After a successful winter season, the time of the big decisions is approaching and Timo Sild want to be part of history. To the Portuguese Orienteering Blog, the athlete focuses on the World Championships, highlights the strong internal concurrence and points some goals for 2015, 2016 and... 2017!
What does Orienteering mean to you?
Timo Sild (T. S.) - The meaning of orienteering to me has been different in the past and will be different in the future, but in the present it's my profession.
How did you start Orienteering?
T. S. - I've been an orienteer as long as I remember. Both my father and my mother were active orienteers when I was born and orienteering was always just a normal part of my life.
Was there a moment, a “click”, where you said to yourself: “That's it. Orienteering is what I really want to do!”?
T. S. - Yes. The move from the M20 to the Elite is not easy, although some exceptions among the elite orienteers might make one think that way. I ended my last year as a junior bashing my knee into a stone, which meant that I couldn't train properly for at least a year. Around the same time, I enrolled in the University and it was time to think of my career. After two years in the University I was called into the military service. So one day, I happened to talk to my father about “throwing in the towel” and we had a proper father-son discussion about orienteering. I re-evaluated some things in life and that's why I am where I am right now. My father won't probably remember the talk, but that's old age for you.
What was the best advice you've ever been given?
T. S. - Many athletes probably develop a philosophy of their own sports at some point of their career and try to implement it in other areas of life besides sports as well. For example, boxers might say "Life is a fight (struggle)" or something like that. I've got advice from the philosophy of orienteering: "Do the hard part in the beginning, that way, it should be easier in the end" or "Think before you act" or "Simplify" and so on.
What has been your biggest challenge in Orienteering? How do you manage it?
T. S. - I haven't been in my best possible shape when it really matters: the WOC. I am still working to solve this challenge, but the work is being done towards it. Ultimately, the goal is to make the perfect race: a race that I'm satisfied with, on a difficult course, with a strong field of runners on a day that really matters. Notice that a perfect run doesn't necessarily involve winning.
What is your favorite memory about a course?
T. S. - My favourite memory is a horror story, not a fairy tale. It happened on a windy and rainy evening at a training camp in Barbate. I knew that I was going to run night legs at 10mila and Jukola and therefore I did night trainings at the camp. Normally there was always some company, but due to bad weather no one else was willing to join me that evening. But, it doesn't matter, I don't mind training alone even at night. On my way to start, as I was climbing up a pathless ravine in the forest with my lamp alight, because it was already pitch black, I almost soiled myself when a man with an axe came down the same ravine. I have no idea what he was doing at that random place in the forest without a light and I surely wasn't going to ask him at the time. Later, I must have missed every control on my course and took a few looks over my shoulder to be on the safe side. The whole situation was just so surreal that it turned into one of my favourite memories about a training and a course.
Is there a specific athlete you look up to? And why?
T. S. - No, there is not a specific athlete I look up to. But I draw inspiration on other athletes' stories and try to find ideas that would work for me as well. I guess I'm afraid that I could be dissappointed by people, but ideas can't dissappoint in the same way.
How do you feel in this moment of the season? Was it useful your winter training?
T. S. - I'm excited, like every year in spring. A full training season in winter is quite a tough thing to manage in Northern Europe, especially for running sports. Fortunately this year I was able to have one full training cycle near Alicante and Murcia, in Spain. In short, winter training has been useful.
How much time do you normally spend practicing and training?
T. S. - It depends on the time of the year. In winter I do 10-20 hours of training a week, mostly physical stuff. In spring I increase the amount of orienteering in my trainings. In summer, all the trainings are built around the competitions. Sumarizing, I do around 650 hours a year, with the brunt being done in winter and spring. My typical training week with near perfect conditions is something like this: Monday – p.m. aerobic night orienteering; Tuesday – a.m. running excercises and alactic sprints + easy orienteering; p.m. orienteering as a recovery run; Wednesday – a.m. orienteering intervals; p.m orienteering as a recovery run; Thursday – a.m. long aerobic orienteering, p.m. strength training + recovery run; Friday – a.m. easy swimming; Saturday – a.m. uphill speed bounds and uphill intervals, p.m. night orienteering as a recovery run; Sunday – a.m. long run in the mountains.
What are the biggest steps before the WOC?
T. S. - The biggest steps before the WOC are the training camps in Scotland and the selection races in May and June, both in Estonia and in Scotland. Estonia has only two places for both forest distances at the WOC and many willing runners, so it won't be easy to make it into the team.
Is it in your plans to do the same as your father did, 24 years ago – i.e. to win the bronze medal in the WOC Long Distance?
T. S. - The plan is to do better! Otherwise I'll always be son of Sixten Sild for the commentators at international orienteering events. For my brother Lauri it's even worse, he is son of Sixten Sild and brother of Timo Sild. But seriously speaking, I have been in the top 20 in Long Distance only once, so I have to build upon that. In the Middle Distance I haven't even been in the top 30. As follows, the goal for this year is the top 20, the top 15 for the next year and the top 10 for WOC2017, in Estonia. I regard both Long Distance and Middle Distance equally high.
What do you need to be the best?
T. S. - No man is an island - most importantly, I need the help and support of my family, friends and sponsors. After that, comes systematic and uninterrupted training. And finally love for orienteering and the willingness to do everything possible to become the best, or more exactly - the best that I can be! I want a lot of my orienteering to be automatic or subconscious, and that's what I'm trying to improve upon, but it takes a lot of time.
Is another one of your goals to reach the top 10 in the IOF World Ranking in the end of the season?
T. S. - No. World Ranking doesn't mean anything to me and it's just numbers. I have a pretty clear opinion about several elite orienteers and that subjective ranking is enough for me.
In the start of a new season, I would ask you to make a wish to all orienteers around the world.
T. S. - Try to find new interesting terrains and map them!
[Photo: Wendy Carlile / flickr.com/wendles56]