Interview with Daniel Hubmann
Daniel Hubmann is deemed to be the most successful Swiss orienteer. The trained carpenter has been a professional since 2007 and has just won the gold medal in the sprint at the World Championships in Estonia in July.
For more than 10 years, you have regularly won medals at major events. In your eyes, what are the key factors that have brought you so far and led to your success?
I think that the most important factor is having the motivation to want to achieve something. If you want to win again, you always need to stay focussed and train hard for many years.
In 2012, you had to take a break due to an injury. It is generally the case that you learn a lot during particularly difficult phases. What main conclusions did you draw during the time in which you were injured?
While I was recovering from my ruptured Achilles tendon, I discovered how much I miss doing sports and taking part in competitions. I realized that something was missing and thus came to the strong conviction that I want to get back to the top at all costs. Perhaps this is the main reason why I am still motivated today.
Can you tell us what your typical training week looks like and which forms of training you use?
When I am at home, the focus is primarily on physical training. My training is somewhat comparable to that of a long-distance runner. As an orienteer, I also do a lot of uphill and downhill cross-country running. On average, I do 12 running training sessions per week, in addition to strength and alternative training, which usually takes the form of cycling. I do map training primarily at the training camps where I usually run together with a group to specific control points in unfamiliar terrain.
“The journey is the reward” applies in particular to orienteering. Can you better explain orienteering? What goes through your head/your mind’s eye when you see the map in the race? What thoughts do you have when you're en route? How do you choose your pace to get the maximum out of your performance? What challenges do you come across?
Ideally, my head is always one step ahead, which means I not only know where I am, but where I want to go. I also need to process various information from the map as well as the terrain and constantly make decisions. Above all, my thoughts revolve around tackling the selected route. However, I don’t heavily memorise too many things, and instead constantly refer to the map without needing to stand still.
The pace is often determined by the “map reading” difficulties, and I don’t think too much about the pace because many processes are automated. However, there are certain racing situations in which I consciously need to slow down, for example, when a difficult control point lies ahead. Then again, on an easy section you need to consciously speed up again otherwise you’ll lose time.
Dealing with mistakes is somewhat difficult. This is because you shouldn’t dwell upon them for too long during the competition, but need to focus on the tasks that lie ahead instead. Maintaining the right level of concentration presents a further difficulty. In short competitions, it is easy to stay fully concentrated, but for long distances of around 17 kilometres or more, your thoughts already start wandering. Then you need to be completely on the ball again at the right moment.
Do you have a secret tip you would be willing to share with us? With regards to key training, nutrition or technique, for example?
I am not such a fan of insider tips because I am rather of the opinion that success is based on the interplay of different factors. Consistent training, recovery and nutrition are very important. To be a successful top athlete you need to align your lifestyle accordingly.
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