Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas

I'm sick of just running. I am in need of some competitions after 3 whole weeks of pure training (and increasing...yesterday it was 24x300m). Even if my Finnish O'guest, Aapo Summanen tells me that is warm and nice weather here, it isn't so nice to run with 5ºC. I already miss the nice spring 20ºC's. After Christmas I'll spend 4 days O'training in Gafanhoeira and on the 31st, a S.Silvester 10k race. Can't wait for start competing again!

In Holidays I usually spend some time doing things that I usually don't have time to do during the school time. Just came across this 2 awesome sport movies that I loved and had to share:
Prefontaine - A movie about Steve Prefontaine's life. Coached by Bill Bowerman, one of Nike's founders, he had an unbeatable charisma. A runner's must-see. It was tough to get this old movie and here are just some scenes from it.

Spirit of Marathon - the name says it all!

... and in this part of the season, I wish you all a Holy Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Christmas GP - 30'24 (9700m)

Today it was Lisbon's Christmas Grand Prix. A really fast race with a descending end that allows fast times. All the big guys usually compete in this race and so I chose this one as the 1st athletics race of the season.

Started fast with the pack. I didn't attack with the 2nd group at the right time (3rd km) and ended running all the race by myself. I would have easily done less 30sec. I also think that I should have pushed harder once I didn't end with the tiredness that I should had (I tought that I wouldn't be able to cope with the fast paces of the beginning).
(The paces have some variations due to the 4 tunnel slopes that don't appear in the altimetry)

As the 1st race of the season I was mildly satisfied. Sad for not having been able to go with them, happy with the way I felt all the way. My rythm was to 31'15 at 10km. As the coach told me in the end, the evolution is a continuum. In this part of the season I don't have a competitive rythm yet and I'm not able to make many rythm variations. We'll start working on that, as usual, from January.

The results are as follows:
1.º Valerijs Zolnerovics (Latvia) 28:04
2.º Manuel Ferraz (Benfica) 28:24
3.º Túlio Gomes (Sporting) 28:27
4.º António Travassos (Sporting) 28:27
5.º Carlos Silva (Sporting) 28:31
25º Miguel Reis e Silva (Benfica) 30:24

Next athletics race will probably be Amadora's S.Silvester on the 31st of December. It's an amazing 10k night race with lots of people cheering up all the way (maybe too many!). It usually has the best portuguese athletes plus 3 or 4 kenyans (that usually win). Until then, I'll continue making my schedule.

And, if you want to know why Runners are different, check this (awesome!!).

Friday, 4 December 2009

4th National competition - The bad result to analyze performance

Middle, 6,7k, (370m), 30c, 35'33 - A fast terrain. Big mistake to 12th. Caught the runner before me and ran without looking at the map at an easy zone. A 1'30 mistake! To the 22nd, a 25'' mistake at the control area. I ended the race 31'' after the winner. I was happy because of the fast pace that I was able to get in some parts of the race but disappointed with such stupid mistakes.

Long, 14,9k, (450m), 26c, 81'12 - Another fast map. And started by the worst way. A 4' mistake to the 1st. Attacked the greens by the small hill but miscalculated the distance to the hill (forgot the 1:15000 scale). Then found a small elevation (like the control) and stayed there.. it had to be there! (but it wasn't)... It was the 2nd time that I've done a mistake like this.. and it can't happen again! I was caught there by the runner after. Tried to let him behind but ended making mistakes to the 6th (1'30) and in the long leg to the 12th (1'30?).

Overall... I was betrayed by the thoughts that I was physically feeling good. I get better results if I don't think "physical". And, most of all, what I need most, is this. When I force myself to look at the map, my results get better (the 1st time I consciously tried it, I was National Middle Champion).

Now we're getting nice loads (the 140km/week goal). Lots of repetitions, almost no recovery, like this 24x200 session (with a 100m jogging interval 40sec) after a 30' morning session and a 30' afternoon session.

Now with the Heart rate band there's no room to laziness: I got "a talk" with the coach once the first 16 repetitions were, according to him, "warm up"... According to the "lucrative pause" theory, the base HR should had been like the last 8: higher and slowly rising. Next session I'll push harder!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Nordic maps vs. Portuguese maps

In Portugal the cartographers care more about detail: every single rock has to be on the map. The Nordics just put the essential on the map. In order to understand this differences, Antti Harju and Janne Weckman have spent some days in Portugal making some maps in the center of the country. Today was the first competition in one of these maps.

Middle, 8,8k, (145m), 27c, 42'40 - A really fast map allowed a 4'45min/km average. However, I had some troubles in the south-east rocky hill. I've missed almost all the controls there. We did a 6km course after in order to understand the limit between what is/isn't represented in the map. It was a big help to the January International Meeting that will be held in maps like these.

Physically I've been feeling a bit tired. The Thursday's 10x strength+200m intervals always take me some days to recover from. I've reached this week my coach's 140km/week goal. 13th of December will be my first Athletics race of the season, the Lisbon's Christmas GP. I have no idea of how much I'm running right now. But I'll find out that in the next weeks...

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Saturday's club training (with mirror train)

Yesterday I went to Peniche area to train with the Elite groups from my club, COC and ATV (Don't have the GPS software in this PC).

Morning, Middle distance 8k, 20c, 46'07 - A nice session. Mistake to 9th (lost map control and slowed down a lot) and big one to 18th (continued following the wrong valley). Wanted to test the greens to the finish.

Afternoon, multi-technique Middle distance, 5,6k, 22c, 34'22 - Mistake to the 2nd, (missed the depression), deviations in the azimuth area and big mistake to 19th (misunderstood the yellow long top as a low area and ended in the wrong depression).

Night, Mirror training - I had never done anything like this! It was a city mass start and they had only told us "be careful!". We started and everyone stopped 5m ahead. The map was inverted, like in a mirror. So you had to turn left if the map showed you right. At each control you would see guys running in every different directions. It was really fun! I admit that I had some difficulty in understanding the concept and followed the guys while trying to fit the map to the terrain in a great part of the course. Only in the end I was able to fully understand it, punched the last one in the lead and ended in the front in a tight sprint. (1 - The map that was given; 2- The real map)

Today I'm spending a day at my hometown (the 1st day in a month) and I've done a 1h45, 20km session in a hilly terrain where I've totally hit the wall.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

National team weekend

This season, we have some weekends with intense training camps with the National team. This was the first weekend, with 6 sessions. My legs were (still!) sore from the Thursdays training session (a new one to me: 10x skipping, squating, jumps + 200m run at track). I wasn't able to get great speeds but I also did lots of deviations and control missings (due to less contact time with the map). These kind of weekends are really productive. I just post the major trainings (the greens can be difficult to pass):

Mass start at 2 times (loss of GPS signal in the 2nd)

Under the line training with controls in the line

Corridor session

Chasing start

Tomorrow, is the return to routine. Oh, and this blog was invited to be the blog of the month of the Ezine magazine, an online urban sports magazine. You may find the article here (November edition, pag 36)

Monday, 2 November 2009

Iberian Championships

Toledo, a beautiful Spanish city, hosted this year's Iberian Championships.

Middle Distance, 5,9K (120m), 41'39 - The greens were tricky. I started slowly with a big mistake to the 2nd (45sec). Bad option to the 5th, big hesitation to 11th with a mistake to 12th. Bad option to 19th. I didn't like my performance. This course was pauted by lots of hesitations and many meters at a slow pace. I was 3rd overall.

Sprint Distance, 3,2K (140m), 19'41 - It was an amazing race, in a nice city map with a big crowd cheering us up during all the way. I started with an hesitation (I tought that the stairs by the right weren't passable). I had some slow downs during the race due to inconsistent navigation. From the 5th I took my biggest lesson: The stairs were closed and I stopped and blocked there, loosing 20sec. I have to be able to cope with these unpredictable situations during a race! I also felt that I wasn't able to find my rythm during the race. I won it, but I was lucky this time.

Long Distance, 12,4K (475m), CANCELLED - This race was cancelled due to a control swap at the 16th control. I lost some seconds in the first controls. I managed well the long legs. Messed it up at the 16th were I found another control in the place of my control. I wasn't self-confident enough to leave the control when I attacked it and kept looking for my control. The most stupid thing were all the mistakes that I did after. I was doubting if I hadn't made a mp and did (a lot!) of silly mistakes. This can't happen again and, once again, I wasn't able to cope with unpredictable situations. In the end, the race committee decided to cancel the race.

You may find all the results and split times here. I returned home with an Iberian title and a 3rd place in the middle. And, afterall, I really enjoyed my weekend at beautiful Toledo.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Hate to be sick...

From times to times comes a round of virus between my colleagues at faculty. This time I was one of the victims. Last friday I got a Viral Tonsillitis...

...and after a weekend at bed, missed Sunday's "Nike race against Tajo river" that I really wanted to run. Even if I'm able to run now (and have done intervaleds yesterday) I still have some chills and asthma in the evening...

Hope I'll be 100% recovered next weekend at the Iberian Championships.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Tough weekend

4x700m Loops, a 3,6K chasing start, a 7,4K race and a night 4K relay was my Saturday training. Sunday, a 11K multi-technique course with a demanding final with Micro-O where I ran out of fuel.

I just post the main trains

3,6K Chasing start - It was a great session with Orienteering under pressure. Like Tiago has told me in the end, there is too much to improve.

7,4K race - A nice organization in Coruche. Some interesting options, particularly the 13th control (better by the right). I just did too many deviations, too many sharp turns.

11K multi-technique with this Micro-O ending - I just ran out of fuel and did these last controls with a dizzy head. I didn't want to quit once these situations sometimes happen in a race and we still have to be able to cope with them. It was a fantastic train and, slowly and with some deviations, I checked all the right controls.

Thanks to Tiago and Gafanhoris, thanks to COC and Ori-Estarreja with whom I spent a fantastic training weekend.

I'm slowly returning to the training routine. Last Thursday I did my first fast 10x climbing intervaled session with Marco Povoa and today I jogged fast with the guys.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Fatigue: Mental vs. Physiological

I've came across this interesting article from "The Science of Sport" (you may find it here). Is fatigue a result of our conscious "Anticipatory regulation" or a result of muscle impairment?

It analyses some interesting questions like:
- If it was all physiological why do the best 10k races have the fastest last lap when the athletes have the biggest glycogen depletion and the biggest amount of lactate in the muscles? Why don't they speed up before?

- What cues, what signals, what experiences, what training, and what physiology are responsible for enabling the athlete to consciously slow down in the middle, and then speeding up at the end of a race and still optimize performance?

These guys, exercise physiologists have found their scheme between mental and physiological that just seems perfect to me and it ended being published at the British Journal of Sport Medicine.

If you're curious about it, you have a whole series of texts about this theme that will fill a great amount of hours of your spare time(you may find them here)

I've just a few time to write this post. Tomorrow I'll participate in a great training camp in Alentejo and I still have some hours of sleep to recover from.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

2nd National Competition of the season.

This weekend was the 2nd National competition of this season in Alijó, in the north of the country.

Saturday, Middle, 4,5K (185), 31'40 - I was satisfied with my performance. I did just a few mistakes on hesitations. Physically I felt well for a beginning of a season. Loss of time to 15th where I prefered to go around the rocks and attack the control with safety. To the 22nd, I think that the best option would be by the right of the big hill.

Sunday, Sprint, 3,8k, 14'32 (GPS ran out of battery)- With Marco Póvoa back to the game there can't be any mistakes in Sprint distances. I did a few and he kicked my ass in 40sec. Some of the options weren't the best, loss of time punching another control to the 5th, and a not so good physical performance formed my final result.

Monday, Long, 9,6K (260), 74'27 - This map has really tough greens that should be avoided at any cost. This race was far from perfection. Many losses of time in the control area. I felt that physically I didn't push hard enough once I ended the race with fresh legs. I haven't found my pace in Long distances once I'm always afraid of breaking down... and I really have to improve my running technique in rocky terrains!
After all, I won the weekend. My orienteering performance is better this season, but I still have too much to improve!!

Weeks at Home...

Last weeks I was (finally) at Home with my parents. No school, no study, no worries, just relax. I need some weeks like these a year in order to get the needed balance.

I've discovered that I have many good maps around, in a 30min drive range...

I've enjoyed by MTB bike (a lot!) in my hometown terrains with an (almost) everyday 25K course with some climbing... combined with an afternoon 1h run.

and I've been with my longtime friends...

Good times are ending. The 1st athletics race of the season will be on the 25th Oct, the Nike race against Tajo river where 10.000 athletes are expected. I've only done 2 specific trains this pre-season apart from jogging. I'm curious about my shape at the moment (I hope I'll do better than last year's 33'24). School is starting again next week. The turbulence is coming, and I'm already missing it!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Great weekend in Alentejo

This weekend I went to a competition organized by the growing club, "Gafanhoris".

Saturday, Long, 8,4k (330m), 51'51 - Tricky first part.
Mistake to the 5th - passed the green, felt that it was there but didn't enter the greens to find the control. Instead I did a 1'15 loop to punch the control then.
6th - Should have attacked the control by the small path that crosses the river. Lost time crossing the river.
14th - Without any doubt, the best option was to go by the left, around the big hill - Easier to run with less climb.
21th - I knew that those greens were a tricky area so I decided to climb a bit more and attack the control from above with confidence.

Saturday, Sprint/OriShow, 2,9k (15m), 13'04 - The first part of the race was in a simple urban area. The second part, in a different scale, was in a park. I hesitated too much in the last controls. My friends who were watching, have told me that I slow down too much when I look at the map. Maybe one thing to improve.

Sunday, Middle, 4,9k (205m), 40'38 - This wasn't my day. After a decent start,
11th - Lost 1'50 there. I left the path too early and entered the greens. Then lost time looking for the control, in my single opinion, in the right 2m rock. I didn't center the GPS trak in that area and it shows that the control was slightly to the south in a smaller rock. I was unlucky to attack the control by the greens.
12th - Lack of focus after having lost time in the previous control. Lost 1'00.
21st - A 3'00 loss here. I attacked the control from the post and wasn't able to find it. Then I climbed to the electric lines to relocalize and went down again. I can't center the GPS trak here. If I center where I punched the control to the center of the circle, my loop goes above the electric lines and I know that I didn't pass them to above. It's possible that the electric lines have interfered with the trak but I went to the terrain after the race and had some doubts. In the afternoon I did a 5k train in one of the many quality maps of Gafanhoris with some of my friends.
Thanks a lot to Tiago Aires e Raquel Costa who provided us such a great weekend. They've been doing a great job with those kids.
This season I have a new athletics club. Last Thursday I signed for Sport Lisboa e Benfica, a great club with some of the best national athletes including Nelson Évora, actual Olympic gold medallist in long jump and Vanessa Fernandes, actual Olympic medallist in Thriatlon. I'll compete in the main Sub-23 team so I'll have an extra motivation to prepare myself to the 5000m and/or maybe 1500m. My athletic goals for this season will be to have marks to the National Athletic Champs in 5K (usually 14'something) and to be selected to the European Universitary Cross-country Champs. It'll be tough but, we'll see...

Monday, 14 September 2009

Training to EYOC10 with the Portuguese youth

Last week I went to Soria (Spain) to help in the training camp of the portuguese youth to EYOC 2010. My function was to put the controls on the terrain but I was able to do the trains after, resulting in some nice trains in fantastic terrains.

Downhill (Navaleno) - 4 real downhills that I enjoyed a lot
Long options (Navaleno) - Tiago Aires and Norman Jones did a nice job working at this long legs. I did the train at slow pace, looking at the train of the youngers. 3rd, 4th and 5th were my favourite.
3rd - without any doubt, the best option is straight;
4th - I wanted to try this option and I was the only one. Left, by the path, proved the be better;
5th - That was the controverse control. Even if many claimed that left is better, I maintain my option by the path on the right. I lost time in the area because there's an huge open area there.
Mass start (Navalcan)- We did this train with the youngers and it was nice. I was impressed by the physical level of some of them. The 1st control of the last course wasn't in the right place (not my fault =) ).

Saturday I was scared by the sharp pain on my back after an ugly fall while water-skying. It's better now and today I was back to normal trains. School is starting but, until then, I'm enjoying my last minutes of freedom with some Orienteering.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

POS - The WRE and final

WRE, 14,4k, (220m), 29c - 90'13 - The map was less technical and more physical. I'm in the pre-season trainings so I was afraid of how I would feel in such a tough race on dune terrain. I started slow and speeded up in the end, after the spectator control. I did a regular race with mistakes to 15th and 23rd. I felt physically well and won a race with a sparse international participation.

Middle Distance, 6,2k, (140m), 26c - 39'02 - This is one of the most technical portuguese areas. The micro-contour areas can be really tricky. Loss of time to the 8th, finding the control in the greens, hesitation in the greens to the 11th, to the 14th distraction with another control in the area, to the 16th mess with the paths, to the 17th just navigation without control followed by a regular end of race with a deviation to the second last control due to distraction with some other controls in the area. I won with a regular race, but only due to big mistakes of other athletes in singular controls. Can't be distracted by other runners or another controls! Too childish!

You can find all the results here

Since I've returned from Sweden, my navigation is more confident. I've concluded that in previous seasons I've just ran "blind" at O'races with such a poor contact with the map. Now I'm anticipating more, slowing when it's needed, starting at a really slow pace (maybe too slow, one thing to improve) and making exacter control attacks. Still to much to improve, but now in a better direction. We'll see...

photo by Joaquim Margarido