3 August 2011

Shape is a Rollercoaster

Setting goals requires a lot of planning in order to be in top shape at the right time. This is what top athletes strive for over and over again. It is possible to reach top shape with the first try; or it might take years to learn the the individual differences and then succeed; or it might even never be achieved at all. This is the art of sport.
I've always found use of my training diary, from which I've benefited a lot over the years. The combined statistics of subjective and objective aspects can surprise a lot, while making perfect sense. My latest confirmed discovery was my reaction to heat. It doesn't even have to be extremely hot to lose control of a sound body and mind. Of course hot weather makes it difficult for everybody, but there are people who tolerate it better and others who can't handle it at all. I've found that in warm weather I get tired quickly, the muscles are stiff and I make a lot of questionable decisions in orienteering and get overall exhausted. These symptoms usually occur already way before the start. On the other hand, the starts that I've had in cooler weather, have usually been much better. Might even say that especially in rainy weather... Though I can accustomize myself to hot weather and get better, I'll still have problems handling it compared to those who prefer hot weather. One's stronger side will always be stronger than the weaker side. While I must improve the weaker side, I must still cherish the strong half and use that to my advantage. The peculiar thing about the human body is that it can't be accustomized to tolerate hot and cold at the same time - since I handle cold well, it's the opposite with hot. But it can be seasonally manipulated with. While it's far too late to deal with the problem this season, I can start working on it in perspective. 
Don't get me wrong, I can still have a good race in hot weather, especially in good shape and at an important start. At less important events, when I feel that it's not just a bad day, but the mentioned exhaustion, I don't push the limits as I would on important events. I consider the "gunpowder" for that as a resource that is not limitless. This has a lot to do with timing the shape.

The ride of the past two months:

21-22 May, Baltic Championships, Lithuania
The recovering sore knee didn't bother as much as the really bad overall feeling, it was like using only half of my lungs. 
Relay map, results
Warm weather after some period, disappointing results.
The best in the Baltics
29th May, WOC long selection race Nationale Savoie, France
A bit better feeling than the week before, but no reason to cheer. Pulled myself together enough to have a more-or-less OK race and secure my WOC ticket. Check out other France WOC camp maps from the maps page.
Warm weather, modest result.

5th June, Latvian Championships long distance
Very nice terrain, this was something that should have suit me really well. After quite a good beginning, the tremendous heat got me after 2 controls and I suffered til the finish. Lost 15 minutes to Timo. It's not so much fun with this kind of feeling. After the race I felt like being ill. 
Very hot weather, very poor result.

Til this point I'd tried to find out the problem. All the activities in aerobic zone were just like they were supposed to, even some strenuous trainings were fine, but when it came to competing, the outcome was 0. This couldn't have anything to do with fitness. During the week I went to see my loyal physician to find out what was wrong with me. We suspected of some virus, possibly borrelia. Over some time, we found nothing, everything should have been in order.

11-12 June, Suunto Games, Finland
Again hot weekend with fantastic terrains, I burned totally (again). On the middle distance I could keep cool for some time in the beginning, until it struck again...
1. middle map, results
2. shortened long map, results
Very hot weather, very poor result.

After this I withdrew myself from Delta's 1st team at Jukola. No point in risking a good team's result...

15th June, Tallinn Championships in relay, Estonia
Last intensive training before Jukola. Ran the 1st leg and beat Timo, who ran a different forking on the last leg. Since he had a good race and I had over 1 minute better time on an easy course, he suggested that I run instead of him at Jukola. We would talk it over with Ahma, The King of Lohja and decide after the last trainings on Jukola terrains.
Map, results
Cool rainy weather, good result.

18-19 June, Jukola
And it was decided - I run the 4th leg instead of Timo. The feeling on the race was nothing supernatural, it was just good. The mind was set to be my own master, make my own race, switch off the rest. The result made me and my club happy. And a podium finish to top it off with! Though I won my leg with 2 minutes, let's face it, it's the easiest leg of them all...
Map, GPS trackingresults
Cool humid night, good result.
Leo is missing
25-26 June, WRE Middle + 100KP, Estonia
Now it was time for trainings again. These two competitions were a lot of fun: nice middle distance and a long distance with 100 controls. First day I felt well, too bad many of the best in Estonia weren't present. Second day was difficult already from the beginning - running was hard and orienteering didn't flow (which is crucial in this type of competition).
WRE Middle Map 1, map 2, results (rainy weather, good result)
100KP Map 1, map 2, map 3, results (warm sunny weather, modest result)

1-3 July, Kāpa 3, Latvia
Again very hot weather and fantastic terrains. Planned to run first day ~100% and the others ~90% of power. After very bad beginning, I decided to take it easy and not to strain the organism. Instead I ran ~100% on the second day, when it was shortened distance. The last day was great running weather and even taking it easier I had a good run.
1. long Map, results (very hot weather, powerless feeling)
2. shortened long Map, results (very hot weather; powerless feeling)
3. long Map, results (good running weather, good feeling)

11-16 July, FIN5
Trainings continued, with the plan of taking it seriously on days 1, 3 and 4, the other days easily.
1. day, middle: The race can be titled as: "Hot water kettle." The first half went well, I was at 2nd position. At controls 7-8 the first bubbles started to appear. Then it reached the boiling point. And what does the kettle do when it starts to boil? It switches itself off of course. I recommend taking a look at the GPS trackingMap, results (hot weather, poor result)
2. day, long: Good training. Map, results (rainy weather, OK feeling)
3. day, sprint: Stiff legs, felt a bit tired. Otherwise an interesting race. Map, results (warm weather, good result)
4. day, middle: Quite good race, didn't exactly get the rhythm, but I can be satisfied. Map, results (rainy weather, good result)
5. day, long: Wanted to have a good technique training on my own, but I got some company all the way. Tried to get rid of my companion and I did at the 6th control (check the GPS tracing), but he caught me quickly again. Map, results (cool and humid weather, good feeling)
Enjoying the rain
24-29 July, O-Ringen
Now it was time for a serious effort, I was thinking I could get in top 15. Hälsingland terrains have been difficult for me, this time it went a bit better.
1. day, long: Average feeling, quite OK orienteering, 15th place. Map, results (good running weather, good result)
2. day, sprint: Very fast sprint, with an interesting last part. I'm satisfied with my race, especially with the tricky part. Lost some time with the last controls though. Map, results (cool weather, good result)
3. day, long: Crashed and burned after 20 minutes. I just couldn't withstand the heat and just wanted to get to the finish. Map, results (hot weather, pathetic result)
4. day, middle: It was time for an experiment. Before warming up, I first cooled down in a lake. Laying in cool water doesn't make things better for the muscles, but it sure has an effect on other processes in the organism. I felt tired and fresh in the same time. Tired enough to lose 1 minute and fresh enough to finish 2nd. At least the mind worked! Map, results (hot weather, good result)
5. day, long: It was starting to remind the 3rd day. Even if I wanted to be in top 15, I didn't care much if I was 12th or 18th. So I didn't step into a man-to-man fight with anyone. Map, results (hot weather, modest result)

There are some more GPS tracking links on the maps page. Unfortunately, the tracking wasn't very good at O-Ringen, especially the first day.
Participation fee
Anyway, this is my way of looking at some statistics that need thinking about. Now it's time to tune in for WOC middle and long distance and see if I can shape up as planned.