Monday, October 19, 2015

2nd Annual Calgary Training Camp

I always look forward to the various training camps in Canada. Seldom do we get the opportunity to meet up with other high level orienteers from across this vast nation. Training camps aren’t simply about the orienteering - not to say say that we don’t enjoy that tremendously- they’re a reunion.

Well, enough of the banter. This Thanksgiving weekend was the Calgary training camp held in Canmore, BC. And in Calgary, of course. The event was graciously organised by the Svoboda family, along with the help of Adrian Zissos. It might also be worth mentioning that Ida and Søren Bobach, two world class gold-medal winning Danish orienteers, graced us with their presence as well. I probably should have put that in the introduction.


(Written by Leif)

It all started bright and early Friday afternoon with a casual, untimed sprint in downtown Canmore. It was a good start to a weekend of training, not too physically or technically demanding. Unfortunately, the map was considerably outdated, and some of the legs had to be cut off due to the decidedly annoying lack of a building (yes, that big one between 10 and 11).

The same afternoon, a middle event was held on the Quarry Lake map close to the Canmore Nordic Centre. As the map was plagued by a number of trails, the overall technical difficulty of the course was somewhat lower than that of the average middle distance, though it goes without saying that I made some errors (refer to route drawn out below). Micro-route choices through the dense clutter of fallen trees proved important to save valuable time.


After a catered dinner in the Canmore Nordic Centre Friday evening, we were treated to a talk by Søren and Ida about their training schedules. It was interesting to learn that Ida does not train for more than one and a half hours at a time, as this represents the longest period in which she will actually be racing. In 2014, she clocked in 577 hours of training, though to date her hours for 2015 combine to only 474 (still quite a lot). Søren trained somewhat less than Ida, ranging from 400-500 hours in the past few years. He mentioned that a few years back, he was increasing his training by much more than the recommended 10%, and that it resulted in quite a few injuries, though he added that he generally recovers much quicker than most. Both Søren and Ida have logged more hours of cross training/alternative training than running. Ida’s strength training accounts for about 20% of her regime.


(Written by Jeff)

Saturday was the headline attraction of the weekend with the the 50 control ‘middle’ at Bow Valley Provincial park. The day started with a ~3.5 km corridor-O to the start of the ‘middle’: a 8.4 km concentration-fest that Søren and maybe a few others could have completed in under an hour if they were on top of their game and hadn’t added 3.5 km of tricky orienteering to the start of it.. Needless to say it wasn’t very middle-like but it was a ton of fun and good training.

Because of the control-picking style of the course and the technical nature of the terrain you had to stay focused nearly the entire time. With the intricate contour detail, sharp ridges and variable runnability you couldn’t simply set your compass and look up for your next control feature. You had to have a full plan for every leg then focus on executing that plan and not drifting onto a parallel large ridge or tiny depression. Somewhere in there you had to plan your next leg too!


My role this weekend was two-fold: first, I was there as an athlete - there was no way I was going to miss this chance to train with Ida and Søren! and second as a coach for my SOGO level 3 athletes all of which, I’m proud to say did very well this weekend!

At the beginning of the day I met with my athletes to provide them with advice and a goal for the 50 controls: The goal is to stay as focused as you can for as long as you can. When you stop being able to refocus after a lapse is when it’s time to quit.

For me it was at control 43 when I had to admit it was time to follow my own advice. Beyond that point I would have simply been reinforcing bad habits. Until that point it went well though (other than the fact that several of my teenage athletes stayed with me for far too long and even beat me to several controls). I blame running 35 km in 6 hours the weekend before with Patrick to win Run the Wild in Cranbrook and not recovering properly afterwards… oops!

Following the 50 control course was a control description exercise where I shadowed one of my athletes. Then it was time to head back to Canmore for a much needed shower before dinner at the Nordic Centre and another talk by the Bobachs.

This time the subject was how their national team and elite training centre in Denmark are structured. Definitely lots of lessons that could be taken away from it - primarily how much all being in the same city and really focusing on being a team makes a difference. Applying here in Canada isn’t so easy of course. We don’t have near the resource they do - a multi-million dollar budget and 2+ full time coaching staff plus access to physio and massage therapists, dieticians, mental coaches, etc. are thigns we’re a long long way from having!


(Written by Leif)

We awoke early (early for a weekend at least) Sunday morning to drive into Calgary for the final two sprints of the camp. The first was held on the U of C campus, starting just outside the Olympic Oval. In essence, it was a classic University sprint course. Many large buildings to find the best route around, and a handful of traps, most of them defined by impassable walls (see control #4). Being able to anticipate smaller features like ramps and staircases was also necessary, as missing a turn could cost you your momentum and valuable time.

The final event of the camp was held on the Mount Royal campus. The map had been drawn by Michael Svoboda and American Matej Sebo, and this was its grand unveiling. Contrary to the U of C course, Mont Royal was quite an atypical University sprint map. In the place of large, oddly shaped buildings was an array of modest rectangular residences and interspersed areas of intense detail. The course brought the runner through a variety of terrain, from parkland to miniature pedestrian blocks. Most notable was the section between controls 5 and 8, where we were presented with an intricate courtyard of stairs, underpasses and balconies (See blown up section below). It was one of the most interesting sprint challenges I have ever been faced with.

All in all, it was a great weekend of orienteering and meeting with some of the world’s top orienteers. I got to experience some amazing terrain for the first time, and run some fantastic training. I extend my gratitude to the organisers as well as Søren and Ida for their hard work and effort in making this weekend what it was. I look forward to coming back sometime soon.