World Orienteering Week: Interview with Cat Taylor
Elite orienteering discusses its journey in the sport and its intersection with running
Cat Taylor started orienteering at the age of seven and made her UK debut in 2012, before securing results including bronze at the European Championships and a one-round Cup victory. of the world.
After seven years of living and training in Sweden, the South Yorkshire Orienteers athlete now lives in Sheffield and combines training and work as a translator. In the spring and summer she is often on the road to camps and competitions and is currently in training camp in Norway.
Ahead of the World Orienteering Championships in Norway in August and as part of Global Orienteering Week, Taylor shares insight into his sport and how it intersects with running.
Weekly athletics: What was your career in orienteering? Were you first a runner or an orienteer?
Taylor Cat: I have been orienteering since I was little, I was definitely orienteering first! I did cross country in school, as well as many other sports, and was good but never great. Sure, I do a lot of running now, but it’s just like training for orienteering. I ran a few drop runs and did some 10k on the roads (my best is 35:32) but that was never my main goal. I like to run any type of race that I can fit into, but I always have a pretty busy schedule.
AW: What do you like most about orienteering?
CT: I first became addicted when I started to go off the trails, right through the forest. It’s a great feeling of freedom. I also like that the physical and technical challenge is really different from one place to another. A track is the same everywhere, but for example a forest near Stockholm is very different from the one near Madrid and to be consistently good at orienteering you have to be very adaptable.
AW: How are you preparing for the big championships? Do you have an “average” week of training?
CT: At home I try to do a good mix of running training – a little bit of everything on all surfaces – and constant technical training. It does mean a bit of variety, but I have a consistent week plan. The hardest part about this sport is that specific preparation for a championship means going out onto the pitch and running in conditions similar to what you will encounter on D-Day. You are not allowed to run or even visit the area. which you’ll be running in before you start, but you can get a good idea of ââthe type of challenge by training in the nearby forests. So this year I am spending a total of about five weeks in training camps for the World Championships (near Oslo, Norway). All movement can sometimes disrupt training, but it is a necessary compromise.
AW: Can you tell us about the intersection between the two sports and the skills required?
CT: Once you’ve learned the basic navigation skills you need to orient yourself, it’s mainly about managing the balance between running fast while staying focused on the navigation. The higher your aerobic threshold, the faster you can run without being in the âred zoneâ (where you have to focus intensely on running, which means you can’t also make decisions and risk getting lost!) . My physical training aims to be the best all-round runner possible; you need to be strong uphill, downhill, in rough terrain, through swamps, over rocks and on flatter, faster surfaces.
The biggest difference for me is the feeling at the start line. Even in cross country you know exactly where the course will go, where it is going to hurt, you can have a pretty specific plan of how to run each track. In orienteering you can have a very small idea of ââwhere you are going until the timer starts, you grab the map and run away. You are also often alone the entire course and need to be very good at pushing yourself beyond and staying positive as it is almost impossible to run completely without technical errors.
AW: What are your main goals for 2019 in running and orienteering?
CT: In fact, I had pretty bad weather this past winter. I’ve been injured and do a lot of alternative training but still aim to be back in great shape by August to fight for the top positions at the World Orienteering Championships (near Oslo, Norway). I must have, in frustration, reign over my plans as I recovered, but gradually I’m getting back to action. Because all of the most important competitions this summer take place on soft ground, I won’t prioritize road racing or track racing, but hopefully I have time for a few local drop races in the coming months.
AW: What are you most proud to have accomplished so far in your elite career?
CT: I have had some good international results so far, including a victory at a World Cup round and a bronze medal at the European Championships. I am happy whenever I feel like I have the most of myself on an important day, it means that the project I have been working on for months or even more has been successful and it is this feeling that makes all the pain and the expense is worth it!
“ For more information, see cattaylor.net
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