13.16 and European Champs standard

After my proper season opener of 13.31 in Turku, I ran 13.38 in -1.2m/s headwind in Salamanca, Spain. Already before the race I felt a little twinge and pain in my quad once again and for the next week I couldn’t run properly. Even two days before Madrid World Challenge last Friday I could still feel the pain, but I was able to do couple hurdle starts.

In Madrid I for once took a good start with good reaction time (0.141) and ran great five hurdles. After five hurdles I felt my speed increasing so much I couldn’t handle it and went off balance on 6th hurdle and completely brought down 8th and 10th hurdles. We couldn’t warm up properly for hurdles and couldn’t try running them so I think this caused me not to have the good rhythm I normally have.

For next couple days I was really tired and on Tuesday went to compete in Castellon. My legs felt still tired and just too loose. I did some really bad hurdle starts before the race and felt like I’m all over the place and just slow. In the race I reacted really badly (I posted video of this; the girl next to me is 15cm in air before I start moving) and again felt like I’m slow and too loose. I even had time to think about how bad I felt and how I just have to jump over some of the hurdles to get to the finish line. After the race I was sure my time was maybe 13.3-13.4 and I was really disappointed.

I went to ask for my time upstairs anyways since they didn’t announce it, and when they told me my time was 13.16 (+1.2) I asked couple times are they sure and then just started crying of happiness. The standard to European Championships was 13.25. The time was #6 all-time in Finland.

I have watched the race a few times now, and the video confirms all that I felt. My reaction was bad, my body is twisting way more than normally when landing from the hurdles and there are at least two hurdles that I actually jump over (and not run) since after Madrid I was afraid to hit the hurdles.

The twisting after the hurdles is what I have been working on in training because it slows down the speed quite a lot for me. What I mean by twisting is that when I attack well, I stay forward and my right arm is quick and my torso doesn’t twist. In Castellon my arm was really slow and opened up way too much, my torso was twisting and I was too upright after the hurdles. When I get it right in training my best hurdle splits can be 0.96, but when I don’t get it, they can be 1.06, so it makes a lot of difference.

In Madrid I ran 0.99 splits before the hurdle hits (normally at that point I start running faster), and after the hits it went up to 1.16. In my Castellon race, no hurdle splits were below 1.00, so I never got into the rhythm I know I can have. Coach also said I was doing some weird blocking when going to the hurdles, so he found even more mistakes.

The mistakes are a great thing really! When you have mistakes, you have a lot you can improve on. Now we will try to work on those until Finnish nationals 20th of July, and hopefully we will do the right things to be in even better shape then. I trust my coach completely; three of our four girls have already made the standards to European Championships and the fourth girl in the training group is really close.

I have receive thousands of messages and congratulations, so thank you all for those! I really appreciate every message and I have attempted to reply to as many as I can. All the support makes me so happy and motivates to continue this journey! It has been quite a tough journey but all the struggle starts paying off now!

New city, new coach, new times

I opened up my season properly on Tuesday at Paavo Nurmi Games World Challenge in Turku, Finland. I ran 13.31 (+0.2) which is just 0.06 seconds from European Championships standard. I won the B-final, but ended up being 5th overall in a high level competition with A-final included.

It was 11 degrees, the wind was freezing and I had a crazy headache and nose bleed that made me dizzy every time I did starts on warmup. I didn’t have a great feeling in warmup and really had no expectations for the race. In the blocks I was shaking like crazy, but despite a bad reaction time (0.213), the start was decent and rest of the race clean and even.

Watching back the race now, for me it wasn’t technically good as my arms are all over on hurdles and I’m not leaning or aggressive on the hurdles. The last 5 hurdles are clearly better than the first five. I also start looking at the clock way before the finish line. But in the freezing conditions I couldn’t have asked for a better first race!

Quad ruptures defined the training season

My whole race shape was a little surprise as I’ve only managed to run with spikes for two weeks now after tearing my quad twice this spring. And until a week ago, every day was a surprise on how much my quad will hurt, and I skipped the last rep on every training because the quad started always hurting.

The last week of training was great, and I knew I can run a good time, but first race can always be anything. I told people I just want to run under 13.5, and ended up doing it. My coach said I’ll run 13.2-13.4, guess he knows what he talks about! 😀 My previous best season opener was 13.80, so this was almost half a second faster. Now let’s hope I end the season half a second faster than ever before too!

Move from Barcelona to Valencia

There has been a lot of changes since indoors, the biggest being that I quit my full-time job and moved from Barcelona to Valencia. I have a new coach and a new training group, who are all great. There are four girls in the group full-time and more younger athletes in the evening sessions.

I do some part time work also in Valencia from home, but I wanted to really give this running a chance this summer. I chose to go to Valencia for the great weather, cheap rents, and my new coach. He had to think a little before accepting me into the group for many reasons, but I am glad he ended up taking me.

I am also very happy I didn’t give up faith in him and he didn’t give up faith in me in these past couple months. After indoors I took a little break since I had to let my broken foot heal completely. I had only trained for 1.5 weeks in Valencia when I first tore my quad. My quads were absolutely dead from previous days’ training but as I am stubborn I decided to still attempt to run 4×11 hurdles. On the first rep I felt pain in the quad but attempted to run another one anyways. Of course I tore the quad then.

The healing only took about 1.5 weeks that time, but I was able to lift weights and do jumps so I only missed running and hurdling. Well obviously those are very important parts, but at least I was able to do something. I was able to have couple good trainings and then attempted this 4×11 hurdles training again, and on the second rep again, I feel pain going through my whole leg. I knew it was bad. After two weeks of no running nor hurdling again, I was sure the leg was fine and went to a competition for FC Barcelona. There in the warm up I felt it again and I had to jog the race completely. Next day I had an ultrasound scan that showed the rupture was still 1.5cm long and 4mm wide. The physio said if we tape it well, it will only take 6 days to get better.

The next week I started running a little and the leg felt ok, but I only did very short trainings. I went to Ibiza for a competition and I don’t know if it turned to be good or bad for me, but there was storm winds and in our hurdles I fell and in -6.4m/s it was impossible to run. I ran a 300m race later there even with my bleeding knee I couldn’t run that properly either. I was happy that even I couldn’t really start the season there, I was healthy.

Well this was not quite the case. Two days after my quad was hurting so much when I attempted to run that I started crying to coach that I’m sure I tore it again and we went to have another ultrasound scan to see what’s happening. The scan showed only inflammation but not a tear, which was positive. The next 1.5 weeks I started running a little, but still not 100% and no hurdles as I had a lot of pain.

The time was really difficult mentally, as I had made a big sacrifice to leave Barcelona and my job and then I have these continuous injuries. The start of the year had already been tough for me with robbery and months long sick leave. After all, quad ruptures are very minor injuries in my scale, so no matter how frustrating and stressful it was, I was sure I’ll still be fine for the summer.

For the past week before the competition, I was finally able to run fast with spikes. I ran the best hurdles sessions I’ve ever ran, and everything felt really easy. This showed me we have done the right things and worked on improving everything else. And everything else has improved. The reason for the quad tears probably was that we completely changed the way I lift weights. I used to do heavy weights slow and now I do lighter weights a lot faster. And a lot of squats, very fast. I haven’t done squats in 10 years. But with these changes, I improved my PBs in all strength and explosivity tests.

To have ran so little and missed so much hurdles and running training before the first race was difficult mostly mentally of course, but to have started so well, I have a lot of trust and belief in my coach and myself, and I expect to keep progressing in training and in races a lot now that I’m finally able to run with spikes too. We haven’t even started speed work, so even I’ve clearly improved in that by just doing the right weights and jumps, there is so much more to improve!

European Champs and sub-13 are the 2018 goals

Next goal of course is to run the European Championships standard and then progress to the real hurdlers’ times, so under 13! Paavo Nurmi Games was an amazing competition to start the season with and all the support I’ve received in the past couple days has been unbelievable! Thank you all for the hundreds of messages and sorry if I haven’t managed to respond to everyone!

This video is definitely my favorite video of me ever!

Indoor Season 2018

Indoor season didn’t go quite as I expected. In the first race of the season on 7th of January I rolled my ankle and broke my foot. Like this wasn’t enough, I was robbed two weeks later, and now a month later I still haven’t managed to get almost anything back as insurance wasn’t helping and Spanish bureaucracy couldn’t be slower. Fortunately I have my family who have been the best supporters and help. Still, it was a very positive season and gave me a lot of motivation and expectations for the summer.

I ended up running 60m hurdles 8.29 (all-time #11 in Finland) and won in Catalan Liga, Catalan Championships and Miting Internacional de Catalunya. I can be happy with those!

8.29 I ran after two weeks of no training, many hours drive to the meet the same morning, in a lot of pain, and after gaining couple kilos as I ate liters of Nutella to feel better (since I was having panic attacks and anxiety etc. after the robbery). 8.31 I ran after five weeks of no training and maybe three extra kilos from Nutella. It was my best ever time from first round, and with a bad start, but unfortunately there was no final on that competition. So clearly those could have been better times with better preparation.

I’m very surprised I managed to run that well after not training and eating badly. Normally I eat super healthy, but the stress of the robbery was just too much, and then in addition came the broken foot which FC Barcelona doctors at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper said takes three months to get better. I was in a really good shape physically when the season started, and there was quite a big difference to the shape I was in these races (physically as well as mentally). Luckily the foot is not gonna take that long to get better, even though I still have to take it easy for a while, so preparation for the summer season can start quite soon.

I didn’t run what I wanted (the World Indoor Championships standard), but I’m running faster than ever, and because my last 40 meters of the race are always the best, I can’t wait to see what I can run outdoors! There are still five months until Finnish national championships and that much time to qualify for the European Championships.

Other positives of the season have been that I was able to see a lot of friends that I haven’t seen in years, and also I’ve gotten into some interesting projects I’m really excited about. Even I’ve been through a lot in recent years, January was extremely difficult time for me, but February has already brought some great things, so I will just assume every month this year will be better and better 😉

Robbery and broken foot

This past week has honestly been quite horrible. First I lost an important race, then I was robbed, then my motorcycle was broken, and finally I find out my foot is broken.

Let’s go through all of them…

The race

In Valencia last Saturday me and Caridad Jerez (Spanish champion and Olympian) were competing for a spot to represent Barça in Copa del Reina (The Spanish clubs championships). I’ve been in a really good shape but my foot that I thought I just twisted in the first race has been hurting and I haven’t been able to train too well nor wear shoes. It was hurting a lot on Saturday also. I still ran easy 8.41 in the semifinals without trying hard at all. Caridad ran 8.42. In the final she took a great start, and I took an absolutely horrible one, so I was just catching up the whole race and with just couple more meters I would’ve probably caught her. She won by 0.02 seconds and we ran 8.38 and 8.40. I went to get the finish line picture and our butts were equal, she just leaned better with her shoulder. In a sense this was the most important indoor race for me as truthfully there was a lot of money involved for this and the next weekend’s races. Well, I lost to a great athlete. On the other hand, 8.40 is not bad with a broken foot and a terrible start.

Robbery

On Sunday I was going to eat to a restaurant I was invited to, Taperia Princesa. I was outside the restaurant with my manager Rafal from work waiting for other friends when two men robbed my purse. Rafal started running after the robber before I even had time to realize what had just happened and I was so sure he was gonna catch them that I didn’t even start crying until he called that he lost them. We obviously called the police right away and we called my banks to close my cards and had to call insurance company for a locksmith. We sat down to eat a little (the food and drinks were great, I really recommend it!) and to gather myself to be ready to go to the police station to make a police report. My friend Mari headed to my house to wait for the locksmith and me and Rafal went to the police station. The police told us to go get a medical report first as it was a robbery with force and I went to wait for 4 hours at an emergency room to get a report that said I have a little red mark on my shoulder. The police luckily took me in for the report right away (last time I waited 4 hours) and I managed to handle the whole thing in Spanish. The robbers got a pretty nice catch as I had two Michael Kors purses, iPhone, four credit/debit cards, new Nike shoes, a shirt, Spanish drivers license, Spanish ID, Finnish ID, all my two internet banks information and codes, my house/gates/mailbox keys, motorcycle’s and motorcycle’s box keys, lots of make up and a few other things with me.

Broken motorcycle

I was a bit worried about my house at first but my insurance locksmiths came within an hour, but also I was worried about my motorcycle as the purse had my address in there. When I returned from the police station at 2am I went to check on my motorcycle and all was well. At 11am I went to see it again and I see the bike has been pushed over and the brake and gas handles are broken and the whole side is scratched. I get a new key to the motorcycle and I see the bike has been put on and gears have been switched, but apparently the robbers have been missing one extra brake lock’s key to actually steal the bike so they’ve just pushed it over then.

I was feeling fine after the robbery in the evening until I returned home. When I returned home I started to realize what has happened. I was already upset about the race and then everything valuable I own was robbed. I had a panic attack and seeing the bike the next morning made them worse so I have been on sick leave this week. I knew I had a Barça doctor’s appointment on Thursday but didn’t think this week could get any worse so I even said to someone “I can’t imagine this week could be any worse unless I find out my food is broken.”

Broken foot

I went to Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper hoping to find out I have no fracture even I knew the pain is as bad as fractures, but I thought maybe it’s something else. I was surprised I finished the race (the first real race of the season) after twisting my ankle, but I didn’t think I could’ve finished a hurdles race after breaking a foot in middle of it. The doctor sent me straight to an X-ray and said we’ll get MRI if there’s nothing in the X-ray. Well the X-ray showed a clear fracture in the foot. The doctor said I need to avoid all impact for three months. I said ”ok great thanks” smiling and walked out. As soon as I get out of the Barça buildings I completely break down. This was the last thing I wanted to hear after having had a horrible week already.

If you have read my whole story you know I’ve been through a lot and a broken foot is quite minor thing for me. But finally everything has been great in my life and then I get setbacks back to back like this. People rarely see me upset and even when I cry I’m often smiling, but most of the time I don’t show how I’m really feeling. I can be completely broken inside and look very happy outside. At the moment it’s honestly very difficult time for me and I am struggling with my panic attacks (which I will will probably write another post about as I’ve never talked about them), but I am trying to stay as positive as I can.

Catalan Clubs Indoor Championships

Last Sunday was my first race of 2018, Catalan Clubs Championships. In Catalan Clubs Championships (Campionat de Catalunya de Clubs) the top 8 clubs in Catalonia compete and one athlete represents each club in all events. I was a little tired all week from training in the past weeks and traveling home to Finland for Christmas, but on the competition day I felt good and was hoping to run a good time.

I ran the hurdles for FC Barcelona, and I knew if I just finished the race, I should win quite easily. Well, it turned out to be a bit toughter as I rolled my foot/ankle before the 4th hurdle (there are five hurdles in 60m hurdles race), something that’s never happened to me before while running hurdles even in training.

I took a good start and the race was going as normal, until I don’t know how, when stepping to attack the 4th hurdle, my foot/ankle rolled and I just crashed through the hurdle. I screamed out loud at the moment and thought it’s gonna be a miracle if I make it to the finish. But as I was running for points for FC Barcelona, I could not stop so somehow I managed to stumble three steps (before seeing the video I thought I took five steps before the last hurdle) and to take a huge jump over the last hurdle (it must’ve been about four meters, normal hurdle pass is about three meters). Somehow I made it past the last hurdle and just tried to finish at the point when my speed had drastically decreased.

At the line I looked to the side to see if someone had passed me. I saw another girl on my side and wasn’t sure I won, but somehow I ended up winning by 0.04 seconds. I didn’t believe it and everyone at the track said they don’t understand how did I manage to even finish and also win after that fall.

Normally in training a little hurdle hit is ok and you manage to keep going, but hitting a hurdle badly will stop the run. I have never hit a hurdle like this, nor rolled my ankle, and managed to keep running. Have to thank coach Sevi for making me do a lot of balance, ankle, core and hip stability training. This race definitely proved we have worked hard on those aspects as you can see from the video below. Have to see something positive in it 🙂

I wanted to run a good time, but the most important was to win to get the full points for FC Barcelona. I managed to do that and FC Barcelona ended up winning the whole Catalan Clubs Championships.

As can be seen, the race video has over 250,000 views at the moment. I have no idea what happened, how did it go viral like that! But I’ve received nice and encouraging messages from all over the world, and I really appreciate them all! Some of the best athletes in the world from different sports have sent me messages of support and it’s been great to see people notice and respect my little battles 🙂

Other video that went a bit viral over the Christmas was my frozen lake swim video. Winter swimming is completely normal in Finland, and I have went to swim to a frozen lake close to my parents house once a year now. Normally you go to the lake from sauna, but I have just went into the lake from the car and went straight back to the car and driven home. It was -5 degrees outside and the water was +1. It doesn’t even feel that bad, except it feels like you can’t breath when you go in! This video and a story of me ended up on Mundo Deportivo, which is one of the biggest sports newspapers in Spain. They also appreciated my 220kg hip thrusts, and called me more brutal than Rambo 😀

It was so nice to be at home for Christmas and I had a lovely time with my family, friends, training and eating good food. My dogs loved running free at my parents and grandmom’s houses and yards. Finnish grocery stores are a paradise for someone with some limits on diet. You can find so many gluten-free things and I was in awe of all the protein puddings and glutenfree cakes, pastries etc. My dad knows me well and had already got me my favorite Finnish energy drinks (my only bad habit), and at Christmas I baked a lot of gluten-free pastries and ate tons of amazing Finnish chocolate. I might have overeaten quite a bit over the Christmas, but I gave myself a permission to eat a kilo of chocolate every day as long as I stop as soon as my plane takes off from Finland. Luckily I had somehow lost a kilo of weight while in Finland, not sure how did that happen.

Now I’m back in Barcelona and back in the routine of working 8-16 and training 16-20 or 17-21. My foot/ankle still hurts quite a lot from rolling it, and yesterday I was limping all day, but managed to do a decent training session. I still plan on racing again on Friday, just to get more races in, as I need them since I continue running very differently in training and in competition after such a long break. A little rest and I’m sure it will be just fine 🙂

2017 – what a great year!

Year 2017 really was one of the best years of my life, despite some crazy things happening to me. I moved to Barcelona a year ago before New Year just because I wanted to move to another city with a beach after living in Lisbon for nearly a year. Never would I have guessed what a great decision it was.

I have a nice job in Barcelona, a nice apartment, and two crazy dogs that I love, but the best part has been that I have been healthy and I am back competing. When I moved to Barcelona I had no idea I would ever compete again. All changed in March after couple people without realizing it got me back to training.

At the end of February, Dutch decathlete Eelco Sintnicolaas was in Barcelona for a training camp and asked me to come run hurdles for fun. It turned out to be a lot of fun and even I was extremely slow, my hurdling technique wasn’t that bad, and I really enjoyed it. I went back by myself a week later. This time an athlete Udy Erete saw me and said I should join their training group. Coach Sevi took me into the group and just two months later I already ran my first race for FC Barcelona. Clearly a big coincidence, but Sevi’s way of training really works for me and focuses on the things I need to focus on. My times last summer and PBs in everything in training this fall really have proven this.

I competed most of the summer and much better than I was expecting, but ended the season early to pneumonia. Being back on the track was much more fun than I even remembered, maybe because I didn’t have such high expectations and stress as when I was younger. I was just enjoying being able to run and have fun. The good times gave me a lot of motivation for the training season and I’ve never trained as healthy as I have now for the whole fall. During the year the goals have changed from competing at nationals to competing at European and World champs.

I have been working full-time at the same place all year, and only have had to change apartments and buy a motorcycle to be able to train better. In the spring I used to bike 12km every day to work and training, but clearly that’s not good for a sprinter. Now with the motorcycle it takes me 10 minutes to go to work and 5 minutes to go to practice. I can get so much more out of myself in training as I am not tired already when arriving. I used to live in a really busy area by the beach and only had a small balcony, so I had to go take my dogs out right after work and right after training. Now I’ve moved to a quieter area still in the center of Barcelona, and I have a yard, so I can go straight to training or a physio from work instead of always going home to walk the dogs so the new apartment makes the work and training manageable. And I can actually sleep there. It’s probably one of the only blocks in the center of Barcelona where it’s quiet at night. I do pay a lot for it, but it does allow me to train and sleep much better, so it’s worth it.

Those are the only changes I’ve had to do to be able to really focus on training while working full-time. My days are long with 8h of work and 3-4 (sometimes 5) hours of training, and I really don’t have time for anything else, but if I didn’t try to fulfill the potential at track that I know I have, I would always regret it.

Moving to Barcelona has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life. It changed my life after years of being sick to doing what I love and being happier than I’ve ever been. I am so thankful for the people who have anyhow contributed to this change and for me being back competing. Now let’s hope 2018 will be even a better year!

Indoor Season 2018 Opened

I ran my first indoor race in 6 years on Sunday. The plan was to open up the indoor season on January 7th, but couple weeks ago coach said he would like for me to run a practice race on the 17th of December in Sabadell. At first I thought it’s way too early, but said I will think about it and see how I feel after my training camp. It would be good training if nothing else.

I had a really good training camp in Egypt even I was a little sick, but felt really tired early in the week so I only made the decision to run the race after Thursday’s training. On Thursday everything finally clicked with my starting blocks and I did the best and fastest starts I have ever done. I felt really good and was ready to run on Sunday.

On Sunday’s competition day I felt really weak, super nervous, and didn’t manage to do much correct in the warm up. In the race, the start was as bad as my usual starts have been, so I did not manage to do anything similar to what I did in training. I stood up from the blocks, accelerated badly, came too close and straight up to the first hurdle, and jumped too high. Also I was stepping across before the hurdles (which prevents proper take off and pushing to the hurdle) and twisting after the hurdles, the things I have worked on not to do, and already manage to not to do them in training. So basically, I did everything completely opposite of what I have done lately in training.

My time was 8.43. At first I was really upset about the time, as I wanted to run, and know I can run, a lot faster. I was also upset that I did so much wrong in the race, even I have just managed to fix all these issues in training. But after thinking about this, I realize I did run the best season opener ever, in December, when it’s still a month to the real competition season. I ran the best season opener ever after a really hard training camp. I ran the best season opener ever after not running indoor season for 6 years. The best part really is, that I ran the best season opener ever with all the possible mistakes I could have done.

Now I have a few weeks to become more confident with the newly learned starts and fixed technique, so I can do it in competition also. This race was perfect for training purposes and to take off the nerves from the first real indoor season competition, so that I won’t do the same mistakes again. I’m not satisfied if I do something wrong, so that’s why I’m still not happy with the outcome of the race, but I know I will run a lot faster when the real competitions come. I know I can run the goal I have set for myself.

I’m very excited to keep working to run a good time already on indoor season, even the real goals for 2018 are in the outdoor season 🙂

Why Egypt is a great place for a warm weather training camp

When I said I was going to Egypt for training, people asked if there are tracks in Egypt. Clearly there are tracks. But why should you go there?

To me, Egypt is the most interesting country in the world with the best food, beaches and things to do/see.

Olympic Center Maadi

Olympic Center Maadi

View from the hotel room.

The sports center in Maadi, on south side of Cairo, is very convenient as there is a track, two gyms, a hotel and restaurants, all at the same place. The area is closed and there is a security with a metal detector on both the gates and the entrance to the hotel so it is very safe place to be.

The track is empty all day, until the clubs come train there in the evenings. The access costs normally 50LE so just over 2 euros. You can definitely feel like you’re in Egypt as there is a small mosque right behind the 100m start line and you hear the prayer call five times a day.

The Tolip Inn Maadi hotel is also very decently priced, and if you are invited by a federation, you can get it with the price of Egyptians and sports federations, which is half of the price. The cheap price includes breakfast and WiFi. The hotel has all day room service and a bottle of water costs 18 cents, a pasta 50 cents and a big plate of chicken and rice 2 euros for example. I was ordering drinks and food all week and final price was 220LE, which is 11 euros.

Prices

Flights to Cairo are quite cheap from all around Europe and hotels are cheap also. When you arrive to the airport, you just have to pay 25 euros or dollars with cash for a visa. The airport is a great place to exchange money also as the rate is much better than anywhere in Europe. You can buy almost anything while in Cairo and feel like you’re not spending anything as even expensive meals are max 4-5 euros. Even when shopping on the markets, the prices are really cheap for Europeans. Also, if you know any Egyptians, you will not spend anything at all. Egyptians will offer you everything everywhere and not let you pay for anything. I paid my camel tour guy a nice tip and that was it the whole week.

Facilities

Track in Maadi

The tracks in Cairo are in decent condition and mostly have everything you might need like hurdles etc. There are many tracks and also it’s possible to use private gyms, which are really nice. I went to try BeFit 360 gym and it was one of the nicest I’ve ever been to. They also had a restaurant with healthy breakfasts, smoothies, salads etc, and even a lot of gluten free options. Honestly I’m not a salad person but the salad I ate there was the best salad I have ever had.

Things to do in Egypt

If you go to normal training camps to Spain or Portugal, your activities are limited to going to the beach, shopping and going out. In Cairo there is more history and culture to see than almost anywhere in the world, and plenty of other things to do. You can visit the pyramids, the museums, take a boat trip on the Nile, go see other attractions, and even the beaches are just couple hours drive away. The beaches in Egypt are in my opinion the best in the world, so that should be included in the trip. You can also go out to nice clubs and do your shopping and other normal things. There is everything you can imagine to do and more.

The food

Appetizers

Egyptian or Arabic food is my favorite food. Everything you try is so delicious and for an athlete’s diet it’s also healthy. There are soups with herbs, a lot of fruits, hummus and other protein filled appetizers, and a lot of well seasoned chicken and meat. The portions are huge and normally Egyptians order food for about ten people even if it would just be two people eating, so you’ll never be hungry. Egyptian lemonade is amazing and doesn’t taste like anything I’ve tried elsewhere and their other drink, sobia, is my favorite drink ever. It’s like coconut milk but better. I really thought I was gonna gain weight on this one week long training camp as I was eating so much, but really the food is so healthy you can eat a lot and be ok.

Food in EgyptFood in Egypt

The people

Egyptians are amazing. They take care of you and make sure you always have everything. They’re outgoing and friendly and want to show the best things about their country. When I needed to use blocks for example, two girls came to pick me up in the morning to go to a track where I could do some starts with them. As soon as you walk into someone’s house they ask what do you want to drink and eat and you can’t really say no to eating. Only problems I have with Egyptians are that they’re always late and 99.99% of them smoke. I hate smoke and really know only one Egyptian person who doesn’t smoke. The lateness is something that I can deal with since it’s always expected. The crazy traffic in Cairo makes it rather impossible to be on time anywhere and it’s normal to be late all the time. But the good things about Egyptians make you to be able to overlook the smoking and lateness 😀

Is it safe?

I have never felt like I wasn’t safe in Egypt. The US feels much more unsafe than Egypt. Actually the US the is only place on earth where I don’t feel safe all the time. Of course I couldn’t go anywhere alone, but there’s no need to. Someone is always willing to take you anywhere. The traffic might seem crazy and people have no idea what lanes are, but after a while you get used to it and even the driving seems rather safe. There are police and security everywhere and you always go through security and metal detectors to hotels and any attractions.

Let me know if you want to know more details about where to go, or how to do a good vacation or training camp in Egypt!

A little more exotic warm weather training camp, in Egypt

Who knew you would need to go to a warm weather training camp when you live in Barcelona? Until last week the weather was fine, but last week and this week it’s max 10-14 degrees during the day and much colder in the evenings when we normally train. That’s not a weather to sprint and getting over hurdles is impossible and even dangerous. Luckily only one day it was so cold we couldn’t do training 100%, but otherwise even rain hasn’t disturbed any training this season.

But to go to Spain? Portugal? Tenerife? South Africa? Or even Cuba?

Monte Gordo, Portugal

As I had plenty of vacation days still to use this year, I thought I should go train somewhere for a week. I was thinking about going to Monte Gordo in Portugal as it’s just a short flight away, but unfortunately for the hundreds of European athletes there at the moment, the weather is exactly the same as in Barcelona.

Tenerife, Spain

Another option I thought about was Tenerife as flights inside Spain are super cheap, but that sounded just too boring since I’m going on my first proper holiday the whole year. Tenerife is also full of European athletes this time of the year.

Cuba

I also thought about Cuba as I’ve always wanted to go, but I heard that the track my friends train in on camps is in bad condition, but should be renewed by February. Maybe next time…

South Africa

My next option was South Africa, as there are good facilities and it’s another favorite place for European athletes, but I’d like to go when I have good friends there so that had to be moved to another time too.

Cairo, Egypt

I love Egypt and have a lot of friends there so Cairo ended up being the choice this time. The weather is warm, the food is amazing and there are so many things I still haven’t seen even I’ve been there before. Many people have asked me are there tracks in Cairo? Yes there are a lot of tracks and in decent condition. The track and gym I will be using are in an Olympic training center in Maadi, on south side of Cairo. My hotel is at the Olympic center, so it can’t get any more convenient.

I have six days of really hard training in Cairo, and after returning back to Barcelona the weather should be nice again, so preparation for the indoor season can continue well.

Team Transfers

No team transfers for me this year!

As the last team transfers for 2018 are approacing in athletics, I decided to stay with FC Barcelona in Spain and HIFK in Finland for the upcoming season. Even I compete mostly in Spain, it’s mandatory to have a club also in Finland to participate in Finnish national championships etc.

How does it work?

In athletics if you’re good enough, the clubs pay you to represent them. You must compete for them so they will get points etc, and you might be asked to appear in some events and of course wear the club’s gear. The clubs often pay a signing fee, and also bonuses based on how well you do in certain competitions.

Transfer deadlines

In Spain all club transfers must be done before the end of October, and in Finland before the end of November. You cannot switch clubs in middle of the season. Last year I was able to join both of my clubs mid-season as I had not competed in a few years at all.

My options

Just before the transfer deadlines for each country, I got a great offer from a big club in Spain and also couple good offers from big clubs in Finland. These clubs offered me much more money than my clubs.

At the end I decided to stay with FC Barcelona since the medical facilities benefits and the gear are no match to any money offered. Also, who doesn’t love Barça 🙂
In Finland the decision was a bit harder to make, but at the end we negotiated terms that I was happy with and I stayed with the club I liked the most and whose staff has been very supportived, HIFK.

I’m very thankful for the trust and faith the clubs have in me, and will do my best to represent them as well as I can 🙂

FC Barcelona

HIFK