First Full Week of Training

So stoked with a full week of training this week! One of the few this year! So what is a full week for me?



This is an ideal week and it often makes sense for me to swap a few of the running sessions for cycling sessions if I feel and injury coming on. This loses some of the specific benefits of running for me but is still an excellent aerobic workout and I love road cycling especially from home in West Auckland. If the Tuesday or Thursday sessions are a tempo or fartlek then I can combine this with orienteering training such as this awesome night orienteering session AOTC ran this Thursday.

This was the first night orienteering session I have done in a long time and I was pretty happy with my navigation considering. I made a few mistakes and some small hesitations but with most of these hesitations I was in the correct place but just not 100% sure. At number 5 I made a significant mistake and actually ‘punched’ the control in the wrong re-entrant. Of course in a race I would have been able to see the control flags, but the aim is to be able to orienteer without needing flags. Leaving 18 I was getting excited about how well I was going and lost focus. I drifted off the straight line and when I checked my compass I realised my mistake and managed to correct without much time lost. But the true issue was that my mind was not focussed on the map and at 19 and 20 I lost more time. At 20 I stood still and went through my mental process (compass, simplify, what next) then restarted and smashed the rest of the course.

Thursday night training.

Thursday night’s training.

Saturday’s training was also very good except the mapping was a bit dodgy near the beach and I don’t know if anyone finished the corridor because of it. I ran this training without a compass and was impressed to see that I was still running in a pretty straight line. I think not having a compass forced me to read the map more so I might do this again soon. Both these maps are on my DOMA page.

Saturday's training.

Saturday’s training.

Sunday’s run is usually in the Waitakere Ranges but often there is an orienteering race on Sundays. If the race alone doesn’t give me enough training then an extended warm down usually does the trick! This Sunday’s long run was actually a bit different and I chose to head out to Woodhill Forest with the side-plan of finding my compass which I dropped on Thursday night. I had a good idea of where I dropped it and after running around in circles for a bit…YES! Essentially saved myself the $140. The main reason I was able to find it was because I had stopped to fix my shoe laces and paused my watch at this point. This point was obvious once I had the GPS track on my computer and accurate to within 5 or 10 meters. From there I just ran around in circles and I’m not surprised it took so long to find, it looks tiny from 3 meters away on the forest floor.

My lonely compass lost for 3 nights

Gotcha! My lonely compass lost for 3 nights.

During the run I could feel that my physical form was still strong and 23km in terrain was no trouble at all. Combining this with my improving technical precision from Thursday’s and Saturday’s orienteering sessions I feel pretty pumped for Europe and for another week of quality training!

Injury Progress

I made some really good progress last week in dealing with my injuries and have had a hard weekend of training to get myself back on track with my trip to Europe less than one month away.

I started the weekend with a running mechanics session to focus on my technique. My running coach, Michael Adams, introduced these sessions into my training years ago and they provide continuous insight into my body and how I can use it to run faster. This is always my favourite way to start a hard weekend because it really engages my brain for the sessions ahead and helps me to get more out of those sessions than I otherwise would.

A stride mechanics session from earlier in the year.

A stride mechanics session from earlier in the year.

On Saturday afternoon AOTC ran a tough training from Muriwai focusing on techniques that would be most important for my racing in both Sweden and Czech Republic. The most significant of these is navigating around vegetation because my habit of running as straight as possible is hard to break when making quick decisions in a race. So to work on this I set the training to include some areas of the Woodhill Forest coast strip with dense vegetation and also put in some fake obstacles to avoid. The fake obstacles are the sharks on the map below and on my DOMA page and expect to see SHARK ATTACK declared in training in the near future.

Saturday afternoons orienteering training

Saturday afternoon’s orienteering training

My GPS shows that my compass work early on in the course was pretty good but I had some trouble in the denser vegetation where I was losing my sense of direction and struggling to pick up on some key features – I think the map is quite out of date in this area so not all of the errors were my fault. The contours only section (north west side of the training) was also very challenging especially without using my compass and you can see my direction was quite poor. I will definitely be incorporating compass-free sections into some of my next sessions. This brought Saturday up to 3 hours of quality training.

On Sunday Michael and I hit up the mighty Waitakere Ranges from Cascades for my long run, which ironically was only just longer than Saturday afternoon’s “extra orienteering training”. We ran a relatively fast loop and included some nice hills. Check out my GPS here! My heart rate was quite low overall and I think we were running a bit slower than I usually would. Despite the rain over the past 2 weeks the tracks we ran on were in very good condition so I’m even more excited to get out in the Waitaks for training on Tuesday night!

I also took my new Salomon TX Wings 3 out for the first time and really enjoyed them. They were a little hard to manage on some rooty sections of Wainamu Bush Track but were perfect for the clay and gravel of the Smythe Ridge and Fenceline tracks. I am hoping that the added support of these shoes will aid in my injury recovery by allowing me to build up some distance without stressing my Achilles or my peroneals as much as I have been from wearing more light weight shoes better suited for orienteering.

New Salomon XT Wings 3. Pretty chunky but it feels great to run pain free!

New Salomon XT Wings 3. Pretty chunky but it feels great to run pain free!

I am planning on doing lots more orienteering before I leave to Europe so watch out for some cool training!

Europe 2014 Preview

In just one month I am going to be flying off to Europe for another crack at O-Ringen and World University Orienteering Champs. It has been a very long wait as university prevented me from travelling abroad last year and it is hard to believe how quickly it is coming round! This will be my 4th time racing at O-Ringen (and first time running 21 Elite if I qualify) and 2nd time racing at WUOC. I am also going to be spending some time around Stockholm and Uppsala to do some training and some less serious racing at OK Hallens 3-days.

So the first stop for me will be O-Ringen in Skåne, Sweden and with over 15000 people entered already it is going to be as massive as usual. I have entered M21E but with restricted places there is no guarantee that I will get in. Hopefully my ranking from the limited world ranking races I have done in NZ is good enough.

I have raced O-Ringen in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and have loved all these occasion, accept for the non-stop rain in 2010. The terrain used in 2011 is still the best terrain I have ever run and I was pretty happy with 33rd overall and my 17th on the last day was probably a much better performance than any of my JWOC races.

The coolest/hardest terrain I have ever raced on

The coolest/hardest terrain I have ever raced on

Like 2012 this year’s O-Ringen also features 1 race on sand dune terrain, but it is this map sample below that I am drawling over the most!

I'm looking forward to racing on this very tricky terrain

I’m looking forward to racing on this very tricky terrain for O-Ringen this year.

A nicer looking section of forest on the above map.

A nicer looking section of forest on the above map.

After O-Ringen Rob, Marquita and I will be heading to Uppsala with Matt to check out the cool things he has been up to in his time in Sweden. In Uppsala I am especially looking forward to running on the famous Lunsen map. I will also be racing OK Hallens 3-Days which looks to be on some very nice terrain west of Stockholm.

The famous Lunsen map

The famous Lunsen map

The main reason for me going overseas is to represent New Zealand at the World University Champs in Olomouc, Czech Republic. I will be there with a team of 8 and I will be racing in all events including my first proper sprint relay which will be very exciting! I’m hoping we get to use SIAC cards with AIR+ functionality for super fast punching like in this relay! The team also includes Matt Ogden, Jourdan Harvey, Toby Scott, Renee Beveridge, Laura Robertson, Kate Morrison and Tessa Ramsden and is managed by Greta Knarston so I’m expecting this to be a lot of fun. We are also capable of some very good results with Matt, former JWOC champion, and Kate, WUOC 2012 top 10 finisher, both in Uppsala training hard and running for one of Sweden’s top clubs.

The terrain for WUOC will be quite typical of Central Europe with areas of dense forest mixed into very open forest with lots of tracks. I have been in similar terrain for JWOC in Poland and struggled with some aspects of this terrain and found myself getting caught out by the denser forest very often. I feel that my orienteering has matured a lot since then but I haven’t spent as much time recently with a map in my hands as I’d like to.

The map for the middle and relay of WUOC 2014.

The map for the middle and relay of WUOC 2014.

Overall I’m very excited to be spending 4 weeks overseas getting some great experience orienteering in different terrain than what I get here in Auckland. I will be back with some more specifics about my international competitions but for now I will be focussing on my last month of training, specifically staying injury free – which has been a massive challenge this year.

Tough Training and Auckland Relay Champs

After getting sick and missing a few days of training this week I have managed pull together a pretty good weekend with a hugely beneficial long run in terrain on Saturday and having very good race at the Auckland Orienteering Relay Champs today.

Saturday’s run was a very orienteering specific session from the Muriwai end of Woodhill Forest with a few simple rules:

  1. You can’t run on the beach
  2. You can’t run in the forest
  3. When you run for 1 hour you can turn around and head back towards the car.

This leaves a thin strip of sand dunes covered in long grasses, waist-high bushes with patches of open sand and hundreds of small, steep hills. This is running at its most physical, demanding constant muscular strength, and not just aerobic endurance. Based on the rules above you end up running in a relatively straight line so when you turn around at 1 hour there are no short cuts back to the car, in fact it’s probably going to take you longer to get back to the car because you will be getting quite tired towards the end.

Some very tough terrain for running

Some very tough terrain for running

Here is my GPS and heart rate data. 600m of accent is a pretty cool figure with a maximum altitude of 17 metres! My quads last night felt pretty smashed as if I had been doing a specific hill session (stairs at home always remind me how much I have been using my quads in training).

After 90 minutes my body reminded me that I was still recovering some my cold and really struggled to keep a reasonable pace going. You can see my heart rate slowly fall as I get weaker and weaker in the last 30 minutes.

Some smashed juniors after the training not even talking to each other. Great success!

Some smashed juniors after the training not even talking to each other. Great success!

In my opinion this is one of the best sessions AOTC have been involved in and it really showcases our orienteering specific running training well. I am now looking to the current up-and-coming juniors in Auckland to come up with some of their own innovative sessions to further improve our running fitness especially in terrain.

Today I raced at the Auckland Relay Champs as the second leg runner for the top NWOC team. Running second leg was a nice change as I am used to running first, also this is a sprint relay so racing is a lot closing and can be more exciting to watch.

Here is my route from my GPS.

GPS Route

GPS Route

My team finished second behind CMOC in the open class but I was happy that NWOC won overall with points counting from junior, open and master classes.

My performance today was important to me because I was particularly focused and applied myself well to get the right information out of the map. It does make things easier having raced on the Epson Campus map a number of times before but my head was in a very good space and replicating this will be very important to my races coming up overseas. I felt very good in my warm up and I also believed that I was the fastest orienteer at the race. Sorry for being cocky, but these two things left me feeling very confident in my own ability and I felt very little pressure. During the race my thoughts stayed mostly with the course, only getting distracted by Matt Goodall when I caught him near the end. Once I was in front of him I was planning my routes very well and made no errors in my execution.

So there are some interesting and positive points here, and I encourage everyone to look into their own good days to learn more about what brings the best out of them.

Final Rogaine Smashed

Today I competed in the final of the 4 races in the Bivouac Outdoor Rogaine Series held in Woodhill Forest. After a rough week managing injuries I was a bit uncertain about starting but was stoked to finish with a big lead over my rivals.

Check out my GPS route here. I ran just under 13kms to get all the controls for a maximum score of 1200 points. You can check out my heart rate and pace data here. My average heart rate was 176 beats per minute (91% of my max) which means I was pushing hard to keep my pace high, but the areas which were hard to run through allowed my heart rate to drop more than usual. In a race where the running is fast all the time I would expect an average heart rate over 181bpm (93% of my max).

My heart rate in today's race was as expected for the terrain and conditions. Excuse the random spike at the start.

My heart rate in today’s race was as expected for the terrain and conditions. Excuse the random spike at the start.

I was pretty sure I would get all of the controls today based on the size of the area used, so I planned for the shortest route and didn’t allow for any cut off near the end. There was a pretty obvious order to do most of the controls and so there was a massive line of runners though the first few controls. Cam Tier started off strong as expected and was totally out of sight in the low-visibility forest between number 34, 49 and 52 (see on my DOMA page). I was a bit worried, but kept focused on my own navigation. Leaving 52 I could also see that I had quite a big gap to the other main contenders. I pushed hard along the road to number 40 and was relieved to see Cam come into view. I passed him on the way to 51 and then extended my lead steadily around my route. He also made a mistake at 54 which gave my lead a good boost.

I was mostly happy with my route but would make the one change below. You can see my GPS track compared to the blue line which I think was actually the best way to do it. Also, everyone I talked to after the race had done these controls in the order shown by the blue line.

My actual route is the GPS track in mostly green and the preferred route is in blue

My actual route is the GPS track in mostly green and the preferred route is in blue

What do you think of my route? Comment below if you did something different.

Overall I’m pretty happy with how these 4 rogaines have gone but I think I would have been a bit slower if I was training more. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to do many of the hard session set in my training program as I have had a number of injuries in the past few weeks. Bonus is that I always feel quite fresh so have been able to race most of these rogaines at full race pace. I currently have the ice pack (frozen peas) out and on my right knee to promote my speedy recovery and with any luck I will be able to get in a full week of training next week!