Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Training camp with Radek Novotny

Last days (26th to 30th) I've been in a training camp in the region of Marinha Grande. It was supervised by Radek Novotny, the Czech coach. I loved it, learned a lot and was exhausted in the end...

We did some types of training that we're not used to. It was mainly focused in the fast orienteering capability and the management of a precise map reading in diverse competition situations.
In the 1st day, a map with many kinds of orienteering: line O, fiding controls in an area and a sprint.
We had another training session that consisted in Middle Qualification and Middle Final. In the Middle Q I was one of the lasts to qualify to the 4,9km Final A but I was able to make an almost perfect race in the final (in the map below). You may check the results here and the Splitsbrowser here.

Here a 10km re-localization session which I did with Paulo, my everyday training friend. His map had the other half of the controls.

In this morning we trained the starting process. We made 8 different short courses in the forest (around 500m each) at maximum speed. The total time of the 8 courses would decide the chasing start to the afternoon session, a 7,7km butterfly run. In this session I made almost all my course with Diogo Miguel and Tiago Romão (even if I had different loops) and I was 2nd overall in an emotive final sprint. You may check the results here and the Splitsbrowser here.

This session consisted in a two-man relay. Me and my teammate (Catarina) went along the road and each one punched one control and came back to the road to return the map (when we reached the end we had to return to the start, punching the controls that the other had previously punched). There were lots of teams and it was a really tiring session with 3 different maps.

In the end we had a long session. Radek planned a fantastic course with lots of interesting route choices. I went straight in some controls where the best option would be by paths. My result was not what I expected once I did some major mistakes that costed me some time. You may find the map here.

In the end, I loved this training camp. The night theorical sessions with Radek were really interesting. I was able to identify some of my biggest problems in orienteering:

1.- I have to start slower at competitions. My mistakes are always in the first controls.

2.- I usually loose too much the contact with the map (mainly in the middle of the legs where I simply run). I have fixed this problem in some training sessions and ended making a better control attack, saving some precious time.

The next days will be though. I'll have my exam season and the most important national O'competitions... We'll see...

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Christmas trainings...

We've been training well lately. After the last 10k race I didn't rest. I was able to do a new PB average at the Tuesdays windy 14x400/I:1' - a 68''average. Thursday I was too tired and ran the 5k course with my teammates. Saturday a 3x7' fartleck with a friend of mine, Nelson Silva, a Duathlon athlete, in my Hometown. Today a 18,5k easy run at 4'40''/km. After Christmas we'll have a nice training camp from 26th to 30th in S.Pedro de Moel with one of the bests world O'expert, Radek Novotny who will teach us everything he knows. In the middle I'll have to study hard to the next exam season that will start in February, we'll see....

After all, I wish all my friends and readers an Holy Christmas and a Happy New Year... I'll post the training camp news and maps as soon as I can.

I leave you with the fantastic "Year in pictures" by NBC (SPORTS and NEWS) that is worth seen and an amazing Christmas movie card.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

31'40 at 10K!

Today was the Christmas Grand Prix in Lisbon. Once again, there were all the main national athletes once the prizes money where high. I wanted to do a strong start, once my old "slow start strategy" that was used in Pontével was not a success. I started in the frontline and was able to do a 31'40 race - average of 3'10/km (less 2min from my last PB, 33'20).

The weather conditions were not perfect (a rainny and windy day) but in the end I was really happy with my new achievement. I think the fact that most contributed to this personal record was that I ran with the pack all the time instead of starting slow and running all the way by myself. I was able to finish before some good athletes of the main national clubs.

I have been searching for a cause for this lately personal records. In the 5K course on dirty at the university stadium I've already taken 1' in 2 months (17'15 to 16'19). Now this new personal best, taking almost 2' in 2 weeks in the 10K (33'20 to 31'40). I think the cause is my later devolpment and a better training method now.

Last year I did a meniscal fracture and did a magnetic resonance. The orthopedist (the chief resident of a famous hospital in Lisbon and also my uncle) that examined my MR was curious about why my cartilage plaques (that are responsible for growing up) were still open at 20 years old (and the fact that they were still open caused me some pain in the past due to the hypermobile articulation syndrome that is found in teenage athletes who push hard on articulations that are still growing up). I was never an excellent athlete neither in swimming or running during my teenage years; maybe my development was later, who knows...

I was 20th, overall. You can find the results with times and the list of athletes here. (Select "Prova de 10km (2008))

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Iberian Championships - The report

This weekend were the Iberian Championships in Idanha-a-Nova.
DAY1- middle distance 5,3km (225m) 57'58''- I started slowly without many mistakes. However to the 4th control I was following the path and suddenly missed it. I tried to pass the valley but it was impossible. Too many rocks and too much vegetation. I tried to go up the valley but couldn't too. Usually, a yellow area with a light green should be easily passable. Tommy Tolko did an huge mistake in the same area; In my single opinion the map was weird in that zone. I gave up and went around the rocky hill. I spent 17min to that control. After that, if I could find a path, that would be my option =) I ended making a more less regular course through the end. Unfortunately, that 4th control, was too much!
DAY2- long distance 11,2km (245m) 65'07'' - I started slowly too, and in the "path mode" imposed by the day before. However the terrain was much more open and easily runnable. I did a regular course with some time lost to the 3rd and 9th and a major error to the 5th.
Beside the mess in the 1st day, I was 3rd overall after Ionut Zinca (Romania) and Patrick Hofmeister (Germany). I was also 4th in the long distance race, an World Ranking Event.
I enjoyed this foggy and rainy O'weekend. I was already missing this orienteering spirit!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Athletics race in Pontével

Last monday I went to Pontével, near my hometown to a 9km athletics race. It was really cold to the portuguese weather, around 4ºC and raining. The money prizes were high so there were lots of high level athletes (some Kenyans, Olympic athletes and other strong teams represented). I started slowly, afraid of the high paces of the frontline. However It was too slow and I ended making almost all the race with a Kenyan that had the same strategy passing the tired ones in the last 4km. In the end, I was able to finish with an 3'18/3'19/km average in a course with some climbs. I was 10th overall and was satisfied. Next race I'll try to find a consistent pack in the first meters and will try to stick till the end.

3x3km course = 9km TOTAL

Last week, in the 5km course that we always do on thursdays at the University Stadium, I did a 16'27 time, beating my last record from the week before of 16'50.

Next weekend I will compete in the Iberian Championship in Idanha-a-Nova. After a 8x400 today, we are already loading-off. I'll face this competition with a lack of technical trainings with map.. We'll see!

University Sports Federation's Gala

Last Friday was the Gala of the National Sports University federation at te Hotel Zurique in Lisbon. It was cool to have an happy dinner with my O'friends (Tiago Romão, Jorge Fortunato e Paulo Franco). Curiously, we were placed in the swimmer's table, next to an everyday friend of mine from faculty (in the right).

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Weekend at home

This weekend was spent in my hometown, Torres Novas. Sunday I made there 17,5km at a pace of 4'10''/km. I love to train there, alone in the roads that I know from childhood. Today the training was in the University Stadium with a surprise: Joaquim Sousa, one of the best portuguese orienteering athletes did the training with us. It was 16x400, 1min interval, to an average of 70''. I was exhausted in the end due to some respiratory problems that result from my asthmatic condition.
This weekend I would like to do some O'training with my O'friends but due to the 18th birthday of my brother, I'll only participate in some regional athletic competitions (Almeirim on 30th or Pontével on 1st).

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

14x400m intervaled training

Today we had 14x400 with 1min interval. Something was different today, we brought a camera with us (and we share the photos). We gradually increased the intensity, from 75' to 64'. Here I leave some fresh photos taken today that reflect the morning training spirit in the University Stadium in Lisbon.

The ex-boxeaur, me, Filipe and Jorge

Now with Paulo

Happy warm up after 30' running outside




No more, please!

The family (UP:Ferreira (blind athlete), Tó, Paulo, Filipe / DOWN: Paulinho,me and Jorge posing)

Sunday, 16 November 2008

20km training in Lisbon

Today we did a 20km course in Lisbon in 01h27min42sec (~-4,21min/km). It crosses Monsanto park and goes along the beautiful Tajo river. It was a long time since I last did a long train like this. The map shows a drawn course, once I stupidly erased my GPS while updating its firmware. We didn't go to the athletics race in Setubal due to some technical problems =)

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Training in Monsanto

Today we did a nice 2700m course in Monsanto. There was me, Paulo Franco, my everyday teammate, some blind athletes with the guides, my coach and Sérgio Silva, 3rd in the last European Duathlon Champs (who runs a lot!). After a 30' running, the first was to 9'00, the second to 8'46 and in the third time we did the course, I did only 2 more km (the first and the last) with Sérgio at a really high pace . The interval was 6min. I really enjoy this Saturday long intervaled trainings in Lisbon where the weekend spirit reigns (No stress! We don't have to go to work after!). =)

Friday, 14 November 2008

National Congress of Sport's Medicine

Yesterday and today I've also been in the National congress of Sport Medicine in Lisbon. Some proeminent portuguese doctors have discussed medical screening strategies in athletes, complex arrythmias, training loads and endocrine, oesteomuscular and cardiovascular modifications in athletes... The sudden death was a current theme discussed there.

I loved these days and in the end, I kept the frightening idea that high level competition may not be as harmless as I thought. Here I leave some themes discussed there:
- The actual training loads of high level teenager athletes are proved to be harmful (affecting the teenage development and maybe his heart's impulse conducting system in long term).
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (a big heart muscle) is the cause of almost 40% of sudden deaths in athletes.
- A great part of sudden deaths are a result of genetic disorders (mainly disorders that affect ion channels in the cells of the heart) that in an ideal world should be early detected in the athlete screenings and properly treated.
- A simple Electrocardiogram and a proper clinical examination are enough to search the majority of sudden death causes.
- The overtraining causes a great damage in the body, mainly via IGF-1, a catabolic growth factor produced in the liver. This harm is increased if it's high levels are during children/teenagers development.
- We, athletes, should trust more in the doctors recommendations, once the biggest obstacle to the success of the screenings and therapies are the will of parents, athletes and a whole system of people who depend on the athlete's success.

Tomorrow after my interval trainings there will be the last session about knee lesions in the teenager athlete. Can't wait for it! =)

Last training sessions..

This week we've being training hard. 30' + 14x300m on tuesday, 30'+ 5km at a high pace on thursday and some trainings twice a day. This week we had to change the 5km course that we do every thursday because of some works at the university stadium. We love to do this course every week once it helps us knowing ourselves better and recording our improvements. It also gives us the feeling of a competition.

Last season I used to do the 5k in the old course (it was harder with more climbing) at around 18'30 and my personal best was around 18'12. This season I 've already made there 17'15, almost one minute less than last season. Now I've done 16'44 this week in the new 5k course. Despite the total time of the 5k course depending a lot on the week's load, I'm really enthusiastic with these new records. I've improved some of my times in the interval trainings at the track too.

Tomorrow 3x2000 at university stadium or monsanto park (once there is a competition in Jamour) and Sunday maybe an easy 12500m race at Setubal with the first 2km at a training pace imposed by the organization and the possiblity of drinking a cup of Moscatel at the 8600m =)

Sunday, 9 November 2008

COA Trophy

This weekend was the COA Trophy, counting to the national ranking. The competition took place in Ribatejo, an area near my hometown. The maps from this are are known for being less technical and more physical with large open areas and lack of terrain details. The scenenary of the competition arena was awesome.

DAY1 - Long distance, 13,3km - 17c. The fast terrain allowed me to do a 01:08:13 race (5,1min/km). I was only beaten by Tiago Aires. My stomach wasn't well and made some contractions during the race. I finally vomited to the 12th control and everything got O.K. then =) I think that my stomach was the only thing that made me loose time.

DAY2 - Medium distance, 5,6km - 17c. The terrain was more technical than the day before. I wasn't expecting it, entered too fast in the race and made a mistake to the 1st control. In the 7th control I lost too much time for a senior race. But it wasn't enough once I was able to make another big mistake to the 15th. My faith was traced and I started looking for the 15thcontrol in the same area where I lost time to the 7th control. The extra running in the other controls wasn't able to cover the damage and did a disappointing race, spoiling the 2nd place from the 1st day of competitions. I ended with a time of 37min, 7 more minutes than the 1st athlete. Definitely, I need more contact with a map and regional competitions must become obligatory races for me in the next months in order to train with map.

Physically I'm not too tired and tomorrow I will re-start my normal trainings after one week of partial load because of a small contracture in my soleus muscle. I was able to heal it with the empiric knowledge of my athlete friends: hot massage in the bath intervaled with ice. Thursday, Ophtalmology test at faculty, Thursday/Friday/Saturday the National Congress of Sport's Medicine in Lisbon and Sunday a 10km race in Odivelas. We'll see!

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Interview with Gebreselassie...

This week's Newsweek magazine comes with an amazing interview with Haile Gebreselassie, universally
regarded as the greatest distance runner of all times. The entire interview is at Newsweek magazine but there's a short episode from the interview that is online.

It's worth to take a look at the Newsweek website, here.

A though life and genetics are the possible causes for the Ethiopian's painful success. Reviewing his life, there are no excuses nor lack of training facilities for us not to be in the front line. Just the lack of training, itself.

If you're interested check the CNN interview with 3 parts

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Orienteering songs...

Recently, my O-friends have found some orienteering musics that may amuse you during your trainings:
"You and Me" by Nick Manfredi

You can download the music at http://www.nicolamanfredi.it/

Then you have some Norweigian orienteering students singing falsetto at

Not O'related, another fantastic and inspiring song is the theme from the Olympic Games "Forever friends". If you aren't in the mood to go for a run, just watch this videoclip.

Friday, 31 October 2008

II Trofeo Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha - Ciudad de Toledo

Last weekend was the II trofeu Castilla La Mancha in Toledo (Spain). I was 4th in the overall resultsDAY1 - At the start line I was a bit frightened of the 13,7km race. I had a bit of soreness in my legs from the last weekend nike race. I started slowly and in the first meters of the race I did not start to the right direction. When I hit the path, I corrected the route to the 1st control (me, the black trace in the graph below (position after leg graph)).

I did some mistakes during the race and the most of the time I lost was on the 1st, 6th, 8th, 10th, 17th and 19th control. Even if there were not many route options, I liked the race.
In the afternoon I did a sprint race at a slow pace with my team friend, Nelson Graça.

DAY2 - A medium distance in the historic center of Toledo. I wanted to do a good race, once it was supposed to be a less technical and a more physical race. I started pretty confident, but to the 2nd control I entered one streed before and I hesitated a lot to the 3rd control, near the walls. The most of the time that I lost was to the 8th control (I didn't realize that the passages near the end of the road were underground) and to the 14th (there was a wall in a crossroad that wasn't in the map that made me doubt of where I was).

In the end we had still time to do a OriBus competition in the 7hour trip to Portugal. In a though race agaisnt Gonçalo Cruz from my club, I won the race with a time of 1min55. Gonçalo had some difficulties in the beginning and ended with a time of 3min. It was a success! =)

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Run against Tajo river

Today I did the 10k nike race against the tajo river ("Corrida do Tejo 2008"). The competition had its participant record this year with a total of 11.000 athletes. With some climbs, I wanted to do less than 33min. However I did a 33'20 race. As a race in the beginning of the season it was not bad (two years ago I did more 3min than today in the same course). It was hard to start, once there were lots of people starting in front of me. I passed the 5k at 16'30. However, in the last km's I couldn't keep the pace in some climbings. I ended in the 25th place.

It was cool to run against some athletes from the Spanish Olympic team, Chema Martinez (European 10k champion) and Jesus España. Chema won the race with a time of 29'45. My faculty was there too with a team of 7 athletes. The results can be found here.

In the end, I have concluded that I need more races in order to keep a high pace at competitions (the last race of this type I did was 1+1/2 years ago). I have to do more high pace trainings in order to develop my aerobic capacity.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Ginseng, the Orienteering's "magic pill"?

Last week I had a course on Clinical Nutrition. It was centered in the nutrition to those who are in a weak condition and in the methods to give the necessary energy to them in order to survive. During the course, I had some interesting talks with the teacher, a famous Phd portuguese nutricionist (who also teaches nutrition to the portuguese doctors in the post-graduation in sport medicine), about nutritional supplements in sport.

I have read some things about this theme once I'm really interested at it. I'm not a doctor (nor even close to be one..3 more years to come) so what follows are just suggestions from a non-specialist.

Athletes have been always searching for the "magic pill". In fact, the industry of the ergogenic aids has "boomed" in the last years. An ergogenic aid is any training technique, mechanical device, nutritional practice, pharmacological method, or psychological technique that can improve exercise performance capacity and/or enhance training adaptations. Of course all doping methods are not included in this theme!!!
So, which are the most famous?
- pH modification with Sodium Bicarbonate or sodium citrate
- phosphate
- caffeíne
- Q10 coenzime
- Creatine
- L-carnitine
- CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)
- Glutamine
- Branched chain amino acids
- N-acetil-cisteine
- C / E Vitamin
- HMB (Hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrato
- Cooper, Iron, Magnesium, Complex B Vitamins
- Ginseng
- bovine colostrum
- Capsaicine

I have some friends who take almost all of them (some of them take 5 or 6 pills a day), but are they really necessary? Or is it just the pressure of an industry who wants to make money? Are the improvements made by them a result of the powerful placebo effect?

The studies that have been made until now don't show any relevant benefits of using them, but have shown lot's of secundary effects.

Athlete's (including me, some time ago!) consume lots of magnesium, sodium and potassium in the famous pill Miostenil in order to recover from though efforts. Some studies have shown that there isn't any benefit of this intake and that in a long term usage, it may lead to serious renal calcules. Of course some brands claim that you can run out of potassium and sodium and enter a state of hyponatremia, but this situation is really rare (unless you drink 400ml of simple water during a competition and not before or after). A balance between this two extremes is the best solution.

All kinds of vitamins (in Centrum, for example or at Stress tabs where there are some concentrations of 1000% the daily recommended dose) are useless if you don't have a deficit. Extra vitamins don't put you ahead. In the other hand, some studies have shown that a long term usage of extra vitamin E may cause lung cancer.

Now, there is one that is a good new to all orienteerers!! Ginseng! It is proved that it dilates the cerebral arteries and increases concentration in long term efforts. It's widely used by students in order to increase concentration. Maybe a solution to those mistakes in the last controls. Due to it's characteristics it is not a good option to hipertense people, but more studies are needed.

Then you have all those ergogenic aids that have a structured theory behind but don't work in the real world. L-carnitine is supposed to make you loose weight by increasing the usage of fat but some studies have shown that it enters circulation but doesn't get to the mitochondrial membrane where it has it's effects - Useless! CLA's seem to make animal models loose lots of weight but in human's only some people loose that desired weight while others are not affected.

Another myth is that if you consume lots of proteins your muscles will grow more. This is a proved myth. Almost all of us in developed countries ingest more than the 10% protein intake that is recommended - it's enought even for an athlete. If you consume much more than that, your body won't use it and will turn it into urea that is excreted in the urine. Abuse of protein supplementation is the worst thing you can do, once it will decrease the blood ph too (and an athlete doesn't want it).

Basically, the ergogenic aids that could give you a little help are: caffeine (to medium or long term exercises), creatine (short term exercises, not to orienteering, of course!!), HMB (in the post-exercise recovery, the one that has shown more proved results), BCAA's (in muscle sparing) and vitamins and minerals (only if you have an alimentary deficit).

Resuming it all, If you have a healthy and balanced diet, you won't need any supplement. If you have a decompensated intake of any nutrient, then a supplement may help you in a short term usage. The ergogenic aids just may help you a little bit; the idea that you can be a running machine just with the "magic pill" is a myth.

This theme could go on and on, but here are just some facts of the main ergogenic aids that are commonly used. If you want to know more, just type the name of it at any search engine and you will find lots and lots of information (the most of it, is made by those who sell them, so be careful)As my teacher ended her presentation, be careful with FASHIONS and MIXTURES!