23 November 2012

November


Things have been getting back to normal for me, I have started doing some decent milage in training, and even had a couple of good races just in time for the end of the season. I had a couple of weeks in the UK, including the GB team planning weekend, where I got in some nice training. Last weekend we had our annual club party, preceded by a long distance competition which was one of the most fun courses I have run all year. Maps below.


I also ran a couple of competitions in Tullinge (Kent Ohlsson's maps here and here), and yesterday I ran a nice training with some SNO boys (plus guests) - map up top.

16 November 2012

Project2015

Athletes in the Great Britain orienteering team have launched a project aimed at preparing for WOC 2015 in Scotland and beyond. Check out the new site here, and see how you can support team GB!

Project2015

15 October 2012

Hat trick in the hills



This weekend I flew back to England to take part in the UK Fell Running Relay Championships which were held on the Long Mynd in Shropshire by my club, Mercia Fellrunners. After many years of failure (some years close, some years not so close), we were desperate to finally win the coveted prize in home terrain. Mercia had never won before, but had thrown away winning positions several times, and been unlucky with star runners getting injured the day before (etc....), but we finally managed to get out a full strength team for the first time since I have been in the club (even if I was lacking some training mileage this year).

Paul Jones did a good job on 1st leg, handing over in 6th place, 1:30 back on the best rival team.  Steve Cale and Tim Davies did well on the long 2nd leg to pull up to 4th place (behind the other 3 favourite teams) about 1:45 behind the leaders. Then it was time for me and my partner, Andy Davies, to run. We had run together twice previously, in 2009 and 2010. Both times we had run the 3rd (navigation) leg, and both times we had won out leg convincingly. This time I was unsure of my physical shape, but was determined not to get dropped by Andy up the hill! We started fast, overhauling the 3rd team at the top of the first climb, and the front 2 teams were in sight in the distance. We ran strongly to the first checkpoint, and soon after 1 caught up the 2nd placed team. There was a route choice to the 2nd checkpoint, and we decided to take the left path option whilst the leading team ran straight through some rough heather. We made a gap of about a minute by the 2nd control over the 3 chasing teams, and then tried to push on around the flatter section of the race. The 3rd and 4th checkpoint were physically much easier, and the split times there were pretty close amongst the top teams. Contouring round to the 5th (and second last) control, we had just over a minute lead and were feeling confident. We picked up the tapes from the other legs to lead us the the checkpoint, but when we came to the hill top, there was no control! Confused, we ran on, but we had clearly been in the correct place. After a few meters we turned back to hunt again. We saw the 'marker' left by the course setter to indicate where the control should stand, but no control. By this time the 3 teams chasing had caught us. A consensus was reached that it was missing, so we all carried on. Andy and I managed to stay in front (just) on the steep descent to the finish, and sent out Simon Bailey (English champion this year) with a few seconds lead. Marshalls managed to get a checkpoint in place pretty quickly so it was only the first 4 teams (mostly us really) who were affected by the missing control.


Luckily, the minute or so that we lost was inconsequential as Simon ran the fastest leg time on 4th leg to win the 2012 relays for Mercia! Andy and I still managed to win the leg, and maintain our unbeaten record as a pair.

Leg 1,2 and 4 maps here
Results and splits here

Other news
I am now a Master of Sport and Exercise Science and have now graduated from Sheffield Hallam University, and I have been selected for the GB Performance team for 2012 and the World Cups in New Zealand in January.

Back in black


I made my comeback last weekend after a long recovery period, taking part in the SNO team at 25manna, a 25 person relay competition with people of all ages making up the team. Having not shown any form, I was lucky to make the first team, and had a relatively 'easy' leg and assignment, running leg 7 as the 2nd runner and having a comfortable lead over the 3rd and 4th members of our team (it gets complicated but 4 from each team run on each leg, with the 'best' starting last to catch up lost time).
I did a good race, with one 40 second mistake on the second last control, and a little time loss on the way to the first control when I hit my knee pretty hard on a stone. I was 2 minutes behind on my leg, and my team finished 3rd (after a pretty bad start).

Most positive was that my body responded in a good way, and despite not having a lot of recent training hours, I was able to run as I would have liked without any bad feeling or after effects. It is good to be back!


23 August 2012

Masters


This week I have been mostly writing Masters thesis. Luckily I don't have any training to distract me at the moment, so I have been able to make good progress, so hopefully soon I will be able to add the letters MSc after my name, and be eligible for the SPOOK beer-relay team (although I probably would need to change my training slightly to make the first team). My training break has been going well, with an amazing holiday in Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia, during which we walked about 5-6 hours each day, often up big hills, so we pretty much needed a holiday the week after to recover. Also went in some cool caves, visited some amazing coastal towns - are there sprint maps of Rovinj, Pula etc? If there aren't there should be! Now I am looking forward to kicking off training again in September, and hopefully doing a couple of races in October. I have been selected for the World Cups in New Zealand, so hopefully I can get back into some shape before then!

My Masters Thesis is titled "Heart Rates of Elite Male Orienteers During Sprint, Middle and Long Distance Orienteering Races", and I was hoping to publish it in the Scientific Journal of Orienteering, but I am not sure if that exists any more - I certainly haven't been able to contact anybody at the journal.

26 July 2012

Bad summer

It feels like this summer could not have gone much worse so far. After getting a stomach bug in March, my year has been a roller-coaster of sickness - I was ok at Tiomila, but since then I have been sick more than I have been healthy. Every time I felt like I was getting better, something else hit me and I had more time off training. At the back of my mind was the fact that World Championships was not far away, and I tried desperately to get healthy and get to Switzerland. I was just about healthy enough to run at Jukola, but a 9 1/2 minute mistake shows that even if my body was up to it, my brain certainly wasn't.
I missed every single test race for World Champs, but luckily, enough of the selectors had faith in me to give me a chance if I felt I was fit enough, and the last 3 weeks before the champs even felt ok in training (although in retrospect I was kidding myself a little bit).
I flew out to Switzerland (although for various reasons I actually spent most of WOC in France) a few days early to get in the terrain, and did a couple of decent low intensity trainings. The qualifier actually went quite well, and although I never pushed too hard, I felt ok.


However the next day at the final, I felt terrible already warming up, and my calf injury was more noticeable than it had been for months. As soon as I picked up the map I was struggling physically, and I had a really terrible feeling. I wasn't able to focus on the navigation as I would like, as I was thinking too much about the physical side of things. I managed to get away with it until the 8th control, when a short sharp climb took everything I had, and then I failed to think about the direction, I was just trying to run. I missed the control by 3 minutes, and after that not only did I have a terrible feeling in my body, but also psychologically I knew already that I had failed. It was then even harder work to try and keep pushing around the last part of the course. Luckily most of it was downhill, because I felt like either walking or giving up for most of it (and had it not been World Champs, I am certain I would have). I motivated myself by imagining Marc Lauenstein (my 4 minute man) chasing me, and I resolved at least to beat him to the finish. I succeeded. By about 3cm. I can honestly say that I don't remember ever feeling so bad either during or after a race, both physically or mentally, and my calf was really sore both during and especially after.
WOC Relay - I told the selectors how I felt after the middle race, that I had a bad feeling in my body and that my calf was sore, but that if I was in the team I would give it everything that I had. They decided to not select me in the team for the first time since 2006, and it was at the same time a crushing disappointment, but also a relief, as the relay at the World Champs is not the place to be if you are not feeling absolutely 100%.
The last week has been one of the toughest in my orienteering life, going to a championships short on fitness and form, struggling with a bad feeling and the attitude of some other athletes. Having spoken with several doctors, the general consensus is that at best I have some form of post-viral fatigue, and at worst some form of pneumonia (mycoplasma seems to be the fashionable one at the moment in orienteering circles). Anyway, I am back home now, on antibiotics, and starting a 5 week training break to try and get healthy.


I was really inspired by the Czechs winning the relay though - it is great when it is not the same few teams winning all the time, and I will be back (hopefully) fitter than ever in future to try and do the same!

04 June 2012

Spring 2012




It has been a while since my last post - more than 4 months! That is partly due to work/training etc, but mostly down to laziness.But now it seems like I have some time to write as am sat in bed with flu.
Since Kenya the main themes have been:

  • Managing my calf injury, which has meant no fast running on flat even surfaces (even grass brings on pain and tightness), regular massage and acupuncture, and, most disappointingly, no sprint orienteering. Therefore all of my faster training sessions have been either in forest, or uphill (which seems to be ok).
  • Nice training camp in Spain (Alicante) with the Hungarian national team. Mixture of gorgeous sand dunes, interesting mountain terrain, and really rocky coastal terrain which I can't say I enjoyed too much.
  • Sickness. In the beginning of March I got a stomach bug/virus which completely knocked me out for a couple of weeks (causing me to miss GB students champs), and since seems to have caused me a lot of problems. At first, when I started training again, I felt really run down and flat in trainings. I could not get my heart rate up, and could not push myself at all. I had blood tests, but nothing was found, so I just rested. After that my body has been quite up and down - I have managed a couple of good races, including at Masenstafetten where I had the fastest time on last leg, but also some which felt really bad, like Kolmardskavlen where I started last leg in the lead, and despite making no mistakes, had no power at all when Olle Bostrom flew past me.
  • Training for Tiomila with SNO. I went down 3 times to run in the Tiomila terrain, but I can't say that much of it turned out to be very relevant for my actual race. Due to my injuries and illness, I didn't manage to show much form before Tiomila, so I was given the 7th leg - 7km and straight. I did the best I could do though, winning my leg (actually one guy was faster, but he started 7s after me and finished 3s after me, and was in front for 1 control when I hesitated in the circle - so I think I had the moral victory at least). Unfortunately, it wasn't a great SNO performance, and we ended up a disapointing 9th place.
  • EOC. After Tiomila I was geared up for EOC - I had started to feel quite good again in my running.and was looking forward to Dalarna terrain. I had been up for one training camp and enjoyed the forests around Mora. 2 days after Tiomila I had a sore throat though. I rested, and travelled up to Mora, but my cold got worse and worse each day. I tried to run the middle qualifier, knowing I would have some rest before the final and relay, but it was a mistake, and so after the race I went home and stayed in bed the rest of the week.
  • WOC test races. After EOC I started feeling better again, and was more motivated than ever to prepare for WOC. I started training again slowly and cautiously. Unfortunately, Fanni came back from EOC with the flu, and so I was also trying hard to not get that. I felt good for about 10 days, but then last Monday I didn't feel great again, Tuesday I had a sore throat, Thursday I had a cold, and now I am in bed with flu, when I should be in Scotland taking part in the WOC test races. I am lucky that I am in a position that I will probably make the WOC team on past form, but that does not change that I would like to be there racing and being able to choose what I would like to run at WOC.
So what now? I have to take a really good look at my life and see what I can change to try and stay healthy, and combine that with work and preparations for WOC. At least when you are injured you can cross train - being sick is far worse in my opinion - you feel so helpless. WOC and SM last year feel a long time ago...

Watch my tiomila tracking here
I have been writing in my training diary almost every day here
I have a map archive here, but I haven't been very good at updating it, but I promise to try harder

29 January 2012

Kenya!

So it is now the end of January, and I am back in snowy Sweden, but I spent 4 fantastic weeks in Iten, Kenya. I did some great training, I met some amazing people, and it was a top experience. I would highly recommend Iten and the HATC for any athlete as a training venue.
Pictures can say more than words, so here are a small selection of my pictures from the trip.


 The edge of the Rift Valley
 Local wildlife
 Christmas day
 Eldoret Market
 Safety in Kenya
 Relaxed seat-belt laws....
 How a you? How a you?
 'The' track
 Shoe4Africa prizegiving
 Christmas dinner
 Exactly what it says on the tin
 Sorry, where?
 Hitting the trails
Hitting the track

video
And finally a movie - one minute on the track in Iten, count the runners! (all training at 3 mins/km or faster - ish)