Friday, November 30, 2012

The perfect distance

   This is question I've never seen someone talking about. It is so usually in athletics we recognize the difference between a sprint or a long distance runner but in orieteering I never saw a runner say: "I'm middle distance runner" or "where I'm really good is at long distances". Does it means that orienteering didn't get such a high level to make athletes choose just one election distance or just that the orienteer is strong in every types?
   Beside many people think, there is a lot of different things between a middle course and long course, starting for the map: a good map for middle is usually a bad map for long, but why? Well start to look at the distance of a usual middle race that is aroung 5 - 7 km and a long that goes from 15 - 18 km, so you don't need that much map for a short distance than a long one, but if you want to talk about deeper characteristics it comes right way to your mind the specificities of each one.
   A middle requires a technical course with short legs that makes the runner change direction quite often and with small, but quick options that makes your mind work hard and quick, the controls are usually difficult and tricky. For the opposite in a real long distance, you don't have that much controls but for other side you have a lot of long legs, and the more options it opens, the better is the course. The real challenge for the runner is not find the control, but get there, choose at the same time the quickest but also the econmical option, I say by own experience, it can be tricky and when you have 4 km leg it really pushes for all your capacity. But this are just technical details and what about the physicall capacities? we can say that a good runner in long is also good in middle? I think that here we can work little like in athletics, where we start in young to be fast and then we evolve to resistant. I mean with this that is easier to come from middle to long than the opposite and why? well I believe a middle runner has to be powerfull and quick orienteer, but mostly really powerfull and fast runner (in orienteering language of course), I could say even animal. For the opposite long distance requires resistance capacities, be able to run steady pace for long time and develop a constant rhythm, so I believe it works like athletics, we come from speed runners to long runner, you want example? look at the king of the middle, Thierry, he won the long distance in WOC 2011 by an astonish 6 minutes (am I right?).
  In sume, an orienteer can be complete in all distances, but we can see already many runner taking preferences for determinated distances. By myself I feel much more confortable in middle, for simple reason: when I start a race, I run like I would run short distance, at maximum and usually I have the tendence to do that on the long too, so I die too soon...and other reason is that my vision is really limitated for the red line, if I look the best long distance I've made I would say: "oh I was always so slow..", but this is the thing: be constant and hold on all race. Anyway...I will always prefer the adrenaline of run middle at top speed solving problems quick, in long I will get too bored :P

                                                           This was for sure middle...


Thursday, November 29, 2012

And the best course of the year is...Portuguese!

   It is true! The results of the quest released by the Worldofo are finally determinated and the winner is the 3rd day WRE of Portugal O'meeting 2012, and its course setter is nothing more nothing less that my coach, Bruno Nazário! Well I just have to say that is big proud such recognizement not just for Bruno, but for all portuguese orienteers that something made in this small country is apreciated by all orienteering world. For a portuguese orienteer the word "difficulties" is not new, and with just 20 years of story, orienteering is a really small sport here, unknown by the general of portuguese population, we always worked with few things and our results always spoke for itself, but since 2008 that we tried to change, and work to become recognized at international level.
   I can say on my own that I belong to the first generation  of this new era, I started orienteering exactly in the point when it started to change and all over this 5 years, with few or with nothing I just worked, and with me several other young athletes, to get what was said as impossible: good results at international level and show that portuguese can also orienteer. I can't say exactly I did some great stuff around there, but I try and at least I see that it is possible with lot of work, but I also know that everything starts from here, and this quality recognizement by the best athletes in the world is just such a great motivation to continue fight agains difficulties and don't give up.

   I let the course here, I had the oportunity to run on this map on M20 ok, but I can say it was one bad day for me, I got to the end really piced off because I lost around 15 minutes in middle distance, but well now I see why and it is quite understandable with so difficult map!:


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Find your balance

   Time flies! and last week was just impossible with all that study and train, finally i'm learning the tough life of a student-athlete and go everyday to train, sometimes twice, is not sweet sacrifice. I'm happy to do it and I hope that I can really get used to discipline and hard work, something that is not teached by anyone, you just have to learn it by yourself and my friends, the day you learn to "get up 6 am to go train" is the day you will start to have success on your life.
   But this week was not hard just because of the train, it has been a source of frustration as my foot is hurting again (it hurted  2 weeks ago), but..! now it is the other foot, and exactly in the same place, strange hein? Well I'm getting tired of developping just theories but I really believe this is due to shoes I use and I'm getting more and more convinced that I will start to run barefoot really soon...and with all this sheet on me I had this weekend the last race of actual season (for me just the begin), the national absolute championships. Siriously I will not make much coments for this race because upon everything I love my country and I forgive who organized this race, but if something I have to say is that this was not the best race ever, and if saturday I had good performance and I qualified for final, in the final I gave up as my foot was annoying me really much, I just thought it was better to spare myself and not torture me in such race that in the end was cancelled for some sad reasons...
   "Find your balance" is my moto for next weeks, I have to find the right balance bettween everything and start to work really hard, if there was something I felt, beside pain in my foot, was old feel I missed for long time, be able to run light and maybe it is too early to say it comes from train but I believe it comes, I always knew I needed to change and now I think I can be happy on that change.
   Ah I recomend to read an interview from one of the top portuguese athletes, Diogo Miguel, 33º place in this world champs, long distance, a really self-motivated athlete that studied for 6 years medicine and trained hard, this is a trully example for all of us of dedication and preseverance, I would like to be like him!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hear the signs

     Since last time I posted I've been passing trough some problems related with my health. With such pressure that my train gives (as I predicted) and also the fact I'm university student I have to be much more careful about the signs my body gives me. I had a tooth infection which has been bothering me, and maybe we wonder what the hell is our teeth related with the rest of our body? Well it is quite simple, when your are athlete and you put your body into such pressure as train is, a infection in some zone can be transported all over your body because your blood goes faster when you are in physical activity, and it choose the most sensible places as our brain, our tendons, our sum, zones that I prefer to keep healthy if I want to run and if I want to study.
     I've been also ignored it and I continued to train until last Sunday I participated in a national cross country that counts as trials for define the Portuguese team for European cross country champs, of 7 k without rest of train and with this little amount of training in my legs, the cross was really tough with a lot of mud and climbing, I did 25 minutes which is not that bad time, but in payment my head was about to explode and I was feel the repercussions of my insensate option of continue, after a horrible Monday, I decided: ok I'll stop and fix this and for the last 2 days I was stopped. Fortunately, with medicines, it is a lot better and yesterday I did a really good quality training, but when I look for the plan in the next 2 months I know I will have to be really careful about my body in every single aspects, if I really want to train good...
     So, first fast experience, and it just proof to me that this is really the beginning, but I consider it a victory, was the first time I finish a long cross and I wasn't pushing that much, I think I'm getting more adapted to long and fast trainings, that were always my biggest afraid, deal with the long distance, but now I don't have another chance or I do it or there is no worth to keep aiming for higher.     


Saturday, November 10, 2012

The training based on intensity - the best way to train

   Along side my calculus frequency, I found time in my pause to look for some of the top athletes training and of course I ended up to read some articles about kenyan runners. Well I don't particullary like to speak about the best runners as kenyans because there are a lot of other non-kenyans runners really good that still   can keep on the top, but if there is something I have to admit is that they have total dominance in numbers.
   During all years as athlete my training methods were based mostly on running hard as I can, because I thought the harder I would do on training the easier would be on competition, it used to work when I didn't had that much workouts in the week but when I started to increase the amount of week trainings, I felt that I was feelling all the time more and more tired, I was able to do good trainings but when the competitions came I was totally tired and it was allways a disaster. Why? I always asked to myself, I was going so hard on trainings and still on competition I wasn't able to repeat what I did, my problem was the problem of the majoraty of non-african and non-athlete runners: I just worked too hard. I don't mean with this thing of "work hard" that we have to stop working and do it easy, no that is not good thing if you want to be good athlete, but what I say is: control your intensities, do the runnings on your level, work according to that and you will feel the evolution come calm and constant, there is no need to do a run at 3'30 min/k pace if your lactat aerobic limit is 4'00 -4'15 (yes I'm talking about me), you will just burn more and more.
    All this speech came from that this year finally I started to work based on intesities and because of that I did the lactat test to define correctly my intensity areas and well, I heard it was good results for someone who is just starting season, but honestly I got little ashamed because I thought I was able to run much higher speeds...but for the other side I started to run at the right level and guess what it feels much better every training that come and I can train more! I let the website where you can find different, you will find interesting I promess.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Long trains

   Where is the essency of running? All over this years I was allways really sad when I had to do long training because I always tought that would be kind of bad for me for several reasons, or I would become too bored and I ended up to get my head tired of running, or the many km's would be bad for my legs and even the low speed would make me slow guy. So I was always running from it and glad when I had to do fast training, I kept doing it and forget to be economic in my runs, so last week I did lactact test and the results were what I trained: good capacity to handle with speed but not that resistant runner...this was enough for my coach make me start every sunday do some long run, and look for the most difficult place for it, looking for it I just have chance on the mountains close too my home, and I invented a really diabolic course with about 15 km and more than 1000 meters of climbing in trails with a lot of mud...(raining season).
   If I was afraid to get bored, well there is no time for it...or if I was looking for some speed, is better that I turn myself economic or I will pay for it in some climbs I catch. The most surprising thing in the middle of this was that I was free of any pain, principally on my feet and I was in really dirty soil. So now I think: "Maybe the ultrarunners are not wrong when they say that run is much more than do it fast", I think there is capacities that this kind of trains teach us and are very usefull  for everything: first we learn how to suffer and second we can be sure that our body is prepared when the those kind of speed trainings come. Comparing to the train of friday where I did 1 hour in 15,6 km (3'50'' per k) and today where I do 1 hour and 20 minutes for 15k, I was much faster friday...but if I want to be faster in friday is better if I keep being slow and consistent on sunday :P
   This year I will get maybe 2 hours to do, and I planned already some hell course of 22 or 23 km that include climbing 400 meters in just about 3 or 4 km....I'm glad and I can't wait for it! I found the essency of my running...on the suffer of all this km's in tough places.

"Prepare your body and you will run forever!"


Saturday, November 3, 2012


    Try to relax little from hard day of study for an Algebra test I'll have monday, I ended up to wonder where is the good things about being a sportsman. What is the first thought I have when I think orienteering? Imagining me coming throught the finish with my arms pointed to the sky celebrating a title in the world championships or the image of the forest, pure and natural where I can be far from everything else in a moment where is just me and the map? This is difficult question to answer, because even I wanted to say the second answer I admit that if I train is because I aim for results or something higher. But more and more I realise and I try to learn that if I can enjoy it first it will come easier to me. Is just a question of think in the best moments I have ever had in orienteering, when I look for it I start to visualize the first championships I was and what I felt on it, the disappointments, the happyness, and when I look to the worst moments there were always something in common: competition pressure. I was so afected with my performance that I forgot to enjoy and relax and when I look for it, I can found a big mountain of ifs, but never a happy tought.
   So what changed along this years to me? mainly humility, no the general concept that everyone considerer as we are always telling to the others that we are sheet, but I mean it inside in our choices and the aims we put. After all pains I suffered with my results I learn that I have to respect, not in a way that is impossible but looking first to the image of the hard work that has to be done and forget it for a while, as athlete I learn to respect my sport, I never know wich course I will get, wich map I will run that day, I just have to adapt myself for it, is impossible (or at least very difficult) for an orienteer prepare himself to the point he says: I know everything what I will do and it will be easy. Is really scary when you are about to start an important race, because you start to question all your preparation due to what you hear about the terrain and the map, but now I know I just have to adapt, if it is beauty forest I will have all pleasure to enter on it and take a good time with the map, and if I feel good I'll have time to celebrate a good result, but that is just sheet compared to the feelling of doing it,
    What about next year? Honestly I don't care that much about my aims, I'm glad to run again (even my feet is quite boring and it is always hurting little) and I want to find the truly happiness on that first than everything, all over this years I felt always little stuck by the train obligation, now I would want to take this easy and a good moment of pain. What can I say? I have so much to learn still and enjoy on it...sometimes I wish I could get a map of some remote forest and I could get lost there for ever, there would be better way to die than that?