Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mikhail Vinogradov, Part I: "Love is the best inspiration!"

In 2004 I fell in love with the one who became my wife – Galina Galkina (Vinogradova, since 2005). That was the turning point in my life, sport and career.” This is the beginning of a nice talk to Mikhail Vinogradov, along which we'll get to know better the man and the coach.

In 2004, Mikhail Vinogradov worked as a lecturer of Economics at the University. Between his hobbies, he could count distance running and chess. Like many Russians, Mikhail knew about orienteering but he had never practiced it before. Step by step, he came to Galinas sport life: like a sparring-partner, specialist in recovery, mental coach, and then like a personal coach.

One year later, Mikhail started his first O-sessions. He was reading books – “there is a lot of O-literature in Russia”, he adds -, talking to runners and thinking a lot about the Orienteering entity. “In my opinion, the key element for the success in Orienteering, as in chess, is the effectiveness of an algorithm of choosing and the implementation. But I was really surprised that Russian O-runners did not think about it. Moreover almost no one was able to explain what they were doing in the forest during the races!”, he says. To him, another “shocking thing” was that “many Russian coaches believe in distance running training plans in Orienteering. In my opinion this is a dead end! Orienteering is a different sport and you can’t just transfer plans and methods from distance running”, Mikhail concludes.

A new approach

“I realized that I had to develop my own way in Orienteering”, says Mikhail, about the first approaches to our sport. He started to read every scientific paper about sport physiology, biomechanics, psychology, geomorphology, molecular biology and, every time he had a doubt, he questioned the authors, some of them were the best sport scientists in the World. John Hawley from Australia and Michael Joyner from the USA deserve a special word about their support. Also Vyacheslav Kostylev, Tatiana Ryabkina's personal coach, played an important role in Mikhail Vinogradov's coaching philosophy. Mikhail remembers: “We spent hundreds of hours mailing and meeting each other.”

Based on what he had learned, Mikhail Vinogrodavod developed a lot of new tools and exercises. “I was one of the first coaches who started to make special preparation to Sprint”, he assumes. When Mikhail met Galina, her usual results in the Russian Championships were around the top 20-30 and some times the top-10. Mikhail's first coaching success was a strong debut of Galina Vinogradova at WOC in 2008, in the Czech Republic. She got the 4th place at Sprint and the Silver medal at WOC-Relay, with the best first leg time.

A hard task

In 2009, Mikhail Vinogradov had an offer to join the Russian National O-team as a volunteer and in 2011 he started at Halden Skiklubb as main coach. “Halden Skiklubb was like a rocket launching for my coaching level», he remembers. He became a 100% professional coach, spending every free time to improve his skills. It would be easy, in that time, to find Mikhail Vinnogradov running in the forest and searching good legs for Halden SK trainings/competitions. He had a lot of meetings with runners, made common analysis, learned the best runners’way of thinking, studied Norwegian language and read a lot of scientific papers and O-analysis. Also here, a word of acknowledgement to Lacho Iliev, Bjørn Axel Gran, Marius Bjugan and Emil Wingstedt. “They helped me a lot with my adaptation to a new country and to a new profession.”

Mikhail Vinogradov spent days and nights thinking how to beat Kalevan Rasti and Tampereen Pyrinto. “during the main preparation time, Winter and Spring, I slept only few hours per night”, says Mikhail. But such a hard job was repaid! Before Mikhail's period as Team coach, Halden SK had won the Jukola in 2010, but in 2011 the team lost three key runners from this “gold relay team”. Even though, they managed to reach the 2nd place in Tiomila and an amazing victory in Jukola with a new line-up. Moreover, in 2012 the Halden SK achieved the best results ever in the Scandinavian Orienteering history – victory in the four biggest club relays (Tiomila, both men and women, Venla, and 25Manna).

Return to Russia

In 2012 the new administration of the club decided to try something new and Mikhail Vinogradov was dismissed. At the moment, he's searching for a reason: “In fact, as I know, all the Halden SK coaches before me and after me had the job for three years and more and I don’t have an explanation for this decision. I have no idea what was the true reason to stop my successful work”, he says. Knowing that the market for O-coaches is really narrow, Mikhail Vinogradov left Norway and came back to Russia.

Last year, finally, he found a job related to top-sport. He is an expert in the Russian Olympic Committee and a lead expert in Sports Center of Innovative Technologies and Teams Exercise Training. His direct connection to orienteering remains in the role of personal coach of Galina Vinogradova, Valentin Novikov and advisor in the physical and mental training of Olga Vinogradova. “I got my current position because of my love for Galina. I left my old profession, moved to another country, spent 10 years of my life helping Galina to get better and better. Love is the best inspiration!”, he concludes.

Don't lose the second part of the article, tomorrow. There, you'll see Mikhail Vinogradov talking about the present moment of Orienteering.

[Photo courtesy of Natalia Vinogradova]

Joaquim Margarido

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