I’m starting this article in sky, traveling from Beijing to Frankfurt, and this is such an obvious metaphor of my infinitely long season 2019: I’ve already flown 3 hours from Guangzhou to Beijing, then it takes 10 (!!!!) hours to reach Frankfurt am Mein and finally 2 more hours to Göteborg, Sweden, where is my home now. Just 15 hours on 3 planes, not counting transfers - it’s a truthful image of my foot-orienteering season this year.
To say that I’m tired is to say nothing. Competing on all international events in both juniors and elite class was too much. However, I couldn’t cancel any of that, and still I’ve canceled everything possible, except selection races to those JWOC and WC rounds and obligate relays for my club. Turned out in exactly 40 important races in 2019. Can you imagine: training for, setting your mind for, then recovering physically and mentally after and analyzing 40 competitions? I can’t, but somehow I’ve done it. Don’t recommend it to anyone, though, but next year is not gonna be very different, as it will be my last juniors year and there will be, hopefully, EOC and WUOC. 3 huge international events not counting World Cup rounds. I’m already tired and afraid beforehand, you know :)
Okay, no more complaints, as on the other hand it’s been a wonderful, amazing and sometimes incredible year which brought me so much experience, new friends and opportunities, as well as emotions, countries and cities visited and unforgettable moments. What I understood for sure is: when you take opportunities, thousands new ones open for you. Stay open-minded and Universe will give you everything you dream of. Because what I always told everybody: if you can dream it, you can do it!
I won JWOC and in the same day got 2 invitations to 2 cool orienteering events: Sardinia orienteering week (1st week of October 2019) and EON training camp (second half of February 2020). I had a challenge then to travel from Switzerland to Sardinia in the very evening of sprint distance of World Cup round 3, but it was worth it, because in Italy I became a part of PWT team, which means I’m attending MOC weekend + camp + championship (March 2020), and also met one great person, who persuaded me to go to World Cup final and Park World Tour to China. I made an express visa in 2 days and spent 2 weeks on the other part of Earth, eating only with sticks, learning how to pronounce “nihau” and running in narrow streets of Chinese villages. Didn’t plan any of that, but was just opened to new acquaintances and offers, and it turned out in the way I couldn’t even dream of. Well, to be honest, I dreamed about that, that’s why it happened!
I have quite a lot of thoughts and conclusions, motivation and at the same time huge tiredness after this season, so will present what goes around in my head here.
The whole year I had a feeling as if I’m not training at all and only competing, competing, competing. Because you spend some days preparing for competitions, then some days to recover from them and then it’s already time for the next ones. So I didn’t really grow a lot this year. Of course I had some periods of great trainings for a week or two, but they were interrupted then by some competitions cycle and I don’t know if an effect from those trainings was acquired or not. Hope that yes, but anyway it was not consistent, and consistency is the most important factor of success in my ages. Just to be able to train throughout the year - that’s my challenge for now.
Also I can’t deny lack of physical work, which means my running capacity is far beyond my orienteering technique. Living in Sweden I have most difficult in the whole world maps in my disposal, and my technique is great for junior level, but in elite class it’s not enough, and lots of running sessions should be done to really come to another level. Of course, orienteering technique is something you should always train, especially when you start to run on another level, you will have to bring your technique to this level and be able to read map on this pace, but my first aim for the coming winter is to grow physically. I will just have to be stopped and, first of all, rest mentally at the moment and maybe diversify my trainings in off-season period, to be always working on my body and then be hungry for running and orienteering after missing it for some time.
One more side of living this fabulous sportsman’s life is always traveling and never being at home. I remember myself when I was 14, telling my father that I want this life when I’ll be going from one training camp to another. He answered me some stupid for that time thing: that I’ll have this life and will want to go home.
Of course, I didn’t believe him and, obviously, he was right.
This year I have 10 months of training camps and competitions, more than 30 flights and 8 time zones, but how much I miss home, you can’t imagine. You feel like living in your luggage and never stay at one place more than a week. You want to feel like home everywhere, but is it even possible, when you leave this place in a few days from arrival? What I learned from it is that now I try to make a homey atmosphere everywhere, reduce travel time and make it more comfortable, rather than cheap. But still this lifestyle gives me much more than takes back, so I’ll live it further, as there are more advantages than drawbacks.
To end up with I want to say that I’m enormously grateful to my family and everyone, who invests time, finances, energy in me and gives me these amazing opportunities. I take them, get lots of new experience and grow! The further I grow, the more I understand how far from top level I am. It’s a weird feeling, being junior world champion, but at the same time understanding your level is so so low comparing to elite runners’. It’s motivating of course and I can’t wait to improve my weak sides and come to the new season stronger than I was. It’s a wonderful adventure lasting for all my life and I’m so excited to be its hero.