I have been training in the beautiful hills of Rualand for the past week with the main focus of preparing the NZ JWOC team for their competitions. We have been doing some quality orienteering on some great terrain under the picturesque backdrop of snowy mountains and sparkling lakes. The terrain here is dominated by marshes which create highways through the forest. Streams, boulders and cliffs add to the detail on the hills and slopes.
On my first 2 days here in Rauland we did training focused on applying good orienteering techniques to the new terrain and learning more about the style of mapping. This was very useful for the team and their confidence in the new terrain increased greatly over those 2 days. I really enjoyed this terrain right from the start. The low visibility tested my strength with the compass and the increased running speed in the open marshes made planning route choice very important.
On the following days we did some more training but with a focus on race preparation. We gave the athletes start times, bus times, and simulated the JWOC start with quarantine, warm up map and full start procedure. This concept was first used last year and I expect it will remain an essential part of the pre-JWOC training for New Zealand and Australia. The idea stems from the fact that the issues many top orienteers have running at JWOC are not because they haven’t done enough training in relevant terrain but because the pressure of competing on the world stage is intense can greatly influence your performance on race day. Simulating the 3 individual races allows the athletes to become more familiar with the emotions they will be feeling on race day and to become more familiar with the start procedure which is more intense than anything they will have done in New Zealand.
My training included some slow orienteering as I allowed an injury to recover fully and then some long runs in the hills around the accommodation. Long runs here can be pretty loose because the forest and open areas are so runnable that it really doesn’t matter where you go. On my long runs here I have tried to stay on the trails but on both occasions found myself floating down spongey marshes and bounding through the green birch forest for the majority of the run. I’m hoping to add to these 2 long runs with another on the JWOC rest day on Wednesday.