A man is made of water, earth and thoughts. In order to keep these in order and in good shape, from time to time, they need to be shaken together – this is what I call ‘physical exercise’. This harmony, which also I have pursued with different kinds of exercises are described below.
Orienteering, sometimes a man’s life is a chain of coincidences. One of these coincidences in my life could be me finding orienteering as a hobby. I must have been 29 years old when I got a new job as an IT manager in Oulu Ltd in Finland. While I was working there, I saw a note on the company’s bulletin board which was about upcoming orienteering practice. As a result, I took part in that practice wearing warm clothes and my big Nokia rubber boots. In the forest, I could only wonder how the boys, girls, men and women could run so fast in the forest, passing me from left and right. Soon, I realized the secret of their speed: they had been practising running in advance.
Through that experience I got so excited about orienteering that I also started jogging. And I started to see results, too. My fitness and endurance improved and soon I had won two company’s orienteering championships. This again added to my interest and motivation even further and I started to jog even longer distances.
After this, I started to take orienteering more seriously. First, I attended open orienteering events in the evenings, then national orienteering competitions and finally, as ‘the jewel in the crown’, numerous Jukola Relay (Annual Orienteering Relay Race in Finland) Races.
This went on for over twenty years, and it can be said with humour that during my life I have got lost at least once in every forest in Finland. A good example of the race where I didn’t take any missteps was the Valkeala Jukola Relay. It was like the control points had been put on my running path. At the same time, my team’s ranking took a big leap forward.
A man is an amazing creature, also in his attempt to seek for immortality – that is to produce offspring. My son Mika, who started orienteering at 10, was one of Finland’s top orienteers in his junior years. The same goes with his son Martti. That also means that I’m a grandfather. Nowadays, Martti is a succesful long-distance runner and he has won numerous medals (including gold) in Finnish Championships.
Later, my passion for this sport started to wane due to the presbyopia (aging of the eye). As a result, reading the map started to become more difficult without any aids so it was impossible to continue with this sport.
Squash, the other stochastic coincidence was my introduction to squash. At that time, I was working as an IT-manager in Tampere University Hospital. One day, I was chatting with a young man from our department and we started to talk about squash. Those were the golden ages of Sami Elopuro, a famous Finnish squash player. Then we decided to go and try playing the game. Soon, I was so much keen on this new sport that I practiced it several days a week, sometimes two practices a day at the weekends. In fact, I got so far that I took part in the Finnish Seniors’ Championships. However, the result was a modest 4th place. Later, as I moved to Järvenpää, I started to lose my zeal for this sport. The practicing opportunities in a new hometown weren’t as good as in Tampere. In all, I spent about ten years playing squash. Squash in itself is a fine sport whose physical requirements are different than those of, for example, orienteering and cycling, which I’m going to talk about in the next paragraph.
Cycling, when people get older they begin to practise sport which is not so strenuous, especially for your knees and other joints. It’s also fun just to go downhill without any effort. I got interested in cycling after I moved to Järvenpää. The local people have always enjoyed riding around Lake Tuusula with their bicycles. From my home, it’s about a 30-kilometre-ride. I’ve also upgraded my bicycle to a light, carbon-fibre Trek bicycle as I’ve got keener on cycling. Nowadays, my cycling tours are from 30 km to 120 km, and my annual goal is 5 000 km which I have been able to achieve. Especially, in the summer, I like to go cycling around the Lake Tuusula with my wife Pirkko.
However, ‘winter cycling’ is another story. That’s why it’s called Spinning. There is Easy Spinning, Theme Spinning, Speed Spinning etc. The idea is that people ride exercise bikes in a group in a gym with the help of a personal trainer. And all this is done with music playing in the background. The tempo of the music varies from quite fast to even faster and I can assure you…it is fun.
Recently, I’ve also joined the local cycling club (Järvenpään Pyöräilijät), whose web page you can find here…
Coaching, believe it not, but I’m also almost a professional coach/trainer. Back in Oulu, where I got interested in orienteering, I started to look for ways to train myself in this sport. As I didn’t get any good answers, I began to study coaching myself and my goal was to become a coach myself. As a result, I signed up at the Vuokatti Sports Institute where I took all the courses all the way to the top A-level (physically the hardest course I’ve ever taken).
The knowledge that I learned at Vuokatti, I’ve been able to use, for example among the orienteers of Tampere Pyrintö –orienteering club where I was a head coach in the 1980’s. Among those orienteers was also my own son Mika. Numerous were also the coaching camps that took place in Sweden every spring when we headed for warmer training conditions. Spring always came earlier to Sweden, especially to the south.
Later, I have applied and I’m still applying that coaching knowledge to myself. I’ve made yearly plans all the way up to daily schedules including what I will do on a certain day. Whether today is the interval, the speed or the usual long lasting low intensity basic run.
PS, talking about exercise. If this doesn’t straighten the old man’s back, then nothing will. When my daughter Mirjam’s Upper Secondary school arranged ‘The New Seniors’ Ball’ I also got a chance to show my talents in one of my old hobbies. Check out the youtube-video below…
Text, Auno S., january 2017.