Farewell tour 2017

After the World Championships this summer, I had no other goal than knowing what I really wanted for my near future. It is not always easy to stand at a crossing and not being sure about the direction to take, even for the most experienced orienteers. “Is it really the end? Was the WOC in Strömstad finally my last one, and the time to explore some new tracks coming? Or did I had still something left in the tank?”

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I always heard that when a sport career is coming to an end, the sportsman could feel it coming, and one morning he wakes up and knows it is/was the last call. Thus, I decided to not rush by saying something I might have regretted later on, and let the decision comes to me. I felt quite empty after World Championships and I had anyway no competition to prepare.

But in fact, it was not a completely new situation for me, as I had already experienced this feeling of emptiness. Twice before, in my sport career, I felt I had lost the direction. The first time was back in 2007, after a perfect season (10 WOC/WCup starts – 10 wins). I knew I would never be as good as this, and it wasn´t that easy to continue. But luckily, the World Championships in France were around the corner, and became my driving force for the following years. The WOC 2011 was another climax, and, by far, the emotional peak of my career. I knew that nothing would taste the same again. But still, I was, somehow, always excited to know there will be a control, a leg, or a course, somewhere in a nice forest, which will be a big enough challenge to keep training hard.

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The weeks after WOC were quickly filled with nice adventures here and there, and also different meetings to see a bit more clearly how could look my future outside elite orienteering. During that period, two small happenings pushed me toward one clear direction.

The first one was happening during my trip in the US, when I was attending AC/DC concert in New York. This band has always been in my playlist before the biggest competitions and for sure, it was a special moment to finally see them playing live. But seeing the lead guitarist and legendary Angus Young, 61 year´s old, in his schoolboy-uniform stage outfits, bounding and scampering and duckwalking all over the stage during the two-and-a-half-hour show, brought me a smile. He delivered riffs he has played thousands of times, and seemed to enjoy it as much as the fans. Highly inspiring.

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But when I travelled back from the US, my thoughts were still quite unclear, with many unanswered questions. And surprisingly, it was during one of the smallest competition, here in Uppsala, that I found a big part of the answers I was looking for. I ran a middle distance in Hammarskogen, at the beginning of October, 10 kilometres from our home. It is definitively not the nicest piece of forest around here, and I wasn´t especially in good shape, but the joy of orienteering was maximal. Everything felt so right. I was just happy. And I had much difficulties to find an answer of this last question: “Why stopping something which brings you so much happiness?” And finally decided to let this one unanswered also for 2017.

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On top of that, I also realized that it was not fair to leave the scene, when Hannu (Airila) has never been that close to beat me in a WOC race. I definitively wanted to give him another chance!

Of course, as an elite orienteer, your training should be goal-oriented at some point. And naturally, my main goal for the coming 8 months is the WOC in Estonia. The terrain is even a bit familiar as I was running a World Cup there in… 1998. Oh god, feel almost like yesterday! ; )

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Saila chases medals, not Pokemons

For then years relationship some good co-operation, fun moments together and most importantly kept promises are needed. Finnish national team runner Saila Kinni has been running with VJ shoes for 10 years now providing us with happy and exciting moments. More of these moments are to come as World Orienteering Championships in Sweden are going to start tomorrow. Saila will be running both of her favourite distances in Strömstad:

– My goal was to be able to run both forest distances, middle and long. I’m confident with my shape at the moment and I am aiming high at woc, Saila smiles.

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This Tampere-based young lady has good reason for her self-confidence at the moment. Trainings have gone exactly as planned.

– After selection races for woc we had a 10-day training camp in Strömstad. After that some recovery was needed and then I still had nice 2,5 weeks harder training period. I have been really enjoying these basic trainings as there has been enough time before woc to even train hard and be a little tired. For me I find my best shape through harder training periods and now this shape is about to be here!

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Finnish Summer has shown its best this year and Saila has been happy to be able to run on shorts and t-shirts and enjoy the sunny days. These little things she calls the little joy of athlete’s life. When Saila is asked whether she has had time to do other summer things than training, the answer surprises not those who know Saila:

– I love to train so much, that most likely even without woc the highlights of the summer would have been long runs on tiny trails or tough orienteering trainings ending to a freshening swim in a lake. But yes, I have as well been playing minigolf, kayaking, staying on a summer cottage, picking berries and mushrooms, swimming and just enjoying the beauty of Finnish summer. To chase Pokemons I let the other to do even though it was fun to follow it, smiles Saila, who instead of Pokemons is going to chase medals in Strömstad.

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Anna made her dream come true – and more is to come

Our latest Team VJ member Anna Bachman has been running with VJ shoes for long and really likes them. The great fact that Anna got selected to World Orienteering Championships in Sweden in Strömstad gave the cooperation new boost and now we at VJ can with pleasure follow this talent on her career.

– World Championships in Strömstad have been a dream aim for me for years. I thought that maybe they come few years too early comparing to my improvement, but now I am really happy I made it there, Anna smiles.

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Before the selection races Anna herself knew she has good changes to make it to the team and as the races both long and middle went well, waiting for the call from Swedish coach Håkan Carlson was exciting.

– I was a little nervous for few days before Håkan called me. I couldn’t have decided myseld which distance, long or middle, I prefer. I got middle and now I am really happy with it.

Anna has a clear plan before woc. O-Ringen in Sälen was part of her harder training period with a lot of training hours. In August it is time for faster and tougher sessions to find the speed for Strömstad. Last week before the woc she is then going to rest and take it easy.

– Right now, in middle of harder training period, I feel a little tired but at woc in the end of August I will be on my top shape.

Woc 2016 is going to be Anna’s first world championships in adult level. First time brings some extra nervousness and Anna believes in future woc is going to be one way easier to prepare for.

– This year my goal is to do my best and especially technically not to do mistakes. Of course I would as well like to run the relay but so do all the others. In future I want to run more championships and win a World Championship medal one day, Anna tells her future goals.

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This Stockholm based young lady is going to start working this autumn, but focus is going to stay in orienteering.

– I graduated this spring and now I got a job with 70 % working hours. I am really happy to find something relevant to my engineer education. Working will help economically but still there is time for training too.

Jerker aiming for gold

Few past years haven’t been easy for Swedish elitorienteer Jerker Lysell. Last summer he was injured, but can’t even remember what was the problem that time. However he managed to get to the Swedish World Champion team for Scotland and against all the odds results were great: 3rd place in sprint and nice performance in sprint relay too.

Jerker is yet best known as a sprinter but he is aiming for forest distances too. Unfortunately because of multiple problems, he ran out of time this year for getting into shape good enough before long and middle distance selection races. As well this season has been like rollercoaster; from an injury or flue to a new one. However Jerker managed to do it well enough on sprint selection race and is now traveling to World Championships in Strömstad in the end of the August.

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Now Jerker says his shape feels OK again.

– I haven’t yet got far with my training, but it is going better and better all the time.

Recent results back up this argument. At O-Ringen in Sälen Jerker planned to run only the first long distance and then sprint, but because his performances in forest were nice, Swede was keen to continue the week. In the end Jerker ran the whole week and crossed the finish line as 2nd on last day after winner Thierry Gueorgiou. There is a huge potential in this guy, only some injury-free time is needed for training!

Jerker’s goal in woc is clear: to win the sprint.

– Last year it was a suprise that I got a medal. Now I am at better shape, but of course the marginal are always small. I would as well like to run the relay.

Untill now Jerker hasn’t notice the difference between woc at home in Sweden or woc abroad.

– Maybe closer we will get some greater media focus than usually. Of course it would be even cooler to win here in Sweden, but that is not something I am thinking about.

Jerker is studying in Norrköping but not with too much hurry. Focus is fully in orienteering now.

Starting from Halden 2019 are World Orienteering Championships going to be divided into forest distances every second year and sprint distances in those years between.

– I think that is going to be a nice new challenge.  To win a world champion in specific distance becomes a little more unique. I think for me this change is going to be optimal, I want to go all out for both championships. I’m looking forward to that!

Jerker is as well somewhat known from his spontaneous actions, often done together with brother Jesper. What kind of suprises can we wait next?

– No my focus is fully in woc, but we’ll see then. What we do we do spontaneously; it can’t be foreseen. Vi får se, smiles Jerker.

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Jerker fanclub here at VJ Sport wishes Jerker good luck for Strömstad!

/Tytti

Team VJ goes JWOC: Tilda Johansson

Last but not least of our team VJ members in this year’s junior world orienteering championships is Tilda Johansson.

What’s up?
I’m fine thank you! At the moment I’m enjoying the adorable views of Swiss alps with my amazing team mates.

What are your feelings now before jwoc?
My feelings are all over the place I guess, a nice mixture of excitement and nervousness for my fourth and last jwoc.
Swiss terrains is not really what I’m used to, but I would say that’s the fun part with orienteering. After three weeks in Switzerland last summer I got acknowledged about what will be the challenges for me during the competitions. And know some month later I feel good prepared and ready to push my limits.

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Your goals in Switzerland?
I will try to make five technically good races and enjoy every step of the way. Psychically I just gonna bring my best, when I’m standing on the starting line the shape is as it is and I know what I can do, so we will see how far it can take me. But one of my main goals is to make the Swedish coach, Mats Troeng, cry of happiness 😉

Goals for future?
I’m really looking forward to start my education at the University of Linköping this autumn. The university has a elite sports academy which I will join. I hope this can help me to improve my orienteering skills one more level.

Quick ones:
Sprint or forest
Strawberry or chocolate icecream
+ 5 degrees and rain or +35 degrees and sun
uphill or downhill
VJ Irock or VJ Bold

Team VJ goes JWOC: Simon Hector

Tomorrow starts the jwoc, what’s up our new team VJ member Simon?

I have just finished my high school studies, which were combined with an orienteering profile. Three years ago I moved to Sandviken to study at the orienteering high school there, but now it’s over and I have moved back to my family home in Huddinge in the south of Stockholm. My feelings after I have left Sandviken are mixed, it feels very good to finally be finished with my studies but it feels strange and a bit sad to know that I will never study at the high school in Sandviken again. I hope that I can learn to feel at home in Huddinge once again and that I can get structure in my life even if nothing is going to be the same anymore! This autumn I will rest from school and maybe work sporadically.

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What are your feelings now before JWOC?

I had some knee problems during January and February and I had two weeks of sickness in the beginning of April so my form wasn’t the best in the beginning of this season. My aim during the spring has been to hold a high level in my training so that I could develop the strength that is needed to succeed in the Swiss mountains. My form has felt better every week from April until June, which feels really good! I think I have trained with good quality and I feel fit for fight!

Your goals in Switzerland?

My goal is to run five good races and follow my plan for every race. Most important for me will be to maintain focus during the whole race and to be as precise in my orienteering as I need. If I succeed in following my plan in the races, we’ll see what that leads to!

Goals for future?

In the future, I hope I will live my orienteering dream and be able to travel to many different countries and different maps. One of the best things with orienteering is to experience so many cool places, the Engadin where JWOC is this year is one of them! As most other people, I would like to do what I enjoy doing!

Quick ones: 

Sprint or forest
Strawberry or chocolate icecream
+ 5 degrees and rain or +35 degrees and sun
Uphill or downhill
VJ Irock or VJ Bold

Team VJ goes JWOC: Anton Kuukka

Junior world orienteering championships are soon here! The best young orienteers of the world will start their competition week in Switzerland in Engadin valley this Sunday. We asked how are our young team VJ talents doing. First Anton Kuukka from Finland.

What’s up Anton?

I’m fine, thanks. I was sick one day in last week and had to skip some hill trainings so the final preparation have not been the best possible. I am still quite confident about my shape because my winter training went so well.

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Anton in last year’s Jwoc in Norway Photo: Porsgrunn OL

What are your feelings now before JWOC?

I was in Engading last autumn first time and there I noticed how amazing the terrains will be in JWOC. It wasn’t easy and I made quite much mistakes. Anyway I took it as a challenge and I really wanted to manage orienteering in those terrains this summer.

I was in the second training camp in Ticino and I was better but there was still a lot of room to improve. The 3rd time in Switzerland I was for the Finns test runs. There I got silver both middle and long and I felt that I am at last ready for the JWOC. Since then I’ve been looking forward to these competitions.

Your goals in Switzerland?

I aim for five good races with a full orienteering control. If I also physically manage to give my best then I am satisfied. I know with good runs top 6-positions are realistic in forest races. Anyway the competitions are so near that my full focus is only on orienteering technique and not anymore positions.

Goals for future?

My biggest goal is enjoy my orienteering life and I think that with pleasure of doing what I love will give the best result both in sport and in my personal life. When I was 10 year old Jani Lakanen won gold in WOC and then I thought that I wanna be also the Champion one day. I have not given up on this dream.

Quick ones:
Sprint or forest
Strawberry ice-cream or chocolate icecream
+ 5 degrees and rain or +35 degrees and sun
uphill or downhill
VJ Irock or VJ Bold

Life of Anton

European Championships in orienteering are about to start today. One of the young athletes doing their debut in senior championships is Swede Anton Johansson. We checked how Anton is doing.

How was world cup in Poland for you Anton?

The world cup competitions in Poland were my debut as a runner in the senior national team. Maybe those competitions weren’t my best races I’ve done, but I got some valuable experiences during those races. I will try to keep these experiences in mind when I’m going to the European Championships and hopefully make better races there.

Now it is time for European Championships. Did you expect being selected? How does it feel and what are your goals in Czech Republic?

Actually I got a bit surprised, the notice came like a bolt from he blue because I hadn’t expected to be selected. Now though, I’m really looking forward to new challenges and to make my debut, at a championship, in the senior national team. I can only focus on what I can affect and that is my preparations and what I’m doing during my races. I will do my best and then we will see how far it will take me.

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 What is going to happen in the rest of summer?

I will be home in Jämjö preparing at Torhamnslandet and Blekinge for summers and autumns important competitions. Then we are having selection races for the World Championships in the beginning of June, then we’ll see how the summer will be. What I know so far is that I will enjoy running Oringen in Sälen. Later this autumn the Swedish championships will be in Blekinge, the small district in Sweden were I’m from, that will be completely awesome and I’m really looking forward to it.

You have quite a though year behind you with injury. How does it feel being back?

It feels good to be back again. After last years struggle, where I had to do a surgery because of two stress fractures in my foot, and after one year of rehabilitation of it, I’m now able to compete against the best runners.
During the winter I have been able to stay to my plan, stayed away from injuries and sickness, so I think that this season will be a fun.

How is it going in life otherwise?

I’m studying, part time, to become engineer in communication, transport and infrastructure in Norrköping. This spring there have been more orienteering than school, but I think I can manage to handle both in some way.

Good luck Anton! 

What’s up Sara?

We asked one of our young and talented athletes, Sara Hagström, what’s up in her life right now.

How are you Sara?
My life right now is a challenge to mix a preparing shaping period before EOC (easy when the weather outside is perfect) and a period with tough courses in school (hard when the weather outside is perfect). So my days right now are filled with trainings (of course with my new VJ Bold 7 shoes, to make them runned in until EOC), mechanic and geological studies outside in the sun but also time to be with friends and enjoy the early summer that has come to Gothenburg the last days.
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How has your spring been this far?
I’m happy with my orienteering spring so far, I didn’t thought that it would be as good since I’ve had a winter with a bit more sickness and less training than previous years. I thought that the lack of technical trainings and analysis would play a big role in my spring season, but I think i have a lot of that in my backpack from previous years that helps me a lot now.

You got selected to world cup in Poland, that is great! How was it there?
The trip to Poland was for me not what i hoped for due to my results with a misspunch at middle distance but an OK race at the sprint with a 20th place after a slow but solid race. The sprint relay was so fun but some stress in the end of the last loop caused two big mistakes and a loose of placing from 8th to 13th with the Swedish 3rd team. But, as usual orienteering is so much more than just the results on the paper. I had a wonderful trip with fun happenings, good people and lots of new experiences that I believe can be very good for me when I really want to preform: at EOC.

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How does your spring look from now on?
So, soon (after a field trip with school to looking at mud) I’m off to Czech Republic for my biggest goal this spring season. The individual distances I will run are the sprint distance at Sunday the 22th of May, and the middle distance at Thursday and Friday the 26th and 27th of May. The relay is to be selected after the middle and that is a big goal for med to be in one of the two Swedish teams. I have lots of hopes for the middle distance since I actually won the Swedish selection races and since I think middle is the distance that are most fun. I love the technical and intense orienteering a middle distance can give, and i think this terrain is perfect fitted for me. Beside the races I always enjoy being away on trips with the national team, and I think EOC will be such a memorable trip!

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Life or this season don’t end to EOC. What will happen after Czech Republic?
Next up after EOC comes some “orienteering relaxed” days with exams in school and a Håkan Hellström concert, but short after that are the important selection races for WOC and University world champs, which I of course will rund and want to preform at. Since I’ve been living i Halden last year my dreams have for a long time been to run a WOC at “home ground”. But I know the Swedish team are super-strong right now and we are many who are aiming for the few spots to WOC, so the only thing I can do in the test races is to do my best and than see where it takes me.

Beginning of your first senior year has been pretty nice. Has there been any challenges or differences comparing to earlier years as a junior?
That is maybe the biggest step for me from my time as junior to my time as senior. The unwitting about whether im going to run something or not, and to train for something that I know there is a chance that I don’t even get to run. But, with everything hard comes something good and I think this is just what I need right know after some pretty “friction free” junior years. I have to fight and I have more reasons to develop further. When I associate with the people in the national team I learn so much and really get inspired to develop the things I need to step up to the next level which is needed for selections and higher results. I know I can and I really, really want!

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/Sara Hagström

How to train for OCR?

Obstacle course racing, OCR, is rapidly growing sport in Scandinavia whereas for example in UK it has already gained a lot of attention. For those still unfamiliar with OCR, here is a short quotation from wikipedia:

“Obstacle course racing (OCR) is a sport in which a competitor, traveling on foot, must overcome various physical challenges that are in the form of obstacles. Mud and trail runs are combined and the races are designed to result in mental and physical collapse.”

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How to train for obstacle course races then? It is clear that different kind of physical challenges are faced as is mental strength tested. We share now few tips from the very best obstacle course racer Jonathan Albon, listen carefully!

To be good at OCR is about understanding what you are going to do during the competition and then train for that. Physically it means basically three different things: running for getting into a good shape, circuit training for being strong enough and bouldering and climbing to be able to hang on and crab on obstacles.

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I run more then 100 kilometers a week but I do that for sky running too. But it would be important for everyone to run different kind of intervals as well as long runs. Obstacle course racing is a massive  combination of being enduring but still fast. Training obstacle technique can help a lot too, it can be done in sport halls or on kids playgrounds. I myself don’t train the technique very often.

What is important besides physical preparation is to understand what you are gonna do on your race. You are gonna be swimming, getting wet, feeling uncomfortable. Running on a street is always pretty comfortable but running ocr is something else. It is important to get ready to be uncomfortable: dirty, wet and cold.

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