Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Liisa Veijalainen's training


In the back of Veijalainen's book, she's got a graph showing her training for the 12 months of October 1978 through September 1979. It is the year leading up to a WOC in Finland where she ran two races and took a silver and gold (keep in mind that back in those days, the WOC only had two races).

I spent a few minutes looking at her training, here is what I saw.

For the year she averaged 67 km/week. She'd planned to average 3 km/week more.

Most of her training (64 percent of the kilometers) was easy running at a steady pace.

She took a fair number of days away from training: 56 rest days and 36 sick days. So that is about one day a week off (probably planned) and a whole lot of sick time (presumably unplanned!).

Her training year was designed like this:

1. Begin with some rest and then a long, gradual build up (8 months).
2. A race preparation period (3 months)
3. Racing period and the season end (1 month)

You could further break the first period (long, gradual build up) into two parts. The first part was a steady build up, beginning from a fairly low level. The second part being a step up - with almost half of the weeks having planned over 120 kilometers.

Looking at Veijalainen's training year, one thing that immediately jumps out is that she plans lots of easy weeks and has an easy week planned either every other week or every third week.

Let's let "H" mean a planned hard week (meaning relatively more kilometers) and "E" mean a planned easy week. Her yearly plan looks like this: E E E E H E H H E H H E H H E H H E H E H E H E H E H H E H H E H E E H E E H H E E H E E H E E E E H E

Notice that there are a lot of easy weeks and never more than two hard weeks in a row. Those easy weeks look quite easy, to me. I'd say the average easy week would be about 25 kilometers of running.

The graph in the book shows a comparison of her plans and actual training. She pretty much stuck to her plan. Given that she had some injury and illness problems, it seems pretty good that she was able to stick close to the plan.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:22 PM


While the distances seem fairly light on, I imagine pretty well all of it would have been in the forest with a map.

Compare Liisa's training with Annichen Kringstad who won in 83 and 85. Annichen ran marathons in 82 (2:46) and 84 (2:40).
64% of kms at "easy" pace leaves 36% for "harder than easy", which I'll assert is actually a rather high percentage of quality work, for anyone who's done this and kept honest records. I believe this is also significantly more than than most (probably not all) NA Team members are doing. Actually I think most world class orienteers don't do this much quality either, and they probably shouldn't, given their much higher volumes, which I think reduces the % of quality running that is appropriate.

Sure, the definitions and measurement of this subject matter are imprecise, but I think that the posted comment leaves an ambiguous to misleading impression of the quality of Liisa's training.
I have no disagreement about her quantity.

I feel strongly about this subject due in large part to a coincidentally Finnish coach, Eikka Havas (sp?) who visited the US in the mid/late 80's, and laid out what he thought was the ideal balance of intensities.

It went like something like this: ~65% easy(!), ~25% near threshold+/-, 5-8% clearly above threshold, 1% @ max, 1% speed/form training (not hard effort). Coincidentally, this virtually matched my own training at the time (well within the limits of measurement and interpretation) which had evolved for ~15 years by that time. I am rather sure that I was doing more quality than any NA orienteer at that time, except Ted dSC, who I believe was doing about the same (by%, Ted more volume), although Ted probably did more in the "above threshold" category, at least based on my memory of Ted's WOC '85 report. I'd be delighted for someone to dig up this document and correct me. This report should be required reading.

My current belief is that these numbers are good overall/ seasonal guidelines for performance oriented(not fun) training for M/F 21's training up to 10-12 hours of running per week. As I said before, for higher volumes, a lower % of quality is probably appropriate, and the guidelines should probably be modified for youngsters and oldsters.

At the time, I thought Eikka's mumbers were the result of rigorous scientific research. In hindsight I doubt it. I suspect they were derived from a process similar to my reckoning, based on some reading, some common sense, and a whole lot of paying attention to how my body responded, and wanting to find the answer, not just out for entertainment.

I recognize that individual differences probably exist, but I believe these biological differences are smaller than than the differences in measurement and interpretation, and much smaller than psychological differences.

I think the competitive differences between the 70's and now are primarily on the womens's side, just as the Swedish "rerun" course results demonstrated. The top men are about the same. Both sexes are currently much deeper near the top.

The principle of hard, hard, easy weeks, is by no means new or unusual. Canadian orienteers Ron Lowry (and Ken Sidney?) wrote on this in OUSA(?) about the same time Liisa was winning her medals. I have considered this a standard practice ever since. I heard that this is also standard principle (push/stress, then recover)in physical rehab, although I know there are others more qualified who can speak to this.

>The principle of hard, hard, easy weeks, is by no means new or unusual. Canadian orienteers Ron Lowry (and Ken Sidney?)

Ron Lowry preferred the Easy, Moderate, and then hard week three week cycle which he had me on when he started coaching me in the early 80's. Ron and Ken write about this in their 2nd OOA book Orienteering: Training for Performance
I agree, a "moderate" week clarifies the progression/ build up/flow in the process.
I can recommend "Theory and Methodology of Training," by Tudor Bompa, as one of the bibles for designing "periodized" training programs.

Coincidentally, I just laid out my training for the spring leading up to the team trails, starting with this week: M H H E H H E M H H E H H E H E
Spike, it took a while to delete that porno spam. Did you get a good look? ;-)
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