February 7, 2017

Kristiina Mäkelä’s – Letter from Olympic triple jumper in S. African training camp


FinnishNews is following Finland’s female Triple Jumper in her preparations for Tokyo olympics…

Greetings from Africa! I have been at the Olympic Training camp in South Africa for around a month and now it is coming to an end. I have really enjoyed it. Warm weather helps my body work so much better and I also recover faster. I feel I could stay for longer, but I have to head home because there is something I just can’t miss. I have received an invitation from the President to join our annual Independence Day Celebration. I think it’s the biggest honor that a person can ever receive in Finland. Even though I had planed to stay in South Africa a bit longer. I now had to buy flights back earlier. But I have given up many things because of sport, but this is something hard work has helped me to achieve and I definitely am going to enjoy the party!

Having the first training camp of the season, somewhere warm, with good facilities is always an eye-opening experience. Life at home always turns out to be busy. There is always someone calling to ask if I can participate in their events, you have house work, and a lot of small things are knocking in the back of your head. But at camp, these things stay at home and you can just focus on training and recovery. It’s hard work but it does feel like a holiday in a way.

My muscles don’t hurt that much after training, or not as long as they would in cold environment. I wake up quicker with real sunlight, and it’s easier to go to bed early because the dark evening makes you feel tired.

I always start my day by going out for a short walk or jog, followed by stretching. And it’s lovely when you don’t need to put 3 layers clothes on to stay warm. Top and shorts, and you are good to go. A little bit of sun on your skin the first thing in a morning makes the blood run faster. You feel more ready to training. I also feel my own body better and will know if I need to do something extra at the beginning of first session. I do one or two sets of trainings each day. Normally I start the first session at 10am and the second one at 4pm.

This trip was short and I had no coach this time with me, and since I did no technical jump training, it was a good period for self study. Working every day with a coach can blindside you. Being responsible for everything makes you respect the coaches’ guidance. Training with a different perspective helps you learn something you didn’t see before. That has happened a couple of times. Just attending to small details in basic exercises can make a big difference to the big picture.

Being abroad alone can be tiring because you have to be alert and take care of everything. I am the only person there to push myself, and when I feel tired after training there is nobody to get me up and ready for the next session. On the other hand, I have a free schedule, and making changes, for example, by moving training forward half an hour is easy without feeling bad if I am a bit late.

Even though I am the only person from Finland, I am not alone. There are a lot of other athletes from around Europe. Some of them I already knew, and it’s very easy to make friends in a place like this. It’s like a big family. I can go talk to them, ask advice or help in training and if I need a lift to do grocery, that is also easy to fix. Small things like that make these trips even better.

My body feels very good at the moment. I have done hard work and a harder recovery, and that has produced good results. Freezing in a cool pool after training, having a nap after lunch, stretching every morning, Bemer massage and healthy food are the keys to recovery and a good camp.

Two 2 hour sessions doesn’t sound much, but I still have a full day. I might get little stiff from muscles or joints every now and then which is good, because then I know I have trained hard enough. After the rest day, I feel energetic and ready for more. Towards the end, my legs might get heavier, but that’s just a sign that you need an easier week after a good camp. That is exactly what I am going to have. There is always the risk to get sick when climate changes by over 30C degrees and so I have to be careful.

When you train hard your condition deteriorates and the body gets weaker. But when you rest, things improve and body gets stronger. Getting stronger makes you be able to work harder, but you will lose it if you don’t rest. This is not just the way it works in sport, but in all walks of life.