You've definitely made a lot of progress!
Being in a club with a lot of top and almost-top athletes I see both how hard they work and how long it takes. Most of them are slowly inching their way towards the top. There generally aren't big leaps; no one is showing up one year and beating half the Norwegian team without having nipped at their heals for a couple of years before.
Not everyone makes it to the top, of course, but for those that do it is a very slow grind. You've got the mindset and the dedication to continue the grind and there are a lot of us with the patience to support your progress. Keep it up!
The further I go down this road, the more I see that it's impossible to go it alone.
I'll draw up an application.
Can't understand why you've chosen spain and not any scandinavian country to improve your orienteering... if you want to learn, learn from the best.
Good point, Katashunis. Professional interests have played a lot into my living in Spain. I studied Spanish to work as a Spanish translator. So, in that sense, Spain has been the place to be, because I can make monies.
I don't know if I'd be capable of living year-round in a Nordic country. I do hope to have long stays in the future though.
And, to be honest, at least until now I think Spain has been better in terms of motivation because of the relationships I've built and the positive feedback from being able to finish decently in races. I believe that if I had gone directly to a Nordic country, the likelihood of me losing hope would have been much higher. But who knows at this point?
The attrition rate for American orienteers coming out of college is unfortunately very high. I'm still around and still training hard. So that's a victory in itself.
Definitely it's nice to see USA taking part in wcup. But I personally think that the earlier you go to Scandinavia the quicker you reach your potential. For some it's top 10 for others it's top 50 in WC. In both cases you shouldn't be disappointed. If you do best you can in most important races of your life the result doesn't matter itself. Make long story short, if you want to reach your potential go there and train hard. If you want to combine your work practice, good relationship and results it won't work. Of course it's only my personal opinion but I believe that you agree with me :) All or nothing...
Ultimately, past-Greg is the only valid comparison for present-Greg, and hopefully by drawing upon the experiences and cumulative training of past-Greg, future-Greg will demonstrate that improvement. But as you know and as others say, it's a long hard grind, and difficult not to be discouraged, especially when training against some of the best.
I will say, in defense of the move to Spain, that having a group that you're close to allows you to improve faster than if you're just chasing the shadows of those who are so far above you can't even see them. Maybe it takes some years of training with your current group and gaining the psychological benefit of your band of brothers before you're ready for a move to Scandiland.
Regardless, keep at it. You rock.
Thanks, Alex. That's part of how I feel about it.
I definitely agree with you to a certain point, Katashunis. But I don't really have another choice unfortunately. If I could stop working for several years and dedicate myself solely to training and competing in Scandinavia, I would do that. However, that's not possible for quite a few reasons. So, I've got to do the best with what I've got.
And, while I don't think it's necessarily negative for elite athletes to live in a Nordic country. Is that the direction we want the sport to continue in? How can we hope to make orienteering a global sport if the only option to be great is to live in a Nordic country? I'd like to see people training and competing at a high level who are based throughout the world, not just in Scandinavia. I'd like to be part of that change. This is clearly idealistic, but it's something I do have at heart. Maybe I'll won't be as good an orienteer because of it, but then dreams are also what motivate us.
By the way, I just want to make clear that, while I differ in opinion, I am very grateful for your input, Katashunis. Thank you.
Ionut Zinca was top-20 in the world before ever running Jukola/Tiomila. He made a lot of his progress in Spain and Portugal. The French were the best in the world. The Swiss ain't half bad.
While there's some truth to what Katashunis says, a lot of top Scandis could learn a bunch by spending time in continental Europe.
"When he was 14, the Spanish tennis federation requested that Rafael Nadal leave Mallorca and move to Barcelona to continue his tennis training. Nadal's family turned down this request, partly because they feared it would hurt his education, but also because Toni Nadal said that "I don't want to believe that you have to go to America, or other places to be a good athlete. You can do it from your home."
Anyway Gswede keep going forward. We are all behind watching your progress and supporting you :)
More power to you whichever way you go.
I think going to a country somewhere between NorAm and Scandi/Swiss in terms of level, like Spain or France is better. Too many have experienced the same feelings as you and given up. Better to start somewhere where you are closer to the top and feel you can reach it. How many NorAm runners do we know that really elevated their 'game' moving to Scandi?
She elevated her game in France to the point that Finland could advance her further. You can't walk on to the major leagues.
I never reached international elite level, but I became a much, much better orienteer from moving to Uppsala.
At the end of the day, it depends a lot on each person's situation. Obviously the culture of orienteering in Nordic countries is much more developed than much of the world. And if you can train well, the improvements can be massive.
But, as Thierry stressed when I was talking with him yesterday, life balance is important. Being happy with where you live is very important to remaining motivated.
During my time in Europe I entertained the idea of moving to Sweden several times, but ultimately decided that I was happy in Madrid: I had a training group made up of some of my best friends who took training and competing seriously, I had developed meaningful relationships with orienteers and non-orienteers, and I felt comfortable in the culture.
And now, after being abroad for five years, I feel more motivated by the idea of training and competing from home. Although, I do recognize that I will need to interact and compete with the top runners as much as possible. So it looks like Scandinavia will be a vacation destination for the foreseeable future.
'I'm still around and still training hard. So that's a victory in itself' - yup. having branched out and tried a load of other sports since, I can say o.ing is the most mentally tough (in a variety of ways) and this makes it the most difficult to train for. I think being non-Scandi without the same level of technical coaching and support, makes your achievements even greater. this determination will pay off in the end, so if it's what you love doing, keep at it.
Ciara! Glad to read you round these parts.
Definitely agree with your stance. It would be interesting to see where the rest of us could be with the same level of support.
I struggle with that because it's so easy for my mind to use it as an excuse. You're right that it should be kept in mind, but I'm still gunning for the top :)
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