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 🙂

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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 🙂

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Hurdle training

I started running hurdles when I was 14-years-old. I ran them couple times at age 13, but then I was a high jumper. At age 14, I ran the national indoor record for 14-year-olds and realized I might have some talent for this. Hurdles always came really naturally for me, and I love hurdle training, so after that age I only focused on hurdles. When I ran well in World Youth Championships at age 17, I started taking it more seriously. Still, when I was asked why do I run hurdles, I said: ”I’m too slow to be a sprinter.” 😀

I have been training in Finland with multiple coaches, in the US with multiple coaches and some of the world’s best hurdlers, in London with multiple coaches, and also seen hurdle training in many other countries. Now I’m training in Spain. It has been very interesting, everyone works different way, and you just have to find the way that works for you. I believe I have now found the best training for me.

What makes you a good hurdler?

I have always been good at hurdle drills and hurdle technique, but have been lacking power, explosivity and speed. The best hurdlers are really fast and powerful. This does not mean you have to lift 100kg power cleans, but you have to be able to use the power at the track and be explosive. This is a thing that we have been focusing on this year, and it has been working really well. At the moment I am faster than I’ve ever been. For hurdles the main focus has been rhythm.

Frequency

In hurdles your step length doesn’t matter the same way it does in sprinting. There are only 8.5 meters between the hurdles, and it’s all about who can take the three steps between the hurdles fastest. I have been quite good at this before, but the lack of explosivity and speed has made the space between the hurdles a little long for me especially at the end of the race, and I haven’t been able to utilize the quick steps I can take. Also my trail leg (the leg coming over the hurdle from the side) has been slow, so that’s been another main focus in training.

Good exercise for trail leg

Hurdles with one step is one of my favorite exercises for the trail leg. You really have to get the leg around quick as the next hurdles comes up so fast. I normally do 5×8 hurdles with 14 feet spacing (this is 12 my coach’s feet). Sometimes I do this with 84cm hurdles, but mostly with the lower 76cm hurdles.

My favorite hurdle workout

In the video there are pretty much all the exercises I do on my favorite hurdle workout. It’s all about rhythm and frequency. First is little hurdles with one step, with seven feet spacing. Then three steps with ten feet spacing. The short spacing makes you really have to be quick and move your feet fast.

Then it’s time for higher hurdles with normal 13 meters start, but 7-7.75 meters distance between the hurdles. This is a great way to work on the rhythm and also to bring the trail leg around quickly.

Normal training week

I train six days a week and on two to four of these days I do some hurdles. Normally once a week just the one step drill, once a week a workout focusing on the rhythm, and once a week hurdles with more regular distance and with more hurdles. I haven’t done any starts yet at this point in training, but this will soon be done at least one or two days a week.

My first hurdle race indoors is already 7th of January, and I hope to be ready to run fast. You never know what to expect in the first race of the season, but I hope it will be as happy surprise as my first race outdoors. It’s looking great right now! 🙂

Liga Catalana hurdle

Warming up for my first hurdle race in 5 years, May 2017.

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Barça doctors, gear and stuff

One of the biggest benefits of being a Barça athlete is that we get to use the medical facilities. The medical center is located in Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, same place where the FC Barcelona football team trains. If you are a football fan (which I’m definitely not) and lucky, you might see some players around.Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper

Normally you can call there and get an appointment to the doctor the same day, for MRI maybe the next day, and physiotherapy you can start right away and go every day if needed.

(Not) an injury

On Saturday I felt sharp pain in my psoas tendon on the last set of hurdles, had difficulty walking for the whole weekend and there was a little swollen and bruised area. I tried to take care of it well (ice, compression, anti-imflammatories, rest and eat healthy), and went to see a doctor yesterday. The doctor did an ultrasound and said there is nothing visible so it was likely just a micro-rupture and should be better in just a few days. So nothing to worry about, I am just having an easy week of training this week and back to hard training next week.

It’s such a relief that you can see a doctor so quickly and at least for my mind it helps a lot to know what is wrong, and in this case that there is no real injury. After the doctor I already went to the gym yesterday, so I have been so lucky to only have missed one and half days of training in the past two months.

Podologist

Podologist's test

At the medical center they also have podologists and make insoles for shoes. It was interesting to see the podologist’s study of my feet and what could cause my ankle being locked all the time. This has been happening for years now. I also got an MRI of my ankle in August, but there was only a thickened tendon from spraining it previously, and instability. The Barça physios showed me exercises I should be doing every day and I have been working on it a lot. The ankle is already much more stable and less painful.

New gear

Last week was great despite this little scare as we got new Barça gear. I think majority of Barça athletes choose to represent them just for the gear 😀 We had been guessing that the new gear was black as the football team has already been wearing black clothes for a while. Black it is, and I love it.Barça gear

Camp Nou

As me and my training partner Adelina were looking for the place to collect the gear at Camp Nou, we somehow got lost inside the stadium, and ended up to the football field. No one was asking what we are doing there, but as we headed back inside the tunnels of the stadium, someone nicely came to escort us out.

Team transfers

I ended up getting a last minute offer from another Spanish club. The offer involved a lot more money, but I should have given up the clothes and the medical benefits, so I ended up turning it down even I’m sure the team would’ve been great also. But knowing me, the medical benefits are the most important.

Anything else you would like to know about being a Barça athlete?

Camp Nou

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