My longest and most successful training block ever of 22 weeks has just come to a close, so it’s time for some reflection. This block was a smoothly increasing progression with 2 overload weeks and 3 goal races. I took course records in my 2 B-goals, Tussock Traverse and The Hillary, and won my A-goal race, Oceania Orienteering Champs Long Distance. This is most exciting because the orienteering often doesn’t go to plan and good fitness can easily go to waste with bad navigation on the day.
My pursuit for consistency successfully delivered me to race day on good form, but perhaps most importantly, experiencing fewer frustrating disruptions has kept me more positive throughout the training block. Early in the block I felt like my training load was too easy, but I stuck to the plan and ignored the usual urgency and 11/10 motivation to train harder. Eventually I was at my peak week of 16 hours including a number of high intensity sessions, without ever having one week noticeably harder than the previous (except for the 2 overload weeks which took advantage of training camps).
To focus in on last Saturday’s long distance a little more, the splits show that I was running very strongly and my navigation was mostly smooth but with 4 mistakes totalling about 4 minutes. Although I find it hard to be satisfied with this amount of time loss, considering the very challenging navigation and the number of mistakes others were making this was on par with my close competition. The biggest factor spreading names down the results board was running speed. I didn’t start particularly aggressively, but still took an early lead as my running speed was really good. This lead was taken away after a small mistake, but up to control 9 I was quite satisfied with race. It began to fall apart in some challenging legs to 10 and 11 and dropped to 4th place at this point, and could feel a degree of frustration.
I left these mistakes behind me and attacked the next legs hard and began to pull time on my competition. I focused on safe routes and fast lines and pulled time on my competition, except for Matt, who was still maintaining his commanding lead. The last quarter of the race sealed the deal, and I flipped the 2 minute deficit into a 2 minute lead. Perhaps Matt started too hard, as he began to fade in the last quarter of the course while I had the endurance to keep my aggression very high. I posted the fastest time on 6 of the last 9 legs, and was only narrowly behind the fastest time on the other 3. The terrain ramped up in this section and I was putting 30 seconds into Matt on most of these hilly legs. Simon Upphil had also run a solid race to this point, but slipped away similarly to Matt to finish 3rd, 5 minutes down.
I was both surprised and thrilled to hear the commentary announce that I had the fastest time at the finish, but I couldn’t stand the nervous wait watching the clock for the other top runners to finish so I left the event centre to warm down.
This race reinforced my decision to focus on long distance, as strongly as it reminded me that I still haven’t addressed my often sloppy navigation. But with very little focus on orienteering training this was always going to be the likely case. So now with 2 months until WOC I really do need to focus on navigation, but with a serious problem in my left ankle running in terrain is risky and I’m not sure how best to approach this conflict. I have been working with Sports Lab for a few months on this problem and although we did make progress, this has been more than undone by all the racing in the last 2 weeks.
I will relight the fire in 2 weeks, but for now I sleep satisfied.