp in Le Caylar area. My task will be to help them with analysis of orienteering technique but I will also be able to do training on my own.

Xc-skiing now but orienteering in Turkey soon

During the last 2 months xc-skiing has been my main way of training. If the conditions are good I enjoy it very much and I also believe that it will make me stronger and faster later when the o-season starts. I feel more comfortable about my skiing technique this winter so I have been able to do some interval and tempo training on skis. I run, but so far only 3-5 times a week. Since the end of the last autumn I have been having some niggles with my left leg/knee. I have been a bit worried that more running might aggravate it but now after a few treatments by osteopath Leon Spiller and by massage therapist Lars-Åke Dickfors I am much more optimistic. I hope to be able to run without pain next week in Turkey where we go for a training camp with Domnarvet and Dala Sports Academy.
My training log in Swedish

Prästbodarna, Gyllbergen skiing in January 2011

In the middle of January I was organizing two training events. First I was a course setter for "winter cup" (night-o with mass-start and forked courses). The finish line was just outside the door of our house. Video (from start) and map (longest course, 3 loops) from the night-o.

The other event I was involved in was "Dalaoffensiven" training day. This winter we have decided to have some training activities open for anybody from the o-clubs in Dalarna. My club was the responsible for the one in January. The day started with two short sprint-o courses outdoor (the temperature was about -20 Celsius), then we had an indoor orienteering training in a sport hall and after eating lunch together we had an o-theory session with a route choice exercises (Jukola, Tiomila, JWOC and one Swiss map). I believe that training together with other people can have many positive effects and I was glad that we had more than 30 participants.
Map with one of indoor-o courses and video.

Various photos (31) from the last month

Calm life

Winter in BorlängeA calm life at home without any racing and/or long traveling is exactly what I need after the exhaustion at the end of the 2010-season. Slowly, I have started the training of the base period even if my legs do not always like what I want them to do. For example running on track, or hard surfaces in general, makes my hamstring and gluteal muscles tight. I think it is piriformis syndrome where the problem starts. Also my left knee has not been behaving 100%. There might be a connection between the piriformis syndrome and the knee pain. I have been experiencing this kind of troubles from time to time since a few years back so I guess I just have to avoid activities making it worse, even if it was, of course, best if I could find a specialist who could tell me what to do about it.

I try to remind myself that my situation is still fine compared to some other orienteers struggling with various injuries. Actually I have been able to train well during the last couple of weeks and my body has been responding better and better. It is still possible to run in the forest here in Borlänge, the snow depth is 20-40cm. Also xc-skiing is an efficient and enjoyable way of training at the moment. I only wish it was a bit warmer sometimes. Threshold training with long hill reps both on skis and running is what, I believe, will make me faster next year, together with all the volume low intensity training.

What else has happened since my last post here?

I had a presentation about improving quality of orienteering training, at Elittränarträffen (meeting for orienteering coaches) in Göteborg. Presentations from the meeting are available for download at www.o-training.net.
Elittränarträff Göteborg. Foto: Peter Holgersson

I have been named The best Czech orienteer of the year. For the first time.

Together with my club mates and some other friends we had a great training camp in Harsa.
Skiing in Harsa

Yesterday it was the last training for me as a coach for IFK Mora. I am sure sometimes I will miss my work and also the people from Mora.
Training in Mora, running corridor

I want to say thank you to everybody who has been supporting me this year and I wish you Happy New Year!

 

Plans for 2011

Juggling at homeAfter a more than one-month-long break from structured training I feel ready to start the preparation for the next season. I am out-shape now but my energy is back and I do not have any pain anymore (I had some problems with my left leg after Blodslitet). I have not been lying in sofa during the past weeks but the training volume and intensity was low. The only kind of training I tried to intensify during this period was balance and strength training.

The biggest change for the next year is that I am (almost) not going to work. After a lot of thinking I decided to quit my job as a coach in IFK Mora. It was not any easy decision, after almost 4 years of a very interesting work I have also become a friend with the people from the club, but I feel that if I want to take one more step forward as an athlete I need more energy for my own training and especially better possibility for recovery. I have been asked how I am going to finance it. I have some savings, I have won some prize money this year (which made the decision easier) and I have support from my boyfriend. I am almost 32 and I want to try to be a professional athlete and see how good I can be, before I "retire".

When it comes to the training plan, I am not going to change too much. I want to increase the total volume a bit, especially by running more. During this winter I plan to have 2 sessions/week at about threshold intensity, one of them on indoor track with short reps 200-400m and the other one outdoors: longer reps 5-10min with 1-2min rest or some kind of a tempo run. I decided to skip the heavy strength training in a gym I did during the last 2 winters and instead run more and train more often balance, plyometrics and speed.

I am still working in Mora until the end of this year and I am also busy with finishing the elite coach education program so there is a lot of to do during the coming weeks.

 

End of season

My o-season 2010 is not over yet but it feels like it. After 10 days of training and world cup races in France/Switzerland I came home with mixed feelings and very little energy left for the two remaining races. Yesterday I participated in Blodslitet, Norwegian ultra-long distance. Until the last moment I was hoping my body would "wake up" and respond in normal way. Even if I like this kind of a tough race and normally can push myself and perform well, this time it was a very unpleasant experience. I finished 7th, over 8 minutes down to Hausken. I am happy I was able to avoid big mistakes. It felt like I was on autopilot, navigating through the course.
Blodslitet GPS-tracking first two loops and last loop.

If I think logically I can understand why I am so tired, after all racing, traveling and working without any proper break, but it is still difficult to accept that my body is in such a bad condition now. I have also been a bit stressed recently and sometimes in not so good mood, and I know how it can affect recovery.

I also know that it is not so good to make too many conclusions and plans for the next year, feeling like this. It is easy to see the negatives only. I do not want to forget that 2010 has been my best season so far.

My performances in the world cup races in France and Switzerland were not very bad, I finished 7th in France (my map - long), 11th in St Cergue (my map - middle) and 14th in Geneva (my map - sprint) but I could see how my shape was getting worse all the time. The training camp between the two world cup weekends was not the best way how to prepare for the world cup final in Switzerland but it was a valuable experience for WOC 2011 and even WOC 2012.

I wish I could write here that the WOC 2011 terrain was fantastic. I was trying hard to get a positive impression but I was not able to fool myself and I ended up pretty frustrated after a few hours spent with the WOC 2011 training maps. It is a challenge and it is the same for everybody, that was how I tried to see it, but I just could not make myself enjoy orienteering there. I want to be able to run but I could not do it in this kind of forest. Instead I had nightmares about how I am going to break my leg in between some of the stones.

After some days in the WOC 2011 terrain we moved to Jura mountains where the World cup middle distance was and also WOC 2012 middle would be held. The Jura terrain felt like "walk in a park" compared to Le Reward area (WOC 2011) and I also liked the landscape and the village where we were staying so here the impression was very good. Also the WC-sprint in Geneva was great, it was probably the best sprint I have ever run, when it comes to the course and terrain. Another nice experience was my 400km long road trip in the Alps last Monday.

See my photos from France and Switzerland (some from the most extreme terrain "Arith", and also many photos from the Alps).

The last race of this season is Elitserien final (middle distance) next weekend. I am not going to give up.

More in my training diary. At the moment I have problems with my DOMA map archive but the maps are still possible to find via omaps.worldofo.com (direct link)

Col de la Colombiere

Vacation in Corsica

To take it easy and rest is not what I like to do when I am on a vacation. So there was not much lying on a beach during the week I spent in Corsica. The beautiful Corsican mountains attracted my attention already some years ago and now I finally got a chance to explore them a little bit more. Here are some photos. There is more written in my training diary (in Swedish).

Sometimes it is nice to abandon the structured training plan and just train what I feel like. Many hours of running, hiking and cycling in a very hilly terrain is not what makes a great shape in a short term but spending some time in mountains always gives me a lot of positive energy. When I was younger my dream was to become a mountain guide...

Corsica - on the top of Monte Cinto 2706m

25-manna förberedelser

För IFK Mora är 25-manna en av årets viktigaste tävlingar. Därför funderar jag varje år hur jag ska bäst förbereda våra löpare på det som väntar. Igår började vi med årets första 25-manna träning. Normalt heter orienteringsträningar som jag ansvarar för på onsdagar ”teknikträning” men nu fram till 25-manna kallas de ”25-manna träning”. Klubben har också ”träningsorientering” på torsdagar som olika klubbmedlemmar ansvarar för. Där brukar det finnas 3-4 banor på olika svårighetsnivåer till skillnad mot mina teknikträningar där löparna ofta få träna på ett eller några specifika moment istället för att springa en vanlig bana. Även om jag alltid säger att teknikträningar inte bara är till för elitlöpare är det inte alla som vågar komma dit. När träningen heter 25-manna träning är flera villiga att ge sig ut på banan. Dessutom försöker jag i större grad anpassa träningen till flera kategorier löpare utan att eliten får sämre träning. Anpassningen kan bestå av att det är flera slingor som ska springas (= lättare att korta av) och att jag använder olika typer av kartor. De som kan orientera bra får ofta springa med ”reducerade” kartor, dvs jag döljer symboler för stigar, vägar och ibland också vegetation eller nåt annat. De som är lite osäkra på sin orienteringsförmåga får en vanlig karta eller kan de ta med sig båda sorterna och testa om de klarar av den svårare varianten.

Vad ska då tränas inför 25-manna?

Att orientera självständigt när det är många människor i skogen, på olika banor.
Ett vanligt upplägg för moras 25-manna träning är: mass-start, 2-3 slingor med gafflade banor och eventuellt en ogafflad slinga på slutet. Så kallad one-man-relay så att alla som avverkar hela banan får springa lika långt till slut. Igår valde jag att ha 2 slingor gafflade med varandra med 2st kontroller som ska passeras på båda slingorna vilket get totalt 8 olika gafflingsalternativ. Den tredje och sista gemensamma slingan var ogafflad med två längre sträckor och möjlighet till vägval.
Inför träningen berättar jag inte för löparna på vilket sätt banan är gafflad.

25-manna träning banpåtryck

I OCAD 9 gör jag så här:
2 gafflade slingor: jag skapar en bana som jag kallar A och väljer Typ av bana: normal stafett och Antal sträckor: 2.
Den sista ogafflade slingan: jag skapar en vanlig individuell bana som jag kallar B.
För att skriva ut så att det blir en jämn spridning av gafflingsalternativen över startfältet väljer jag rätt antal startnummer. T ex om jag räknar med att det kommer 16st löpare, väljer jag Bana>Klasser>Startnummer ”1-16” för bana A. För bana B behöver jag inte göra nåt speciellt med klasserna. När jag sen skriver ut kartorna på klubbens laserskrivare väljer jag Bana>Skriv ut>Banor klickar på OK och sen i rutan som kommer upp väljer jag Startnummer: alla. Jag ser också till att någonstans på kartan ha symbolen 722.0 Startnummer (stafett) och 722.1 Gafflingsnyckel (stafett) utskrivna så att jag sen kan paketera kartorna i rätt plastficka. Löpare 1 får först kartan med startnummer 1.1, sen kartan 1.2 och sen kartan med banan B. Löpare 2 får kartan 2.1, sen kartan 2.2 och sen B etc. Det enklaste ur arrangörssynpunkt är att lägga in alla 3 kartor i samma plastficka i rätt ordning och be löparna att ta ut den översta kartan ur plastfickan när de passerar målet efter varje slinga.
Om jag har 16 löpare och 8 gafflingsalternativ finns det alltid 2 löpare som har samma bana rakt igenom.

Ett misstag som kan leda till diskning på 25-manna är att man tar fel karta. Därför kan det vara bra att träna på det momentet också genom att ha ett ordentligt kartbyte vid passeringen av målet istället för att ha alla kartor i plastfickan från start.

Att stämpla rätt är en annan förutsättning för ett bra resultat på 25-manna. Jag använder alltid kontroller med kodsiffror på våra 25-manna träningar och uppmanar löparna att öva på att kolla kodsiffror även om de är 100% säkra att de är rätt. Att vika och vrida kartan och leta reda på rätt kontroll och kodsiffra bland definitioner är ett litet störningsmoment, speciellt om man aldrig tränar på det. Kodsiffran kan till exempel vara skriven på en plastbit som hänger ovanför skärmen. Vi kör oftast ”touch”- stämpling men det bästa är förstås att använda sportident på denna typ av träning. För resultat och stämplingskontroll räcker det att använda SI-printer och låta löparna kontrollera varandras kodsiffror efteråt.
För at göra det lite svårare kan man placera ut falska kontroller i närheten av de rätta kontrollerna, utan att berätta om det i förväg.

I år går 25-manna i ovanligt tekniskt krävande terräng (stigfattig och flack), i alla fall de längre banorna. Här blir det extra viktigt att kunna hålla riktning. Genom att använda reducerade kartor tvingas löparna att använda kompassen mer. Olika typer av korridorer/blanka områden kan vara ett sätt att få ännu mer riktningsträning.

Vad mer kan man göra?
För några år sedan tog jag den gamla kartan över 25-manna området in i OCAD och la 7 banor motsvarande de 7 sträckorna (med motsvarande banlängd, sista kontroll etc) för att kunna visa hur banorna kan var dragna och vilken typ av orienteringsproblem kommer löparna att ställas inför. På 25-mannas websida finns länk till den gamla kartan över årets område och jag har hittat ytterligare några kartor från den terrängen på omaps.worldofo.com.

Swedish championship - great terrain in Umeå

Once again Swedish champs have been held in a very beautiful and demanding terrain. Last weekend SM middle and relay took place in Umeå, in northern Sweden.
My maps with comments in Swedish:

SM middle Q

SM middle F (6th)

SM relay

SM relay 2010 in Umeå - fighting for bronze

This photo is from the relay - I am pushing myself to the maximum not to be overtaken by Linnea Gustafsson who caught me at the second last control. My team (Lena-Emma-me) took bronze medal.
Photo taken from: http://klabbole.sm2010.se/

Video from SM relay (made by SOFT)

One week earlier I also participated in SM-long in Molkom, Värmland. Still feeling in a good shape after WOC, my expectations were high but my performance in the final rather poor. I finished 5th.

SM long Q

SM long F

WOC, the races of the last two weeks and also a lot of working and traveling to Mora have taken some energy out of me so now I am looking forward to our vacation in Corsica starting on Saturday. I do not plan to do any orienteering training that week but some long runs and hiking and cycling in mountains will be definitely part of it.

WOC 2010 over

I was not quite sure how my body would react to the fact that WOC2010 is over. It is common to experience some kind of a burn-out when motivation and energy to train disappears. Then the best thing to do is probably to have some rest both physically and mentally.

When I was driving back to Borlänge last Monday I decided I would take it easy some days and would not force myself to train if I did not feel like it. So apart from running VasaStafetten last Saturday, I let myself be lazy.

Now one week after coming back home, I feel I have done enough thinking and analysing of my performances at WOC. It is time to move on. Of course, I am going to remember some moments and feelings for a long time. Perhaps my brightest memory from WOC2010 is running through the arena during the relay. I managed to catch up a few runners starting ahead of me earlier on the course. The spectators were screaming and I was feeling so strong there. My relay performance made the final impression from WOC positive even if my long distance run where my expectations were high, was not very good.

What else will I remember from Trondheim? I think all the training camps we had prior to the champs and Gjenvollhytta ski cottage where we spent almost 40 days in total. On the other hand I have a bit of a bad feeling about the terrain choice for races around Granåsen and also some worries about the future of elite orienteering.

Read J Kocbach´s article WOC of the Future ( I made a comment there)

All my WOC maps with my comments in Swedish are in my map archive.

Photos taken by Patrik and me during WOC

Photos of Czech team by Petr Kaderavek

WOC2010 official website

WOC on Norwegian TV

WOC on Czech TV (sprint only)

Results and photos of Czech team at WorldofO

My training diary

WOC2010 relay Jurenikova & Hausken

WOC long - was hoping for more

This year´s probably most important race and I cannot be content with my performance. I was too hesitating in the forest, not able to make fast and right decisions about the route choices; changing my plan in the middle of a leg a few times. Usually route choosing is what I am good at, but not this time. I was lacking self-confidence. After the qualification race when I was quite a lot behind, I was in doubt about my shape and my ability to run well on the soft ground. I was asking myself whether I had better feeling in my body last week and also during O-Ringen. However I knew that such thoughts are not very helpful and I promised myself to fight hard and focus only on orienteering. I lost a few minutes on wrong route choices (2nd, 5th, 17th control) but I missed only very little on the shorter legs, the only bigger mistake was at one of the controls in the butterfly. I was not enjoying the orienteering as much as I would hope for when it is a WOC final. We had been training a lot in such a nice terrain here in Trondheim so for me the area around Granåsen is a bit of disappointment. I have written more in Swedish and published my map in my map archive.

6th at sprint - my best individual WOC result so far

Very happy – that was how I felt when it finalized that I would finish 6th yesterday. Happy with my performance which was very close to my maximum and happy with the result, of course. I started the day with a close to a perfect race in the qualification when my tactics was to save energi, concentrate on myself and be very careful/precise in my orienteering. During the rather short rest between the qualification and final I had my doubts but I managed to find the right state of mind and was both mentally and physically ready when I stood at the starting line. I liked the course, the fact that it was a lot of climbing up to the fortress perhaps contributed to my good result. I managed to choose right route choices most of the time. I lost rather many seconds inside the fortress, without realizing it, probably because too much hesitation. I have written more about the races in Swedish and uploaded the maps in my map archive.

WOC sprint - rest between the qualification and final

O-Ringen - boost for my self-confidence just one week before WOC

O-Ringen 2010Even if I had been feeling fine after a couple of weeks of good training, it was still a positive surprise for me to finish 2nd at O-Ringen. I had four stable performances (E1, E3-E5) and one rather bad (E2). I did not feel that I was running very fast in the forest and most of the time I was pretty careful and almost scared to make mistakes. It seems to be the right tactics. I was experiencing this flow-feeling a lot - focused and relaxed at the same time. I was also recovering well between the races. No doubt I am in a good shape and hopefully it can still improve a bit after some resting and interval training during the coming days.

All maps from O-Ringen in my map archive

Some articles and video from O-Ringen:
Jurenikova nöjd tvåa (Dalademokraten)
Andersson and Niggli crowned at O-Ringen (Ultimate orienteering)
Simone Niggli överlägsen vinnare (SVT webTV)
Ingen rår på suveräna Simone (SOFT article + webTV)

The art of peaking

Track training Kvarnsvedens IP 4*1000mAfter a high volume block with many hours of orienteering in Sälen and Trondheim I switched to more intense training in the beginning of this week. I have done 2 "test sessions" - on Tuesday 4*1000m on track with 3 minutes rest/jogging and on Thursday 4*700m steep hill "Medvägabacken" with 110m climbing. I know my times from the past so I can compare and get a hint about my physical shape. Of course it does not give me the whole picture, 1km intervals on a track and long distance in Trondheim is not the same but it increases my self-confidence when I can see that my times are improving. Today I will travel to Örebro to participate in O-Ringen. The race fits well in my peaking plan - the terrain is not completely different from Trondheim and I know that racing of this kind should improve my shape even more. I will try to do my best, concentrate properly at the time of the race but I am saving my mental energy and I am not thinking about O-Ringen before and in between the stages. Then there is the last week before WOC. In the previous years I sometimes did not allow myself to take it easy enough, training quite hard almost until the WOC races. I am still hesitating and I will decide about the plan for the last days after I get home from O-Ringen. Sometimes it would be nice to have a coach who could decide instead of me but at the same time I am the one who knows my body best and I also should have the necessary knowledge after all the years of training and studying.
My training diary
My map archive

Right now I am listening to the WUOC online and hoping for some more good results from the Czech team. My club was organizing the WUOC Tour sprint race on Wednesday. The arena was located only 1km from my home. It was a bit special feeling to see runners from so many different countries running on my home ground. I hope they have been enjoying the whole WUOC. It seems Stora Tuna OK has done a great job organizing the event. They showed the big variation of terrain here in Dalarna, which makes Dalarna a really good place to live for an orienteer. Perhaps some of the WUOC participants got interested to move here.
My photos from WUOC Sprint / DM sprint
Dala Sports Academy - orienteering & university studies