Thursday, September 5, 2013

Top coaches in elite Orienteering: case of Helena Jansson

Helena Jansson (Sweden) is one of the best female athletes in modern Orienteering, strong technically and physically. She won dozens of medals from WOC, EOC, NOC, JWOC, World Cup events (include 2 victories at WOC 2009, 2011 and overall victory in World Cup 2011). Helena tells about her impressive coaching team.

1) Who are your personal coaches? What is the period of your cooperation?

Harri Viinamäki has been my trainer since late 2005 until present day. I have also cooperated with psychological advisor Ingela Alvmyren since about 2006. In recent years (since 2011) Håkan Carlsson and Anneli Östberg, our national team coaches, have also been of great importance for me.

2) Personal coaching is a continuum from rare meetings and discussion different topics with runner (Scandinavian pattern) to design of detailed plans and total control of physical, technical, mental trainings and recovery program (Soviet/Russian pattern). What is your pattern of cooperation? Which aspects of trainings are under control from your coaches?

Harri: Helps me with the physiological aspects of training. With regards to my long-term goals we make a training plan together, first very schematic, and then in more and more detail. During the year there is great variation in how detailed his help is. Some periods, e.g. before a championship, we plan every training together in detail, and also evaluate every session directly and in detail. On the contrary, in some periods it is more of a weekly business- me doing what we already agreed upon, and then I upload all HR-files, GPS-files, and my training diary to a webpage where he can look at it and give me feedback. We try to meet as often as possible. When we do we talk about training, competing, music and other important things. We try to train together as often as possible, which means I run, and Harri watch, giving me feedback and remarks. All year round we have a continuous dialogue, in order to make every training-session as good as possible.

Ingela: Helps me with my very sensitive nerves! I tend to get very nervous, and I often have a hard time believing in my own ability before important competitions. For me competing also create loads of feelings and millions of thoughts that I have to deal with, and Ingela helps me to find ways to handle all this inner commotion. I work hard to feel good and enjoy what I do, and in order to do so I need strategies to handle tough situations that I encounter along the way. Together with Ingela I have developed ways to handle both failure and success, something that I find important in order to have as much energy left as possible for what I actually want to do- that is working hard trying to achieve my goals!

Ingela Alvmyren and Helena (photo made by Peter Holgersson)

Håkan and Anneli: Help me keep track of all the pieces of my life-puzzle. They help me keep track of what is important, and make sure my plan for the year is sensible and aims to make me as good as possible when it means the most. They are also the ones who I spend most time with during the times when I really want to perform, e.g. during a WOC, and in that sense I sometimes feel they are the ones who can help me in my aim to perform the most. Is is a big help and a security to have coaches who understand you and know you when it is time for the big races. I have numerous examples when Anneli or Håkan has been the last key to me running a really good race.

Swedish National coaches - Håkan Carlsson and Anneli Östberg (photo is from
3) What is the feedback system?

Harri and I use HR-files, GPS-files, and online training diary, small videos. E-mails and telephone calls are often daily, at the least weekly. On occasion physiological tests and measurements are part of it all.

With Ingela it is all talk, either via telephone or live. The same goes for Håkan and Anneli.

4) Qualification and communication are the basement of successful coaching. Can you tell about THREE most valuable skills of your personal coaches? 

(1)   Open and direct communication. To be able to discuss all things of importance, from all aspects, is a key. It is also the foundation when you get insight into another person, and it is essential that my coach knows who I am and how I work.

(2) Curiosity. In order to become good at something you need to strive forward all the time, and to be curious about what aspects of yourself you can improve. I aim never to stand still, and I love that my coaches share this belief.

(3) Quick reactions. I am happy to make mistakes, but I hate doing the same mistake twice. Eyes open for improvement all the time, and a short way from the discovery of something not working well until you fix it is key for me.

5) Do you use some other services related with coaching?
(e.g., mental trainings coach, dietarian, advisors in some specifics topics - biomechanis, recovery, strength, etc.)

I have in periods used all kinds of recourses. Dieticians, technical advisors, experts on strength training/recovery/running technique, etc.

6) What is financing source of personal coaching?

Anneli and Håkan are the national team coaches, and therefore take care of me as part of their task to develop the Swedish team.
Harri has in periods not gotten anything at all, and to be fair he still doesn’t get anything specifically for helping me. This year however he has been the physiological advisor for the national team, and has been part of our training camps as a coach for everyone.
Ingela and I get some support from the Swedish Sport federation because of a special project they have with mental coaches. It makes me frustrated and sad that all the hours they spend helping me does not pay off at all, and if I had the possibility I would make sure that the financial side of things were also brighter for my coaches. I could not make it without them, and it is a pity that I don’t have the possibility to give them what they deserve.

Many thanks for interesting highlights of your training life!

No comments:

Post a Comment