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O-year 2021: first senior season is over

My first senior season came to its end just on that weekend, and it feels a bit sad already, though several days ago I couldn’t think about anything but rest. What is interesting, we get tired physically, but I feel I need mostly emotional rest. I guess, every race on international competitions takes huge amount of emotional energy: putting yourself in the right mindset, keeping concentration during the race, analysing after the finish and dealing with post-race emotions. Only this year I have been working properly in terms of trying to control my emotions, though many times emotions won and have been controlling me.. That’s why this week, after the World Cup final, I do want to run, do want to have my morning abs & core routine, but I want to forget about competing for some months and do orienteering just for pleasure, going straight to the forest, without warm up, for as long as I want in the terrain I choose myself.

Maybe these thoughts seem too «beyond the clouds», but to be honest, my season has been mostly about them. I understood how much my fears and expectations can ruin everything, if I let them take me over. Got to experience, how 4 months of the most consistent winter preparation don’t give the speed, if you want to have a result instead of clear orienteering and smooth running. I got to learn, how a good mood, mindset to have fun and enjoy where you are at the moment, can give you additional power and speed, so that you run 90 minutes and get amazed by how you are able to push and push not getting tired.

My season has also been severely affected by being sick with covid in June, just 3 weeks prior to my first WOC race. Therefore, that long distance in Czech Republic has been one of the hardest in my life. I remember running and with every step hoping the finish comes faster. There, unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the course, but mostly was pressured by my own desire to jump high, instead of just doing what I like and know how to do. When it came to WC in Idre, I have been so relaxed, knowing that my body is far from full recovery after covid, that had zero expectations from myself and no understanding of my physical capacity at the moment. Middle distance suited me so well - it was super technical, much more about orienteering, than running. I have had a good, though not perfect, race, and it was more than enough to secure my first top-20. It felt nice. Very nice, to be fair.

Before the final World Cup in Italy I had a feeling that I am almost recovered from illness. By the way, I recommend each athlete, who has been sick with covid, to pass a blood test and check your iron, amino-acids and protein figures. They are being stolen by the virus, while are essential for a sportsman. So the weakness I had for 2 months, for instance, was easily explained by the blood analysis results. But coming back to the season culmination, I have been running better and better, by what I mean not the pace, but my feeling - runs gave pleasure and went easy, giving energy, not taking it. Still I was mentally stuck in the position of weakness, thinking that my body can not perform well enough and that I am far away from the shape I had in May. Lucky me, for the last tough session before competitions I suddenly got an amazing company. The task was to run 40mins threshold tempo, and I was preparing for struggle. Little did I know, because these minutes went so fast and so good. We’ve been talking the whole time and exceeding the pace easily. I wish all tough sessions could go like this! Having a training partner is the best thing of all. Surprisingly, just 40mins by Lidingoloppet track gave me the needed confidence and, most importantly, feeling of power and understanding of what my body is capable of. I used this knowledge a few days after, when running uphill during the long race in Cansiglio forest and convincing myself that I can push more.

That is how I figured out a formula of my best mindset for race: trusting your preparation + feeling the power + expectation not for a certain result, but for a clean orienteering and realising all your physical potential + determination to enjoy, be in the moment, keep concentration. Maybe that sounds like a lot, but when parts of a puzzle start to combine, such a state seems natural and is easily transformed into the perfect flow.

For now I am surprised by the opposite feelings inside my body. One part of me wants a change of activity, focus on study and work, go swimming/cycling/yoga. Another part is impatient to start winter trainings, is eager to run a lot every week. What I wish I can achieve is - a high-quality every day life, structured and calm, with a healthy regime and consistency throughout weeks. I want to have a good balance, when I feel I am doing something besides sport to develop intellectually, but that these activities do not affect my sport negatively, do not take the needed recovery time, do not lower the quality of my sports. To sum up, mindset for now is to have sport as a number one priority, but to be able to say that life is not only about sport. Actually, to live my life as it was last 2 years, but in the new environment, using all advantages of living in Sweden wisely.

Big thanks to everyone, who makes my development possible: my regional federation, my Swedish club IFK Lidingö SOK, my coach, NVII sport and, of course, the closest ones.

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