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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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.

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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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New season!

As most probably know my summer after only three months of training after five year break from hurdles competitions went much better than expected. As my goal was to run under 14, I never expected to run 13.25. Especially with pneumonia.

Of the three months of training I had a hamstring tear for a month and edema and bursitis in hamstring and hip for two months. But as my history with injuries is longer than anyone can remember, that was quite an achievement for me.

In my almost 2 months long off-season I’ve been just resting to get those injuries better and have seen FC Barcelona doctors to try to see what we can do for my ankle that has been bothering for years now.

The training season was supposed to start in beginning of last week, but I crashed my motorcycle while driving in the rain and have been recovering from the injuries a bit over a week now. My ankle looked the worst but is already almost 100% recovered, now just have to get my neck better.

The positive about this crash is that it happened off-season and I learned how careful I have to be when driving in the rain. Also, I’ll for sure wear my motorcycle gear as soon as it arrives.

I’m sure soon I’ll be training 100% again and I’ll try to keep updating this blog regularly now 🙂

FC Barcelona hurdles

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