I asked Niall McCarthy to give us some insights on his training:
Currently breaking into the Senior Squad, Niall has lots of experiences to share from running as a Junior –
While I may not be as experienced as Nick or Niamh, I’m more than happy to share my experience for any upcoming juniors interested in progressing with the sport to the senior squad.
Like most (if not all!) on the senior squad, I joined the junior squad as a teenager and enjoyed it immensely, the highlight of which was running JWOC in Norway in 2015. After that experience, I knew I wanted to progress as a senior.
While my experience is limited, there are a few key things I’d like to share.
Firstly, I think joining an athletics club has helped me hugely with the physical aspect of the sport. Structured regular speedwork as part of a group for me has had a big impact, as well as the all-important long runs and regular miles. The thought of doing intervals and tempo runs solo is for me fairly gruelling, but doing these sessions as part of a group, with everyone spurring each other on is invaluable, and not only that, it’s genuinely enjoyable. I think that my biggest regret from my days as a junior was not appreciating how much of a difference good structured speed training can make on your performance as an orienteer. No matter what your current levels of speed and fitness are, it doesn’t take as much as you think to improve them and become faster.
I think that irrespective of your ability, experience of the big occasions is key. I’ll never forget feeling so nervous at my first JWOC in 2013, butterflies in my stomach, and no idea what to expect, but after a couple of international competitions, you acclimatise to the occasion. At my first WOC this year I was on the start line totally focused on my race and technique, and the occasion wasn’t able to phase me like it has in the past. I think that even experience running at large competitions like the JK, which is accessible to all, helps in this regard.
Strength And Conditioning:
Something for the older juniors to consider also is some basic strength and conditioning to keep injury free. From my own experience, I injured one of my knees when I was pretty young, and while it never really got that sore, it used to get slightly aggravated, particularly on road-runs. However, since adopting a regular gym session into my training routine, it seems to have completely vanished.
Training in Relevant Terrain:
A common complaint about orienteering in Ireland is we lack the relevant forested terrain to train effectively on for international events. While it’s a fair argument, making excuses isn’t going to make you a better orienteer. As a result I feel the timing of training camps in relevant terrain before big competitions is key. I believe that even a two-week stint training on relevant maps before a competitions like JWOC can have a big impact on your results. Spending a couple of weeks in Norway prior to my final JWOC definitely gave me a lot more of an edge than if I’d done the same training on the same maps several months in advance (of course in an ideal world you’d do both..).
And Finally, Enjoy It!
The more you enjoy a sport, the more you’ll want to succeed with it. Orienteering gives you such a great opportunity to make lifelong friends and visit the most fantastic of places. It’s this aspect of the sport that should provide you with the motivation to do well, and make you want to train together as a group. For me the event I want to compete at the most in the future is undoubtedly the WOC Relay. Being part of a team with two fellow countrymen and together achieving a result to be proud of is something special.
That’s all from me! See you in the forest –