After many weeks of almost problem-free winter training, I hit a bumb in the road. A quite unlucky timing lead to a missed season start, leaving me basically without much race experience so far this year. But I am finally ahead of things again and am looking forward to running for Ankkuri at 10Mila this weekend.
I had the coming season nicely planned out or at least knew when and how I wanted to make decisions, if need be. After mediocre performances/feedback from the training-camp in Spain, I was a bit unsure how well I will be able to perform once the season really starts. At the same time I knew that I was still a bit low on orienteering training at this point and for exactly that purpose I had a small ‘camp’ planned back in Latvia in the beginning of April. Lots of terrain running and orienteering, ending with three days of racing.
Generally, when travelling longer, espeically by plane, I try to avoid training after the travel part and if so only lightly. This is just a personal safety measure to prevent injuries and sicknesses. The next day I started my camp with a terrain run and after 30′ ended not just the session but the camp – I twisted my ankle quite badly. However, I was able to run about 20′ back home on paths without real pain. I have never really had serious problems like this. I did twist my ankle before and reacted the same way and was generally able to run again quickly afterwards, so I wasn´t too worried actually at first.
In the evening I started to feel the foot though, and the next morning I decided to go to the doctor just to be really sure that it isn´t something serious. The doctor, after a making sonography, told be that I had torn off a ligament from my ankle. Obviously, this meant no training for at least two weeks and probably no World Cup in Norway either.
While being sick is never good, I got a cold a few days later but obviously wasn´t too bumped out by that, as the timing was in this case not so bad. Although I didn´t think that it could get worse, it did as I even got a food-poisioning once back home – was a great trip! But skipping further, the doctor back in Germany told me that if the ankle is not swollen and I dont´t have pain it can´t have been a torn-off ligament but only a heavy twist.
This diagnosis, was of course positive but also contradicting to the previous diagnosis. At this point it didn´t change much, only giving me more confidence that I was able to start training soon again. At the same time if I would have known that I might have walked a bit more to keep the ankle active but you always know more afterwards.
Then followed about 3 weeks of slowly building up training again, in big part by cycling. Apparently, my body really took a hit with the sicknesses and less activity, so that it took my heart-rate quite a while to be back to normal levels while training at any intensity. After twisting my (taped) ankle lightly while running cautiously in the terrain, I was unsure if I should start at the German middle champs. In the end it was to tempting to finally compete again, especially on almost home-turf. It turned out surprisingly well with a 4th place and about 3′ behind, although for completeness Bojan and Erik weren´t at the start line. The good performance, and more importantly the still in place ankle, made me finally optimistic to run at 10Mila.
German Middle Champs 2023, Willebadessen – Finish
10Mila and Jukola are always set in my yearly season plans. About the rest of the season however, I had some uncertainty over the winter. My plan was to run the World Cup in Norway and based on my performances there I wanted to decide further, in detail if I will focus my training specifally towards the World Champs in Switzerland or switch to a more sprint-focused training already for the second half of this year´s season. Over the winter I was generally not 100% convinced that WOC is the right goal for me this season but the more my winter training progressed nicely in the right direction the more I got motivated and confident for WOC.
Twisting my ankle and not running the first WC round, therefore threw me back quite a bit, not just training wise but also season-planning wise. Instead of having a basis to evaluate and decide on I was stuck on having to make decisions on loose to non-existing ‘data’.
It was really a topic which kept my mind busy. I personally like to make decisions and stick with the plans I made but it was really tough for me in this case. I didn´t want to call it suddenly quits after being uncertain before and then acutally being motivated for WOC, it felt like giving up only because my preparation was suddenly not perfectly on track anymore. On the other hand do I prefer to stand at the starting line of (big) races with a feeling of preparedness and (self-)confidence about having made the right decisions about this goal.
In addition are there other responsibilities like my (master-)studies which I didn´t want to sub-order to the sport another year. I have done that too often over the last years and, as written in previous posts, it doesn´t feel worth it as much anymore.
What I mean by that is that while I am convinced and motivated to continue the sport on a high level and as professional as possible, my priorities have changed a bit away from putting the sport before everything else, as I used to do it the past 7 or more years.
Overall, I still love the sport but it just doesn´t always feel completely worth it anymore. It´s expensive and if I hit a bump like the twisted ankle I think hard and twice about which goals I want to pursue which is why I considered the sprint-focused version quite a lot. It is a fact that I am just better at sprint and are therefore more likely to reach top-results there than in the forest.
Instead of calling it quits, I decided to basically only run the two middle distance test races in Switzerland in the beginning of June. It seemed like the best compromise, as I won´t miss anything at uni and won´t go to a camp where I am not completely convinced of other than being motivated to spend time in the mountains with good company.
At the races I will be able to compare not just to the rest of the German team but also many other runners from top nations. In addition would I still have some time to properly prepare for WOC if I preform well in the test-races.
More importantly, it gives me an ease of mind right now, after having discussed my plans and thoughts with my coaches. If I won´t perform well at those races, I will already switch towards the sprint part of this year´s season and if not I will prepare for WOC. Either way, I will do orienteering with the goal to compete – doing what I enjoy.
But next up is 10Mila in Sweden. Finally the season starts for me as well. I am looking forward to seeing lots of friends again and drinking as much Blåbärsoppa as possible.