Training on the Knife Edge

A lot of exciting improvements have happened in the last 3 months but one thing has stayed the same; my body’s tendency to develop tendonitis.

With the exception of 2 overload weeks, I have been running only 4 times per week and seen substantial benefits in my running speed and endurance with my 1km interval times coming down to an average of 2:59 in recent sessions, an improvement of about 3% on the ceiling I have been bumping against for years, and times on longer races such as Tussock Traverse improving by an even greater margin of around 4%. I expect all my training paces have improved by a similar margin but haven’t done any tests to reassess them yet. So this is exciting with Oceania Orienteering Champs coming up, and very encouraging for my new training strategy, where I ditched the commonly used 4-week mesocycles and opted for a smoother, less disruptive progression prioritising injury resistance and consistency throughout the training block. As usual though, I have used cycling to add volume to my training load not achievable in my 4 weekly runs.

“…less disruptive progression prioritising injury resistance and consistency…”

I have continued to work closely with Sports Lab to help manage my body in response to 3 main issues; a peroneal tendonitis which has been heckling me for almost a year, a hamstring tendonitis which has come and gone for years and a patella tracking issue which made a lively comeback over summer after a yearlong hiatus. Getting to the root causes of these issues has not been straight forward, and constantly tests my perseverance, but I’m happy to have strung together 3 months of consistency and I have been rewarded with some encouraging race results. I’ve continued to use light strength and condition to work on pelvis stabilisation and myofascial release and stretching to keep muscles as tension free as possible. This marks another paradigm shift, similar to that of my approach to managing training volume, and I now I do strength and conditioning to increase the load bearing capacity of key tendons, and not to increase the muscular strength of the muscles. The exercises are not revolutionarily different but the change in mind set leads to different intensities and frequencies.

“…I do strength and conditioning to increase the load bearing capacity of key tendons.”

I’ve also played around a lot with my diet over the past year. This field of interest started a few years ago but I’ve finally committed to making the changes I concluded are best for me and the environment. By reducing the size of my dinners I’ve lost 3kgs in 6 months, which I wasn’t even sure was possible, but this is very noticeable and now most of my pants don’t fit me! I expect this has had a significant contribution to my increased speed across all distances. I’ve also upped my intake of unsaturated fats and used “train low” strategies for long runs for over a year now. I’ve also learned a great deal about farming of livestock and I’ve minimised foods that come from the most environmentally damaging and ethically troubling sources. This is still a work in progress and I’ll continue to be very cautious about making changes.

So it all sounds very good on paper, and despite a few close calls during this block, I’ve never let an injury reach a self-perpetuating level. Maybe I got to every potential disaster just in time, by making it back to the car just in time or luckily having a massage with Sports Lab booked for the next morning. Whatever the case I’m thrilled with the progress and optimistic that my training methods are a significant part in my recent success.

If you are interested in my training methods and want to learn more or want to try one of my training plans I would love to work with you. I’m developing a number of services and building up a small group of clients is proving to be extremely rewarding. I’m not sure where all this will lead but it’s exciting and I have no intention to slow down my involvement in other runners and the wider community.

Love a good pain face

Love a good pain face

Rewards of Giving Back

Giving back has always been a big part of what drives me, and over the years the projects I’ve been involved with have continued to grow in magnitude. I helped organise my first orienteering event at the age of 15 as course planner for a local rogaine for 200 people, and since then I’ve worked my way through different sized events in orienteering. The Auckland World Masters Games held next month provided another step up, where my role as a course setter had me testing courses over a year ago, making it by far my biggest project I’ve been involved in as a volunteer. It’s incredible how many people have mobilised to make this happen. While we often celebrate the success of an event based on the enjoyment of competitors, I’ve also come to celebrate how projects like these grow those who commit their time and up their game to deliver the event. It’s clear in my case than my own growing up has much less to do with the educational system and more to do with taking on real world projects which threw me in the deep end far more regularly.

In the past few years I’ve led my club’s training, run an NZ Development Squad camp, and coached the New Zealand team at Junior World Champs, but course planning at World Masters Games has been the biggest undertaking. My role here contributes to orienteering on the international level, but the other important benefit, as eluded to above, is the experience of seeing how a larger group of volunteers with different skills can work to develop each other and come out with more proficiencies than they went in with. I think this is worth celebrating but often gets shadowed by the relief of completing such a project.

World Masters Orienteering Champs as part of World Masters Games

World Masters Orienteering Champs as part of World Masters Games

Although I’ve really enjoyed my involvement in these areas I definitely feel the urge to spend more time on my own projects, and to get the most out of myself it makes sense to follow the stronger motivations.

I spent last weekend in Taupo racing at Katoa Po, otherwise known as all-night relays. This event is small, but an important display of club culture with 7-person teams featuring orienteers of all levels. It was great to see equal energy brought from the juniors as from the die-hard old timers, and this reassures me that the vibrant club culture will continue to thrive. It was great to defend our title and impressive to see all the juniors taking on the challenge of racing orienteering at night-time with such confidence and enthusiasm.

The magic of night orienteering with Taupo in the back ground, captured by Thomas Stolberger in 2015

The magic of night orienteering with Taupo in the background, captured by Thomas Stolberger in 2015

Icebug New Zealand and I had a great opportunity to give these energetic juniors something more to get excited about by giving away a whole bunch of shoes to future stars who provide a lot of positive energy to the club and we hope to see their progress as they move up through the grades. I have to thank Icebug for this great contribution to North West Orienteering Club, and for giving me another reason to engage these juniors in a running context where they could learn about different shoes and where best to use them. I also love to demonstrate why NWOC is the best club to be a member of, so a great success there too!

Icebugs for some of our fun and talented junior orienteers

Icebugs for some of our fun and talented junior orienteers

Another project I’ve had on the workbench for some time now is the AR Sandbox. I gave revision 1 a test last week and I’m now confident about realising my original idea of using this as an innovative tool for teaching certain aspects of navigation. It still needs to be properly calibrated, but the end is in sight.